In Death, Appreciate Life

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undoubtedly, losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things we experience in life. Some have experienced death more than others, but no matter how much we experience the loss of someone close to us, it’s always tragic. Just recently, my family experienced a tragic loss in the death of my father-in-law. Without question, it’s been rough. But in this time of loss, my eyes have been opened to many blessings. My father-in-law was a great man. I had only known him for a little over a decade, but in this short time I came to greatly admire and respect this man.

He was a husband, father, grandfather, and the perfect role model. He was selflessness personified, always putting others before himself. This phrase gets used a lot, but he’d literally give you the shirt off his back. If you needed help with something, he was there, no questions asked. He was an extremely hard worker and always on the go.

He served his country proudly in the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart. His most redeeming quality, however, was his patience. The man had the patience of Job. He suffered through some incredibly trying times in his later years and endured things that would break most people. Honestly, I don’t think I ever saw him get upset with anything or anybody. Ever.

My wife, bless her heart, is probably hurting more than anyone. Technically, he was her stepfather. Yet, he was like a father to her in every sense of the word. He was a great man, and it hurts to lose him. My wife has been so unbelievably strong throughout this experience and has stood by her mother every step of the way. Although she mourns, she’s been steadfast and a rock of support for her family. She’s a voice of reason and control amid a hurricane of turmoil and emotion. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

How do you cope with losing someone so close to you? Does it get easier? Time takes the sting away somewhat, but grief will always remain. No matter how you try to spin it, death sucks. I try to make it a point to find something positive in every situation, but is there anything positive about losing a loved one? I started thinking about the events of the last few days, and then it hit me.

In this time of tragedy, I’ve seen many wonderful things from many people. I’ve seen my wife step up to the plate, helping her mom find direction and comfort in a situation that certainly feels impossible. I’ve even surprised myself. Things I would usually dread and complain about, I’ve been doing willingly and without hesitation. I’ve been able to spend priceless time with my son holding down the fort while my wife supports her family. I’ve witnessed family, friends, and coworkers show unconditional love and support in so many ways. I’ve felt hope.

Death is not something we like to think about. When we’re young and full of life, we think we’ll live forever. But, the older we get, the more we start to feel our mortality. The last few years, I’ve started thinking about death more and more. Thoughts of death used to throw me into a depression. But, no one is getting out of here alive, death is inevitable. I’ve found that taking note of the good things that happen during times of crisis can help a person come to terms with such events.

These days, it seems there’s a massive spotlight on negativity, and we’re constantly bombarded with nothing but bad news every single day. It’s easy to get drawn into the darkness. But, regardless of what you read or hear, there’s still a lot of good in the world. In the midst of tragedy, good is exposed.

Death shows us how strong we can be. It brings out a side of us that we didn’t even know existed. The grind of our day-to-day lives often allows us to become complacent. Daily responsibilities and the pressures of being an adult act as blinders, enabling us to take life for granted and distracting us from the greatness that lies within each of us. Sadly, it takes an event like death to wake us up enough to see the beauty and wonder that was there all along.

Although it can be extremely difficult to be grateful during a time such as this, that’s exactly what you should do. Be thankful. This is a time to look around you and appreciate what you have in your life, because it could all be taken away in a split second.

Life is beautiful and amazing, but so incredibly fragile. Soak in every moment. Cherish the time you have with your loved ones. Hug your spouse and your children a little tighter tonight. Get out of bed an hour earlier. Put your phone away. Be present. Give more. Expect less. Each day is a gift that should be unwrapped with appreciation and love. Death is not the opposite of life. It’s only a part of it.

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