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Propelled by grief

Today marks 11 years since my life changed forever. Some may say it changed for the worse, but in many ways, it also changed for the better.

Yes, losing my Dad was an absolute tragedy, and I wish he was still here every day…to meet my children, to meet my husband and to be the Grandad he always wanted to be. But this tragic moment was also the catalyst for the greatest course correction of my life.

When this photo was taken I was in a deeply unhappy relationship (although actually this holiday was one of the highlights of that relationship), I was busy building a corporate career that I truly believed I wanted, I was completely lacking in awareness, living very much in a self-centred ego state, and I was amidst a mental health breakdown. And while this photo/holiday was a truly treasured moment, it was just that, a moment. My life was actually collapsing around me.

My Dad worked 90 hour weeks in order to ensure we had nice things as a family and were well looked after. He was 59 when he died, and he worked like this his whole life with great plans for retirement. But he never made it. This year he would have been 71, and by his plans he’d probably be relaxing with my Mum in their log cabin in Minnesota. Enjoying some ice fishing or a tranquil spa day, or shopping their hearts out then drinking Long Island Iced Teas at the Mall of America. He worked his arse off his whole life for this exact vision.

It’s through my Dad’s passing that I really started to resonate with that cliche of ‘Life’s too short’. Here I was, living this miserable life that I’d be conditioned to believe was right on track. And I can only imagine the state I’d be in now if I hadn’t have recognised this.

Through my experience of working with people going through the process of de-conditioning and self-discovery, I’ve observed that many don’t start to explore these things until later in life. Often linked with becoming empty nesters or due to some unfortunate later-life adversity. I just find it so sad that we’re not taught to challenge and explore from a young age. It’s truly our natural, most aligned state of being. But it just seems to get suppressed by the heavy societal conditioning that we all go through.

So in this sense, I’m grateful for my Dad’s sacrifice. His journey opened me up while I was in my late 20s. It gave me the gift of grief, and this grief is what propels me to this day. I won’t spend my life working for something that may never happen, I won’t stay in situations that don’t serve me, I won’t honour relationships that are unhealthy, and I won’t live in fear. I will live for today, I will challenge, I will explore and I will grow, and I will teach my children to do just the same, so that they don’t have to learn these lessons the hard way.

For today, I say thank you to my Dad for these lessons. The last 11 years have been a journey, one I wish he was here for. But I know that without his sacrifice, this journey may never have happened at all.

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