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Fred's Blog

The Value Of Losses

No one welcomes the loss of any life, especially those closest to us. Yet, more and more, we are starting to lose those that are the nearest and dearest to us. Could these tragic, painful losses actually lead to some profound positive changes in our thinking?

When we are young it is rare to lose someone very close to us. I remember losing grandparents as a teenager. I was saddened, but life went on rather quickly. When I lost my father suddenly at 23, it was a different situation. I was devastated. I had no way of being prepared for what happened. And, to say that the loss changed my life dramatically would be a gross understatement. When my mother passed I was 49. She had been a lifetime heavy smoker, so that when her doctor passed on his ďdeath sentence,Ē it was shocking, but not really surprising. I had subconsciously been preparing for that moment for quite awhile. Still, the loss hit me hard, because now I had lost both of my parents. Consciously, I started to appreciate my own mortality. I began thinking about what I needed to do to possibly increase the odds of having a long, healthy life. I had always been quite active, so it wasnít too hard for me to keep up my pace and variety of workouts. As a matter of fact, I ended up running eleven marathons AFTER my mother had died. Realistically, I knew that drugs, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption were recipes for disaster, so I avoided them completely. And, I knew that stress and diet were very important factors as well. Over the past 18 years Iíve made major strides in eating healthier, getting plenty of rest and sleep, and taking breaks from my commitments. I donít have any ďmagic bullet,Ē but the results from my medical exams have only improved over the years.
Iíve been far more fortunate than most of my contemporaries. Iím sure part of it is luck and some of it good genes. But, I firmly believe that my lifestyle choices over the years have helped me immeasurably.

More recently, Iíve taken stock of the reasons many of my acquaintances have passed. These werenít grandparents. These werenít parents. They were people around my age; some a few years older and some younger. Invariably I saw that virtually every one of them had tempted fate by overeating, consuming large regular quantities of alcohol, shunning exercise, and smoking heavily; all bad habits that might lead to a premature death.

But, just as Iíve made lifestyle choices that stemmed from watching others destroy themselves, Iíve also seen changes in my attitudes and beliefs about life. A year ago a friend lost her husband to liver cancer. Recently, she lost her sister to this same despicable disease. Situations like this have increasingly (especially over the last 10 years) taught me that no one can guarantee the quantity, nor the quality, of life. When you see contemporaries pass, irrespective of the reason, it doesnít take much to start appreciating, more than ever, the blessings that each day brings us. For so many years I took so much for granted. I donít anymore. Iíve become humbler and kinder, more sensitive to those I care about; because, I have no way of knowing how long they will be around.

Long put off phone calls are now part of my agenda. Taking time out to visit someone special has become a regular habit. Stopping to listen more to someone elseís problems has become part of my life. Seizing opportunities to do something nice for someone I care about has become more spontaneous and joyful.

Iím sorry to say that many of my life changes have come about because of others' tragedies. But, maybe thatís what it takes sometimes for some of us to truly appreciate what is meaningful and important in life.

|  Posted on: 2011-08-30 04:02:06  |  0 Comments  

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