“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown.
Death is something many of us fear. Perhaps not so much our own death, but the mere thought of losing a loved one can be heartbreaking.
On Sunday May 5th, my grandma had a large stroke. She’d baked her last cake, shared her final story, and within the blink of an eye, she was gone. Six days later her life ended, in a hospital bed, surrounded by her loved ones.
She was not only my grandmother, but also the grandmother to five others, a great-grandmother, a mother of three, and the soul mate to her life partner.
During the final week of her life, I was abruptly reminded just how fragile life really is, and how everything can change in a second. Here is what I’ve learned:
1. It’s not what you are; it’s who you are.
Wealth, status, and career are irrelevant when you are on your deathbed. The only thing that truly matters at the end of your life is how many people loved you for who you were, not what you did for a living.
My nan had a brilliant sense of humor, countless tales to make us laugh, an abundance of love, and delicious home-cooked food to share. She was always a joy to be around.
When you look back on your life, it’s not about the amount of money you’ve made, or how many letters you have accumulated after your name; it’s the human beings whose hearts you have touched.
2. Now is the only time that really matters.
Don’t put off something that can be done today, as your tomorrow may never arrive.
Thankfully, my nan had lived a very fulfilling life and had reached the great age of 88. However, death can call for any one of us, at any time.
Whatever your age, you need to ask yourself: Are you really living your life to its full potential, or constantly waiting for a better tomorrow?
If you are unhappy with something, change it. If you need to resolve a difference with another person, work on it. Life really is too precious and too fragile to wait for another moment that isn’t now.
3. Life is too short to be anything but happy.
Life does have its ups and downs, and it is impossible to be happy all of the time. But, when those joyous moments do arise, enjoy them, savor them, and find a special place for them.
During the last years of my nan’s life, she found it a struggle to get around. But what she lacked in mobility, she made up for with great wisdom, sharing fond memories and amusing anecdotes from her past.
As we go through life, we create our own stories and live through countless experiences. Make your today a day that will bring you joy over and over again, when you look back on your life in many years to come.
4. Share your gifts with the world.
Everyone knew that our grandma made delicious cakes. But it wasn’t just any old mixture of sugar, butter, flour, and eggs. It was her unique way to share a slice of happiness with her loved ones through her special gift of baking.
Whatever your talent may be, don’t keep it just for yourself. Share it with others.
If you’re a great cook, make a fantastic meal for family or friends. If you’re an aspiring artist, make a piece of art for that special person. If you can write, express yourself through a blog and reach out. If you can sing or play an instrument, make an effort to get yourself heard.
Life is all about sharing. Give back more than what you take. Inspire others, and share your own individual gifts with the people in your world and beyond.
5. Make a living bucket list.
You enter this world with nothing, and you leave with nothing. What you accumulate in the middle, the “stuff” you own, does not even come close to defining your worth as a person.
Material possessions come and go throughout life, but life experiences stay with you until your dying day, bringing smiles and laughter to those listening around you.
While you are able to live your life to the fullest, do so. If you have always dreamed of visiting that amazing destination, go travel. If you wish to be more creative, find inspiration. Or if you simply want more fun in your life, get out there, connect with people, and enjoy yourself.
Start your living bucket list today; don’t wait until your days are numbered to start living your dreams.
Photo by geralt