“All those people saying all those wonderful things, and [he] never got to hear any of it.”

Reading several of the reactions to Robin Williams’ tragic passing, I am reminded of a memorable scene from Mitch Albom’s “Tuesday’s With Morrie” I have quoted here before:

“When a colleague at Brandeis died suddenly of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed. ‘What a waste,’ he said. ‘All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.’”

This is not to say that praise, love, and recognition are withheld from most people until death. It is interesting, however, that we tend to reserve, perhaps unconsciously, our best thoughts and most charitable words until after loved ones have passed (and I am no exception). I wish we could collectively reverse this trend, perhaps by incorporating Morrie’s novel idea of a “living funeral”:

“Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a ‘living funeral.’ Each of them spoke and paid tribute to [him]. Some cried. Some laughed. . . . Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His ‘living funeral’ was a rousing success.”