Death. It’s a tough subject, isn’t it? We don’t often discuss it in our society until something tragic (or expected) happens, and then we lament the past and momentarily feel scared of the future. Death, however, is a certainty. It happens, and it will happen. To all of us.
For me, I’ve been surrounded by the prospect of the death of a loved one on and off for over 13 years. That’s a long time to live wondering whether someone you love would leave, when they’d leave, and how they’d leave. In my case, it’s almost a third of my life! And yet, I’ve rarely discussed the subject with anyone, because it seemed somehow out of bounds.
Last night I was reminded of this when visiting with old friends. It was suggested that it was somehow wrong to discuss the prospect of dying with others. It was an unnecessary burden to place on another human being, especially someone in a younger generation, like an adult child. I respected their opinion, but I disagreed. Here’s why: Because I’ve been directly faced with the prospect of a loved one dying for some time now, I’ve been able to have the conversation in which I could offer a different perspective. When my loved one recently said to me that he felt he hadn’t done enough, accomplished enough, or been enough – I was able to share that he had, in fact, done more than he realized, that he had been more than he knew, and that he had accomplished incredible things….and I gave examples.
Being able to share with someone what their legacy may be, before they pass, is a gift. Being able to have the same honest conversation with ourselves is an incredible opportunity. So, I thought about it. (Admittedly, it’s not the first time I’ve done so, and with each instance, I’ve gained further clarity for my life.) I asked myself this question:
If I were to die tomorrow, would I be ok with that? The answer was simply: Yes.
I know with absolute certainty that I would be able to say that I died content, knowing that I would be remembered as I would have liked…. as someone who loved well. I may not have accomplished all that I desired, and I may have left unfinished business, but I would know in my heart that I lived according to my values, my goals, and who I am as a person. In my opinion, we can’t ask for much more than that. I know I can’t.
So – although it’s a difficult conversation to have, I think it’s important. Not only to discuss with loved ones but also with yourself. And it’s a good yardstick against which to measure how you are living. It’s one of those barometers I’ve talked about. If you were to pass tomorrow, what do you hope would be said of you, and more importantly, what would you be able to say of yourself? If the answer is not what you would hope it would be, what a great opportunity to make changes now so that it will be then. Asking the question is about creating opportunities for sharing, caring and making changes. And I think that’s healthy and, actually, life-affirming.
I also want to share that I have every intention of living to a ripe old age, loving well along the way. 🙂 What is your intention?