It’s been just over 5 months since the passing of my dear Dad and later this month we are able to inter his ashes with my beloved Grandma. As the Autumn leaves fall I am reminded of one of his favourite performers and music with which I grew up – Nat King Cole.
The falling leaves drift by the window.
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
These past months, in fact the year itself, has been one of blessings, grief and new beginnings, all of which I am grateful for. Losing Dad was a shock even though I knew it was inevitable and the experience has helped me develop further. I am grateful to you for reaching out and being in touch from my last blog post from which I felt comforted.
It has been in the discomfort I have grown the most. Facing the emotional pain strengthened me to keep going. At times I felt I was simply surviving and needing to get through all the things that needed to be attended to. My clients and delegates who knew my situation were incredibly understanding. Those who didn’t know, allowed me to give my attention in service of them which was refreshing and strength building.
Living with loss has gifted me with a new perspective. A perspective on life itself. We never know how much time we have whilst here and I believe every day is a gift. A gift to share with others. To share our gifts and talents in ways that enable us to make a contribution to the lives of others. And yet I appreciate it is not always easy to do so. Dad made many sacrifices when he became a single parent to my brother and me.
Reflecting on Dad’s life helped me to realise how full a life he had lived, as a parent, businessman and member of his community. He reminded me we are meant to make the most of everyday; learning, developing and giving back. And so I have begun to live my bucket list – those things you hope to do before you die – which I had made only earlier this year. In July, I joined a dance club to learn Salsa and in September I began learning a new language – British Sign Language. Both of these activities have been hugely fulfilling. I am a beginner, learning every week and step by step, sign by sign seeing the beauty and goodness in both.
Living with loss enabled me to connect more deeply with others in ways I had not imagined. What strikes me is how often we hold ourselves back from being ourself through fear of rejection, retribution or ridicule. It takes courage to be ourselves in a world that is constantly persuading and influencing us to be someone other than ourselves. I have felt moments of deep vulnerability where tears take over my voice when I hoped they wouldn’t have, I gave into my feelings and simply allowed the moment to come and go, so that I could contribute more clearly and confidently. Generating spaces for others to be themselves, unveiled, knowing they would not be judged nor interrupted and where feelings are welcomed continues to be both a privilege and a profound experience for all.
One of the great blessings in my life was that Dad was a great supporter of my work and was touched by the opportunities I had to work with others from around the world. Reflecting Dad’s kindness and desire to continue contributing to the lives of others, he left a legacy which we have named the MAG Foundation, Enhancing the Lives of Others, through which my brother and I will offer our training, listening and coaching skills to those who would not otherwise have access to such experiences. You can discover more here.
Recently I have listened to some wonderful podcast conversations and book that have been a great source of inspiration and share with you here:
Lead from the Heart – Harnessing emotional energy with Dr DiGangi
If positive emotions enable our best performance & negative emotions undermine it, Dr. DiGangi says we must consciously reflect upon our own emotional experiences & realize they are the primary force that impacts how we affect other people. And most leaders greatly underestimate the power & influence they have by mindfully harnessing their emotional energy – Dr Julia DiGangi
Truly Human Leadership – Powered by Me: From Burned Out to Fully Charged at Work and in Life with Dr Neha Sangwan
You can also use your thoughts to bring your mind to a safe place, a place that’s comfortable and safe for you and your body will follow. Scientifically you want to understand how your biology works. You want to partner with your body, not push through it . There’s all sorts of ways that the moment you discover this and you start to tune into your body, rather than tune out of it – Dr Neha Sangwan
Resilient Grieving – Lucy Hone, PhD
The death of someone we hold dear may be inevitable; being paralysed by our grief is not. A growing body of research has revealed our capacity for resilient grieving, our innate ability to respond to traumatic loss by finding ways to grow – by becoming more engaged with our lives, and discovering new, profound meaning.
Strengthened by my lived experience, I am inspired to keep growing as a human being, seek opportunities to serve others and make the most of everyday.
Thank you for listening!
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