Friday, March 28, 2008

Live like there is no tomorrow

We are a very death phobic society. We don't like to grieve publicly either. If you have spent time in many other cultures you know we mourn and grieve in very different ways. Given the fact that we will all die, as will our parents, our children, our friends we are not prepared to deal with these eventualities. We have not mastered grieving, loss, and death in fact we really avoid thinking about it. Through the miracles of modern medicine we have learned to put-off death much of the time. We lack the shared experience as is the case in so many cultures where death is such an everyday occurrence. For us we often only accept death when it takes place in hospitals, when all else has failed, or nothing more can be done. It is skirted in conversations with socially appropriate euphemisms and talked about in hushed tones, or others simply avoid acknowledging it. And for those who find death upon them, we often don't do enough or the right things to help them through the very emotional and physical experience of grieving and loss.

When I was touring a hospital in Africa I went to visit the morgue. To some of you this sound grotesque. As any person living in this part of AIDS stricken Africa knows, death is a very real, everyday occurrence, and some if not, many of your friends and family members have died in your lifetime. In many cases not painless deaths, not very timely old age deaths. You have seen death in it all its unpleasantness. I was slightly hesitant to go in but I thought to really understand the"experience of so many people it was something I needed to see. It is a strong image to see a place overrun with death. One I hope NOT to forget, I know that may sound very strange but I think too often we get into our nice comfortable lives, we fail to see the things that are really out there. If we did it could change the way we think and it would change the way we live.

In a church meeting once about helping people change their patterns of behavior I said, "I think the problem is people don't see enough death". I that was probably the last thing anyone expected to hear come out of my mouth on a Sunday morning. Seeing death reminds you of your own mortality, it reminds you of the mortality of those around you. It reminds you that the time here and now is finite both for yourself and those you love. We cannot cheat death, we cannot outrun it. One day it will come and often at the most unexpected time, on the most normal of days. It will come in all its silence, its stillness, its coldness and it will end a chapter. However depressing it sounds "what if I died today, or my parent, or my child, or my friend" actually makes you live better. It makes you softer, and more deliberate. And the most painful sting in death is regret. Regret for opportunities missed.

If we lived this way we'd give more compliments, be more sincere, be less afraid to share our emotions, we'd give more of ourselves, we'd do more small simple things, we'd be more personal we'd make others laugh and smile more. Neal A Maxwell talked about living so we "touch others deeply, instead of being remembered pleasantly". This is a theme I explore in alot of my art. So today's wise words- Live like there is no tomorrow.

12 comments:

Courtney said...

Interesting thoughts. My cousin died a couple of weeks ago and unlike the deaths of grandparents this really hit me. He was Jeff's age, his wife is my age and they also have five young children. Like you said, it was a reminder to embrace life.

Rachelle said...

So very wise. I am working on teaching myself and my children that death is nothing to be afraid of.

Shellie said...

I loved that, because that's the way I think too. And why not embrace death as a part of life? Or pain as a part of life? We can't really avoid it, and we have so much to learn from it. That sounded kinda morbid, embracing death, but you know what I mean?

The Orton's said...

Interesting post today, I really enjoyed reading it and agree with everything you said. Ben has taught me so much these last 6 years. (can't believe he's that old) Anyway, I know that I could lose him at anytime and I think about it often and talk to my kids about it as well. It has changed my outlook on life because I know that no one is invincible and that it might be someone else even before Ben. The gospel gives us so much perspective as well and so for me it makes it all so much easier to understand and accept. Thanks for your deep thought!

Lei said...

I spent 4 dyas in Ukraine on tour once and that's something I hope I never forget... so quickly put life into perspective for me,these people with next to nothing with their shoulder always to the wheel... some of them opening their homes up to us and sharing what little they had. it was humbling to say the least!

Suzie Romans said...

Well....very profound. I do think about it fairly often because it seems like someone I know is always dealing with it. But then I go to Target and buy all the 75% off Easter stuff for next year. Somehow that seems so insignificant on one level...but so something else on another. I was actually planning the resurrection easter eggs for my grandkids for next year. Kind of ties into the whole death...life thing. I guess I am living life ok with these choices. However in the good, better, best scenerio..I may need to re-think it. Thinking is so hard and
so overwhelming sometimes. I will just let it be.
I hate losing people in any way, shape or form. Like you for instance...moving away. I wish you were here so I could learn more things from you. You are so awesome....talented, giving, smart, fun, courageous, and a million to the moon and back things. I will always appreciate your kindness to us for Lindsay"s wedding. I do miss you. Come again soon.

SweetPea said...

Thank you. I love how you write, and this is a topic that really hits home. I appreciate your thoughts, and the the wisdom in them.

smart mama said...

hey suz- I do need to make it down there soon! You do such a good job at reaching out and serving others-You probably live this better than so many of us- I know I have been the recipient of your kindsness, notes, banana bread, and gifts. Hey when i have party or am in a church meeting planning an event i often think- what would suzie do- and as for the 75% off of easter - well you wouldn't be grammy suz with out that- just think even after you are gone- there'll still be stuff in your stash to keep on giving to your grandkids!!XO - Les

LL said...

wow Les, well said. I need to remind myself of this often.

Drostan and Jennifer family said...

So well put. Thank you for your thoughts!

Chel said...

Well said.. very well said.
I know I need to be better at living every day like it's the last...

Steve said...

Smart Momma is wise beyond her years and an anomaly in our overly indulgent culture. It is very refreshing indeed to see reality is not totally occluded and as the kaleidoscope of life turns someone does notice that nothing is a given or lasts forever.