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I remember vividly the moment when my mother passed away.
It was on a Friday morning in winter when me, my dad, and my brothers and sisters had been taking turns sitting by her bedside since 3:00 a.m.
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 passed away, I literally felt my heart break with the realisation that life as I had known it was now forever gone.
The world was a 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 pushed me out of my body completely, and I walked around dissociated from everything and everyone outside of my parents’ 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, 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, when we lose someone we love deeply, we are changed forever. Our heart now has a scar, adding a layer of depth to our understanding and experience of both love and life.
I learned that life is not arguing about the cap of the toothpaste in the morning, who empties the dishwasher, or how many friends I have on Facebook. It is about living without regrets, making conscious decisions to realise our potential, following our dreams, being loyal to our friends, making amends when we’ve screwed up, and holding ourselves accountable when it comes to the decisions we’ve made and the results that these decisions have produced.
The truth is, 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. I might have never had the willpower to overcome my fear of driving on the wrong side of the road or the commitment to build my own coaching practice.
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 shock and the biggest waves of grief have passed, we have an opportunity to become aware of the beauty in everyday life, realise that life can be over at any minute, and that this day has been given to us to make the most of.
We learn that we are lucky to have another day to enjoy and celebrate.