UNITED STATES—Death it is indeed something that is part of life. It happens all the time, and for some people it happens unexpectedly; to the point that it punches you so hard in the gut it becomes difficult to recover. I will admit 2017 has been a difficult year for me to say the least. I have seen plenty of people die and even worse have close relatives bid adieu. These last 2 months have indeed been brutal. I mean within 6 weeks, not only did I unexpectedly bury my grandmother, but just this past weekend attended the funeral of my aunt.

I tell people this all the time and I have no gripes in saying it: I hate funerals. I get a level of dread attending a funeral because it forces you to think about the people in your life that you care about and how you would respond if they were no longer on this Earth. I mean the eulogy given at my aunt’s funeral was powerful; it was poignant and it really made me think. Why do I complain so much in life, when there are people out there that have it way worse than I do? I mean I really want you to think about what I just said. We b**ch and moan about some of the dumbest things, not even realizing how trivial they are until it’s too late.

I’m complaining about what to where, the fact that the trash wasn’t taken out, the house is dirty, I can choose between buying this and buying that. Yeah, it sounds very silly if you truly think about it. The fact that I’m complaining about cleaning a house, when there are some people who would kill to just have a place they could call home and have a roof over their head. The idea of having options to buy materialistic things, when there are people out there who aren’t able to afford the basic necessities to live; it is utterly ridiculous and I should be aware of it.

I have no idea of the grief a person suffers who loses a parent. I can only imagine what my dad is feeling right now knowing that he will NEVER be able to have a conversation with his mother again. That same sentiment echoes for my cousin who recently lost his mother, and he’s not even at the age of 30 yet. I’ve come to the realization that I cannot take for granted the people in my life. Those who matter and those who I love I have to share with them how I feel, so I’m not left in those situations beating myself up about not getting that opportunity to say something that I should have said to begin with.

We take our loved ones for granted, and I’ve learned this year that I can no longer do that. Do you feel sappy and overly vulnerable telling family your true emotions? Of course you do, but stop allowing yourself to feel embarrassed or afraid of the truth. Sometimes a funeral gives us that opportunity to say those words to a loved one that we should have said when they were living in the flesh. Death puts things into perspective: life is not guaranteed for any of us. Cherish the moments you have with those you care about the most and let them know how important they are to you. Guilt is something that can haunt us for years to come, especially if we don’t mend fences with those before they cross over to the afterlife.