Death is a subject that keeps coming before me lately, like a red stop light demanding my attention. No, not my death, though Heaven knows that is a topic I have come face to face with. My red light moments have been more about how I could use my experiences to help someone else who is struggling at the same stop.
Dying is really about living. It is about how you lived your life, about success' and unfortunately regrets, things you wish you would have done differently, things you wish you could have done.
Dying is about being remembered when you are gone. When your shadow is no longer here, what will remain to mark that you were here? Who will remember you? What will they remember?
Dying is about fear: fear of the unknown, fear of the pain of those who are left behind, fear of things left undone. It is fear of how the end will come.
When we are given a chance to ponder death, before it comes to us, it can be a blessing, an awakening.
Dying is like a magnifying glass, in that it brings things into a sharp focus. It gives us clarity about what we really value and who we are and who we would like to be.
As I write this I realize that I don't have any advice for those who are facing death. They know these things that I would share with them probably better than I do. My advice then is for the living. In the past, I have found it awkward to speak to someone I know has a terminal illness. What could I say?
Now, I understand. I would tell my loved one how much they mean to me. I would share memories of good times and bad. We would laugh and cry together. I would let them talk to me about their fears and regrets. I would reassure them that their success' far out weigh any short comings. I would tell them how they have positively affected my life and that I will always remember them. I would reassure them that the family "left behind" will be alright.
I would share with them my testimony of Jesus Christ. For me the times that I felt closest to death were also the times that I felt closest to the Lord. And I miss that. I truly do. That gives me hope. Yes, death can also be about hope.
Mostly, I would hold their hand, laugh and cry and rejoice that because of Christ we know this life is not the end.