If you knew this were the last moment with a loved one, how would you spend it?

There is nothing harder in the world than watching someone close to you die and I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing my mother, aunt, grandma, and now my dog through this inevitable transition. Yet as painful as this is (I would not wish it on my worst enemy) it can also be a blessing.

A loved one dying is like a crash course in spirituality and the preciousness of connection.

Long distance relationships evoke a similar awareness.  An expiration date on the time we have together helps us appreciate and enjoy one another in a way we may otherwise take for granted.

So what if we treated every second with those we care about as if it were the last? Not to cast a morbid tone, but instead to highlight how special that time is. What would you do?

Here are 5 lessons my mother’s dying taught me about relationships:

  1. Be present- When you are with someone, really be with them. Make eye contact. Practice deep listening.  Spend the time connected and together instead of buried in the phone or in your head.  Make special plans.  If you choose to zone out and watch a movie, do it together.
  2.  Don’t sweat the small stuff- If something major is going on in one’s life, little annoyances are suddenly not as upsetting nor important. There’s actually relief with this. It saves time and energy to focus on what matters.
  3. Celebrate each other- Focus on all of the amazing things about one another. Life is too short to criticize or judge.  Buoy one another up.  We are hard enough on ourselves and the world can be an unforgiving place.  Your family, friends, and lover should be your greatest champions.
  4. Ask questions- Anything that comes to mind, ask. I once wrote a list of questions to ask my mum on her deathbed, from how often I need to flip a mattress to the breakdown of her side of the family.  Sadly, I was not consistent and there were so many questions I never got a chance to ask.
  5. Express yourself- Communicate. Be vulnerable. Tell people how grateful you are for them. Say I love you every day.

Originally featured on Yoganonymous Sept 9, 2015