Funerals are hard. It's difficult to say goodbye to someone who has been a part of your life. It's hard to know just what to say to others. It can be a harsh reminder that life is fragile. As I've attended several funerals in the past year, I've found that there are many things I've learned. Of course, funerals are first a place to honor and remember the deceased, lend support to their families and gather with others who are also grieving. But, funerals can also be a place of inspiration. Here are a few lessons I've learned from funerals.

Tell others that you love them

It must be the worst feeling in the world to miss out on an opportunity to tell someone that you love them. Tell those around you how much they mean to you. Say it with words as well as actions. Express your gratitude and share with them the things that are most important to you.

Live without regrets

This is in two parts. First, ask yourself "What do I want to accomplish in my life? Is what I am doing today helping me toward my goals?" This may include writing up a bucket list of things you want to do, places you want to go, skills you wish to learn or anything else you can think of. Then, work to align your daily life with those things that you put on your list. Life, lived purposefully, is much sweeter. Second, refrain from doing or saying things that you might later regret. Especially when angry or exhausted, be sure to watch yourself. Sometimes a "time out" is still effective as an adult, so take one if you need it.

Learn from the lives of others

Included in many funeral programs is a life sketch. It's always fascinating to hear of the things that people manage to accomplish and the challenges they are able to overcome. I didn't know the beloved husband, father and friend for whom I attended one funeral. I knew many of his family members and wanted to be there to support them. It was neat to realize that there was much to be learned from a stranger. He was constantly studying, learning and challenging himself. It's something that stood out to all of us and will continue to inspire me.

How do you want to be remembered?

The last point is to ponder about how you want others to remember you after you are gone. I've come up with a "power phrase" that encompasses how I hope people will remember me. I try to remember that goal as I go about my daily life, and have found that there is more purpose in the things that I do. When times get hard or I'm not sure how I managed to find myself in a given situation, I can remind myself of my goal and choose to act, and react, accordingly.

While death is a trying and very real part of life, a fantastic way to cope, as well as honor those who have passed on, is to learn the lessons that will make you a better person.

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