In the past couple of months, we have mourned the deaths of Amy Winehouse, Ryan Dunn, Betty Ford, Constable Garrett Styles of the York Regional Police, and countless others, one or more of whom may have been close to your own heart.

My husband and I have often wondered about why people only have tributes paid to them after they’ve passed.  Why can’t we hear about how wonderful we are while we are still alive?  (I more wonder why all the energy that was given to paying tribute to Amy Winehouse couldn’t have been spent trying to help her while she was still alive, by the way.  Shame on the people who even let her on the stage in Belgrade.  Alas, this is a whole other post…)

It made me think again about the idea of a living wake.  The concept works for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and know they’re going to die.  I read a touching blog post by Derek Miller who passed away in May of cancer.  His wife hosted a living wake in his honour, and it sounded like a celebratory, positive party for a man who clearly loved living.  Everyone should have this opportunity if they choose it.

My father passed away of cancer as well, and while we did not have a living wake for him, he did see his 75th birthday a month before his passing.  My mom, as she did every year, had organized a birthday dinner for him with about 60 people in attendance.  It was unspoken, but we all knew this would be the last occasion for most of these people to see him.  I remember there was an extra vibe of love in the room.

But most of us don’t know when we’re going to die.  So it’s a nice reminder to express our gratitude, praise and love to people whenever we see them or communicate with them, because maybe they’d like the opportunity to actually hear it.  It would seem to be a simple random act of kindness.

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