Preparing for death: no unfinished business

August 23, 2014


Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? ~Mary Oliver

Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve.

Who among us hasn’t had those feelings?

You know, the ones where we wish we could go back in time and “be there” for someone who leaves us too soon.

My ex-husband lost his daughter to an accident when she was not even 20 years of age.

“I have no regrets,” he told me, “because we were very current.”


To him it meant that they had no unfinished business.

No unfinished business.

How many of us can say that?

That discussion inspired me to have a series of deep conversations with my own mother about our own unfinished business.

When she died, a few years later, I had no regrets. We were “current.”

white flowers

Well, so, here’s the thing. We are all so damn busy all the time that we don’t take time to do things we’d like to do with people we love.  We act as though there’s unlimited time, when the fact is, death can take anyone at any time for any reason.

I learned some of my best lessons from my ex-husband, who, in another culture, would have been a wise man or spiritual elder.

From him I learned the importance of preparing for death–ours or someone else’s. I learned to take time to be with those we love and to do what I could to be current with them.

I learned to recognize that life is finite and unexpected deaths are not uncommon. Death may always seem “too soon” but for some it really is. Like his daughter.


If you know someone who might be suicidal, reach out a hand of support. So many resources came to light after the suicide of Robin Williams, advice and guidance can be found all over the web.

Friend who are sick with chronic or terminal illness also need our support and love. Make a meal. Bring some flowers or books. Whatever is appropriate–do it now so there are no regrets.

Our parents, grandparents, elders –they’re closer to the veil than most of us. They won’t be with us forever. Take time with them now.

And really, we’re all living on death row, aren’t we? So spend time appreciating your loved ones and letting them know you do.

Live so you’ll have no regrets.


30 comments on “Preparing for death: no unfinished business
  1. Carol you are so right, we never know what each day will bring. What a gift to feel ‘current” with someone. Thanks!

  2. Really on target Carol. I like the word, the concept. Guess even ex’s can be appreciated for who they are – not who they were not. That’s a lesson in and of itself as well.

  3. Absolutely true…Our family has lost many this past year, including those way too young 🙁 I try to always make time for those I love, even when that can only be by telephone or over the internet.

    It seems we get daily reminders just how precious and finite our days are.

  4. Thanks for bringing this very important concept to attention. I had a life altering experience when I had made some plans in my head to visit my step father who I hadn’t seen in years. I had a post it note of his address on my desk with all good intentions to “get a visit in”. Well my timing was a tad off, as he passed while I was busy getting ready for the visit. I never did get “current”. 🙁 Huge lesson is getting and staying current.

  5. I like the quote that’s been circulating re: “The problem is you think you have time…”

    And, when my son was diagnosed with cancer, I learned the truth of those words. He survived, but through the years I’ve seen, and known, and loved so many others who are no longer with it.

    It’s true. We MUST be current, because none of us are promised a tomorrow.

  6. Much wisdom here and an excellent reminder. We just truly never know. The idea of being “current” resonates. I have many in my heart with whom I need to get current. Thank you for spurring me to get along and do so.

  7. Karen says:

    So much wisdom in this post. My father died too early, many years ago now, but we were “current.” So important to realize that you might not have the time you think you have.

  8. This post resonated with me so much. When my dad passed away in March, my parents were separated. Because of this, he and I weren’t close. It wasn’t my battle, but I got involved. My regrets are numerous. How I wish I could have lunch with him one more time, just to laugh and hear stories of his childhood. Lesson learned the hard way.

  9. Estelle says:

    You are so right! I always tell my parents, sister, husband and best friends I love themat the end of every phone call.

  10. I love this Carol. You just confirmed what I’m already doing. When my dad passed away, It was comforting to know I didn’t have any would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I was so grateful for that! It is the BEST way to live your life.

  11. Lana says:

    I try to stay current with the important people in my life, but I’m definitely guilty of not spending enough time with some. Great reminder.

  12. Valerie Rind says:

    I love that expression of being “current.” Thanks for sharing, Carol.

  13. So true. I love that Mary Oliver quote – it’s spot on – and I also love your quote about being “current.” I’m going to try to always stay current.

  14. How true this is. I realized that my striving to make more money, more money had disconnected me from my family and gathering/spending time with my friends as well as just taking time to spend with me. I got current last year with my family and my friends and have made time for me to stay current with me. It is such a great feeling!!! I hope that going forward, I can stay Current with ME!

  15. I like the notion of being current with the important people in my life. Sounds like alignment between what I value most (relationships) and how I spend my time.

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