Recently, my dad passed away. Heartbreaking and horrific in every way. The most common reflection from grieving people is that this traumatic event makes you realise what’s important in life. To love more, argue less, and appreciate life. Take each day as it comes. Take time to stop and smell the flowers, as the metaphor goes. I am no different and completely concur.
These sentiments are even the case for the men on death row. Asked, by one study, for their last words when they were in the gas chamber, they spoke not of anger, bitterness and hate, but of love, kindness and a wish for their loved ones to be happy.
The ‘build’ – a Tesco term for feedback – I would like to offer is an unexpected help that dad ‘going upstairs’ has brought me.
My dad was a titan in the grocery industry, I am proud to say. He started selling rabbits outside a store at the age of 14 for 4d, or some such Victorian currency (that’s one for you, Dad, to make you smile). He retired from Sainsbury’s as retail director, after a shift of 40 years. It was a time when ‘retail was detail’, and if JD (John Sainsbury) were to enter your store, you knew you were in for a harsh, unsparing grilling.
Dad – ‘DL’, as he was known – was no different. People management was considered to be more a sport than a support. But that was then and as DL retired, he mellowed. During those 28 years of retirement, he achieved a lovely balance of having the experience of a great career with an appreciation for life.
Since his passing, I have found myself asking a simple question: what would dad do? This has led to him fast becoming my best coach. Guiding me to be a better person, offering suggestions that weren’t previously coming to me, and also being my biggest fan, telling me that he is proud, that I am OK, and that it will be OK too.
So, yes, someone important to us passing is painful and you wish they were still here. Unfortunately, the ‘circle of life’ and all that means they can’t be. So, if we can take some small element of good in all the sorrow, let’s use their presence to help us to be the very best version of ourselves by talking to them. If you see me talking to myself, when it looks like I’m alone, please say hello to us both.