Since Sona Mehring’s journey with CaringBridge began in 1997, our founder has come to believe that no one should be left wondering whether their life has mattered.
Driving home to the Twin Cities from Milwaukee after a recent visit with my son and daughter-in-law, I soaked up the pleasure of uninterrupted podcasts. One of my favorites was an interview with former Atlanta paramedic Kevin Hazzard about his book, “A Thousand Naked Strangers.” I lost track of the miles—and possibly the speedometer—hearing Kevin chronicle a decade of rescuing people from accident scenes, cardiac arrests, gunshot wounds and other medical emergencies.
3 Things Every Person Wants to Know
The stories were as riveting as you would imagine, but it wasn’t the relentless adrenaline that captured my imagination. It was the way Kevin talked about patients whose hands he held as they died. He said he had come to note three commonalities:
• Those who were dying often expressed regret about something they had done, or not done.
• In their final moments, many patients hoped they would be remembered.
• As life faded, patients wanted to believe their lives had value.
Share Why You Value Their Life
This was a lightning rod for me. While the health journeys of patients and caregivers using CaringBridge typically extend longer than an ambulance ride—with many positive outcomes—Kevin’s words jolted me. What is more powerful than describing to a loved one the value their life has brought to yours?
The Gift of Time
I like to think that when my Mom’s life ended, in my home, with hospice care in place, she had been able to resolve those three themes. Over the course of two cancer struggles, we had the gift of time to tell Mom what she meant to us, and to hear from her about things she may have done differently if there had been a second chance.
The Time to Say You Care is NOW!
If only the gift of time and second chances were always in reach. No one should ever have to talk above a wailing siren to thank someone for teaching them how to bake bread or ride a bike. Or for being their moral compass. Or for saying “no,” when “yes” would have been easier. But the only way to ensure you are not too late in telling someone the ways in which you will remember them is to do it now.
And When You Can’t Be There …
I am grateful to people like paramedic Kevin Hazzard, as well as nurses, doctors and aides everywhere, for holding the hands of our loved ones when we can’t be with them. But my preference is for those dear to me to know, well in advance, how their lives have mattered to me.
Leave No Doubt They Will be Remembered
Having had the opportunity to tell my Mom she was one of the bravest, most accomplished, and most loving people I know—and that I would always tell stories about her—may be the best gift I ever gave her, or me. I encourage you to do the same, so that no one you love is left wondering whether they will be remembered.
Start a CaringBridge Website
Are you or a loved one caring for someone on a health journey? If so, start a CaringBridge website, where you can share updates and receive encouragement and support from your family and friends.
Sona Mehring founded CaringBridge in 1997. She is also the author of the book “Hope Conquers All.”