Have you ever read an obituary or been to a memorial service and been moved by the tributes paid to friends, family, and loved ones? These are some of the most beautiful, thoughtfully articulated messages of gratitude about a person’s impact on the lives of their loved ones. Yet, the person whose rich life is being celebrated often doesn’t get to hear, enjoy, and cherish their impact.
Isn’t that sad? All this outpouring of love would have such an indelible impact if it was delivered to the living. This thought propelled me to write letters of gratitude to ten women who enabled my journey as an immigrant, an act that led to unimaginable joy. I chronicled this experience in a book entitled “Why Wait for Eulogies” that I released this past Thanksgiving on Amazon.
“Why Wait for Eulogies” started with a letter that I wrote to my dear friend Suzanne who is battling stage 4 cancer. I reminisced about how I met Suzanne, our conversations, how she supported me in my times of need, and the lessons she taught me. Thinking about these beautiful moments made me smile, putting them to paper felt good, and finally surprising Suzanne with an unexpected gratitude bouquet of words left her speechless.
“I’m in tears for your beautiful words and kindness. Your friendship means so much to me. Grateful, thankful, humbled are just a few words I can immediately think of. I am humbled and words are hard to come by. We have lived, loved, and fought for each other throughout our 10 years. You pop in via text on me seemingly when I need it the most, and my hope is that I was able to be a source of support for you when you needed it too. That’s what friends are for – be they near or far – distance can’t break a friendship.”Suzanne
Tears of joy and happiness at being thoughtfully recognized were common themes in the reactions expressed by my friends. They laughed aloud at the memories I shared. We recalled the times we spent together and this gift of reconnection led me to learn more about them. I probed how each of them became such special people – I asked them about their parents, their childhood dreams, the foods they ate growing up, and the advice they would give to their younger selves. And last but not least, an idea that was born thinking about death, led me to ask my friends what they would want their legacy in the world to be. A simple act of expressing gratitude led to a happiness generation engine that I am thrilled to share with others.
How would you feel about giving or receiving a gratitude bouquet? I would guess the answer is, it would make you feel good. Do you have a friend you went to lunch with early on in your career? Or one that mentored you? Or one that got you through tough times? How about your family? Today is as perfect a day as any to express gratitude to them. A day to deliver an unexpected surprise, a moment to make someone feel that they matter. And in the process, just like me, you could enrich your own life with lots of smiles and maybe a few invaluable life lessons.
Arianna Huffington has said, “I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.” I’ll add and say when you are in a state of grace and where there are warm vibes, can happiness trail far behind?