I lost my dad when I was 3 years old (yeah, talk about a good start in life), and while what I am about to say might sound weird at first to some, once you get where I am coming from, and see it from my way of looking at it, you will understand why I am saying it. I am grateful that I lost him. No, not because of the pain and the suffering that I have seen in the eyes of my mom, my sister, my whole family and yes, in me – believe me, it wasn’t pleasant. And no not because I didn’t want him to raise me, to teach me how to rock climb, go snowboarding with me, show me how to make a campfire, put up a tent and have father to son conversations with. No I would have loved to have had all of that. From the hundreds of stories that I have heard from other people about him, I know we would have got along well together. So why am I saying I am grateful? Because I’ve come to learn and understand something over the years.
There are always going to be certain things in life that are simply beyond our control to do anything about. However, how we react to those things and what we make out of them, THAT is 100% within our control. With any traumatic experience or event there are always two ways of looking at them. I could, if I let myself, be incredibly sad and depressed if I started to focus on all that I didn’t have in my youth and all that I never will come to have in my future. I never had the chance to really meet him or talk with him. I don’t even remember ever holding him. I will never see him meet my children, say their names, or hold them… I could feel incredibly sad and down about so many things in all this – if, I choose to focus my thoughts, energy and emotions down that path. But as I said earlier, there are certain things in life that are simply beyond our control, and understanding that very truth, and knowing that no matter what I do, say, feel or wish for, he is not coming back – he is gone. Truly understanding this, in any situation like this, is not only critical for moving on in life, but will also allow you to see the other path that is always available to you.
Because how you deal with a traumatic experience, or in fact anything that happens in life, is purely yours to decide. Do you want to see it as a punishment from life? That life is trying to push you down into the ground, trying to make you unhappy? Or do you look on the other side and start looking for the lessons, the opportunities for growth and the insights about yourself and this world that can all be taken from the situation? That’s a choice that you alone can make and one that life has absolutely zero control over. It is also a choice that can NEVER be taken away from you. And let me ask you this, as it is your choice, why would you opt to let yourself sink into the darkness and sadness of it all? Why choose to go into the darkness, where nothing can be seen or found? Yes, grief and mourning is part of any traumatic experience, they are a stage of the process of any painful experience, and it’s completely normal to feel them. But at one point you need to ask yourself the question; “What do I want to focus on? Which path do I want to walk on?”
What I decided to focus on was the side that gave me opportunities. There simply are none to be found crawling around within the darkness. However, when you turn on the lights, you actually start to see that whatever life has thrown at you, there is always something good to be found. And if you can’t undo the circumstance of the event or situation that has happened, then at least do what you very much still can do, and choose to go down the path where there are lessons to be found and learnt. That’s why I am so grateful for the death of my father. Because I tuned into those lessons that I discovered about myself and life that I never would have done if he hadn’t passed away. He showed me something so true and so honest, I wished more people could have understood it and experienced it as deeply as I did. He showed me that life can end and does end at any point in time. While this is a universal fact that we all know, for far too many people they are no more than simple words. For me however they are the truth. I thank him every day for that, as it has pushed me into pursuing my dreams and not living and leaving this life with any regrets. It has helped me live a life as true as I can to who I am, while I still can.
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