Friday, February 25, 2011
It's not my place to judge ...
Last week I attended a funeral. As far as funerals go it wasn't overly sad. The gentleman who passed away was in his 70's and was suffering Parkinson's Disease, so his passing was probably welcome by him. He had lived a full life.
I met this man a while back, he's a relative of my Fiancé. He started coming to visit me on Tuesdays while I was caring for my Mother In Law (who has Alzheimer's). He was incredibly lonely. Living with his 9 year old German Shepherd, who was also aging and not well. The last time he came to visit me, before Christmas, he was looking tired. He was sad that he might have to put his beloved dog down. He was sad because he was so lonely. He was sad because he didn't have any grand children, nor a close relationship with his only daughter. He was tired of being alive.He was desperate to find a woman to spend the rest of his years with. Sadly that was not to happen.
Two weeks ago he passed away. Alone, save for his dog. He was found by a friend, 2 days later. He suffered a heart attack. One week later his beloved dog was also put down.
At the funeral I saw his daughter for the first time. She was up at the pulpit talking about her father. She described a man who was a loving father, a hard worker, a kind man. She would cry every so often. At first I felt annoyed by this. Where was she while her dad was dying from loneliness? Why didn't she ever call him, other than when she wanted money? Why didn't she hug him and make him feel loved? I wanted to call her a fake, a fraud.
Then something happened.
I started thinking about regrets. I wondered if she regretted that she wasn't a better daughter to him. I wondered if she was crying, not because he died, but because she regretted not being there for him? I then started thinking about what I knew about her family. I hardly know them. I don't know what he was like when he was a vibrant man. I only knew him as a frail, lonely old man. I didn't know why she wasn't there for him. I didn't know the dynamics of their relationship. I really didn't know anything. I had no right to judge this woman crying in the pulpit for her father. Whether she was crying because she loved this man who died and would genuinely miss having a father or whether she was crying because of what she didn't have with him really doesn't matter. This was her grief and I, nor anyone else there, had the right to judge her.
I've been thinking all week about regrets. The regrets we all naturally feel when we lose someone. I wish I was there for them more. I wish I never said those cruel words. I wish I let that silly argument go. I wish I told them I loved them more.
Life is so very fragile, the Christchurch earthquake is a stark reminder of this. How many people went to work on the day of the earthquake having fought with their parter, child, parent? How many people left behind have regrets?
Do something for me today. Tell the people you love how much you love them. If you are having an argument with a loved one, let it go. Hug your kids. Call your mum or dad. Do something. You will feel good about it and you will most likely make their day.
Your biggest regrets aren't the things you did, but the things you didn't do.