It’s not uncommon for those bereaved to feel regret. While anyone bereaved can feel regret, children and young adults can be particularly vulnerable. They have less experience with life and death and have yet to understand how fragile life can be. Regret is a deep sadness over what we perceive as missed opportunity and it’s the last thing we want to feel when a loved one dies.
Prince William and Prince Harry recently disclosed their regret that they cut short their final phone call with their beloved mother, Princess Diana, hours before she was killed in a car accident in Paris. Prince Harry shared: “I can’t necessarily remember what I said, but all I do remember is regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was.” Prince William and Prince Harry were just boys at the time. How could they have possibly known that this would be their last chance to speak to their mother?
As a child, I had regrets too. My father fought cancer for five years and died when I was eleven. I was too young to understand that my father could die and I was unable to remember the last time I said, “I love you.” Not wishing to repeat this “regret,” or any other for that matter, I made it my mission to express my feelings openly. No one I cared about would ever need to wonder how I felt. While my mother was alive, I made every effort to demonstrate how much she was cherished and ended every conversation by telling her I loved her. I continue to do the same for every precious relationship in my life.
How can we know that a visit, phone conversation, or connection with a friend or loved one will be our last? We can’t. What we can do is accept life’s fragilities, taking advantage of opportunities to build and maintain meaningful relationships.
Our loved ones would not be happy if we tied their memory to regret. Instead, make their legacy a personal mission to live your life to the fullest.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store