We Are Not Invincible: How 20-Somethings Can Learn To Cope With Unexpected Loss

Generation-Y has a destructive mindset. We feel that we are invincible; we cannot die because we haven’t even lived. We think we will always have tomorrow and that we can live however we want right now because we have our whole lives ahead of us to achieve our dreams.

Here is the problem with this mindset: We get so wrapped up in the excitement of our youth that we forget we are more vulnerable than we are invincible.

So, what happens when someone we know, maybe even another young person with a bright future ahead of him or her, suddenly dies? There is no explanation; we are left reeling, wondering how this could have happened to someone who wasn't supposed to die.

How does Gen-Y deal with death, while in the midst of a culture that says we can live forever? Suddenly, our perspectives about life change. Death forces us to realize that life is just too damn short.

Here are ways we can learn from a devastating loss and change our lives in ways that can make a shocking and devastating death a little more bearable.

Don’t Take Anyone for Granted

When someone you know passes away, there is always a part of you left that wishes you got to spend more time with that person. You wish you could rewind and think twice before bailing on that sushi date, or passing on that study session.

Reeling over what you should have done will not make things better, but what may help now is actually getting to know each person you meet. Memorize names, flash a genuine smile, ask what someone's passion is or take something away from a conversation you had with him or her that will inspire you.

Pay attention to the small details, and open yourself up to someone new. Get to know someone well, and in return, give someone a chance to get to know you.

Dare Yourself Every Day

Life is truly a treasure, and you should live each day accordingly. Do something today that you will be glad you did tomorrow. Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.

If you want to audition for that role, but you don’t think you will make it, try anyway. If you want that job but don’t know how to get there, start researching it right now. If you have always wanted to try authentic Italian cuisine, book your flight tonight.

If you can't do something that extreme, just say hi to that cute guy in your economics class already. Whatever it is, acknowledge what you are afraid to do, and do it, regardless.

Stop Being a Cynic and Just Be Happy

On average, we only have about 80 years on this earth if we are lucky. This may sound like a totally depressing thing to say, but it is the truth.

We have no time to be cynics. Sure, life will throw you curve balls all the time; just remember to take them like a champ. If you let life get you down, you let it get the best of you.

Take a deep breath and know that things will be get better. The world can be a corrupt place, but focusing on the negatives is going to rob you of the positives. Journal, read or watch your favorite movie. Just do something that makes you happy, and do it every day.

Start Being Content … Now

There are times when you need to simply stop. Stop looking for the next thing to do; stop feeling sorry for yourself because he never called you back; stop kicking yourself for screwing up that interview. In the end, it does you no good.

Try to wake up each morning being content with where you currently are in your life. Make the most of your day, and at the end of it, be satisfied in knowing you did your best. If today were your last day, you'd better be content with it.

Look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are. Don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect.

The death of a loved one is something that, sadly, we will all have to experience at one time or another. It happens so rarely to most of us that we tend to become obsessed with things that, in the end, are meaningless. Focusing on the future can pull you away from the present, but this moment is really all that counts.

Unfortunately, the passing of someone we hold dear to our hearts may be the wake-up call that we need. Death, in any way, is never a good thing, but if those of us who remain alive strive to be better people every day for those we meet and for ourselves, we take from death something truly invincible: love.

Perhaps spreading love for ourselves and for everyone around us is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Author’s Note: Rest in peace, Kareem Elgawly. Although I did not know you personally, you inspired me, and everyone around you, to cherish every moment, every single day.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It