This blog comes from Bronte Price, Australia’s first certified Same Sex Marriage Celebrant and co-founder of The Equality Network. He writes about the three lessons he learnt after his uncle passed away, and why now is the time to seize life and the opportunities it provides.
It was a sunny Sunday morning when the news of a terrible incident knocked on our doors. I was in my Senior College when I saw my Uncle for the last time. Everybody around me was full of sorrow and I could barely manage to confront the fact it was my last glimpse of him. My grief did not allow me to react that very moment and I was numb, beyond words. While my father was strong enough to arrange the funeral for my deceased uncle, I could not even sit through it. It broke my heart into pieces to imagine a day without his love.
I still recall that day and although the grief is still a significant part of me, how I look at things has changed. Time has changed my outlook and I have learnt three things in particular:
We must count our blessings, and leave nothing unsaid
If there is one major thing that I learned from my uncle’s death, it is to be grateful. Only when I lost him did I realise how crucial he was in my life. The thought of his absence had not struck me before, and I had forgotten to be grateful while he was here.
So, be thankful for all the love and all the people who matter to you. Hold them close and appreciate their presence in your life. Do not wait to realise the value of something until it is gone. Seize every moment and every experience as a precious asset. Be grateful to the ones you’ve lost and the ones who are living with you.
Another thing that haunted me after the loss were the words left unsaid. So if you have something that has to be said, do it while you can. Never miss an opportunity to tell people how you feel about them. Do not hold onto anger, grudges or apologies for a long time. It is always better to say things when you have the chance, than regret it later.
Make time for those you love, and don’t take things for granted
I still regret not making it to his last birthday party due to my busy schedule. I missed the road trip, thinking that I could join him the next time. My biggest mistake was to believe that I had enough time with him, when I didn’t. Time taught me that it is a finite resource. The world’s obsession with money and power is meaningless – we need to value time. It is essential to spend time with our loved ones as and when we can.
Taking things for granted is another attribute that has changed me forever since I lost him. Tomorrow is unpredictable and not guaranteed. Hence it is important to live each day to its fullest. Live life to the full and make sure you fill your days with things that make you happy.
We can’t fix everything and life does go on
Have you ever wondered whether you could have saved your loved one from dying? Well, I did. Over time, slowly and steadily, I realised that this was not in my control. While you can love, support and help them, you don’t have the power to fix them. Each person has a different journey in life and though it may be unfair, we have no say in it. Blaming ourselves is only going to worsen the situation.
What about the unbearable pain of loss? Like I mentioned earlier, I could never imagine my life without my uncle. But here I am, writing this blog post today. Life inevitably goes on. However, it can never be the same as it was before the loss. During such times, it is essential to remind ourselves why we need to be living our lives again.
While it is tough to cope with grief, it is crucial that we don’t succumb to it. Everybody has different ways to heal, and they take their own time too – you don’t need to rush. Remember that hard times may test you and reveal your weaknesses, but if you can cope with them, you are already stronger than you were yesterday, and you are always emerging stronger than you thought you could be.