Life and Death

If you’ve been reading my articles you know that I usually focus on HOW to get what you want – more money, more clients, more happiness, more time, more success of all kinds. This article is about WHAT you really want, and WHY you want it? Knowing your purpose is critical to success. This month’s topic is about taking the short cut to having a meaningful, purposeful life.

I usually get a new article out like clockwork on the 15th of each and every month but it’s been two months since my last newsletter. Why? Because my boat got rocked big time. Life plastic surgey threw me quite a curve ball. My story has relevance to us all, so this article is going to get more personal than usual.

On March 12th around the time I would have been writing the March article (which never happened) I received a call from my father letting me know I had better get myself up to Oregon right away if I wanted to say good bye to my grandma. She was dying of congestive heart failure (and old age) and the doctors gave her weeks to live. She had turned that corner where it no longer makes sense to continue aggressive and invasive procedures to preserve life, but instead to make the best of the time that she had left.

So I packed my stuff and started driving to Oregon the next day. I had only been on the road for five minutes when I received a call from my brother. My dad had just had a heart attack and was being rushed into emergency open heart surgery. Four of his veins were 90% blocked and the doctor had told my brother that he might not live through the surgery. I didn’t even get to speak with my dad before he went into surgery. I was shocked. My dad was one of the healthiest 61 year-olds I knew, eating well, and working out at the gym several times per week.

I spent the next nine hours driving up to Eugene, Oregon, praying and visualizing my dad making it through and being strong and healthy again. However, I couldn’t help but reflect on what it might mean to me if my dad (who I thought would live for at least another 10-20 years) was suddenly gone, and I didn’t even get a chance to say good bye. If forced me to reflect on what really matters most in life. More on that later.

I arrived in Eugene as my father was just waking up from triple bi-pass surgery. The surgery had gone well but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. He was still in intensive care and those first few days after open heart surgery (especially after a heart attack) are critical. I told my dad that I loved him and that lots of people loved him and we were all looking forward to him pulling through this.

My dad had been my grandma’s primary care-taker and now that he was in intensive care, it was time for the younger generation to step in. We decided to bring her home to my dad’s so she could die in her own bed, surrounded by loved ones and comfortable surroundings.

My dad came home from the hospital a week later and now we had two patients – one we were supporting to die as peacefully and gracefully as possible, and another we were supporting to heal from surgery. I spontaneously moved to Oregon (for as long as I was needed) with my small travel bag I’d only packed for a 4-5 day trip, and so did my mom and my cousin. My brother showed up. My extended family, and friends of the family I didn’t even know, offered their support. The experience of family was so strong that I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I feel and how much I love and appreciate them all. People brought us food, offered to run errands for us, and just came and shared their loving presence. It made all the difference in the world.

Two and one half weeks passed, and as my father started to regain his strength (he could barely make it up the stairs at first) my grandma was sleeping more and more, and eating less and less. We all spent time with her making sure she knew she was loved, and that we were going to be okay when she was gone. She passed away late on Tuesday night. We were there with her as she opened her eyes one last time and looked right into my cousin’s eyes, smiled, and took her last breath.

My grandma wasn’t afraid of death. She believed with unshakable faith that our body is merely a temporary vehicle, and the soul moves to a better place when we’re through with the body.

I’m no expert on death. This is the first time I’ve been present as a loved one passed. However, I can tell you that death is confrontive. Death can be very hard to accept. But death is beautiful. Death is sacred if you open yourself to it. It was difficult to be here and a part of me wanted to run away, but I am so grateful that I got to be with my grandma as she passed.

My father is doing well. There was minimal damage to his heart from the heart-attack. He jokingly says, “my pump is still strong, and now I’ve got some new plumbing to go along it”.

So, what does my story have to do with you? Well, perhaps you have a similar story from your own life. But even if you don’t, health challenges and death are a part of life for all of us. We often try to avoid facing death until it forces itself upon us. We live in a culture that tries to hide from old age and death. This only makes it more painful. You can’t escape death – your own or others. It’s better to face it and embrace it. There are many good reasons to do so.

First, those who are aging and/or dying will feel your acceptance and this will help them in ways you can’t even imagine.

Secondly, you will realize, not just mentally, but at a deep primal level, that life is fragile and life is short. Recognizing this is a tremendous blessing. You may begin to release the tight grip you have on goals, people, things, your body, and even your idea of your “self”. As you release your tight grip on life, you may begin to relax, breathe more deeply, and enjoy yourself more in this present moment. You may literally lighten up and take yourself less seriously.

Thirdly, even while you are lightening up and letting go of that which doesn’t really matter, you may begin to value other things more fully, and open yourself to living with greater purpose and passion.

Questions naturally arise. Important questions which I invite you to reflect upon now. Don’t wait until you are dying, or until someone close to you dies, to answer the most important questions.

What would you need to do and experience in order to have no regrets on your death bed?

What makes life worth living?

What is most important to you?

What is your life all about? What is your purpose?

Are your goals really your goals? Do they need to be revised? What is the purpose of the goals that you have?

What is success to you? What is your definition of success?

What would give your life greater meaning?

Do you have good health insurance and a will? *hahaha* That was a joke, but hey, get those things taken care of!

Do you have unfinished business with any family members, lovers, or friends? Do you need to forgive someone? Do you need to tell someone that you love them?

Do you recognize how important friends and family are? Do you live in a way that honors this truth? How can you appreciate, honor, value, support and love those special people even more?

Are you taking excellent care of your body? It’s the only one you have? Prevention is better than cure. How could you take better care of your body? What health issue do you need to learn more about so that you can feel even better and enjoy your life even more?

Where in your life are you playing small and selling out on yourself? What dream are you sitting on and not going for? If you were willing to take a bigger risk and play a bigger game, what would you take on?

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? My grandma left behind a network of compassionate people with good values who will be contributing and making the world better. What will you leave behind?

As I was driving the nine hours from Santa Cruz to Eugene, praying for my father, I also used some of that time to reflect on what my life is all about. Here’s what I came up with:

My purpose is to be loving, creative, playful, and adventurous in a way that honors my human family and the miracle of life on this beautiful planet.

I LOVE that purpose! That’s what I’m all about.

What is your purpose? You get to decide!

To learn more about the personal coaching I do which helps people get in touch with what’s most important to them, and align their daily lives and actions with those priorities, check out my web page.

Ryan Eliason has been a professional, full-time Life and Business Coach since 2003, successfully supporting hundreds of clients to produce extraordinary results in their businesses and personal lives. An entrepreneur since a young age, Ryan has founded several successful businesses and a non-profit. He developed his unique approach through 15 years of business consulting, designing and leading workshops, and working with both coaching and makeup clients. He received his formal training with the renowned Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, California. He is also a certified Master Hypnotist, massage therapist, polarity therapist, and Transformational Therapist through the Heartwood Institute.

Ryan publishes a popular FREE monthly eLetter, ShortCuts To Success, with strategies to get everything you want in business and in life, quicker and with less effort. You can learn more about Ryan and sign up for his eLetter at: