Dealing with Death; Life Lessons I Learned from My Dad

In four days I will encounter a day I don’t want to acknowledge exist. Had it been one more day, it could have been dealt with only on leap years. This year marks a full year since my fathers passing.

Dealing with his death… it’s been my ongoing struggle. Both with my feelings and my families. I still struggle with it to this day.

Death is not a new situation for me or my family. Between grandmothers and other family members passing away, our family has been exposed to the feelings and dealings with death.
My fathers passing was abrupt, unexpected; a punch to the stomach, a complete submerssion in icy cold water and darkness.

Dealing with his death, I was heart broken. We had plans, I had plans, events and places I wanted to go and have him there. I ebbed and flowed between depression, denial, anger, all the stages. Just when I thought that maybe it would be over it wasn’t and I would cry myself sick. I would see him everywhere, hear his voice in my head and miss him so much.

At work I had ok days and bad days. On one particular bad day, my boss, one of the owners of the company I work for, told me about a client that was at serious risk and that it could be potential the worst thing that ever happened. I told her that at the moment I could care less and that the worst thing that could have ever happened to me was my fathers death.

I am very lucky to have the boss that I have and I am still currently employed at the company.

In one of my misconceptions about grieving is that it stops. In reality, in never does, the only thing that changes is how you deal with it.

The first couple of months after his passing, I used my relationship with my ex boyfriend as a way to focus on something happier rather than dealing with grief for my dad.

When the relationship ended, I found myself grieving in two different ways and facing reality. I would dream about my dad coming back, that they only moved him to a different room in the hospital or that he had a supernatural lazarus moment or he was just chilling out in our old home in New York.

I’m still healing and I miss my dad … every day.

In writing this post I want to honor my dad; share some of the wisdom that he has passed on to me and lessons that I learned in other ways from him.

Life Lessons I Learned from My Dad

  1. Live life with such an integrity that no one will ever question it
  2. Never be late for anything
  3. Give everything you do 100%, whether you enjoy the task or not
  4. Listen more, talk less
  5. Always go above and beyond what is expected of you
  6. Never settle for anything less that your standards or dreams
  7. Make quality one on one time special
  8. Always be you, don’t worry about what others think
  9. Hitting the snooze button is perfectly acceptable, but maybe not lifting dads pillows and raising his eyelids wondering if he’s awake
  10. The act of giving and gifting to others is more fulfilling and rewarding than receiving
  11. Enjoy the little things
  12. Find joy in the every day chores
  13. If your wife is upset with you use the phrase “But Honey” followed by a puppy eyed look
  14. The only thing that’s stopping you from learning and perfecting a new skill is you
  15. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to

There are a couple I would like to elaborate on;

Never be late for anything; Work, school, Doctor’s appointments, friends, family – don’t be late, ever, whatever you do, just don’t be late. Time is precious and to show others you respect them and their time – be on time. Being late is equivalent to saying – I don’t care about you or you time and I have no respect for you.

Give everything you do 100%, whether you enjoy the task or not; To me, this is an integrity moment that if you do not give 100% into everything that you do, are you really do yourself any favors? People lose opportunities when they do not take the time to invest in themselves and their work. If I know I did my best, I can live with a clean conscious. There are some opportunities that I look at, if I had not given my 100%, I may never have had the other opportunities that came along with it. So the giving of 100% is not about how much am I do for this other person or this task but more of a reflection of myself, my capabilities and the integrity to give something my all whether I like it or not.

Always go above and beyond what is expected of you; I would couple this with the next statement; Never settle for anything less than your standards or dreams. My dad, he knew what he wanted to be since he was kid, he wanted to be an auto mechanic, he wanted to work on cars.
When he worked, he went above and beyond what was expected. Sure the customer came in with one problem on the car. My dad saw it as a mini project – a new exciting challenge. He would work on the car, and find other things, things that would help extend the life of the customers car, helping to prevent future issues. He went above the codes the computer spat back out to them and listened to the car. He would make recommendations for cheaper options, yea he could do it, but it would be cheaper if they bought it and did it themselves or went to xyz. The customers adored my dad. Come Christmas, our house would have gift baskets and all sorts of things from these customers, thanking my dad for what he did.
For him, it was just in a days work. He knew how he wanted to be treated as a customer and he held himself to that standard and made sure he delivered on that internal promise he made to himself.

Make quality one-on-one time special; When I was with my dad, we had certain things that it was just him and me, our time together and no one else. Daddy daughter time. We went to the movies, would go out for ice cream and I always felt like we were bonding and having a good time. He made sure to have that quality time with me and make me feel special. As I got older, I made sure to reciprocate. I would call him and say hey dad! want to see the new marvel movie? and I swear you could hear the smile on the other side of the phone, yea! that would be great! I loved that I was able to do that with him and that after all those years of him taking me out or spending quality time with him, I could return the favor and show how much it meant to me over the years.

The act of giving and gifting to others is more fulfilling and rewarding than receiving; My dad loved giving gifts and surprising people with gifts. Christmas? Don’t even get me started. He was anxiously waiting for the kids to wake up and to see their reactions to what Santa brought them. Just watching someone open up a gift and seeing their reaction, he didn’t care if anyone got him anything, he was just happy to give onto others. Part of his love language and giving out of fullness.

You can accomplish anything you set your mind to
My dad was quite an accomplished individual. Both my parents are accomplished individuals. I would watch them as they would repair the house, work on electrical and plumbing, gardening and washing cars on the weekends. My mom would do all sorts of arts and crafts, sew, sing, she even started taking up piano lessons with me. My dad built his own computer, he worked on puzzles and was a pit crew chief for modified racing. When he could no longer work on cars, he discovered a new outlet in woodworking. He learned everything that he could, would youtube new projects and ideas. I had him signed up for a woodworking magazine and we would go to Rockler on the weekends. He went from someone who had a general idea of woodworking to someone whose last project was a beautiful china cabinet complete with 2 side pieces and a sideboard. What I learned from both of them is that if I have the drive and determination to go after something, I can accomplish anything that I want. How beautiful is that.

The lessons my dad imparted upon me are priceless. The best way I can honor him and continue his legacy is to uphold these lessons. As a reader, I hope that these lessons inspire you like they have inspired me, to be the best person you can be. Don’t be the best person for someone else, be the best person for you.

My Captain America

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