Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life Lessons

Life Lessons by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

After Quinn’s stillbirth, I came to the sobering realization that death was real and I had numbered days left on this planet.  My beloved daughter wasn’t given the chance to live, but I was.  This experience made me look at my life critically – am I living my best life?  What do I want to teach my living daughter about life? 

However, I was stuck - How in the world am I supposed to go on living after meeting death?  The book, “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler was a tremendous resource and helped me address some of these questions.  The authors interview the dying and talk about their advice for living.  Who better to learn about living than those who are at the end of their lives? 

The book gives lessons on 14 topics: authenticity, love, relationships, loss, power, guilt, time, fear, anger, play, patience, surrender, forgiveness, and happiness.  I took away something genuinely helpful in each category.  This book has helped me live in the now and understand that life truly is a gift.  The people in your life are gifts.  If you are given the good fortune to life another day, how are you going to live it? 

I won’t spoil the book by giving details on each lesson, but the lessons that have helped me the most are about time, fear, and play:
  • Time: When we have truly lived our lives, we don’t want to live them again.  It was the life that was not lived that we regret. 
Since the stillbirth of my daughter, I have a choice about how I will live the rest of my life.  I can surrender to the grief and live a life of sorrow.  I can be jealous of other pregnant women and the new life that they create.  Or, I can hold my love for Quinn in my heart and do something with it.  I can do positive work in her honor.  I can live a meaningful life and do it for Quinn, because she can’t.  I can teach the lessons of love and life to my living daughter.  I don’t get another chance at this life - the time to live it is now.
  • Fear: Our fears don’t stop death – they stop life.
My fears and “what-ifs” are what most challenge my ability to really live.  Life is fragile and I often feel vulnerable.  I am told this is a normal part of grieving and this book has helped remind me that I need to be aware of my fears and work to manage them so I can really live.  Otherwise, my fears hold me and my family back from living and experiencing life.
  • Play: People’s number one regret in life is that they wish they didn’t take life so seriously.
After Quinn’s stillbirth, I learned what really matters in life.  For me, it is family, love, friendship, and nature.  I learned there is possibility for joy, love, and friendship in each day.  You don’t have to wait until tomorrow – it is there today.  So today, do something that brings meaning and joy to your life.  For we only really have this moment, right?
There are many lessons like the above in this book.  Anyone who has a consciousness about living the life that they truly want would benefit from this book.  It was touching to hear people’s stories and hear their wise words on life and living. 

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