One of the more difficult things about the holiday season is something that impacts so many people is grieving the loss of someone who is no longer with us. And for those of us who have lost someone where a particular holiday meant so much to our family, it doesn’t matter if it was many years ago or just recently, the pain may ease, but it never truly goes away. And you know what? That’s a good thing as it stirs beautiful and loving memories that we want to hold onto forever.
This came up during a few conversations and email exchanges that I had over the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. And during two of those conversations those that I was speaking with shared that their biggest regret was not having the chance to clear the air about a misunderstanding or grievance, or more importantly, their pain was coming from the fact that during their last visit together, whether in person or by phone, they missed the opportunity to tell them that they loved them. And for both individuals, it was weighing heavy upon their hearts.
Are some things better left unsaid? I believe so. We all have heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s absolutely true, if what we are about to say is coming from a place of anger or if we are simply trying to stir up trouble. It’s different if there are things we need to say, especially if it’s something others need to hear, even though they may not want to hear it. The problem is this, if we miss an opportunity to share information that could help someone, but we lack the courage to confront them, they may not be able to address or fix what they do not know.
I love this quote by Audre Lorde, “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So, it is better to speak.” Some words are better left unspoken, until they are not.
Each one of us can probably think of a time when we forgot to say something or wish we had said something. Good or bad, right or wrong, we then get mad at ourselves for not having had the courage to speak up, or we promise ourselves we will speak up next time. Hoping that there will indeed be a next time.
As we are right here in the middle of the holiday season, and as some of us are experiencing grief and the loss of a loved one who will not be celebrating with the family this year, may we lovingly remember them. And if we think we forgot to say “I love you” one last time, or that we were sorry, or anything else where we might have regrets, I encourage us not to focus on that one last time where we may have missed it, instead focus on all the times it was said and heard.
May we use this as a reminder for all those that are still with us and who we love so very much. May another day pass by where we forget or lack the courage to share with others just how grateful we are for having them in our lives, how much we love them, how much we appreciate all they do, and that they have been forgiven for any foolishness that may have come between us.
How about you, are there people you will miss this holiday season? Can you remember all the times that you did share with them just how special they were to you and how much you cared for them and loved them? Is there someone that needs to hear and know that you do care for them and love them, and maybe even forgive them? I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can say the words that need to be spoken, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.