COMMENTARY 977.2: Tell Someone They’re Valued

The students at Sandy’s high school were badly shaken by the news that a classmate had killed himself. The suicide note said, “It’s hard to live when nobody cares if you die.” Glen, a teacher, realized this was a teachable moment about the importance of making people feel valued. He asked the class to imagine they were about to die and to write a note “telling someone how and why you appreciate them.”

Sandy, who had a rocky relationship with her mother, decided to write her mom. Her letter said, “We’ve had some rough times and I haven’t always been a very good daughter, but I know I’m lucky to have you in my life. You are the best person I’ve ever known. And even when I disagree with you, I never doubt you love me and want what’s best for me. Thanks for not giving up on me.” When her mom read the note, she cried and hugged Sandy tightly but said little.

The next morning, Sandy found a note on her mirror. “Dearest Sandy, I want you to know being your mother is, by far, the most important thing in my life. Until I got your note, I thought I had lost your love and respect. I felt like such a failure. I intended to end it all last night. Your note saved my life.”

Be careful not to underestimate the power of expressed appreciation. It won’t always save a life, but it will always make someone’s life better.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 9

  1. This is so true. I think about how different our world would be if we all were committed to sharing our appreciation – even just saying thank you and smiling. It does make a difference.

  2. Michael, your timing – as usual – is uncanny!

    I performed a graveside service yesterday for a person I never met and a family I didn’t know. I was humbled to have been asked to be a part of it and was moved by the sharing of stories and good times that became part of the ritual of saying good-bye.

    From page 210: “Why is it we wait until people are gone
    before we share memories of them and the impact they had
    on our lives? If these good, influential people mean so much
    to us, why do we wait until the viewing or funeral to let
    their families know it? Another thing in life that leaves me
    scratching my head.”

    When I wrote that part of the book I had no idea I’d one day be presiding at funerals, but here it was again. And I couldn’t help but think about what I wrote back then.

    Thank you, once again, Michael, for sharing your wisdom.

    So, who’s up for picking up the phone, sending out an email, or using the good old fashion post office to tell at least one person how much we appreciate them?


  3. This truth [the failure to tell others of their value] is sadly evident in the courts throughout our country. Many a person who ends up in the criminal justice system has gone through life not knowing that their life is valued because no one has ever told them. Last week a young man was in court for a charge of underage drinking. As the judge sentenced the young man [to probation] he looked the young man in his eyes and said: “You appear to be a nice young man. You are pleasant and have a nice smile. You are a valuable person and I am sure that you can make a difference in other people’s lives. We just need to help you make better decisions.” The young man began to shed a tear and looked at the judge and said: ” No one has ever told me that I was valuable before.” Should it take a stranger after 19 years of life to tell someone they are valuable? The fact is that many people go through life struggling with self worth issues. Many of these people turn to substance abuse and succumb to peer pressure because they are seeking validation of their worth or have concluded that the value of their existence and in some cases their life is of little of no value. Yes Michael, tell them they are valuable.

  4. Very well said. I also am involved in conducting funerals, and it is very sad when people have felt that they were not valued.

    One celebration I know of took place under the auspices of a church in which a man was dying. His friends decided to have the funeral while he was still alive so that he could hear all the good things people had to say about him. The man died the next day, and the funeral had been a very positive experience for everyone, including him. I’m not recommending that for everyone, but we could all certainly let people know how valuable they are while they are still with us.

  5. After I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new
    comments arre added- chneckbox and from now on whenever a comment is aded I receive
    four emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to
    remove me from that service? Kudos!

    1. Post
  6. Very touching! Sometimes, I forget to tell my family and friends how much I love and value them and how important they are, to me! Thank you for the reminder.

  7. The link on Tell someone they’re valued is broken. But I got here by the Read More — very moving. Thanks — Cynde

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