My dad died from ALS when I was 20. The whole event was expected, yet it still felt unexpected.
It happened when I got home from work one morning. My brother walked in with tears in his eyes and said, “Pa just passed away.” I dashed to the master bedroom and saw the most insane sight of my life, my dad’s lifeless body on the bed. It was that moment, that surreal feeling I felt, that changed me forever.
Death makes life different for everyone. Here’s what I learned:
1) Shit is real. Very real.
Cancer. Disaster. Getting mugged. Going broke. They’re all real, too.
The average person reads the papers in the morning and goes, “Oh, that’s sad” when he sees the jarring headline depicting tragedy, devastation, and anything to do with innocence lost.
But that’s all it is to him: a piece of news. Then he goes on with his day.
My dad’s passing made me realize how close we are to becoming the next headline. Count yourself lucky if everything that’s going on is only a piece of news to you.
2) Being pissed off all the time isn’t worth it. So choose to be happy.
When I saw my dad’s lifeless body, all I could think was, “Why am I so unhappy? Why am I so pissed off all the time? And now THIS happens to me?”
It wasn’t that I felt the universe was conspiring against me. I just kept thinking about how unnecessary the negative feelings, thoughts, and energy I had within me were.
So try your best to be happy. Aim for it and do what it takes to get it. The little things that make you upset don’t matter when the big things in life happen.
3) A lot of important things in life suddenly don’t matter.
Apart from regretting that I was always so angry and negative, I wondered deeply about how important living life in modern society was. I wondered why it was always a never-ending chase for something that doesn’t bring happiness.
I woke up when my dad died. You really don’t have to go through the same.
Money, career, work, school, and even romance. They don’t matter.
What really matters? Passion. Seeing the world. Understanding different cultures. Trying new things. Anything that creates new experiences and memories.
4) Death does not choose people. It takes life.
Death can happen to anybody. It doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, guilty, or innocent. It just does its job. My dad was a good guy, yet all the doctors could tell him was, “Oh sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”
Life is a ticking time bomb, so you should only always do what it takes to be happy. And yep, the things you’re told to chase don’t ever bring true happiness.
5) You’re the most important person in your own life, so make yourself happy first.
Since my dad died I’ve fallen out with more than five friends. I stopped trying to do the right thing of being nice and forgiving when I never wanted to in the first place.
I’ve also quit my job to follow my dreams. I placed myself first in my life. If I didn’t do it, no one else would have.
Until you meet somebody who you’d give your life for, be sure to always check if you’re indeed the most important in your life.
6) Things happen for a reason.
I once told a reader of my blog that I cannot imagine a life with my dad around anymore, and it made him cry.
To say that everything happens for a reason is true, but that’s only a small part of it. I’ve come to think that in life—regardless of the choices you make and the things over which you have no choice—your destiny is set perfectly for you.
It’s life. Nothing more, nothing less. We have to go with it. It’s up to us whether we want to open our eyes and make better choices for ourselves.