things left unsaid, grief, missing them, affirmation, encouragement

Last week one of my fellow staff members passed-away suddenly. Lynn Hoffman was the feisty and faithful Senior Adult Minister for our church. And she was my friend. In the weeks before her passing, we talked soberly about plans for her retirement and travels with Norman, her beloved husband. My friend Lynn and I knew how we felt about each other. I knew that she and her family loved me, and she knew that I and my family loved her. However there are a few things I wish I would have said.

I wish I would have thanked her for loving our senior adults. Over and over, she served people close to life’s end—driving them to doctors, taking food, advocating in financial conflicts, and giving attention to those easily forgotten. I wish I had told her how inspired I have been by her marriage to Norm—they loved each other for decades with patience and grace through significant challenges. Their marriage made me want to be a better husband.

If I had spoken these things left unsaid, Lynn’s failing health would not have changed. But speaking the details about how her life made a difference would have made her days, even her last days, more full. We need fuller hearts. The world is cruel and competitive and the majority of things we hear are criticisms. And to be honest, a lot of it is self-criticism.

The point of this post is to encourage us to speak encouragement to the ones we love. Tomorrow is not promised. Telling them how much we love them, pointing to how they impact us, affirming their choices and sacrifices—this affirmation will change the tone and experience of their days. The Lord Jesus is honored when we build each other up and remind each other of our value and worth.

We need fuller hearts. As you connect with those in your life’s circle today, ask yourself this question: “What is true and good about them, that I don’t want to leave unsaid?” And then say it.

One more thing: perhaps there are some things you wish you had said to a loved-one who has passed-away. If it would be helpful, you can say those things here–in the reply area below.