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Life Lessons from losing a loved one.

I will begin this post with an apology. This blog has been a little neglected. I think I lost my path for a while. What type of blog is this exactly? Is it about grief? General life? Is it about business? Product reviews? Writing? Family life? It seems to have it all. I suppose that life has many aspects to it, so naturally, there is a variety of topics within this blog. But in my pursuit of becoming a published author, I think I diverted my attention elsewhere and left this blog alone. For that, I am sorry. Hopefully, these posts will be more regular. The topics may continue to be random though. But for that, I don’t think I am sorry. Ha ha.

Lesson One: Grief: The Final Frontier

Yes. I did steal a phrase from Star Trek and change it for my own gain. #trekkie 

I think I don’t know how to be normal. When I laugh at something, I feel knots in my stomach and a sense of guilt. I shouldn’t be laughing, I should be crying. When I’m crying, I feel more guilt and shame. I should be moving on. Living my life, not weeping.

Grief is an old pal of mine now. It follows me around everywhere I go. But I will say that having grief around has made me see people with all new eyes.

  • I have no tolerance for lies. If someone is lying to me, I switch off. Dealing with a compulsive liar is a total waste of time. Other than to be polite and humour them for a while. I used to get upset or emotionally involved with people who, it turns out, are just lying. I can’t be dealing with that anymore. My heart already hurts too much.
  • No drama llamas. I also have no tolerance for drama. And yet, I love drama. In books and TV/Film. I love acting dramatic when I’m telling a story or socialising. But DRAMA…. the “oh my gosh did you hear blah blah blah” Again… I’ll listen, I’ll be sympathetic, but get involved? Oh heck no. Nobody got energy for that. Besides, getting involved in drama… guess what the outcome is? More drama. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
  • Gratitude. I have been practising the art of gratitude, and over time I’ve found my heart to swell at even the smallest thing. A smile. A small gesture of kindness. The sun shining. Waking up not feeling sick. So much to be thankful for. I think gratitude is like a muscle. You have to work at it to make it stronger. And the stronger it is, the more you find to be thankful for. Grief taught me that. You get to a point where the sorrow is so terrible and so many sad things keep happening that grief literally slaps you in the face and says “stop with the self-pity already. Look around and find something to be grateful for.”

I used to see Grief as a negative entity that should be shunned. Never to be talked about. Don’t give it power. Grief is bad.

But grief is not bad.

Grief is a reminder of the love you had. It reminds you to stop taking things for granted. It helps you stay grounded.

I’ve decided to stop pushing it away. The sorrow ebbs and flows like the tide. Sometimes it’s manageable, sometimes it’s all-consuming. But you have to just go with it.

At the moment I feel like I’m drowning in it. But I know it will pass. It always does.

I really like the quote “Just remember, you’ve got through 100% of your bad days. You will get through this one too.”

Grief makes me stop rushing around like a headless chicken and be very present. I can focus more on the now.

Lesson Two: You can only control, what you can control.

I have come to realise that 90% of my anxiety and worries stem from 100% of the things I can not control. Does this make me a control freak? lol, maybe. But when I realised that there are things I can not control, I asked myself a pretty important question:

“Is it wise to put my happiness in the hands of things I can not control?”

Truth be told, I should be dead.

There are two instances where people ignored the red light and raced through them when I was about to turn at a junction. Twice, I’ve nearly been T-boned. I didn’t. You know why? Because I might not be able to control the other cars on the road, but I can watch them and take action. Each time, even though my light turned green, I watched the oncoming traffic. Does that car look like it’s slowing down? No? Okay, let’s just creep forward slowly and see. Sure enough, the car races past me.

So, there’s a balance. Yes, it’s good to let go of what you can not control, but it’s also good to pay attention to it and act on it accordingly.

I couldn’t save my dad from his fate. But I could support my mum through it.

I couldn’t heal my father in law. But I could hold my husband.

I couldn’t turn back the hands of time. But I could make it pause and allow everyone to heal.

In our family, we try to make evenings special. We’re big movie fans. I watch a movie every night on average. (I’ve seen 6 movies in one day before.) We do gaming. We talk. We laugh. We just spend quality time together.

Last night I had a nightmare that my husband cheated on me. I fear that more than the thought of him dying. I can’t control what he does. But I can recommit to him every day and be faithful to him. I can embrace every wonderful moment we have together.

The future is unstable. I think it’s always changing based on our choices. I don’t want to know what happens. Even if someone said, “Hey Laura, next year you’ll win a million dollars.” That’s nice, but I don’t want to know.

We can’t control the future. But we can control how we act on the present.

Lesson Three: It’s all about family.

Life is all about family. Big houses, flashy cars, lots of money in the bank, designer products… they don’t bring us true everlasting joy. The thrills and happiness of these things are fleeting. And it’s like a drug. Once you’ve got a taste of that dopamine hit, we want more and more and more.

But family? Love? Oxytocin? These things are richer. The happiness and joy are long-lasting. I cherish the memories of my dad. Digging up the garden with him, carrying heavy furniture, walking the dog with him. All these random and ordinary things to do… that are now such special memories.

The family does not have to be made up of blood relatives either. They can be in-laws. Friends. Colleagues. Facebook pals. It’s one of my favourite fantasy storylines… a band of misfits come together and face a common enemy together. At the end, they have bonded so much and become a really odd-looking family.

I’ll be honest. Ever since I was a little girl, I had this feeling that I won’t live until I’m very old. I’ve always felt old inside. Like an old soul, I guess. And I’ve done everything early. Married at 19. Had all my children by 23. Lost my father at 28. Became a carer to my mum at 28. I’ve often looked around and cherished my family. Soaking in every moment with them. You just don’t know how many days you have left.

I used to have a reoccurring nightmare, ever since I was a little girl. Always the same kind of dream. I’m with my family… then they disappear. Or they turn into vampires. Or they all die. Or they get hit by a train. Terrible, terrible nightmares. And the end result is always the same. I’m standing alone.

Part of me wonders if this is a common fear. Do you fear being alone? I hate being left behind. When my dad passed away I wanted to scream, “don’t leave me behind. Take me with you.” Which I know is silly. But I really do hate being left behind.

But regardless of all that. Family is the most important part of this life.

Not cleaning the house.

Getting the pay rise.

Approval of others.

How many likes your post has.

How many followers you gained today.

Holding a grudge against your frenemy.

None of that matters in the end. All the quibbles, the arguments, the tensions, the irritations… they fizzle away. And I’m telling you no one, NO ONE, on their death bed says “I wish I worked in the office more.”

I’m telling you. It’s family.

So, here’s a challenge for you.

Gather your loved ones close. Snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie together. Or play games. Or have a hot drink and chat. Spend quality time with the ones you love. Those moments will be remembered and cherished always.

If you can do that, then nothing else matters. You’re excelling at life.

And the great thing is, you can do that even when you’re grieving.

 

What activities do you like to do with your friends and family? Write your suggestions in the comments.

Laura

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