“Death teaches us about life
and dying teaches us about living ...
The ‘end’ of life (chronology in time) points us to
the ‘end’ of life (meaning and purpose)”
Living with Dying
It’s a Matter of Life and Death. We know that people live and die across the world – we have this in common as part of our shared humanity. We are increasingly aware that in the midst of life and living, is death and dying, a fact made even more apparent affirmed during the world-wide COVID 19 pandemic affecting millions of people across the world, and in which ‘We are not safe until everyone is safe’ (WHO 2020).
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? "
Summers Day 1992 Mary Oliver
“What you are now, we once were. What we are now, you shall be“
Plaque on the wall of The Capuchean O, Rome
And we know that, although this can be a painful reality, that living with the end in mind can help us also, in many ways to live a fuller life.
So how can we begin to make sense of our pain?
Placeholder video from Spiritual Care Course
How do we comprehend something like death, that is intrinsically beyond our understanding ?
How do we make sense when a loved one is dying ?
How do we come to terms with our mortality?
So how does living in the context of our dying help us live better ?
My personal experience-
As a young widow at 25, I had to face both my own mortality and that of my young husband , watching life slip away from him in front of my eyes . I was different from that moment on. I believe in living life to the full , remembering that life is too short for trivial arguments and that ' life is not a dress rehearsal' this is it and to keep sight of your priorities so you focus on what matters most !
And I decided to devote the rest of my working life to trying to improve end of life care others , just as Andrew would have wanted me to.
As a GP and palliative care doctor, I met many people facing their deaths and sat with many in their final hours of life. I was impressed that for so many there was a sense of clarity, of re-prioritising their lives, and valuing love, people and relationships as the most important things to them and a taste of a way in which we could all live all of our lives, as we come to see with different eyes. They have a valuable lesson for us all , and one we should honour them by living by daily