What if we memorialized people while they were living in the same manner that we do when they are dead? I can remember a few years back, my grandmother had T-shirts made with her picture on them. She had her favorite quote underneath “You Know I Loves Ya!”I laughed and told her that I didn’t want to wear it because it made me feel like she was dead. She just shook her head at me and said “all right LiLi.”
Fast forward to April 27, 2018…my grandmother suddenly passes away. And now, I hold that shirt as a dear treasure. I will probably wear it on her birthday, or maybe even on Mother’s Day. Sounds silly, right? She made the shirt while she lived…and I didn’t want to wear it until she died. SMH.
Death really does have the power to make you self-reflect. Looking back, I can see the lesson in this scenario. My grandmother wanted to be celebrated while she was here. She wanted her roses, her acknowledgment and most importantly, her LOVE to be felt while she walked this earth.
Everyone who encountered her can attest to this. She never let a single person leave her presence without telling them that she loved them. When was the last time you told someone dear to you that you love them…let alone a stranger in the grocery store? What more could you do for those that you love or for those that you encounter on a daily basis? How can you positively impact another life today? How can you make someone else feel special?
It sounds contradictory to the idea of self-care…but when you express love and appreciation to others, you in turn, receive that love back. Not necessarily from the person you gave it to, but from some source. God has a way of making sure that you get that back. Goodness attracts more goodness and the bright light illuminates the darkness.
My grandmother was that bright light. I hope to be a fraction of the light that she was to this world. I sincerely desire to always remain active in expressing the love I have for my family, friends and even strangers…and I pray that I am constantly blessed with people in my own life that express that love and appreciation for me as well.
I want to ask the people in my life not to wait for my funeral to express their love to me. Don’t let me leave this world without knowing and feeling your love. Give me my flowers now. If you love me, tell me. Better yet, show me.
I want to live this life and enjoy it to the absolute fullest. And while I am fully responsible for making my own destiny and creating my own happiness, I believe that also includes embracing people in my life that think good things about and for me. If you are here for me, then show me.
Either way, I will do the same for you. We have a responsibility or obligation to one another. This responsibility does not require the time, energy or effort that you might think. It should in no way distract from your own self-care…but actually encourage it.
Be and attract the light that you want to see in this world. Affirm yourself and affirm others with positive words and kind actions. When you find people in your life that truly support you and have your best interest at heart, return the favor. If you continue to pour into one another NO ONE can become empty. And conversely, if you find that someone is not here for you and not looking to affirm, support and encourage you, focus your energies elsewhere.
This does not mean that you stop loving, being kind or even pouring into that person. It simply means that you no longer seek any recompense from them. It does not change your “happy” because you are still responsible for creating that yourself. However, it does lessen the disappointment when you continue to expect something that you never receive.
Protecting your heart is an active and vital form of self-care. Shutting down is not. It is detrimental to you and those in your space. So always be open to give and receive the love that we all so desperately need.
I appreciate my grandmother for inspiring life lessons even in death. She was an amazing woman who touched a lot of lives, and even though I didn’t always “wear her shirt,” the love that she put out in the universe ALWAYS came back to her. So I have no regrets…mostly because I know that she knew how deep my love was (and still is) for her.
And although I should have worn her shirt years ago, I will wear it now with pride, to represent the woman who shared more love than anyone else I know. I will follow in her footsteps and always be cognizant of giving people their flowers while they can smell them.
Dr. Folden is a licensed physical therapist and naturopathic lifestyle coach in Charlotte, NC. Owner of Healthy Phit Physical Therapy & Wellness Consultants, Dr. Folden’s work centers around “making healthy easy” for all.