Reflections on Life Lessons Learned from Death 10 Years Later


My Dad died on Monday February 1st, 2010.

I had the good fortune to speak with my Dad on Sunday January 31st, 2010.

I say good fortune because looking back on that day 10 years later,  I feel like I won the lottery having had the opportunity to speak with him just one day before his passing.

My Dad and I did not talk regularly – I held onto childhood baggage that I allowed to keep me at a distance.  Our relationship was alright, which I recognize is much better than the relationships many kids have with their parents.

I am grateful for much of my time I had with him and I regret some of the opportunities I wasted.

Looking back I can recognize and appreciate both my Dad and I did the best with what we knew.  The last couple years our relationship had started to grow because we both had chosen to begin to grow as people.

I have shared quite a bit about my Dad in various other blogs and videos.  I do not want to make this post as much about the past as I want to make it about the present.

I know with 100% certainty that my Dad loved me and in the end that is what is most important.

As I type this I find myself reflecting on some of the most significant life lessons I have learned since my Dad’s death.

1 – Say I love you when you get the chance:

Had I known my Dad was going to die I would have said I love you over and over until my voice stopped working.  There were 1000’s of day to day opportunities I let pass me by because I always assumed there would be another chance.  Imagine the chance you have right now is your only chance… let people know that you love them as if this is your only chance to tell them

2 – Give your parents (and all your people: friends, family, strangers on the street) a chance… let them be proud of you.  Your baggage isn’t worth depriving yourself of love

Only reason I spoke with my Dad on January 31st 2010 was because I had been in Haiti earlier that month helping out with the earthquake recovery efforts.  My Dad was so excited and proud of me that he had emailed me that week a very thoughtful note telling me so.  I realized I hadn’t gotten back to him so I decided to call.

There were countless times over the years I did not allow my Dad to be my Dad, to love me, to be proud of me.  I had my walls up, I justified every ounce of emotional baggage I held onto… you know the drill.

The irony of it was I would always circle back to choosing to feel like my Dad didn’t care, didn’t love me, or wasn’t proud of me, I was resentful because he didn’t “love me” the way I wanted him to, or at the times I wanted him to.  So because he wasn’t doing it “MY WAY” I deprived both myself and him of experiencing a closer connection.

3 – Make the effort

I can appreciate wanting others to put forth the effort or not wanting to be the one “Always” having to make the effort.  I have been there and I have done that.

Trust me when I say this: when the people you care about die, you will wish you had made the effort.

4 – Tomorrow isn’t promised

A phrase said so many times it often sounds cliche, but it is so true.  Today millions of people did not wake up who went to sleep last night planning to wake up.  At this very moment, people are being killed, dying of diseases, meeting their end because of a tragic accident.

All we are guaranteed is right now.  Please treat this moment as the gift that it is.  Ask yourself, “If this moment was my last, what would make it meaningful?”  Whatever your answer is, please do that.

5 – Forgive

Forgiveness is a biological gift we have all been given.  Tragically so many of us choose to never unwrap it.  Your life will only improve, the meaning of your life will only deepen, the love you experience will only grow when you forgive.

6 – Choose Love

No one ever said it would be easy and in a world where “being right,” and someone else “being wrong” is sadly often valued in the moment more than love; love can be a challenge.

Send love towards others and most importantly choose to love yourself.  You are the one 24-7 relationship you will always have.

Nurture you, love you, and then love yourself some more.

With love,


Be sure to watch my TED talk on Healing from Loss:


About the Author

Jesse Brisendine, the creator of "Zero Limits Coaching," empowers individuals and organizations to move beyond their limitations, build thriving careers, and live fulfilling lives..  

Jesse is the go-to coach for business leaders, Hollywood celebrities, entrepreneurs, mental health professionals, educators, & medical professionals.

Jesse has personally mentored nearly 2,000 people on their healing journeys after the loss of loved ones.