Does how we live determine how we die?
I’ve been pondering the question for sometime. It was part of the impetus to live last year as if it was my last. To die without regret. But a “good death” is so much more than just dying without regret.
As in the rest of life, our experience is not determined solely by our circumstances. Most of us will not be able to control the circumstance around our own death, but I believe that we can control our experience of it.
As a teenager I was at the death-bed of a family friend in the hospital. His withered body clung to what was left of his life, his face twisted and distorted in fear. The horror of that death thwarted my plans to become a nurse.
More recently I’ve had the opportunity to be with a few others at the end of their life and their passing was much different. It was peaceful, numinous, and full of love.
I’ve long been a believer that how we do something is how we do everything, and I can’t help but wonder if that includes death. In my own near-death boat trip I experienced acceptance, deep gratitude and that peace that surpasses all understanding. I wondered if there might be a way to support others in having a “good death”. That lead to the creation of Bcelebrated.
I was deeply touched by the eulogy Mona Simpson wrote for her brother Steve Jobs. It was not surprising that a man who lived as he did died the way he did.
It makes sense that the man who dropped out of college and trusted it would all work out, audited courses that interested him without knowing where it would lead, continued doing what he loved in the face of very public rejection, started over when devastated by the loss of the entire focus of his life, let go of success and discovered "the lightness of being a beginner" in his middle age, considered death to be the greatest change agent in life – clearing out the old and making way for the new, looked in the mirror every morning and asked himself “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” and when the answer for too many days in a row was “no” he made a change… it makes sense that the man who trusted his intuition and followed his curiosity with an open heart would end his life surrounded by people who loved him, looking into the distance saying, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
Bring more “Oh Wows” into your life right now, where you are, with the people you love, in the work you do, with the condition of your body…. or make the necessary changes immediately.
To help life’s greatest change agent clear out the old and bring in the new in your life consider joining the 12 month mystery school, A Year to Live, beginning this January 6th. You'll be guided through questions and practices that help you to live more fully, more deeply, and more authentically than ever before.
I wish you all the best for the incredible year ahead, and for your whole life.