Two people I know of died recently.
I wanted to tell Holly’s husband and children how much I liked and admired their wife and mom. How peaceful and calm and scared and human she was. But I didn’t.
I wanted to tell Angel that I was so sorry for what she had been through. Again, nope.
I’ve been moved by hearing special things about the loved one who passed away, experiencing an outpouring of support and loving all the little ways that people come from every corner of the world to be there. Oh, so meaningful.
Life changing, actually. So why didn’t I say anything?
I didn’t know exactly what to say, to whom to say it, what if I wasn’t clear, what if they want to talk further, what if it makes them feel worse, what if, what if….
For every person who tells you about the impact your family member had on their life, there are maybe dozens of people who aren’t saying it.
That’s not an excuse for not saying it, but it is the truth.
I wanted to tell the woman that she was beautiful, but I was worried of what she might think of me.
What, that I’m kind?
I wanted to tell the cashier that she made shopping at that store an amazing experience. She went out of her way, really, and I appreciated her so, so much.
I asked about her grandchildren, told her she was excellent at her job, but I didn’t say the whole of the wonderful things I thought of her. Not even close.
That would have made me too vulnerable. Too assuming. Too bold.
For everything that is said, there are a million things unsaid. When someone compliments you, there are a dozen people who wanted to and didn’t.
Remember that next time you get a compliment.
And when you get that next compliment, pay it forward. Take that step, put yourself out there and tell the woman she’s beautiful because you never know what that might inspire in her. Tell the family that their love one touched your life because hearing it from 22 people is infinitely better than hearing it from 21 people. It does make a difference.
And the next time you hold your compliments in, notice the pattern and embrace it. Examine the beliefs, fears, insecurities that are underneath that behavior and choose differently.
I know I will.