Facing Death at 28 and What It Taught Me

We all know we aren’t getting out of life alive but when your young, death enters in the form of your Nan’s funeral, not your own. It seems far away, like having your own children when your still a kid. You just can’t imagine it in a way that makes it real.

So when it touched me four weeks ago. It was a shock that rocked my soul. A shock that though painful, I have come to see as the ultimate gift. An opportunity to step back, evaluate and play on a higher level.

I often hear people describing me ‘as a very passionate person’. Like most people I try to live everyday like it might be my last but its not easy or clear. Especially today, when there are so many distractions and imitations of living.

Before I boarded the flight that led to my demise, I was saying a gratitude prayer for all the abundance, all the lives I’ve been able to touch. All the places I’ve been and the people I love. And all the people I am yet to meet and love. And for every person on this planet – even the bad ones.

I felt great. No tension. No anger. No stress. Just love and compassion.

I was on the flight, legs stretched across the empty seats writing a poem when I felt something in my leg akin to an egg cracking. I dismissed it. I’m young, fit, healthy and emotionally centered. How could I be ill?

And three days went on like that until my leg turned purple and became so painful I took myself to A&E in the middle of the night in an Uber taxi. Terrified, struggling to breathe and with tears running down my face I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis. I was so delusional that when the doctor told me I’d tested positive I got up to put my coat on, convinced it had been a muscle spasm.

Afterwards I sat on the cold hospital bed completely alone and feeling utterly let down by my body and mind. Wondering if the clot was making its way to my death and if I would ever get to see the people I loved again.

When I was admitted my vitals were sky high, I had chest pain and I was gasping for air. A classic sign of pulmonary embolism… which is 50/50 fatality. The clot was somewhere other than my leg. Possibly my lung. Which at any time could snuff me out. The comforting words of the admissions doctor…

I was quickly surrounded by doctors and hooked up to a heart monitor. My phone battery died, so I couldn’t call anyone. I was energy less and yet supremely calm so instead I wrote this:

Facing death my passing thoughts:

1. It isn’t about what you built, its WHO you built

You will be remembered in the hearts of people. No award or media coverage will change that. Build people, not profits. Profits will follow if you enter the hearts of people.

2. Being yourself is not optional

Learn to listen to your inner voice. It doesn’t fail you. Even if it says something scary that you don’t want to hear. Listen.

3. Feel death for a richer life

It doesn’t matter how much yoga and green juices you take on: you are dying.

4. Stop watching and start living

Live your life; don’t become the Netflix generation. Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others. When you are gone, there will never be one of you again.

5. Regrets can be easily released

Life is too short for regretful energy. Literally say f**k it, mean it and take an action to avoid that regret in the future.

6. The love of your life is…. yourself

Most of us don’t realise this until we are in our 60’s. No one can love you more than you love yourself. Its the ultimate unspoken law. But if you don’t love yourself you will attract others that don’t love you.

which brings me to 7…

7. Don’t cling to toxic relationships

A toxic relationship is simply where you hear more bad about yourself from that person than good.

8. The darkness opens us to more light

In the darkest despair when your legs shake and you struggle to breathe, there is a light that is developing for you to release. Some of the most painful events release the best art, the most insightful words and actions that change humanity.

End of passing thoughts

And then after some days, a lot of blood thinning medication and many tests, I gradually started to get better. During my recovery I felt quite upbeat. Ill and hospitalised but upbeat. However, when I left the hospital I was bereft. Like all my fuel had been drained from my tank. I did wonder if maybe I had lost some sanity in the shock of my glimpse of death.

For when I sat on that bed the first time, I made my peace with the world incase of the worst. But death had released me from his clutches. These overwhelming emotions had emptied me temporarily of the ability to feel jubilant. I had clung to what I had felt. The intensity of it made it hard to do anything else.

Happiness only came back to me when I stopped rationalising. Why me? How did this happen? What does it mean? How should I change my life? When I sat in silence without concerned friends or family I realised I am here. I am alive. All my worries are superfluous, I just need to listen to my inner voice.

Despite enduring pain and suffering, I have previously unknown, the dark place I entered has made me feel life more deeply. My most joyous moment since recovering has been dancing (sober on a table in a London Pub…) to ‘I’m still standing’ and laughing at myself. It was a moment of pure joy. We are born in joy. Life grinds it out of us. Don’t accept that. Darkness doesn’t rob you of joy, in many cases, it makes it easier to open to joy.

So from my near death experience, here is my Christmas message: Embrace your joy. For you are loved. Release fear. You are dying. Let go of people that treat you badly. Love and honour yourself. You are the greatest gift you could ever give anyone.

I wish you a Merry Christmas. And I will drink to your health and happiness, as well as my own.

With love and profound joy in being around to write these words to you.


P.S Thank you to all those who have supported me to get well. In particular Bedford Hospital, my best friends and my ever present family. Without your love I might not have had the strength to fight.

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