In early December, I attended a memorial service for an older member of my community whom I was fond of but did not know very well. My wife, Melissa, knew him better and has enjoyed a friendship with his wife which has lasted for almost two decades.
During the memorial service, those in attendance had many kind things to say about this very gentle man. He had experienced an unusual turn of events which resulted in his death after transportation from one medical center to another. He and his wife of over 60 years had a close and loving relationship. She had been with him during the acute phase of his illness, but she was not present with him at the time of his death.
As I listened to the accolades expressed, I vacillated between the sad thought that the couple was not together when he died and appreciation of the stories of his full engagement in their relationship throughout their lives. From what others said, he fully expressed his love to his wife and each member of his family every day. His entire family was well aware of how much he loved each and every one of them. He even left a voicemail for his granddaughter just before his hospital transfer.
The lesson I took from hearing about this man is this: tell those around you how you feel about them every day so that if an unfortunate event happens (the way it happened to this man) your family, friends and loved ones will know exactly how you feel.
In my case, I would want my wife to know that I have found my soulmate. She is the perfect fit for me. I can think of no one else I have ever met who could make me as happy as I am today. I will make it my business that she knows it. There would never be any question if I were unable to say my last goodbye.
Have you told those who matter to you about how you feel about them? Now is always a good time. Go ahead and do it.
To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD