Last night I went to a movie with five of my friends. We walked out of the movie, and within a couple minutes, one friend got a phone call that a close family member had died unexpectedly. Ten minutes later, the same thing happened to another friend as we stood there in the parking lot.
We discussed briefly how strange life can be sometimes, made sure the two friends were on their way to the places they needed to be, and called it a night. As I was driving home, I was thinking about how I wasn't feeling badly for the two people who had died, but I visualized what it is going to be like for the two families who now have to deal with their losses. One friend had mentioned that life was unpredictable--we could be out at a movie tonight and get hit by a car tomorrow---and not have told our friends how much fun we had or how much we love them.
I feel pretty content that my family and friends know how I feel about them, but I still called both my parents on my way home. I really started to think more about the whole gratitude concept---it is important to identify what you're grateful for, but I think it might be just as important to let it be known.
Luckily, most of us won't experience loss and death of friends and family very often, so it's not about telling someone you love them "just in case" something happens. It's about telling them and showing it because you are grateful for sharing life with them. Then, once in a while, be sure to remind yourself and those people for whom you are grateful. It feels good, it adds value to your life, and it helps keep perspective on the things and people who are most important.