One of the greatest regrets people have after a loved one dies is the things they wish they would have said to their loved one. Life is way to short to leave important thoughts unsaid and heartfelt sentiments locked away inside of us. Time is short, for you and for those you come in contact. Will your life end with the haunting statement, “I wish I’d said…”? Without sounding morbid or condescending can I ask, “What Are You Waiting For?” Consider these suggestions as you make your own Verbal Bucket List.
- Thank a teacher or a mentor who has impacted your life. Who knows where you’d be today if that certain person hadn’t encouraged you, challenged you, invested in you? Seek them out and let them know what that meant to you, and tell them how their impact on you has changed the world you touch.
- Offer forgiveness where it isn’t deserved. We’ve all been burned by people. The thought of offering grace while the pain of that knife in your back doesn’t sit well with most of us. Do it anyway. I’ve discovered that when you hold on to unforgiveness long enough it turns into a hot coal of bitterness, and the only person burned by it is the one holding it.
- Ask for forgiveness even though it kills your pride. Be careful here. There is healing that comes with asking for forgiveness, but sometimes to much detail in a confession like this can make things worse instead of better. It’s enough to say, “I wronged you in the past, and I want you to know I’m truly sorry, and I’ve tried to make amends.” If they already know why you’re apologizing, that’s even better. This is no time to argue or defend yourself either. Apologize. Sincerely.
- Compliment someone you’ve had a conflict with. You’re never going to get along with everyone. But nothing softens the sharp edge of previous conflict like truly seeking and complimenting the good in others, even those we disagree with. People are much less likely to write you off completely if part of your shared experiences includes times you’ve built them up.
- Confess to a sibling about that time you, well you know what you did to them or their stuff, and laugh about it with them now. You tore up their favorite David Cassidy poster as a teenager. You put ExLax in their their brownies. You told their boyfriend or girlfriend horrible stories about imaginary problems you had with incontinence. Whatever it was, clear the air. It may be more serious than these examples, and may require a mediator. Go the extra mile and make the effort.
- Ask that burning question that you’ve always wanted answered. Ask it at your own peril, ask it at your own risk, but ask it. Ask your spouse, your best friend, your neighbor that question you’ve always wanted to ask! What could it hurt? OK, maybe a lot, but it could also hurt to NOT ask the question! Ask it!
- Tell each of your children/nieces/nephews/godchildren just what it is that makes them so special, and you so proud of them.
- Thank your in-laws for the job they did with your spouse. Take some time where it’s just you and them, without your spouse around. It may be in person or on a phone call. Take some time before the conversation to sit down and write out those things you love most about your spouse, and how many of them are a result of her parents. Thank them for investing in the two of you as a couple. Thank them for their example. But don’t miss out on thanking these people who’ve touched your life in a special way.
- Write each of your parents a letter of blessing, and honoring them for the lives they’ve lived. I like the idea of putting this down on paper. Be specific about what they’ve done, how they’ve lived and sacrificed to make your life and this world better for their having been here. Offer a blessing of your own for each of them at the end or your letter.
- Ask a religious leader that nagging spiritual question that has tugged at your soul for years. There is so much more than what we know in this earthly existence. Seek out spiritual guidance, and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. You may be surprised at what you find!
- Tell the veteran’s you know how much their service and sacrifice means to you and your family. Men and women in our armed forces sacrifice their health and their holidays, their lives and legacies to protect not just the dirt and concrete that make up our country, but the families and the dreams that make this a great nation. Say thank you. Buy their dinner at a restaurant. Give to their favorite charity in their name. Say thank you to them.
- Thank a friend for that time in your life where they rescued your heart, your ego or your faith in people. This friend may be from 20 years ago, or someone you just met last year. Those amazing people that cross our path and connect to our heart are a gift from the Creator, and we need to honor them for stepping into our way and into life’s fray on our behalf.
- Approach a local business owner who makes your community a better place, and tell them what you think about that and about them. This life we live is impacted sometimes by the movers and shakers of history. But more often than not it’s our local folks, like the Rotarians or church groups, Kiawanians or local business owners who give of their time and personal finances to impact their corner of the globe. Let’s show them we see, and tell them we care.
So what else is there to say? Are there other apologies, affirmations, confessions or confrontations that still need to happen? Sit down and make your list… and write it ALL down. Just because you write it down doesn’t mean you have to share it, but it’s a start.