7 Real Life Realizations I Had After Losing A Parent

Silvia Sala
Silvia Sala

1. Nothing is certain. If you have something to do or say, just do it.

As they say, “Yesterday is history and tomorrow is a mystery”. One of my greatest fears is to (once again) lose the opportunity to tell someone how I really feel. My insecurities (like yours) rationalizes 10 million+ reasons to avoid broaching a subject that makes me feel naked and vulnerable.

But I remind myself (at times repeatedly) to apply an alternative perspective; you may never again be given another chance to have this conversation. Imagine all that would be said if the total amount of time we had with others were concretely defined. There would be no wasted minutes and trepidation wouldn’t stifle conversation. Now live everyday with that in mind. Live in the moment I guarantee it’ll change your outlook on fights, grudges, and all things left unsaid.

2. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and count to ten. All you need is a moment of courage. It’s an incredibly terrifying thought to chase a reality that can potentially wound your pride, ruin your reputation, or even damage an existing relationship. However, if you believe in an idea so much and are only being held back by your own fear, just take the plunge and go after it – even if it doesn’t work out, you can at least say that you tried. You’ll get closure and be able to move forward. Agreeably a better alternative to being consumed by doubt.

3. Kindness is the most powerful force in the world.

It sounds so simple, but when living in a world plagued with insecurity and cruelty, negativity is spread no differently than the common cold . Please (please, please) don’t let it jade you. The world is a beautiful place. Yes, there are monsters always lurking in the corners, but beauty is truly appreciated when ugliness is abhorrently apparent. You’ll be amazed at the amount of positivity reaped and opportunities gained through kindness. Help someone who needs it just to negate some of the negativity in the world. Praise a job well done, or just simply smile more. A simple act of kindness has an incredible ripple effect.

4. Find your Happiness Baseline, and enhance it.

Brianna Wiest, (an inspiration for this post), writes about the Happiness Baseline. “Your overall level of contentment will briefly fluctuate with great successes or major tragedies. You will eventually return to your baseline.” To enhance the overall baseline, everyday life should be full of all the little things that ultimately impact your happiness the most.

When I now look back, some of my fondest memories of Ma aren’t tangible or large gestures at all.  The scent of her perfume (which I now wear daily) reminds me of her hugs. Her passion for literature (and reading at least a page a day) became mine as well, reminding me that our thirst for knowledge is shared. The little things are the universe’s way of telling us we are each capable of happiness. Trust me, it’s magic – learn to yield its power.

5. Own up to everything you put out in the world – even the mistakes.

Especially the mistakes. No one is perfect, least of all me. I struggle with the dichotomy of my nature almost everyday. On occasions when I snap, say or do what I shouldn’t, and ultimately disappoint myself, it’s embarrassing and sometimes painful, but I own it. If I hurt someone, I apologise. If it’s someone I care about, I persist even more. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes, (the term human error wasn’t coined because we’re all monotonously perfect).

More importantly, everyone should make mistakes and from time to time, be reprimanded (verbally, of course) for them – it reminds us of both our humility and humanity. Learn, grow, make amends, move forward. Always remember,those who love you will be there through all of the ups and downs, and those who don’t can see themselves out of your life.

6. Accept yourself.

Warts and all. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to improve yourself – that’s just silly. But learn to accept the person you are and try to be the best version of yourself you can be. If you’re like me, you’ll find this one the most difficult. My personality is such that rarely results in an opinion of indifference. I pride myself on having a friendly/welcoming nature but being honest and wearing my heart on a sleeve. When I make a mistake (and I often do), or when people just don’t like me, or worse judge me, my natural reaction is to internalize their opinion and question who I am.

Although recently, I find myself always coming back to the same conclusion; I am exactly the person I choose to be in that moment. When Ma died I was alone and in a country so culturally different from where I call home (she passed away whilst on holiday). Every second I made tough choices that I now can’t even comprehend. Deciding on local hospitals, doctors, and treatments with slim survival rates, watching as every  one of those decision were scrutinized, choosing the exact moment of her last breath, watching her slowly slip away and turning cold, dressing her for the memorial, arranging the funeral, participating in a grotesquely painful cremation ceremony, and enduring every single ounce of blame, guilt and heartache left in the wake.

For her, my mother, I grew up in a matter of days. If I could do all of that, plus continue to endure the absolute (and ongoing) devastation of losing the only person whose love I never questioned, and still make people smile and laugh more often than I upset them – then I really don’t have a reason not to like myself.

7. Let the haters hate.

There is someone out there who doesn’t like you. I guarantee it. I know more than a few who aren’t particularly fond of me. Many think I’m too loud, too talkative, too annoying, too sarcastic, too dramatic, too vain, too self involved, too emotional. Whilst others deem that I’m not emotional enough, not pretty enough, not conventional enough, and certainly not living up to theirexpectations of a proposed status quo. You know what? To hell with the lot of them. Seriously. My mom had a saying, “If they don’t feed you, clothe you, give you shelter, protect you, or try in some way to enlighten you, then you owe them absolutely no explanation for how you live your life. None.”

Yes, people will judge and laugh at you, Lord knows more than a few have done so at me, but people will respect you for being exactly who you are – no compromises. Like I previously said, everyone (yes, even you) is allowed, nay – is encouraged, to make mistakes. Own them, learn from them, and be on your merry way. If anyone devotes their time and effort into talking about you, you’ve already won. Let them. In fact, you’ve got yourself the very definition a fan.  While they’re giggling like a bunch of twats, put on your best dancing shoes and just go have fun. Life’s way too short to worry about your critics.

I suppose you can equate this post to the old idiom, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Am I happy that out of everything I could have taken from my mom’s death, I chose to see life in all of its intricate fragility, as beautiful? You bet. Would I give up all of this enlightenment to have my mom back? In a heartbeat. Since I can’t, I hope to at least share my journey and all that I’m learning as I inch my way through that dark tunnel of grief. These seven “truths” have helped me redefine how I choose to live life; to become a woman my mother would be proud to call her daughter. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

A version of this article was originally published on Veni. Vidi. Writey.

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