But then again…too few to mention.
As a grief counselor, conversations following the loss of a loved one will run the full gamut. Conversations peppered with deep, deep sadness. Rage and anger. Helplessness, or a desire to bargain the loss, to name a few. Often there is also some regret. The feelings of regret are sometimes, “I wish we had taken that trip to Hawaii”. “We should have retired earlier”. Sometimes, it is simply the regret of not having been able to say “goodbye” or “I love you” one more time.
Dealing with regret in the midst of our grief can be painful and frustrating! After our loss, we can’t go back and change anything that may have been left unattended. Some of us are fortunate enough to learn from previous losses. Developing the understanding that each of our lives has an expiration date, teaches us to live each day as though it is our last. Not easy to do…but respecting our mortality, as well as the mortality of those we love can minimize a few regrets down the road.
A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a survivor of loss. She had developed an extremely close bond with her mother. Interestingly enough, as a younger woman, she and her mom did not see eye to eye on anything. Following a divorce, as well as the loss of her father, this survivor developed a new perspective. She gained a deeper love and understanding of her mother’s unconditional love and respect for her as a daughter. Their closeness lasted many years…Following her mother’s passing, she shared with me the wisdom in knowing that she harbored only one regret.
She admitted to me, that for reasons unknown, she and her mom never discussed plans for the mother’s wishes upon her death. Despite all of the reparation of their relationship, as well as the deep love and commitment that resulted from their deep conversations…They never had “the talk”! So much of the daughter’s grief was encompassed in this one regret. It was nearly debilitating for this bereft survivor. Professional help ultimately resolved this difficult issue. I feel compelled to share her angst over the lack of a single conversation. A “talk” that never transpired between two women who were able to talk about nearly everything…
Having “the talk” will offer comfort and relief for our family members if all of our wishes are made known prior to an end-of-life situation. When we pre-plan, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we can offer our surviving loved ones. It eliminates stress while being consumed with grief. It also allows our loved ones to celebrate a “life well-lived”, knowing that there were few regrets when we utter our final goodbye…Our family helping your family.