Like You Were Dying

“Set your eyes on your death and you will receive each breath of life as a gift.”

Faouzi Skali

The headlines today read “Dozens hurt, at least 2 killed in the Birmingham, Alabama tornado.”  The next one was “2 more bodies found in wrecked cruise ship.”  Followed by, “6th death reported in UK in suspected hospital poisoning case.”   Of course people die of natural causes everyday as well, but bad news is always a headliner.  My husband does his best to steer me away from the news, distracting me with his cute, suave, intellectual, comedic self, and programming our DVR to record lots of mindless diversions.  Nevertheless, the average estimate for the number of people who die each day by any means is around 155,000.  It’s a fact.  Yet, we don’t like to think or talk about our mortality.  We put off making wills.  We veer away from family conversations that require the recognition of our own or a loved one’s impermanence.  Conversations like that tend to be emotional, uncomfortable, and sometimes even adversarial. 

I think of myself as a thankful person, filled with gratitude for the blessings in my life, but I’d be lying if I swore to you that I awake every morning with my first thought being gratitude for the opening of my eyes, the beating of my heart, or the fact that I’m still breathing.   My first thought is usually more along the lines of, “Oh, no! Not already!” or  “Uggh! That alarm is obnoxious.” or “Ouch, these joints of mine need some WD-40 and I need coffee!” 

But what if?  What if we thought about our own death more often?  Or at least once and then made all the preparatory plans accordingly.  We’d surely leave our affairs and estates in better order.  Families would spend shorter amounts of time spent in probate court.  There would be a little less bewilderment for the ones we leave behind.  But that’s not really the point I’m trying to make.  Even better than those scenarios, is the one that Tim McGraw sings about in “Live Like You Were Dying”.

“And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”

“Some day, I hope you get the chance,
 To live like you were dyin’.”
“Like tomorrow was a gift.”

You’ve probably heard the saying ” Today is called the present because it is a gift.”  We protect our children from the knowledge that tomorrow isn’t a given because they’ll realize it all too soon.  And although we routinely promise our futures to each other, our futures are never promised to us.  As the world turns, each and every day, friends and family of over 155,000 people stare into the harsh headlights of that reality.  

We must do our best to make the moments count, make the memory as special as we can, take the opportunity, use the good dishes, wear our “Sunday clothes” on other days.  Make that long overdue phone call.  Make amends.  Say we’re sorry.  Say what we need to say while we have the chance.  Make it right before it ends all wrong.  Be there.  Enjoy.  Laugh.  Share.  Give.  Help.  Spread joy.  Sow seeds of peace.  LOVE.  LOVE.  LOVE. 

If we really think about it, even those of us who haven’t studied anatomy and physiology, must admit that each breath of life, like each individual organism, plant, animal or human being, is a truly miraculous wonder, and a gift more precious than any other. 

Life.  While it may not always be a figurative “Happy Meal”, it’s the biggest and best banquet in town.  And as a good friend of mine is fond of saying, “It’s all that and a bag of chips.”   So, eat well!   And remember to say “Thank You” each and every day!

Peace and Love



There’s nothing certain in a man’s life except this:  That he must lose it.  ~Aeschylus, Agamemnon

People living deeply have no fear of death.  ~Anaiïs Nin, Diary, 1967

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death.  ~Leonardo da Vinci

This entry was posted in death, dying, Faouzi Skali, gratitude, joy, life, life, love, morality, spirituality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Like You Were Dying

  1. kianys says:

    “Life. While it may not always be a figurative “Happy Meal”, it’s the biggest and best banquet in town. And as a good friend of mine is fond of saying, “It’s all that and a bag of chips.” So, eat well! And remember to say “Thank You” each and every day!”

    – You nailed it with this! I admit that I have a hard time being grateful for every day stuff I take for granted. I’m not spoiled (or maybe I am but not more than any other middle class person living in the western society), I’m just so distracted with replaying worst-case-scenarios for future situations in my head (in an attempt to be prepared or so I tell myself at least), that I tend to forget the living part.

    On the other hand I’m pretty aware of mortality – I think it comes with losing my mother at a young age. Death was and always will be an immanent part of life for me. Not a scary one. Just a very real factual kind of thing.

    The one thing I do do is to always tell my boyfriend or family or friends that I love them when I end a conversation or a visit with them. And not just a random I love you either. A sincere I love you (even though I may be pissed off at you right now) – I love you.

    This might be part of my dealing with my seperation anxiety though – my worst fear is not dying, it’s being abandoned

    • Thank you so much for your comments! You are not alone. I believe it’s a battle many of us here in the western world fight with ourselves. We know- but do we do? I lost my mother to cancer just this past summer. I can only imagine having that happen at such a young age. I’d imagine that fear of abandonment would be terribly hard to get over.
      I always say a sincere “I love you” too, because you never know…

  2. Such good advice. People who are aware of their mortality are generally – ironically – often less afraid of death.

  3. Focus not on the end of life. Instead, focus on the living of life as if every moment was a treasured gift, because it is.

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