Before reading this post, understand that it is written to get you to think about a topic that is not normally discussed and, in some circles, is even taboo to discuss: Your own death. We all pray to live a long and healthy life, but we also know that there are ZERO guarantees in this world. Hashem decides when our time is up, and we are not consulted on that decision. We play a role in that decision in how we live our lives, but, quite obviously, it is out of our hands as to the determination of the day our holy neshama (soul) returns Heavenward. In this post, I want to make you think; perhaps even make you feel a little (a lot?) uncomfortable. I want you to read this and pause to think about your answers to the questions posed below.
If (G-d forbid!) you were to pass away tomorrow, what would have been left unsaid? What would have been left undone?
If you are fortunate to be blessed with a spouse, when is the last time you sat down with him/her and truly expressed your love and how you feel? I don’t mean a quick “I love you,” as you run out the door in the morning. I mean sharing your intense love and feelings with your spouse. How about your children? You may be tempted to say how, of course, they know I love them! Yet, if you sit down with them and express that love to them in a way that you normally do not, that forms a bond that is even stronger.
Do you have problems with your spouse? With your kids? Have things been festering and you just don’t want to “open up”? Imagine all of the unfinished business? Can you imagine the hurt that could potentially be fixed/healed by opening up and speaking? It is unbelievable how little some families communicate! When there is no communication, or–worse yet–miscommunication, this leaves so many unanswered questions, after one passes away.
If you are the one who handles the family finances, does your spouse know where all the necessary papers are? Does he/she know the passwords on the bank accounts and whom to contact with all matters financial? So many times, I have witnessed a surviving spouse feel completely at a loss, not only for the physical loss of their beloved, but because when “reality” sets in, they have no idea what to do. Does your spouse know where any “important” papers are? Do you have a will–where is it? Where do you want to be buried and did you have this arranged already?
And what about friends and relationships? Here again, and maybe even in a more pronounced way, so much is left unsaid and so much is left undone. Do you really want to leave this world without apologizing for being a jerk to your friend? Do you really not want to make the friendship right again? We ALL hurt people one way or another. If you think hard (and for some, it would not be so hard!), I am sure you will think of people to whom you owe an apology…or money…or at least a kind word in place of the mean-spirited altercation you last had with them.
Imagine if after you pass away, you had a conscious awareness of all you didn’t say and all you didn’t do. You may be filled with regret with the trip you never took; the Torah you never learned (more on that in a minute); the chances you never took.
And speaking of Torah–what of your relationship with Hashem? After 120 years, you arrive before Hashem’s heavenly court. According to the Talmud, each person will be asked certain questions. A couple of examples: Did you deal faithfully in business? Did you set aside time to learn Torah? Did you anticipate the arrival of Mashiach?
Did you ever stop to think about those questions? How about your daily relationship with G-d. How do you see G-d in your life. Is Hashem kind of “just there” or do you place G-d at the center of your day and all of your actions? How is your Tefilla (prayer)? Yes, there are indeed things that can be left unsaid and left undone when it comes to G-d, as well.
Self-examination is critical. We look inwards and by doing so, we can make changes. But, we need not only make changes in ourselves. By putting ourselves out there and by opening our minds and our hearts, we can make a huge difference in the life of our families and our friends. We can repair a problematic relationship with G-d and with ourselves.
If you (G-d forbid) passed away tomorrow–what would you feel was left unsaid? What do you feel would have been left undone?
The question only remains: What are you waiting for? It may be strange or scary in some cases to take that first step. But, if you take it, that step can change you and those around you, forever. And you will be left with no regrets. You will be able to know that you did the best you possibly could in this world.
I wish every single one of you a long and healthy life. A life filled with goodness and service of Hashem.
Take that first move…don’t leave that thought unsaid! Don’t leave that act undone.
Take that leap. And, say a little prayer first.