What death has taught me about life
Today I said my last goodbyes to a family member. In my family we’ve had more funerals than weddings. It’s days like this that I am reminded how incredibly fortunate I am. In my early twenties I thought I’d never live past my forties and grow old. I had so many of the symptoms of this rare family disease that I was convinced I had it too. It changed everything for me. It radically changed my attitude towards life. I decided that life was short & that I needed to squeeze in as many things as I possible could. Sleep was a waste of my time let alone taking care of my health. I felt disconnected from my body. My body felt more like a nuisance than anything else and I ignored its needs. It was a self-destructive way of living, the fear of death always lingering in the background.
The day I found out I got the ‘good’ genes, my life turned around 180 degrees. I decided in that very moment to honour and respect my life and my body. How could I waste my life, my health, if so many of my loved ones were hanging on by a thread fighting for their lives? I quit smoking that day and I became a warrior for my own health and happiness.
Fast-forward to today, I earn my living helping people live healthier and happier lives. Through yoga, life coaching and nutritional advice, I encourage people to take the best possible care of themselves so that they can live their lives in the best way possible, so they can live the life of their dreams.
I own a piece of paper that reminds me everyday that my life is a gift. It’s presence is always there somewhere in the back of my mind. That one day in my life changed my attitude towards life forever. I set an intention to show up for my life in way that is positive, meaningful and life-affirming. It’s a journey I am on, with lots of ups and downs, but it has taught me one thing that gives me so much power and strength. I am in charge of how I feel. I can change my attitude, my response, to any situation at any time. I can choose to show up in the best way possible and I know, that even in my worst moments, I can pick myself up again by choosing to honour the life that has been handed to me. I choose to love life and I choose to be guided by love; I choose to be happy. Life is precious. It’s the little things in life that matter. Be grateful for what you have. Live your life fully. Stop wasting your time.
Here’s six important lessons I have learned through my personal experience of death and loss:
- Life is a gift. Your life is a precious gift and it comes with a huge responsibility. How you see and treat your life is 100% your choice, a choice you make in every moment. You are in charge of how you feel and you can change your attitude, your response, to any situation at any time. Choose to show up in the best way possible.
- Life happens in the present moment. Don’t focus on ‘getting there’, focus on being ‘here’ right now. It’s not your achievements that matter, it’s how you treat yourself and the people around you. Be present with yourself and give the gift of your presence to the people around you. Only then you can truly experience joy, deeper connection and love.
- Detox your life from negativity. Don’t waste your time with negative energy. Detox your mind from negative thoughts and choose to be your own best company. Choose to keep great company by surrounding yourself with people who truly care about you and value you for who you are.
- Be grateful for what you have. Embrace the present moment and show up for your life. We often resist the present moment. We complain about what we don’t have or what’s not good in our lives. This holds us back from enjoying life fully but also from living the life we imagine for ourselves. Gratitude fuels happiness and success. It teaches us to look for beauty, the good, the possibilities, in every situation instead of focusing on the barriers and the obstacles on our path.
- Choose love over fear Love is what it all comes down to. Every single event in our lives offers an opportunity to choose love over fear, a possibility to connect more deeply to ourselves, to the people around us and to what’s important to us in life. When you focus on what you love, your fears recede into the background and every event, even the most painful and tragic, becomes an opportunity to live your life more fully. Choosing love is saying Yes to what serves you, to self-care and self-love. It involves saying No to fear, to letting go of fear-based thoughts, ideas and patterns that hold you back and cause suffering.
- Honour your loss. It’s important to take the time to process all the emotions that come up for you but also to cherish the precious moments you have had together. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone grieves differently. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to be angry. At the same time, count your blessings. Death can seem cruel and unfair but offer gratitude for the time you were able to spend together. The people we love and lose become part of who we are and we are forever changed by their presence in our lives.