What I Learned about Life through Death
Two weeks ago, I agreed to meet a business professional for coffee to explore possible business opportunities. Just your typical form of networking but little did I know where the conversation would lead. He told me that his son had recently died. Now this man, who I just met, is mired in the enormity of sorrow through which my husband and I traveled twelve years ago today.
Shortly into the conversation, he asked what I repeatedly ask myself: “How do you survive? Does the pain ever go away?” I do not have the answers for him or anyone else who loses their child. What I know for sure is that we all mourn and grieve differently. I stuttered as if in disbelief these words, “it will be twelve years on January 29th.” I told him the pain, for me, never ever goes away, it is just less intense. I wasn’t sure that was what he wanted to hear.
Most of all, I did want to assure him that joy and happiness will return. After our daughter, Jodi, died from an osteosarcoma, I couldn’t imagine my life and my family’s life without her. Throughout her nineteen years, Jodi and I were like any other mother-daughter relationship. But, during her last eighteen months from diagnosis to death, ours was engulfed with an intensity of love as we were fighting for life.
I told him the hardest time, for me, was all of the “first’s.” Everything you do and experience in life for the first time. From holidays, birthdays, family gatherings, the change of season, even shopping at Nordstrom’s (one of Jodi’s favorite stores) to her friend’s wedding. I knew I could not live as a grieving mother in the depths of despair.
I wanted him to know that we do have the ability to choose.
I chose not wanting the world to define me by my loss. I wanted the opposite: to live and experience happiness again. That meant to honor Jodi’s life and legacy by finding a way to make a difference in the world. Focus on all that I can do. Be the leader of my life.
Here’s what I have learned about life through death:
Life is a gift. Death reminds us that life is precious, temporary and not to be taken for granted or begrudged. A daily practice of gratitude such as a meditation, affirmation or journal entry is a great way to stay positive and aligned with the awareness of the awesome gift of life.
You are more than your resume. When somebody one day gives your eulogy, it is doubtful your job title will be cited. What will be remembered is how you made people feel, so be mindful of being present in your relationships and be your best self.
Life happens in the present moment. Don’t contemplate about the past and worry about the future. Death reminds us that all we have for certain is right now. Don’t waste your life second-guessing your past or waiting to live your life. Live life passionately and fearlessly. Live today.
Loss can bring unexpected blessings. Hardships are opportunities for growth. You never know how strong you are until you endure the unendurable. While it may be impossible to understand our losses, I believe all people come in our lives for a reason and some even help set our lives on the correct path.
Love is the currency of life. Place less emphasis on achievement, money, and possessions. Love is what matters and what is remembered. It is LOVE which connects us to one another and to the world around us, in life and beyond.