How will you die? I don’t mean what will kill you; I mean what will be the character of your life in those final days before your passing?
Of course, we don’t have much control over when and how we’ll die. A few of us will go quickly, without much warning or preparation. But most of us will have some time, and our wits about us, for a few days, a handful of weeks, six or more months of living with a terminal illness, maybe more.
The centuries-old Book of Common Prayer contains a prayer that says, “Lord, spare me from dying suddenly and unprepared.” Most of us today want the opposite. “Take me quick, Lord.”
But when we go quickly, we miss the opportunity to die well. And the ability to die well gives us the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy.
I have a friend whose mother’s dying. She’s lived with dying for seven months. But the fact of her dying didn’t mean she stopped playing tennis, going to the opera, visiting with friends, and nurturing her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. She’s dying well. Last month she took her four adult children to Ireland for one last trip together. Last weekend, she took the whole family (dozens of them) to the opera . . . “Because I love it.” And now that she’s stopped eating, she’s started blessing each and every one of her kin . . . with intention. She’s dying well, really well.
So, if you’re “spared from dying suddenly and unprepared,” how will you spend your last days?
If you don’t take this question seriously, you’ll do very little to prepare yourself for dying. Then when death comes for you, you’ll not be able to live big, give love, let go with dignity, and as you do, inspire, empower, and envision others to live their lives with some special gift that comes from your dying. And if you can’t live well when you’re dying, I wonder how well you’re really living now.
Intention: Today, I’ll consider the kind of person I’d like to be when I’m dying. Then I’ll begin to live in such a way that when the end comes, I’ll have something beautiful in my soul to pass on to others. God, make it so that when I’m dying I can give to others some gift to help them live well so that when they find themselves at death's door, they can pass on gifts of grace to others.