It was 10:43 am on a beautiful sunny day at the beach. I was doing my morning meditation when I heard my phone vibrating on top of the dresser. I let it ring and was going to get to it after my quiet session was complete. Seconds later I heard my friend and lifelong mentor’s phone ringing in the next room over. He put the phone on speaker and it was my mom hyperventilating, asking if I was there. I quickly rose and walked towards the neighboring room. I met my mentor halfway down the hall and he looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “remain calm.” The next words I heard from my panting mother were “Dad is dead.”
I proceeded to fall into my mentor’s arms and wept.
I was confused and it didn’t make any sense. Dad was healthy, strong, active, spiritual, and had been sober for 21 years. There were no warning signs, no goodbyes, and no final farewell.
Over the past few months, I’ve had time to reflect on the transcendence of my father and have outlined 10 insights I’ve gained from what has turned out to be the deepest spiritual experience and strongest test of faith I’ve ever encountered in my life.
What my mother saw that morning lying lifeless on the couch was not my father, but merely his body, the vehicle that he was given to transport his larger-than-life character and soul. It was the messenger of his spirit that allowed him to create words to connect to others. It was the hands that allowed him to provide and support for his family. My father was much more than his human body and like a strong foot in a tight shoe, he is now freer than ever. He has transcended the limitations of a human body into the next realm of existence and is alive just in a new form.
What is a legacy? Memories, good action, character, love, and the impact a person has had on their communities. As the famous quote reads, it’s not what a person said or did that you’ll always remember, it’s how they made you feel. Those good feelings and trails of goodwill never fade away. My mom, brother, sister, and I carry on my father’s legacy every day.
All we have is this moment. To truly be alive we must live in the present. When we do that we have countless time well spent with those that we interact with. When we are present we can be tuned in to the signs that our deceased are sending our way. The general theme from my father was love. After his transcendence, I came across countless signs of love in the shapes of hearts everywhere I looked and in the oddest of places.
It’s easy to go negative when someone we are close to passes away. It’s important to only allow love inside and not hate or negativity. Don’t question the what if’s or the why’s; accept what has happened and understand that their spirit and soul are still alive, just in a new form. More than ever we must practice acceptance and stillness.
We literally have no control over when our bodies will expire. Some may prolong their vessel through various medical procedures or supplements but ultimately we all have an expiration date and we don’t know when exactly when our time will be up. Sadly, for some, it’s much sooner than others. So live a life you’re proud of, do the right thing and treat your body like it’s your temple.
Regardless of what they (someone who has “harmed you”) did to you, always make an effort to make things right with people that you care about in your life. I saw a close family member filled with regret and sadness after choosing to not make things right with my father before he suddenly passed. All it takes is reaching out, saying you’re sorry, admitting your faults, and bearing your soul. Put your pride aside, make things right and you will be so happy that you did!
Live a life without regrets.
There is something that woke us up this morning and we should be extremely grateful that we are alive and have the opportunity to produce great things here on this earth. Whether you are a janitor cleaning a beautiful office or a business person providing careers and opportunities for employees, be humble and grateful for your opportunities and use your talents and abilities for good.
The grieving stage is inevitable and everyone does it differently. Listening to key songs that touch your heart & soul can be very healing. Likewise, having solid friends and family that you can lean on for hugs and heartfelt physical connection and meaningful dialogue with is key. Lastly, sharing the fun memories and insights from the person who has passed is a great way to keep their memories alive.
A few months prior to my father’s passing, I truly cried for the first time in my life when my younger brother enrolled in the Air Force Academy. They were true tears of joy and something that I was waiting for my entire life to come. That allowed me to embrace the tears and to bear my emotions to my close friends and family after the passing of my father. I encourage all of you to cry, and if done properly, will lead to a connection with the deceased.
When a person passes, it creates a very aware and sensitive emotional state for everyone around. People that you’ve been trying to connect within a meaningful way are typically pretty open when seeing you for the first time after the passing of your loved one. I used this moment to speak truth to my close friends and family and inject truth into our conversations that I otherwise may have felt uncomfortable or too shy to say. After doing so, I saw tremendous amounts of healing and good in those that have been struggling to make things right in their own lives.
I can honestly say that this has been the biggest test of faith in my life. I felt that through my personal journey of physical, emotional, and spiritual improvement, I was able to get to the 70-yard line. And through the passing of my father, I felt his transcendence into the next realm of existence. Through our spiritual connection, I felt that he brought me to the end zone in the sense that he has truly connected me with a higher power. For the first time in my life, I experienced the deepest levels of love, gratitude, and calm that I had ever experienced in my life. When I am still and out of my head, I feel him with me the most and in everything that I do, from picking up that one piece of trash in the parking lot and to doing the right thing when no one is watching.
Trent Alenik is the Director of the Inspiring Children’s Foundation and works with Thrive Global helping the world’s leading enterprises and their people build healthy habits through inspirational storytelling and actionable Microsteps to help navigate this challenging time with less stress and greater resilience.