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I’ve been thinking a lot about expressing appreciation for people in my life lately. Over the last few months, I’ve known two people who have passed away that have made an influence on my life, but I never told them about their influence before they died.

Whenever I attend a funeral, I can’t help but feel sad that the deceased person is missing out on all of their friends and family coming together to mourn their loss. I always hope the person knew how loved they were before they died.

I remember at my Grandma’s funeral, many of her grandkids got up to tell stories about her and share things that they appreciated about her. Most of the stories and thoughts that I shared were things that I had never told her about before, but she probably would’ve appreciated hearing them while she was still alive.

I hope we take the time to tell those around us what kind of influence they have had on our lives while we still have the chance. I think it can be easy to tell family members how much we love them, but maybe we should take a minute to consider others who have influenced us: teachers, classmates, neighbors, co-workers, family friends, etc. Everyone appreciates hearing how they’ve affected others’ lives positively.

A few years ago, my cousin organized an 85th surprise birthday party for my grandparents and it was the perfect opportunity to show them how much we loved and appreciated them. My grandparents have over 120 descendants, and many of them were able to make it to this party. We had skits, a talent show, refreshments, a life sketch, the whole shebang, and to say my grandparents were surprised would be an understatement. I wish everyone could have a party like that where people could show them how much they cared for them.

Of course, you don’t have to throw a big party to show your appreciation. You can always just send a quick message, make a phone call, mail a letter, send a birthday card, etc.

One idea that I love (and have done) is for someone’s birthday, you fill a jar with slips of paper (the number of paper slips depends on how old they are) and on each one you write why you love/appreciate that person to give to them.

However you choose to let those around you know of the influence they have had on your life, I hope you choose to do it sooner rather than later.

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