Two years ago today was quite possibly the longest of my life. Becky and I were just getting back from our morning run when we got a call that Dad had a stroke and was being rushed to the ER. That day became a blur and yet has been seared into my brain. In just over a week my dad would be gone.
In the days and weeks following his stroke there were two things that really helped me through his passing. One was a statement, the other was a question. Both have caused me to pause and think when I’m feeling sad about the loss of my dad and both always seem to lift me out of the funk when I take time to truly consider them.
“Remember to be thankful for the time you had with him instead of wanting more.”
This was the advice from Dad’s past pastor while we were in the hospital. He was reminding me to stay focused on what I have. One of my favorite concepts is “Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.” The advice from Pastor Reiff has always helped me back to this concept. When I think on this I am reminded of moments like the one in the picture below. I was so fortunate to have so many awesome memories with my dad, in taking time to appreciate them I feel my heart fill with joy.
“What can I learn from this?”
My friend Kelsey gave me The Book of Joy and this was one of the questions asked by the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu to help them through difficult times. When I find myself focusing on a victim mindset I transition to this question, “what can I learn from this?” When considering this question I’m moved away from being frustrated that it happened to moving forward with purpose. If I can find one thing to learn from adversity I can find a way to be stronger in the future and find a purpose in moving forward. Losing Dad was a terrible thing, but if I focus on what I’ve learned and the ways I’ve changed since I can focus on those as opposed to the feelings of loss.
Life happens, we all face adversity. When it hits we always have a choice. We can choose to wallow in the pain and sadness or we can find purpose and ways to find joy. It is completely up to us. I’m so thankful for the two thoughts that have helped me through the loss of my dad, I can’t imagine where I would be without them today!