The art of living–and dying–well

November 23, 2021

from Judy Chicago: A Retrospective. Legion of Honor Museum/San Francisco.

My friend’s mom died the other day.

She told her family she was ready, that she was looking forward to what’s next. She ate pizza with them. My friend tucked her in for the night and she slipped her earthly bonds before morning.

Here’s what she had affirmed: She wanted to go in her sleep, in her bed, and with family nearby. She did not want to require a hospital bed or a porta-potty. She did it her way, and, her daughter, says, she was seeing angels before her transition.

Joyfully leaving

Reading this, my heart was full. What an inspiring way to transition–and, as her daughter pointed, out, she gave us all a lesson in aging well and dying well.

“Looking forward to what’s next” is a powerful statement and an example of dying well. If we all believed what we say we believe as we sit in pews, there would be no fear of death. None at all. Except for those who believe in an actual hell, which I do not. So yeah, maybe some people would be a bit scared of what’s next. But this woman’s attitude? It was EVERYTHING.

I want to be her, when it is my turn.

Joyfully staying

John Pavlovitz, my favorite real Christian pastor (even though I do not practice Christianity), had brain surgery recently and when he began to hemorrhage post-surgery, thought he was dying. Here’s what he wrote about that:

“In the moment death feels imminent, you won’t give a damn about your work or your portfolio or your house or your job. The, long, sprawling, and expansive story of your life will suddenly and completely shrink down to those human beings who know you intimately and whose lives will be most devastated by your departure.

“I don’t know what you imagine is important right now, what monopolizes your time, what occupies your mind on most days, … in the moment you feel or are actually pressed up against the finality of your days—you won’t even think about it.

“I’m living differently now…..measuring my life by the people I love and am loved by, by the relationships I get to spend these days inside of and by the human beings I alter with my presence.

What will you think about when you think you’re dying? Think about that ….

And then, live your answers.”

Inspired by the death and near-death of these beautiful souls, today would be a good day to think about what really matters. And then, as Pastor John says, “live your answers.”

Find our beautiful, supportive condolence gifts here on Etsy.

8 comments on “The art of living–and dying–well
  1. Diane says:

    Oooh I love this, Carol! Spending time with my loved ones has taken on a whole new meaning after being locked away from them for a year. I can’t seem to get enough time!!!

  2. Lynda Beth Unkeless says:

    perfectly apropos and perfect wisdom
    for this week of Thanksgiving,
    thanks for writing, Carol!?✍️

  3. mel studer says:

    Love these thoughts. This is what life should be all about! Thank you for sharing!

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