Powerful Life Advice From Two Dying Men

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You truly don’t understand the meaning or value of life, until you are told you are going to die.

We are all going to die someday, and while the thought is incredibly morbid and depressing — it’s a reality.

The life advice below is a combination of advice given from two people. One, a 24-year-old man who was given just a few short months to live and the second, my 59-year-old father, who was also given a few short months before his life ended. Their advice and thoughts on life are the truest you will ever find. As both men were faced with knowing their end is near and were forced to evaluate how they spent their time living.

24-years-old and dying.

(His words below were originally posted on Reddit)

I am only 24 years old, yet I have actually already chosen my last tie. It’s the one that I will wear on my funeral a few months from now. It may not match my suit, but I think it’s perfect for the occasion.

The cancer diagnosis came too late to give me at least a tenuous hope for a long life, but I realized that the most important thing about death is to ensure that you leave this world a little better than it was before you existed with your contributions . The way I’ve lived my life so far, my existence or more precisely the loss of it, will not matter because I have lived without doing anything impactful. Before, there were so many things that occupied my mind. When I learned how much time I had left, however, it became clear which things are really important. So, I am writing to you for a selfish reason. I want to give meaning to my life by sharing with you what I have realized:

  • Don’t waste your time on work that you don’t enjoy. It is obvious that you cannot succeed in something that you don’t like. Patience, passion, and dedication come easily only when you love what you do.
  • It’s stupid to be afraid of others’ opinions. Fear weakens and paralyzes you. If you let it, it can grow worse and worse every day until there is nothing left of you, but a shell of yourself. Listen to your inner voice and go with it. Some people may call you crazy, but some may even think you‘re a legend.
  • Take control of your life. Take full responsibility for the things that happen to you. Limit bad habits and try to lead a healthier life. Find a sport that makes you happy. Most of all, don’t procrastinate. Let your life be shaped by decisions you made, not by the ones you didn’t.
  • Appreciate the people around you. Your friends and relatives will always be an infinite source of strength and love. That is why you shouldn’t take them for granted.

It is difficult for me to fully express my feelings about the importance of these simple realizations, but I hope that you will listen to someone who has experienced how valuable time is. I’m not upset because I understand that the last days of my life have become meaningful. I only regret that I will not be able to see a lot of cool stuff that should happen soon like the creation of AI, or Elon Musk’s next awesome project. I also hope that the war in Syria and Ukraine will end soon.

We care so much about the health and integrity of our body that until death, we don’t notice that the body is nothing more than a box – a parcel for delivering our personality, thoughts, beliefs and intentions to this world. If there is nothing in this box that can change the world, then it doesn’t matter if it disappears. I believe that we all have potential, but it also takes a lot of courage to realize it. You can float through a life created by circumstances, missing day after day, hour after hour. Or, you can fight for what you believe in and write the great story of your life.

I hope you will make the right choice. Leave a mark in this world. Have a meaningful life, whatever definition it has for you. Go towards it. The place we are leaving is a beautiful playground, where everything is possible. Yet, we are not here forever. Our life is a short spark in this beautiful little planet that flies with incredible speed to the endless darkness of the unknown universe. So, enjoy your time here with passion. Make it interesting. Make it count! Thank you!

59-years-old and dying.

My father was in decent health. He was a workaholic who provided for his family and often sacrificed family time, for work time. That was a crutch of his, one that just about slapped him in the face when he received his cancer diagnosed in late 2013. Going in to the see the doctor for symptoms of a cracked rib and coming out with a diagnosing of stage 4 advanced renal cell cancer. He was given just 3 to 4 months to live. His world — turned upside down.

My family and I watched as he fought the battle with cancer. He didn’t start off in the best fighting position however. A death sentence usually isn’t a good jumping off point. We watched as the reality slowly sank in that he was dying and dying very soon. He and I shared as many long and deep conversations as we could during his last four months. Conversations that truly changed my outlook on life.

Here are a few points my father made about his life and life in general. How he could have done things different and why he might not have.

Work hard, but don’t work too hard. Enjoy the little things in life. 

My father became so focused on supporting our family and building a massive bank account to be ‘comfortable’, that he missed out the little and important things life has to offer. Things like camping, travelling, cookouts, swimming in the pool with the family, baseball games, fishing, etc,. Those were all regrets that he had in his final days. Regretting that he missed so much of his children’s lives, but in the same thought process, proud that he was able to provide for them and they didn’t go without.

Save enough money to be comfortable for a full year ahead, and enjoy the rest. 

Dying with a large bank account was a ridiculous thought for my father. His whole life, it seemed to make sense — but the money was useless. He’s be dead. He told me this: Save enough money to be comfortable for a year ahead, always. After that, enjoy your time with family and friends. If your kids want to go somewhere, vacation, Disney World — take them. Take every opportunity to spend time with your family and friends. Spend your hard earned money on things that make you and your family happy — because you can’t take that money with you.

Here I’ve worked my entire life. I have money. Everything I own — I own. And I will be dead in 1 month.

Laugh more. Love more. 

Don’t take life too seriously. That was a very impactful piece of advice my father told me prior to his passing.

Being one who had a hard time showing emotion, he wished he would have tried harder, or let him self go a bit more during his life. He advised to be show love and allow yourself to be loved. Hug your kids daily and always tell them how much you love and care for them. Kiss your partner more, hold hands in public and take more alone time.

Laugh more. Joke around more. You have one life, don’t let it be ruled by stress and anxieties. Don’t live to work, but work to live.

Find something you love doing. And do it. 

If you find something you love doing and can make a living at it. Do it. Don’t make excuses because you will run out of time if you do. Go for it, be bold and if you fail — try again. You don’t want to look back on your life and have any regrets. Being able to say that you woke up every single day and did what you love doing, is an incredibly feat. You are in control of your life — to a point. You can’t control when your time is up, but you can be in control of how your time in life is spent.

In short…

  • Be honest
  • Love hard
  • Work hard — play harder
  • Take time for what’s important in life. Family and friends.
  • Tell people how you feel about them
  • Don’t let money rule your existence. You can’t take your bank account with you in the end.
  • People always come first
  • Have no regrets
  • Be more adventurous
  • Take time to ENJOY the little thing. Because life truly is, all about the little things.