When you suddenly lose someone you love; a friend, a partner or a family member, you are left with a broken heart, a broken soul and a void that may never be filled again. You start questioning life, God, people and the world. It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone you love was taken away from you so soon. You will never be prepared for this moment, but I like to believe there is a message in each tragedy that comes our way, especially death. Only death can teach us so much about life.
1. You realize that life is short regardless of the number of years. And the small things you get so worked up about are really meaningless when you look at the bigger picture. Life can be taken away from you in less than a second and it makes you loosen your grip on life and stop wasting so much time trying to control everything or get so disappointed if it doesn’t go your way. Life is impermanent and so is control.
2. You start making small changes that will transform your life. You start questioning your own existence. It makes you pay attention to what you are truly passionate about or what your heart truly desires. When you are reminded that your time on this earth is limited, you begin to make small changes to your life to make it better, easier or more fulfilling. The loss of a loved one triggers a change in mindset and forces us to be more proactive in chasing a more rewarding life.
3. You appreciate love more. You appreciate the people around you more, you want to let them know how you feel or how much you care about them while you have the chance. You take that extra 5 or 10 minutes to let people know they matter to you. You don’t hold things in as much as you used to because you know the sting of leaving important words unsaid; knowing that you will never get the chance to say them. Losing a loved one teaches you that if you are going to love someone, you should love them right and give everything you have to offer.
4. You learn how to simplify your life. You discover that there is nothing smart about complicating your life if you know that you are not going to live forever. You try to let go of rage, resentment, envy, greed and anxiety. You learn to replace them with gratitude, love, forgiveness, and pleasure. Time is precious, and when someone dies you become more aware of the gift of time and how it shouldn’t be spent mulling over fleeting emotions that take away from the beauty of our lives.
5. You realize the importance of memories. And how we should make as many of them as possible with the people we love. It is the only thing that will be left of them and you will want to celebrate their lives when they are gone. Memories are the only way to bring someone back to life.
6. You find your true strength. The strength within you to pick yourself up, the strength to fight for a better life, the strength to get over the fear of losing more loved ones, the strength to let that dark hole dig up a lighter one, and the strength to smile again.
7. You learn how to be present. How to show up to your life and live it. How to lead the show and orchestrate the crowd, how to find moments to shine, how to hold on to the things and people that make you feel alive. How to be thankful for the time you have today, and how to embrace and savor every day in your life.
Ideally, we shouldn’t wait for someone to die to learn how to live.