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Life Lessons from a Memorial

Life Lessons from a Memorial

When you attend a memorial do you take the opportunity to learn from a family member’s, friend’s, or even a stranger’s passing?

Recently I attended a memorial for a man I’d never met. He was the husband of a co-worker of my husband; neither of us had met him but we wanted to be there to support her through this rough time.

I am no stranger to funerals or memorials: I’ve been to many to celebrate the life of someone who passed, including my own Mother’s passing 13 years ago. Via this event and others I’ve found many life lessons work learning.

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Life Lesson #1: If your “stuff” is causing you stress, clean house!

News of this man’s passing came on a day when we were preparing for a garage sale. I was overwhelmed by all the stuff in the garage, which looked as though an explosion had happened inside it, and I felt my husband wasn’t spending his time wisely as he built shelving in rather than get sale items ready.

When I saw the email about this man’s death—and the memorial arrangements for a man who was only 49, had two kids and a wonderful wife—it brought clear focus into was really important. I apologized to my husband and told him if our “stuff”  was causing stress and unhappiness we needed to get rid of more of it (ruthlessly).

What to do: Is your stuff causing stress in your life? If so, it’s time to clean house. This will allow you to focus on what is truly important by getting rid of the stuff that you really don’t need.

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Life Lesson #2: Make Time for Major Life Events

The memorial was scheduled for the day that we were actually to participate in that neighborhood garage sale. We had been looking forward to this for a year and had a lot of stuff to let go, but there was no question that we were going to the memorial and not participating in the sale. The passing of someone brings into sharp clarity that our relationships with others is ultimately what is most important.

When my mother passed, I was grateful for the many people who came to the funeral, sent cards, flowers, food and were there for us. My father said that the event had showed him how important it was to make it to birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and funerals himself. He resolved to attend more of these events in the future.

What to do: Have you attended important events from family and friends, or do you find life getting in the way? Make these events a priority in your life.

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Life Lesson #3: Learn from Another’s Life

While I never met this man, I was very touched by his memorial and the love that poured out from so many during the event. He was a man who built deep and lasting friendships, who gave much of himself and loved to travel off the beaten path. I am sure he had no regrets and had a very loving tribe around him.

What to do: What do you most admire when you take a moment to appreciate the lives of those you have lost? Take a moment to write down 3 things about each person you’ve lost.

Life Lesson #4: Take Time to Re-assess

Events like this make you stop and reassess your life. Are your priorities in the right place? At the time of our passing no-one is going to care what kind of car we drove, how much money we made, or how many extra hours we put in. What matters is the friendships and family we have, how we chose to help others, and the type of person we were. I certainly stopped to re-asess if my priorities were in line. Thankfully they are close. I still have areas that I struggle with and I find it beneficial to look at how I am spending my time occasionally to be sure it is spent where is most valuable to me.

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Ultimately, attending someone’s memorial makes us appreciate life even more. We are all gifted with a finite number hours in this lifetime, and I hope to use mine as wisely as this man did.

What to do: What would you like to be remembered by? Make a list of 5 things you want others to remember when they attend your memorial. Now look at the list you wrote for life lesson #3. Would you like to be remembered for some of those things? If so, add them to your list. Are you living your life in such a way that you will be remembered for the items of your list? If not how can you adjust your priorities and the way you spend your time?

The time is now to start living the life you want to be remembered for.

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Last Updated on November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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