4 lessons I learned after my dad died... 4 years ago

self-care Oct 28, 2021

I was in Vancouver, British Columbia this past week and visited my father's gravesite on the 4th anniversary of his unexpected death. One is never prepared for a parent’s passing.

My dad survived two heart attacks: one at age 47 and the other at age 71, followed by triple bypass surgery. My dad had such a will to live that I often thought he was immortal.

I think my dad knew when it was his time. It was as if he planned his final day of rest - three weeks after his 84th birthday and three months after his dream vacation, a family cruise to Alaska.

My dad awoke, sat at the edge of the bed and then fell backwards and died beside my mom who was sleeping.

The cause of death? Intracranial bleed. My dad hit his head on his night table a few days before he died. He minimized the severity of his accident; however, his Google search history prior to his death indicated that he had been researching concussions.

Four years later .... Here are 4 lessons that I learned from my dad:

1. Practice Self-Care

My dad was my mom’s caregiver for over 10 years. He had a genuine interest in taking care of my mom’s health needs, often times prioritized over his own. My dad admitted that he neither accepted nor managed his adult-onset Type 2 diabetes. Following our Alaskan cruise, his Type 2 diabetes evolved into Type 1 diabetes. Learning how to self-inject with insulin and use a glucometer at age 84 was no cakewalk!

Bottom line: Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. You can’t help and support others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

2. Prioritize Disease Prevention

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of chronic diseases are preventable. Many of the risk factors leading to illness and premature death are lifestyle-related and modifiable.

Lifestyle risk factors (smoking, diet, physical inactivity and work-related stress) were all associated with my dad’s first heart attack. While he quit smoking and changed his diet, it wasn’t until after my dad’s second heart attack when he started a regular exercise program. Type 1 diabetes may have been prevented had my dad accepted and managed his diabetes by following a Type 2 diabetic diet meal plan. It starts by building a healthy balanced plate and creating a healthy balanced life (using what I call my Eat, Sleep, Move, Breathe approach to self-care).

3. Balance Work and Family

My dad was a work-a-holic until his first heart attack. He had a "provider" mindset and lived in autopilot: leaving to work early in the morning and returning home often after dinner, prioritizing work over family. The heart attack awakened my dad to provide his family with his time, presence and energy.

4. Practice Gratitude

Following my dad’s first heart attack, his business went bankrupt, we lost our home and moved to the west coast. We lived frugally and learned to appreciate the simpler things in life: health, nature and the outdoors, social connections, and cherishing memories and experiences over money and material things.

My dad ignited my passion for wellness and gave me many gifts: his long life filled with love, resilience, kindness, courage to show his vulnerability, and comfort knowing his spirit is with me always. His presence was the best present he gave me and I am grateful that I was able to unwrap and enjoy this gift it for 37 years.

Here’s my gift to you: My HEALTHY EATING CHECKLIST. Click HERE to grab it. If you want to know how to stay present, alert and energized throughout the day, this gift is for you! I hope you enjoy and use it.

PS: This checklist is one of more than 100 videos and actionable, downloadable resources inside my Byte-Size Wellness Academy/Virtual Wellness Lounge -- a comprehensive portal for B2C and B2B audiences designed to level up self-care at conferences and at work.

I'm always open to talking about your personal, workplace and/or meeting wellness needs. Feel free to book at chat with me HERE.

Be well,​

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