Live Like We Are Dying

The phone call. The knock on the door. Some unexpected bad news just never arrives gracefully. In an instant we learn that a loved one is terribly ill, injured, or already dead. One second we are zipping along with our daily routines; the next second life jerks us into shock, disbelief, and grief.

A young woman with a rope engaged in the sports of rock climbing on the rock.This happened to me afresh almost two weeks ago when I received an early morning call that a long-time friend and former coworker had died. An undetected medical condition turned his normally upbeat self on a dime and his wife called to tell me he passed. What??!!! Fine on Monday. Dead on Thursday.

Almost all of us can relate to receiving unexpected news of a loved one’s death. Some of us hunker down in denial. Some of us spill out our frayed emotions. Others of us swirl in a combination of numbness and outward angst. As mental health professionals advise, grief can tumble and toss us about with varied responses, all fluctuating throughout our days.

One thing I’ve learned over the years about sudden loss and grief is to give myself space and grace. None of us feel the exact same emotions in the exact same way at the exact same time. While grief is a shared response to loss, it’s also an individual journey.

I’ll never forget driving across the northern Kansas flatlands returning from one of my last trips to visit my failing dad in Nebraska. Tim McGraw’s hit “Live Like You Were Dying” came on the radio and I was both belting out the lyrics and bawling. “How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news. Man what ya do. And he says, ‘I went sky divin’, I went rocky mountain climbin’,…And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying,’ and he said ‘someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyin’.’”

The unexpected phone calls and knocks on the door are a part of living on this planet. So do we tense in anxiousness over the likelihood of losing someone? How do we prepare ourselves? I venture that we live each day as it comes with appreciation for those we love. We look for the little everyday things to savor, the unexpected joys that make us smile. We choose not to focus on the some day, but focus on the right now. We live like we are dying.

What do you think helps us to focus on living the right now? What are ways we can live today like we are dying?

Brave and Resilient Tip #110: Focus not on the some day but on living the right now.