Saturday, April 30, 2016

Don't Wait Until They're Gone

Celebrity deaths have been plentiful these past four months.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince and other notables have left their fans and admirers behind. Each death results in an outpouring of sad tweets and tribute statuses on social media. Other people in the limelight devote a few minutes to remembering their life and legacy.

I've been a part of this reaction a few times in the last few years. I was particularly struck when Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams passed away in quick succession.

Yet recently, as I saw my newsfeed fill up with tributes for Prince I started to wonder about this familiar cycle of mourning that we the public engage in and what it says about us.

I don't doubt the sincerity of many people who share mournful statuses about how much a notable artist touched their lives. As I said, I've done that myself (most recently with Alan Rickman)

There is a part of me though that wonders why we people wait until this person we cared for so much is gone before expressing how much they meant to us.   

Wouldn't they have appreciated this outpouring of love and gratitude while they were still around to enjoy it?

I think this can be applied not just to celebrities but to our loved ones in general. We all have people who have touched us and who we have touched in return. Once more, we live in an age where technology allows us to reach out and communicate with these people in just a few moments. It's never been easier to send a loving message to an old friend, send an appreciative text or make a call.

For all the idealistic images floating around Instagram and Facebook expressing how important it is to value people over status or possessions, I wonder if most of us practice what we share as well as we could.

All too often, the praise and love we shower on another person comes after they can no longer see it, feel it or read it.

There are a million reasons (some better than others) for why we don't tell others what they mean to us. Maybe we fear being vulnerable, maybe we think we're too busy or consumed by our own problems. Maybe it's too easy to ignore that email or text. Maybe you think that your actions convey your true feelings and that's enough.

I understand all of that. I've given myself these reasons as well. Yet somehow I don't think any of them can truly hold up.

At the end of the day, we can vanish from life at any point. No matter how young or healthy we might be, we could be gone. That's the truth. We should take anyone we know and love for granted. So tell those precious to you just how amazing they are. It may be the last chance you get.

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