Although the daily news is undoubtedly grim, some positive things are coming out of the collective shared experiences we’re all going through. Families are being forced to slow down and spend time together. People are reevaluating priorities and looking at how busy their lives were prior to this lifestyle shift. One of the positive things occurring for many people around the world is a new appreciation of how short this life really is. Online estate and will planning websites have seen enormous growth in traffic in the last 30 days. People are “getting their affairs in order.”
The vast majority of the population lives in comfortable denial most of the time. People assume there will always be a tomorrow, and that death is several decades away. As hard as the current pandemic is, most of us will live through it, and continue on in a very different world. But just because we will probably live through this, doesn’t mean we should ignore planning for that final day.
If you’re reading this blog, I assume you have a relationship with God, have received forgiveness, and you know your final destination. This blog is not about salvation; this is about putting things in place for our end in this world.
When you think about getting your affairs in order, you probably think about the physical. You think about creating a will, leaving instructions somewhere with all of your account passwords, designating someone to make end-of-life medical decisions for you, maybe even making your funeral arrangements. I have a friend that has his “death binder,” a binder with ALL instructions and paperwork for when he winds up in a box. Not a bad idea, but once again, this is not the intention of this blog.
Say the things you would say on your deathbed, NOW. You might not get the chance later.
In listening to interviews with healthcare workers, over and over again we hear stories of heartbreak. Death is always emotionally complicated, but with the current situation, death is even more complicated in that people are dying alone. For safety reasons, loved ones are not allowed to be near people being treated. No one is there to hear the final words, there are no hands being held, for many people, death is becoming a lonely experience.
I heard one story of an older couple who had been together for decades. At the advice of a medical professional, the wife drove the husband to the ER following some very specific symptoms, but nothing dramatic. They assumed he would be checked over and sent home. Once the intake team heard his history and his symptoms, he was rushed to isolation treatment. This lifelong couple never had a chance for one last hug; they could not look each other in the eye and say I love you one last time, there was no last moment of holding hands. There was no time for a moment of depth, just the rush of ER paperwork. This type of story is being repeated over and over again, and it is tragic. People are being denied that last farewell.
Those death bed moments that are so common in movies, of loved ones surrounding the bed as someone passes, are actually rarer are than you might think. Very often, death comes as a quick surprise. The sudden heart attack, the car accident, someone dying in their sleep unexpectedly, even the spike in suicides and overdoses across the US last few years deprives loved ones of the chance to say goodbye. People are denied that opportunity to say thank you for sharing a life together, denied that last “I love you.”
Say those words now. If you can’t be with someone physically, pick up the phone. Thank your parents for all the sacrifices they made for you. Tell your spouse how much you’ve enjoyed spending your life with them. Tell your best friend that they have made your life richer for being in it. Contact a mentor and thank them for helping you build a better life. Say all of those things that you would say on your deathbed if you could.
I hope this does not come across as creepy or depressing. This is meant to point out an opportunity. If you’re reading this, you can still say all of those things you should have said years ago. Today, tell those in your life what they mean to you. There might not be a tomorrow, for you or them. Don’t live with the regret of never sharing your heart. Prepare for the end.