Category Archives: love

Regretting the Things We Didn’t Say

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370 in 2014 with 239 people on board may finally yield some answers. Experts are analyzing a wing piece that washed up on the shores of an island thousands of miles from where the plane is thought to have crashed into the ocean.

To most of us, the people who died are just names. Yet, for each of the victims, a family is grieving. Loved ones are angry; they want an explanation. An ordinary flight to a vacation destination – what went wrong, how could this happen? An explanation of why the plane crashed may satisfy the survivor’s mind. For the heart, there is no comfort.

I remember watching the search for the missing plane last year and thinking of  how suddenly life can change. People we love die, and the things we meant to say to them can no longer be said. We never told them how much we love them, how grateful we are for all they teach and give us, how much we admire them and how lucky we are that they share our life.

We waited, thinking we had all the time in the world. We’d tell them at the right time, when we weren’t so busy, when we could figure out what we want to say. We didn’t give much thought to the reality that all we have is this moment.

Dr. Ira Byock wrote a book called “The Four Things That Matter Most ” about what’s important to people at the end of life. Don’t wait for the end of life. Say them now:

“Forgive me”, “I forgive you”, “Thank you”, “I love you”.

Simple statements, yet they tap into the deep layers of relationship between us and the people we love. They can’t read our mind. We have to let them know how much they mean to us.

If yoiu knew you had 24 hours left to live, what would you want to say to the people you love?

 

Dad gives Family a Gift from the Heart

Roger, the husband of my friend Diana, needed heart surgery that carried serious risks. He and Diana prepared for the worst, making sure their financial and legal documents were up-to-date. Perhaps just as important, they were open and honest about their fears of Roger’s chances of surviving. They celebrated their decades of love and the life they had built together with their four children.

The surgery was scheduled for two weeks in advance. Roger and Diana asked their children to visit earlier, rather than gathering on the day of the surgery. During those preceding days, the family pored over photo albums and home movies, laughing and remembering happy times and sharing feelings about what they mean to each other. Tom, the youngest son, who had been estranged from the family for years, didn’t show up.

Roger spent time alone with each of the children who came, wanting to be sure they had the chance to say to him what was personal for them. He wanted to give each their own blessing and tell them individually that he loved them.

At the time of this writing, Roger is recovering, but he will need additional surgery. He would still like to talk with Tom, but this may not happen. Tom may find himself in a ‘race-to-the-bedside” situation. On the other hand, he may not care.

Consider what Roger has given to his family, because he was willing to open his heart to the people he loved. He gave them a gift of a conversation from the heart.


No Chance to Say Goodbye

“See you later”. Millions of us say it as we go about our daily lives.

“Enjoy your workout” is so ordinary that, when Sheryl Sandberg said it to her husband before his sudden death, she couldn’t have imagined that she wouldn’t see him alive again.

“Have a great time” we say to family members as they leave the cruise ship on one of the regular excursions by plane for a flight over Alaska. Last week, the plane crashed and we never saw them again.

A beach vacation in Tunis? A movie at the cineplex? A visit to your children on the college campus? These are are ordinary events of everyday life.

We expect to return, to resume the ordinary daily activities we take for granted. We rarely think that we may not see these people we love again. That there’s always time to tell people we love them.

Last week was an object lesson in not waiting to say”I love you” as random events took over the lives of millions of people. Some we know; others we don’t know. Terrorists, malfunctioning engines, unforeseen health issues, a deranged teenager with a gun – and the myriad of things that happen even when they’re not supposed to show us how little control we have over our life. As John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.

“See you later.” Maybe…

Christmas in Space

As I write this, two astronauts of the six man crew on the International Space Station are outside the safety of their spacecraft, replacing a malfunctioning pump that’s part of the station’s cooling system. This is the real thing, in real time, not a Hollywood movie. The space station is traveling 17,227 miles per hour, completing over 15 orbits around the earth daily.

While they work to repair their craft at 250 miles above the earth, down below, millions of shoppers are orbiting parking lots at malls, racing against the clock to have gifts ready by Christmas. The pressure and frenzy that surrounds the holiday is a marketing marvel, perpetuated generation after generation, by retailers whose annual profits depend on those minions believing that gift wrapped stuff, delivered on time, is an act of love.

No matter what their spiritual beliefs were before they launched into space, the astronauts experience a transformation upon seeing Earth from that vantage point. They use words like awe, wonder, vastness, spirit, humility, infinity to describe their recognition that we are a tiny, fragile blue dot in a vast sea of black.

I can’t imagine anyone who relates to their experience feeling pressure to beat the Christmas deadline.

What the astronauts saw: http://vimeo.com/55073825. Share their awe and share it with your children. What an awesome gift that would be.

The Problem with Entitlement

The daughter of a friend of mine told her children that they could go to riding camp this summer. Because of unexpected financial setbacks, she can’t afford to send them.

Instead of explaining to her children about her true economic situation,  the daughter approached my friend and suggested she provide the money for her grandchildren to go to camp instead of taking her own long planned cruise. When my friend said she wouldn’t cancel her own plans, her daughter accused her of not caring about the welfare of her grandchildren.

This is an example of how entitlement obscures reality. It is a one-way mindset, a pattern of focusing on what we think we are owed in relationship without awareness of our own obligations. Children raised with entitlement, rather than learning a sense of personal responsibility, believe the world revolves around them.

Children and grandchildren need to learn the meaning of the words “We can’t afford it.” When you can’t afford, on your own, to do something, you explain to your children  that they can’t have something until you can afford it, or until they earn the money to do it. Children can handle disappointment if you’re straight with them.

How else can you prepare children for the real world? Why should a grandparent give up a planned trip to send her grandchildren to horseback riding camp? Why would a daughter expect her to do so and accuse her of not caring when she refuses to give up her own trip?

“Money” Conversation Not About Money

Psychiatrists have long equated the reluctance to write a will, prepare an advance directive or estate plan, with fear of dying.

Who wants to think about planning for death? We have to confront our mortality. No more illusions that it won’t happen to us. We have to face giving up our possessions and power. We have to deal with uncomfortable subjects like aging, illness, death, inheritance and a host of other things we’ve managed to avoid thinking about.

Having the ‘money conversation’ is rarely ‘just about money’. It’s also about family dynamics, mistakes, regrets, guilt, and a host of other issues. Children feel morbid, greedy and intrusive asking their parents questions about money and death. The parents don’t want to start conversations about ‘touchy’ subjects either. The result – people procrastinate, hoping for the best. Hope is not a strategy. It’s a procrastination tool and most often, it doesn’t work.

Click the buy the book button:

www.moneyloveandlegacy.com/

Check out the guide  for opening the conversations that matter between parents and children.Follow the check lists for what parents need to put in place so children aren’t burdened with a financial and legal mess after parents die.

It’s truly an act of love for parents to get their affairs in order.