Death And Living Responsibly

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Responsible people understand the value of preparing for their future. For instance, responsible parents create college funds for their children long before they actually need it. Responsible people also open 401K plans early in their career so they can ease into a comfortable retirement when the time is right. But how many people pride themselves in properly preparing for their death ahead of time.

After all, who wants to think about death before you have to? And Hospice – that’s an organization we don’t need to know about until it’s absolutely necessary.

I find it rather interesting that so much of our planning gets invested in a future that may never unfold the way we envisioned it. College funds might disintegrate into emergency cash instead. Or a sudden lay-off end up depleting an entire retirement account. We have no way of knowing, because the future is unpredictable.

It makes me question – what do we really have control over? How many plans shifts into Plan B through circumstances out of our control.

Truth is – the absolute only thing we know for certain every person will face, is death. No one gets out of here alive. So why doesn’t that fact make us better planners?

Sitting by my mother’s side last week as she labored through her end of life experience left me facing the cold reality of my own certainty of death.

I learned death is a natural process of life and not perverse.

I imagine like birth, every end-of-life experience is different – some are more difficult than others. In my mom’s case, apparently she was text book in the progression process. It reminds me of the two distinct birth experiences I had with our kids. Although their births were different as night and day – both still involved labor and both had predictable components imbedded in the process.

Death isn’t something to fear, it’s something to embrace and spend our lifetime preparing for. From the moment we arrive on the planet we’re moving toward one common goal – our end.

The end is not final. Up until the day our breathing stops and our next destination is reached, whether we know it or not, we’re packing for the trip.

Responsible people consider the destination they’re headed toward. I wouldn’t pack shorts and sandals if I planned to vacation in Antarctica. And speaking of packing – I have a much healthier perspective about the importance of “stuff” after last week.

It’s God’s mercy to spare us a future view of our tomorrows. He’s the life giver and Sovereign ruler over our time – for all time.

A few takeaways from last week:

  • Hold loosely to the things of this world, they’re not worth grappling for or hanging onto. They really don’t go with us and usually become tomorrows trash when we’re gone.
  • Invest in knowing the one who holds your future rather than tirelessly planning for a future that might never materialize.
  • Prioritize relationships above things and heart over agendas.
  • And hug your mom – you never know which day will be her last.


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16 replies on “Death And Living Responsibly”

  1. Dear Pat … that you’re gleaning so many deep truths right in the middle of your grief is amazing. I’m imagining you’ve learned them all along the way. I’m praying for you even as we speak …


    1. I sense your “Hugs” Linda and cherish your prayers. So much is percolating in my soul since last Wednesday. Grief definitely comes in unexpected waves. I’m trying to move slowly through it – not missing any gifts left from her death.

      Appreciate you so.

    1. And you, my friend, have taught me so much about packing light and about the necessary perspective in the process. Thank you for that. Appreciate you.

  2. I can relate to your heartache and passion through your words and the other posts you referenced in it. I lost my mother less than a year ago and I can really relate to the feelings you’re having. The takeaways you ended with are right on but I would also add that grief is different for everyone and sometimes people don’t know how to relate to it so what they say sometimes can seem ill-intended or insensitive (even Christians unfortunately). Death is a real life experience. Thank you for sharing about it here on your blog. God bless you with comfort and peace.

    1. You’re so right Laura – the view is entirely different from this close. Another life lesson in the journey…

  3. Thank you for again expressing so clearly and persuasively truths you have observed and experienced. You seem to share something of the soul of the truth from out of your own soul – costly and precious.

    1. The gifts I have received are “costly and precious” Peter. I am a desperate debtor who desperately appreciates friends like you who allow me the luxury of processing publically. Our journey here on earth is also precious – and short.

      Thank you for being here with me. It means so much.

  4. Kent and I were blessed by the last two posts regarding the passing of your mom. I really needed to read this one today. Thank you for using your gifts to edify the body, encouraging us to be efficient in our packing before we jump on the train bound for glory. I wonder if our moms will have a chat when they meet each other? I pray you will find comfort in all the good memories you have of your mom. Thank you for sharing your heart during your time of mourning. Joy comes in the mourning.

    1. Joy does come in the mourning Donna – and also through friends who come alongside. It’s like pure gold to me.

      And YES our moms are chatting… I’m just sure of it! Bless you, friend.

  5. Hi Pat! I so agree with putting relationships ahead of many of the silly things I think are important. I think you can add my mom to your list of heavenly chatters! She was diagnosed and died in two weeks. It was surreal, and you know, I really relate to what you are saying. Holding that hand…
    I love that you remind us that we are temporary travelers. It’s so true. It all belongs to God, including all his children. If you have pain, you have loved well.

    1. Thank you for reading the post and for chiming in Ceil, I always love hearing from you. I’m intrigued by the sentence you wrote, “If you have pain, you have loved well”. Wow! I’ll be chewing on that one for awhile.

      I’m excited to read your contribution to Chicken Soup for the Soul, friend. How cool is that! Blessings to you too.

  6. I am blessed as always by your words and the depth by which they are spoken. I have just enjoyed a few days with my two sisters in Mendocino, a rare and special time. Our elderly mother (89) checked in on us. And told us to take lots of pictures. I am fondly remembering the time and the relationship I have with each one. Time is precious. Thanks for reminding me . . .especially about “hugs”. Love you, Friend.

    1. What a special time for you and your sisters Cindy, I’m happy for all of you. Your mom was smart to suggest lots of pictures. I took group family shots of every person who came to my mother’s birthday celebration in July. It’s the last picture I have of the two of us together. A treasure, for sure.

      Love you too friend, thanks for your kind words.

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