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You may know from your own experience that a eulogy is read out at funerals.

To quote my dictionary, a eulogy is:

a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died.

I wrote and read a eulogy at my friend’s funeral, back in 2008. I spoke about how he had positively influenced my life, and how he had inspired me. I quoted a few things he had said that have stuck with me till this very day. He was 22 years old when he died, and at his funeral there were around 250 people to wave him goodbye.

I can’t honestly recall if I (actually) told him how much he influenced me. Probably not. I should have done. And that goes for all the other people I’ve known who have passed on, too.

Doesn’t it seem like a shame to wait until a person has passed away, before we share what impact they had on us?

Irvin Yalom, in his book Staring at the Sun, calls this impact Rippling. Our positive actions, ideas, and words ripple out to friends, family members, and even strangers, in ways we may never imagine.

When we listen wholeheartedly to someone’s troubles, and offer words of support and comfort, we can alter the course of their life, and quite possibly even save it.

The heart that receives this kind of support, doesn’t forget so easily.

When someone has reached out to us, when they say the right words at exactly the right time, or their actions ease the strain and the pressure we are feeling so strongly, they can leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

So instead of expressing our gratitude at someone’s funeral, why not tell them before they are gone?

Tell them how their words of support, their encouragement, their actions, and their selfless deeds helped you when you most needed to be helped. Tell them how much their loyalty as a friend means to you.

We might find this difficult or embarrassing; we might get upset and cry, for such is the overwhelming nature of gratitude. Is it so surprising, then, that we wait until someone’s funeral to do it?

If you really don’t want to face the person you want to thank, then consider writing them a letter of gratitude.

Imagine them in your mind’s eye, as you are writing. Think back to all they have done for you. See how your life has been impacted because of them being a part of it. Think about what your life could have been like, if they hadn’t been there for you.

They could be:

  • A member of your family who was always there for you
  • A friend who acted more like the parent you never had
  • A teacher who helped you believe in yourself
  • A work colleague that gave you advice – advice that led to your new start
  • A customer who knew just what to say when you were looking sad
  • Even your pet! (Why not!?)

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To help you start, you might want to write something like this:

Dear {their name},

I am writing this letter as an expression of my gratitude to you. Without you acting as a foundation, I surely would have sank several times. You have picked me up more times than I am able to remember. Your kind words and actions have had a lasting impact on my life, and I think it is important that you know….

You can pick out specific things they did and said, and you may even jolt their memory, as perhaps they will have forgotten.

The imprint left on the giver’s heart isn’t half as prominent as that left on the receiver’s.

When you are happy with your letter, read it out loud to yourself, whilst imagining the person that you are giving thanks to is standing in front of you.

Alternatively, if you want them to hear it read in your own voice, but feel embarrassed about reading it face-to-face, consider ringing them and reading it to them over the phone.

What about over Skype or using FaceTime? How about sending them an email? Maybe contain a few pictures to jog their memory.

Whatever method you choose to express your gratitude, know that the other person might also feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or awkward.

They might not feel that what they did was so special, and that it doesn’t warrant such an outward show of emotion.

But know that when these feelings have subsided, and they have absorbed your heartfelt message of thanks, they will beam from the inside out.

Let’s not wait until someone passes, for us to reveal how they supported, inspired, and encouraged us.

**

Thanks for reading.

Before you go, it would be great if you could Like, Comment and/or Share
The ebook version of my uplifting and moving fable, The Girl with the Green-Tinted Hair, is now free. Please go and grab yourself a copy. I hope you enjoy it.
Blessings.

Gavin

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