The fragility of life only truly hits home when you lose someone you love. Illness and death show no bias, striking regardless of age, fitness, or gender, and creep up on you like a thief in the night.

Some individuals have experienced sudden deaths despite appearing to be in good health. No one is immune to the inevitable end, and those who cling to the illusion of eternal health will be in for a rude awakening.

Our surroundings are filled with numerous hazards, from polluted air and tainted water to the chemicals in our food supplies.

The leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer, which are all a product of our environment.

I have known several individuals who have tragically passed away in their sleep, with the cause being attributed to a brain aneurysm.

The mystery of life lies in the unknown expiration date and the uncertainty of when, where, or how one will meet one’s end.

For more than a decade, I have dedicated my career to supporting individuals battling neurological conditions and cancer. The patients I have worked with never anticipated facing diseases like MS, MND, ALS, Huntingdon’s Disease, or experiencing a stroke that could leave them paralysed or affect their ability to communicate. 

One day, they discovered that their daily tasks had become increasingly challenging.

In his thirties, a young schoolteacher noticed a troubling development – his speech was starting to slur while instructing his students. 

After seeking professional help and undergoing further investigations, including an MRI, the young schoolteacher was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Tragically, he had the rapidly progressive form of the illness, rendering him unable to swallow and requiring feeding through a peg tube. From the time of his diagnosis to his passing, only eighteen months elapsed.

I shared this story because it was the first patient I had ever lost so suddenly. Despite knowing his time was limited, he bravely faced his fate, leaving behind his wife and two young children.

In my youth, the concept of death held no power over me, not even when I found myself on the brink of a painful demise at the age of nineteen. 

In youth, the belief in a long future ahead and the idea of death being reserved for the elderly are common misconceptions. While it is expected that older generations pass before their children and grandchildren, there are instances where some elderly individuals outlive their descendants.

Losing a child or grandchild is a heartbreaking experience that no one should ever have to endure. It goes against the natural order of life and is a pain that no parent or grandparent should bear.

Long ago, poverty and poor sanitation were the culprits behind the devastating diseases that would mercilessly claim the lives of entire families. 

In those times, children succumbed to illnesses of the past, as there were no vaccines to protect them.

Childhood diseases once thought eradicated are now making a comeback in today’s world.

I never truly appreciated the gift of life until now, reflecting on all the harm I’ve inflicted on myself. If I had the wisdom and mindset I possess today, I might have been healthier. 

As a child, I enjoyed three nutritious meals daily, a comfortable bed, and impeccable hygiene. 

During the 1970s, my parents may not have been wealthy, but they always gave us the essentials to survive. They instilled in us values of politeness and respect, and we regularly gathered as a family to share meals at the dining table. Our diet consisted of wholesome foods devoid of junk, crisps, and sweets.

Education was paramount in my family, especially for my two older sisters. By age three, we were already reading and learning to play the piano.

From a young age, we were taught to embody the qualities of a true lady – to carry ourselves with self-respect and grace.

For the first twelve years of my life, routine was the foundation of our household. We had a strict bedtime of 8 pm and were only allowed to watch age-appropriate content on television.

In our living room, the television took a backseat to our many hobbies that kept us productive. Reading and learning domestic duties were the priorities of our household in the seventies.

Over those twelve years, we laid the groundwork for us to lead our own independent lives. In that regard, we were off to a solid beginning.

Back then, mental and emotional well-being were often overlooked and not given the attention they deserved.

Maintaining good spiritual health was crucial for avoiding the perils of damnation and ensuring a peaceful afterlife.

Despite my proficiency in household tasks, hygiene, and ethical conduct, I was utterly unprepared for the emotional and mental chaos that disrupted my life.

Neglecting mental health is like a gradual decline into darkness. Some individuals refuse to acknowledge the struggles of the mind, viewing it as a sign of vulnerability.

However, within the actions of specific individuals who come off as aggressive, arrogant, ignorant, and sensitive to criticism, there lies a recipe for mental disaster.

Those who are presenting such behaviours and adamantly claim they are not experiencing depression or anxiety are simply refusing to acknowledge their genuine emotions. They prefer to be stubborn and resilient, but they will soon realise the repercussions of ignoring their feelings.

As you near the final stretch of your life’s journey, you wish everything to be neatly arranged and completed. Some may struggle to do this, as they may be clinging to denial and holding onto the hope that their prayers will be answered.

It was only after the passing of my Beloved Father that I finally decided to get my affairs in order. 

The idea of preparing for my premature end had never crossed my mind when I was self-destructing until now; with no children, I realised I needed to make arrangements to pass down all that was valuable to my nephews.

I do not fear the end of life but rather the pain and anguish that may accompany it. I fear the thought of my loved one’s suffering and dying.

I selfishly pray to go before them to spare myself from any further mental and emotional torment.

Death is a natural part of the cycle of existence, just as birth is.

My perspective has wholly transformed today, and I now see the world with new eyes. In the past, I used to dread the thought of my life continuing, but now I embrace each day with optimism and hope.

Despite the daily obstacles I must conquer, I am grateful to God for blessing me with the opportunity to experience a new day.

I am thankful for the clean, comfortable home that shelters me, the warm bed that comforts me, and the nourishing food and clothes that sustain me. While many may fear the idea of living alone, I revel in the independence that allows me to live exactly as I please, without any constraints or limitations.

I can shut my front door and block out the outside world, allowing me to exist in my own company. 

If I’m seeking the company of friends, I can step out and join a gathering or schedule a coffee outing. Anyone who needs to contact me can reach me through WhatsApp or leave a voicemail, as my phone is only sometimes within my reach.

This is the liberation I experienced from embracing my chosen single life. I can wholeheartedly concentrate on myself without any disruptions.

I appreciate having a structured routine that allows me to prioritise my activities without feeling guilty about going to bed early or not being in the mood to cook a meal.

 I can watch whatever I want on TV and listen to my favourite classical music or any other genre.

Above all, I value the absence of unnecessary chatter or noise.

I have learned to cherish my life more because I now prioritise my happiness and well-being. By embracing my true self and focusing on what truly matters, I can support and uplift others through encouragement.

The most important lesson I’ve learned from death is that life is what you make of it. If you choose to heed the negative opinions of others and live a miserable existence, then that is precisely what you will experience. 

However, if you genuinely want to experience life to its fullest, you must fully accept and embrace your true self. Challenge yourself to do things you never thought possible, as long as it doesn’t cause harm to others. Don’t just go through the motions for the sake of others or your surroundings — truly live your life.

In everything, there must be a balance.

Natalie M Bleau

Scripture of Balance

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