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How death invited me to live my best life

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

I remember vividly the moment that my mother passed away. It was on a Friday morning in winter, me, my dad, and my brothers and sisters had been taking turns sitting by her bedside since 3 o’clock in the morning. Those of us who weren’t by her side sat in the kitchen drinking coffee, and the atmosphere was sombre as we all waited for the inevitable to take place. My sister-in-law called us all upstairs at half past seven and once we had all found a place in our parents’ bedroom we listened to her arrhythmic breathing for what seemed to be an eternity. When she did pass I literally felt my heart break in the realisation that life as I had known it was now forever gone.

The world was a very strange place in the days that followed, I felt numb and strangely observant of the world and the people in it. The enormity of grief and utter devastation that I’d felt in the moment of her passing had pushed me out of my body completely and I walked around dissociated from everything and everyone outside of my parent’s house.

I was only 25 and in the years that followed I was angry, depressed, lost and extremely anxious. I searched for meaning, my former self, for understanding and connection, all of which remained frustratingly out of reach. Death had forced me to step onto a path of self-discovery and deep dives into pain, suffering and hard-earned growth. The truth is that when you lose someone you love deeply you are changed forever, your heart now has a scar adding a layer of depth to your understanding and experience of both love and life.

I learned that life is not arguing about the cap of the toothpaste in the morning, or who empties the dishwasher, or how many friends I have on Facebook. It is about living without regrets, making conscious decisions to realise your potential, it’s about following your dreams, being loyal to your friends, making amends when you’ve screwed up and holding yourself accountable when it comes to the decisions you’ve made and the results that these decisions have produced.

The truth is that if death hadn’t come along I might have never had the courage to quit my job and move to Scotland to write my book, or the willpower to overcome my fears of driving on the wrong side of the road, or the commitment to build my own coaching practise. To me death is a master teacher, because it makes us look at how much of life we are actually living and invites us to stop letting the days go by and actively participate. After the chock and biggest waves of grief have past we have an opportunity to become aware of the beauty in everyday life and realise that life can be over at any minute and that this day has been given to us to make the most of. We’ve learned that we are lucky to have another day to enjoy and celebrate.

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