Sometimes, it takes a life changing event to change your perspective on what life should be about.
I learned that no event is more life changing than death. Ironically, it took my own death to learn how to live better.
After I let my Golden Retriever out a on a cold November night I died or so I’m told. Fortunately, I don’t remember dying.
I didn’t see the light but I didn’t see darkness either. Frankly speaking, I saw nothing and I definitely don’t remember dying.
I’m told I went quickly! I collapsed on my favorite couch, after going into full cardiac arrest and I was dead for at least fifteen minutes.
My wife’s quick actions, the paramedic’s paddles and the grace of god brought me back to life.
It took five jolts of the defibrillators to bring me back amongst the living and some good doctors and nurses at Kettering Medical Center here in Ohio to keep me alive!
When I came out of a coma and off of the respirator machines a few days later, I heard the same thing over and over. It was a miracle I was alive and had beaten all the odds.
My dance with death (shocking since I can’t dance worth a sh*t) caused a lot of soul searching and self-reflection. Here are some things that my death taught me about life:
Appreciate your true supporters and it’s never too soon or late to chase your dreams
Just a few years back, I told my wife that I wanted to be a writer as part of my bucket list (Am I the only one who sees the irony here). Now I’ve written two children’s books, appeared multiple times in Chicken Soup for the Soul and have had stories in a variety of magazines. My wife has been a rock and has been fully supportive of my writing. My wife and daughter have inspired me to write great things. They have gone above and beyond to make me more successful at writing and I’m truly thankful. Thanks to living these bonus years… I write stories of positivity and try harder to inspire others.
Don’t be embarrassed to tell your kids you love them!
My wife mentioned to me that on the day I died, I had spoken to my daughter at college.
Since I have no memory of that day, I feared that I had not told my daughter “I love her” when we hung up. As the saying goes “Love life and appreciate each day, because it could be your last.” Before my death, I took this for granted. Now I know better! I try my hardest to show people I care.
Let others know when you are hurting and don’t bottle up your feelings!
Prior to the day I died and even now I have the tendency to hold in my feelings. I keep them inside as some people tend to do. I was given a second chance to get things off my chest, but I could have died with important feelings bottled up inside of me forever! Let people know how much you care and appreciate them. It will make you feel better. Don’t bottle up hurt, anger or sadness either. It leads to stress and misery! Be honest about your feelings. Let it out (Like the ladies on the View) do!
A surgery you have as a child (or that your child has) doe not assure a lifelong cure.
As a kid I was born with a hole in my heart and a damaged valve. During my childhood I went through several heart surgeries. One of them was called Tetralogy of Fallot. Just now, experts in this field are learning about the secondary effects of this complex operation. Had I followed this more closely and met with experts in the Cardiology field, I could have had some preventative care for my heart. Also, new advances in the medical field are made daily, they help us all live longer and better!
In fact, I just got a new lease on life thanks to a Clinical study done by amazing doctors at Nationwide Hospital in Columbus and Edwards Life Sciences. It will add years onto my life and hopefully let me share more stories!!
Strive to be healthier and reduce stress!
When you have a near death experience it will change you. You try to be healthier, to relax and you learn to not sweat the small stuff. Take walks and naps. Play with your pet and listen to good music.
You only live twice – okay, some of us do! Smile and laugh more!
Life can get pretty serious, but a sense of humor is vital. Laugh all you can to relieve the pressure that come with recovering in today’s volatile world. It’s better to die happy than unhappy!
Connect and Re-Connect with Friends!
You learn the value of your friends and the importance of connecting with old friends.
True friends love you in good times and bad. They cry when you almost die and laugh with you after you come back to life! Trust me on this one.
Remember Who Controls Your Destiny!
Friends, family, doctors, nurses and many others prayed for me. Clergy visited me and blessed me during my recovery. My “Miracle” was really God’s plan! God let me know to be more thankful and to not take this life and those around me for granted. God also gave me more time to use my gifts and make a more positive impact in my life. Hopefully, the next time I die, I will have a chance to thank him or her in person. Now that I share my story I have learned what others have gone through. It’s both inspiring and heart warming to hear what people go through in life. It has shown me that God is there every day performing miracles! It also has shown me that we all have battles and struggles, so be kind to everyone (you just don’t know what they are going through!)
Be Grateful and Life is Greater! Don’t live in Fear, Live in Joy!
Once you die, you see more of the good in life. Simple things you took for granted mean so much. Things like, dipping your toes in the ocean, hearing your favorite song on the radio, holding your wife’s hand and hearing your daughter’s laughter. I always loved these things, but now they seem greater than ever! Appreciate the simple things and remind yourself that each day is a gift!
David Warren is Vice President of an International Manufacturing company and began writing just a few years ago ( because its therapeutic & let’s him have “no regrets”) He’s been married for 28 years, has one daughter and lives near Dayton, OH. He and his wife Angela love to travel, enjoy concerts and sporting events. David has appeared in multiple magazines, multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul Books & has had two children’s books published.
Image courtesy of Warren Wong.