20 + years ago, my young husband died. I was newly pregnant, with another young child to care for, and it was a very unexpected death. I was devastated, and lost for a very long time in the shock of it all and then the demands of my children through the years.
While all that was tragic, and very hard at times, I was always quick to say to people who asked questions about those years, that it could have been so much worse. The best thing about that time of my life was there was no room for regrets. Nothing between us has been left unsaid – including the ‘I love you’s’ and even the name of our new baby had been talked about before he died. And I have to be clear here, he did not know that was the likely outcome.
Having hard conversations, when things are going well in life may seem like an odd thing to do. But if you wait until life gets too busy, or tragedy hits unexpectedly, your regrets over what ended up unsaid or left unresolved will quite literally haunt you for a very, very long time.
You don’t want to get into bed every night for years on end, having your head hit the pillow and wonder about the undone or unspoken things between you and someone special. You don’t want to look your children in the eyes and tell them you have no idea whether their parent or grandparents felt one way or another about something important.
Not getting a second chance to have those important conversations is something we don’t think about when we’re young. But we should. Not having important conversations with our adult children about our expectations after we die are also critical. Not having regrets about things that you could have or should have taken care of when you had the chance will make a difference between what story you end up with and the way you feel about the outcomes.