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Beyond loss: Personal breakthroughs and life lessons

As we approach the end of the year, I've been contemplating a different kind of post. It's been 1.6 years since my dad died and six months since I embarked on this blogging journey. I am writing from my sister’s flat in NYC, one of the beautiful bonds my dad helped build. I now know the reason behind his intentions. He wanted to ensure we would support each other in his absence. He also just loved having us both around, soaking in those moments together.

In the spirit of self-reflection that often accompanies the year's close, I want to share the key lessons I've learned from my dad's death. My intention is to connect with those who have experienced a similar loss, those navigating challenging times with loved ones, and those simply curious about the subject of death and dying.

While the word "death" carries a heavy weight, bringing sadness to a lot of us (that btw, I still experience it), it also plays a role in defining life. There are valuable insights and experiences that can be extracted from this sometimes terrifying but ultimately natural part of our existence.

Death is what defines life in many ways

Regrets are inevitable

Acknowledging that there will always be some regret is a part of the healing process. I often think: ‘I could have done this, I could have said that’ and yes, I know I could have but I didn’t. It is good to reflect on it, life will continue presenting new opportunities where these learnings can be applied. I know I gave the best of myself in my own way. Hindsight is a gift. There are things I wish I enjoyed more, maybe in another life (if there is one!).

You only live once - within balance!

Sounds like a teenager catchphrase but it is so true. This has become my guiding principle, within limits of course. There should be a balance…don’t go and spend all your money at once because you may die tomorrow!

Step out of your comfort zone, try new experiences, and enjoy the moments that make you feel alive. Since my dad died, I decided to try things that will give me intense emotions, so I have been taking acting / drama lessons and enrolled in my end of life doula training.

There's so little time and so much to learn and experience!!

Life's shades of grey

Life isn't black or white. People can have different experiences with the same individual. I view my dad as someone charming and very loving towards me. He was never angry with me, maybe moody towards the end. Some people have a different image of him and that is fine. Mistakes don't necessarily define someone as inherently bad. Understanding the impact of upbringing on actions fosters empathy.

You are more loved than you think you are

Even if you think you are loved, once someone you love dies, you realise even more how much they loved you as you remember all the little things they did for you. I now appreciate even more those daily video calls, his usual inspiring / motivational phrases, birthday wishes with mariachi’s birthday song in the background, his endless efforts for showing me places he loved and the pleasure for food we share.

Embrace firsts

Life is a series of firsts. I have been surrounded by death from a young age, being in hospital when one of my mum’s patients died, being at a funeral at 6 when one of my mum’s friends died after a surgery, grandparents deaths and seeing my mum’s best friend a day before she died from pancreatic cancer. However, June 1st was my first time losing someone so close to me, someone I will talk to almost every day, someone I really loved and loved hugging him.

That then followed to my first birthday without him (a milestone birthday) and many special events to follow where he will not be present.

Accepting that there will always be a first time for everything opens doors to personal growth and discovery. It also teaches us resilience.

Now I know what it feels like to lose someone, I know it won’t be the first time.

This is a pain I will experience again , I don’t look forward to it but I expect it and I know I have the tools and circle to support me.

Express yourself - like the song!

Don't be afraid to express your feelings. Embrace vulnerability, make mistakes, and let go of stress over trivial matters.

Yes, work can be stressful and you need to do well, but I don’t let it consume me the way it used to be.

I have also learnt to pick my battles, I don’t need to tell everyone I disagree with their point of view. I am obviously not perfect, but there are things that don’t get me the same way as I was used to!

My experience with death has also boosted my creativity, for example with my writing and the idea of Evermore as a digital product.

Death, surreal yet undeniably real, now influences my daily decisions. Acknowledging its presence allows for a deeper understanding of life's fragility.

There are moments where I need to pause and acknowledge that my dad is no longer here. I then remember detail by detail the day where I lost him. It is painful, but beautiful, it gives me perspective.

No matter what you're going through, even if it seems daunting, remember that as humans, we possess the strength to navigate through tremendous uncertainty and pain. By facing life's challenges head-on, we have the potential to grow and lead more fulfilling lives.

Wishing you all a beautiful start of the year!

See you in 2024 😊

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