My grandmother, Elizabeth Rose Winter, died this week.

Sadly, it was not a surprise. She had been ill and struggling for a long period and it was her time to be at peace.

I’m part of a large (LARGE) Catholic family from Baltimore. My grandparents have always been the center of our family universe. My father is one of eight (told you) children, each of whom went on to marry and produce multiple offspring. (Seriously. It is nearly impossible to count how many cousins and second cousins I have.)

When one has this type of family dynamic, it is fairly easy to predict the outcome of a celebration of life…

Laughter.

Tears.

Smiles.

Hugs.

Laughter.

Tears.

(Repeat as necessary.)

In our family, we don’t do wailing and we don’t drama. We do, however, love. And we love fiercely. We are a strong, strong family unit.

That all being said, I can’t help but wonder why it always seems to take a major life circumstance to bring everyone together. Why do we always let the business of life overtake us?

I read an article the other day about the top five regrets of the dying. Written by a nurse who spent years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, the list is insightful and thought provoking.

Their top regrets:

  • That they hadn’t had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.
  • That they hadn’t had the courage to express their feelings.
  • That they hadn’t stayed in touch with friends.
  • That they hadn’t let themselves be happier.
  • That they had worked too hard.

It makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Personally, I am guilty of all of these things on some level.

How about YOU?