I've also become more aware of these instances in other people's lives, as Dr. Mary Ann Mann, of Lewisburg, pointed out to me. While some of you may find it depressing to read obituaries, I find myself spending more time with them. It began as an exercise to keep myself informed, although sometimes that's even difficult because the names of the deceased don't always match up with the names of people I know. So, even with good intentions, some things fall through the cracks.
Then I found myself fascinated with the life stories I read about. Even if I don't know the person or the family, I'm intrigued by the amazing tributes. Of course, I realize people are painted in their best lights during obituaries and funerals. More and more, though, I'm seeing vulnerabilities creep into written tributes and funeral services. I love the ones that expose the person's foibles in a humorous way. After all, they were human!
Apparently, this is more common that I knew. At a recent dinner in Morgantown with Dr. George Esper and professor April Johnston, of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, we were discussing the passion many writers feel while crafting obituaries. While it may appear to be a mundane task, writers often feel a deep sense of meaning for the difference they're making in people's lives.
I concluded last year's column on this topic with a sentence that still resonates with me as I yearn to keep my heart space open: While I'm grateful for the healing that time brings, I also want to savor the awareness that is so raw -- yet so enriching -- right now.
And, turning back to the ThanksLiving theme, it's amazing what a difference one letter in a word makes. Unlike other traditions, the season of ThanksLiving has no beginning and no end. No retail displays in September and no clearance sales in January.
Which makes it both a blessing -- and a challenge.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.