Don’t Wait Until I’m Dead….

… love me.

This blog may seem a little cynical but bear/bare with me.  Part of my job entails that I read obituaries.  Daily.  And part of my job takes me in to homes with older folks.  Often they are sick, or impaired in some way, or just old.  Often they talk with me of being ready to die.  More often we talk about the care they are, or are not, getting from family.  I sit and talk with these folks and some of them are so lonely.  They know the time they have on this earth is limited.  They accepted that a long time ago.  But being alone,  lonely is the more appropriate term, bothers them more.  Some of them are “ready” for death.  They have worn out their bodies, or they don’t care, or they really do care but most of the life they lived is waiting for them somewhere else, most or all of who they loved is waiting somewhere else.  More often than not I visit with these folks and try to help them find help to take care of basic needs.  Sometimes the most basic, comfort from a caring human voice or touch, is the hardest to find.  Sometimes we can find the way to make a difference at this point in their lives.  Sadly, sometimes we can not.

Then they die.

Then miraculously there is an obituary filled with loving and deeply saddened family and friends.


This just got me to thinking about all of us.  Yes, you, me, and the older folks living out their days.  Waiting for someone to love them again.

Why do they, or we, have to die to get the love?

This may seem a little over dramatic if you have not seen it first hand.  If you have not been in a situation where someone literally has no food, no way to the doctor, little to no human contact,  nothing, you may not realize the suffering that exists.  I had one little lady tell me (actually more than her but she sticks in my head) that I was the only one she talked to for weeks at a time.  I was thrilled to know that meals would be delivered on a daily basis just so someone would say “Hi Mary” to her on a daily basis.

But it made me think.  Why do we not tell others what they mean to us?  I tell my husband and children and mom everytime I talk to them that I love them, I kiss them goodbye, goodnight, hello.  I know that recently I have tried to tell people every day simple things like “you make me happy”, “you make me smile”, “you make me think”, “I am happy you are in my life”.  I think I started too late in life.  Letting people know you love them is such a simple thing.  I think love is under rated, over worked and totally misrepresented sometimes.

You know what?  I do love the people in my life.  My friends, yes, I love them.  Do I love them the same as I love my husband?  No, not at all.  But man I love them.  I love their lives and their goals and their quirks and their existence.  I love my brothers and sisters and their spouses and their children.   I love the people in my kids lives because they are in my kids lives.  I love the people who pray for others.  I love the people who need prayed for.  It’s not about a love fest.  It’s about the genuiness and basic meaning of love.  Do I love everyone?  No.  But if I did, I would be a better person.

I have family members and friends who every time they hug someone they say “I love you”.  At first I didn’t get it.  You love me?  Why?  What did I do for you?  I think I get it now.  Because I can easily say “I love you too”.  These people in my life are here and working and playing and trying to do the best they can.  Just like I am.   I love that effort.  Effort at living and doing right.  I think we should start a movement.  “LOVE WHILE WE’RE ALIVE” movement.  I don’t want to wait until you are dead to let you know you mattered to me.  There seems to be a problem with that even being possible.    Further more, I don’t want to be dead and have everyone express that they loved me and will miss me.  I don’t want everyone else to know how I mattered to you, when I don’t even know.  Shouldn’t I know, I mean, how can you say it, if it wasn’t real between us?  How can it be real if I didn’t know.  How can it be real if you didn’t know.

I’m not talking about mushy, fake, air kiss kind of stuff.  I’m talking about stuff like:  Husband, you make my life so easy by doing so much for me, and there is no way to tell you how much I appreciate you and your love.  First Daughter I admire your mothering abilities and wish I was half the mom you are.  Next Daughter you have no idea how much it means to me when you turn to me for comfort.  Mom how in the world do I ever thank you enough for having  me and loving me this entire life of mine.  Brothers and sisters you and I came from the same and though are paths are varied your love is something I need every day and knowing I can count on it gives me strength.  Ben the very idea that you take time to talk to me and process thoughts even though my thoughts are usually scattered makes me happy beyond belief, you know how I admire you.  Ashley your talents and very real persona  honor me every day when you thank me, when I have felt that you have taught me more.  Maggie you have a heart that is genuine and giving and pure and I can’t live without knowing this ever again.  Molly you inspire me to do more and be more not just by what you do but with your faith and sharing of it, you shore up my own.  Cindy you put beauty in my life long before I even recognized it and I have depended on you for more than you know.  Gracie, my little Queen Grannia` you have given me renewed life.

Was that so hard?  No, but there are many more that I need to speak to.  But I hope to do it on a daily basis.  If I thank you for making me smile, or teaching me something, or tolerating something it is my own part in starting and keeping the “LOVE WHILE YOU’RE ALIVE” movement going.

I really don’t expect everyone to change over night.  But if you read this tonight, tomorrow or whenever, please tell someone every day that they matter.  It doesn’t have to be grand.  Or mushy.  Just genuine.

Please don’t wait until I’m dead.  You can tell everyone else at that point, but I won’t have a clue.

23 thoughts on “Don’t Wait Until I’m Dead….

  1. Mrs. Brown, sometimes you make me feel horrible. Horrible because you’re so awesome and brilliant and real and all thoes good things and it reminds me I still have a long way to go before I’m a good person like that too 🙂

    You have to know that I love you though, right? Because it’s true!!!


  2. Thanks Ashley! :o) You know how I feel, and it is that you are incredible, and not horrible at all. YOU are a great person, full of honesty and love. And I love you right back!


  3. Colleen, this was so touching. I want to be part of your “Love While You’re Alive” campaign. Wouldn’t the world be a much more beautiful, peaceful place if we could each take the small step to let others know how much they mean? It is so easy for us to point out others faults, especially those nearest and dearest to us…I know on some days my mind needs what feels like a radical transformation to just be still and focus on what matters. I want to let you know I have so many fond memories of time spent with you laughing, crying, sharing. I remember sitting in your old place with all of our kids just processing life and trying to make sense of it all so we could enjoy the moment, our kids, our lives. You have definitely impacted my life in a meaningful way.


    • OMGolly! When I found you that was the FIRST memory I thought of!!!! 🙂 I’m so glad we got re-connected. It was that wonderful then, why wouldn’t we want it to continue?

      I prefer the love while we’re alive, seems kind of silly to wait until after…. 🙂


  4. This is a great posting, I spent a career in law enforcement and always was taken back when I encountered senior citizens who had no one in their lives to care, look after and like you said in your piece just verbal contact.

    After many death investigations I’ve come to cherish my statement of “I Love You” to my children, parents and siblings. It means a lot to tell someone how you feel when they are alive instead of at the wake or funeral. Great Posting!


    • Thank you 007Pandas. Thank you for your service to community. It is a horrible discovery every time it happens. We find people in need, some truly are alone in life, no family left, friends have all passed on or are in the same shape the person we find. Then to find out there are family all around….it’s disturbing. Like you I cherish the “I love you’s” and say them without fail when seeing or talking to my children.

      Thank you!

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