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Lessons Learned From a Fun and Messy Life

Death, dying and grieving

I lost my Uncle Mike to COVID this week. I’m speechless, shocked, and in a lot of pain. As you might imagine, I’m experiencing a whole range of grieving emotions, questions, and curiosities. Different people are experiencing his death in different ways…I can’t help but think that things were left unfinished. Maybe that was how it was supposed to be…like when a movie just suddenly ends and you’re left to your own devices to imagine the ending.

I might never have the answers, but as I reflect on my uncle’s life, I do see many lessons. Some of these lessons I learned by watching him succeed, and some I learned by watching him fail. Either way, I learned them and I want to share them with you.

  1. Show up. Families are messy and may not agree. You can show up anyway.
  2. If someone is important to you, let them know.
  3. Be yourself. Who cares what people think of you.
  4. The more you respect your families’ differences, the more they’ll respect yours. The keyword is respect.
  5. Music matters. This one’s my favorite. Uncle Mike LOVED music. No amount of exhaustion could stop his dancing feet if the Rolling Stones were playing.
  6. It’s ok to disagree. Disagreements give flavor to our lives. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
  7. Play. Uncle Mike was like a giant child. When he died at 73, he still loved and owned many, many toys. People were always drawn to his playfulness.
  8. Stand for something, but don’t get so lost in what you’re standing for that you forget why you’re standing.
  9. Unpack your stuff. Don’t die with resentment and anger.
  10. Love first. Disagree second. Most things aren’t worth it.
  11. If it’s important, don’t wait. Today is a great day to reach out.
  12. Believe in good intentions.
  13. Live simply and don’t take things too seriously.
  14. Pain is proof that you loved.


I haven’t said anything that you don’t already know, so let this post serve as a reminder. Life is fun, hard, exciting and painful. It’s your gift. Be intentional with your time.

Death is part of living, so it’s important to be prepared. We’re all told at a young age to make our wishes known. I wish we were also prompted to reflect on these questions on a regular basis….

  • How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you after you’re gone?
  • What things would hurt if someone said them about you? (I know this question is a little backwards, but sometimes it helps us see where we might be getting off track)
  • Did you leave anything unfinished?
  • Think about the thing you’re upset about. Is it worth it?


How would you answer those questions? Do you have anything you need to take care of?

R.I.P. Uncle Mike.



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