Live Full, Die Empty

Dr. Howard Thurman, one of the most influential religious leaders of the twentieth century and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King had this to say about death.  “The ideal situation for a man or woman to die is to have family members standing with them as they cross over.  But imagine if you will, being on your deathbed and standing around you are the ghosts of the abilities, the talents, the dreams given to you by life.  And you, for whatever reason, never pursued those dreams, you never did anything with those ideas, you never used those talents, or took advantage of those opportunities.  There they are staring at you while you take your last dying breaths, with large angry eyes saying ‘we came to you and only you could have given us life, and now we must die forever with you.”

A lot of readers of this blog have asked me to write about my feelings on the loss of a loved one.  This blog is meant to be inspirational and uplifting, so it is a subject I have dodged for weeks on end.  The short answer is, there are no answers.  There are no reasons why.  There is no justification: young, old, happy, depressed, loved, hated.  Unfortunately there is only one way out of this life, we all die.  I have experienced a lot of death in my life as I am sure many of you have.  One friend once described me as a professional mourner, not a title I wish on any one.   I have lost far too many friends and family, both young and old and one thing is for certain, it is never easy.  The very word brings up strong emotional, physical responses that we all deal with in different ways.  I always try to answer the questions, (after a lot of tears) what has this person taught me?  Why was this person placed in my life’s path?  I have come to the realization that they lived and died for a reason and it is up to me to understand why.  One thing that I am certain of; they would all have wanted me not to let them die in vain.  Every single one of them would have wanted to have a lasting impact on my life and it is up to me to embrace that  wish.

We need to stop looking at our lives and feeling sorry for ourselves.  Think for a moment that if you were gone tomorrow, how would you want to be remembered.  Would you want to see your loved ones sobbing, feeling depressed , feeling that they weren’t as successful as they should have been? OR….living out a meaningful life.  Hell yeah.  I want to be the Dad, the husband, the friend, the co worker that when I’m gone they say wow, what a great guy.  He always had a smile on his face, he always had a kind word, he always listened to me.  Leave a legacy behind.  The world is full of too many I wishes, kind ofs, could haves and would haves.  We get one shot at this, ONE!  Death is part of life.  Those people that you loved more than anything, that it tears your heart out just to think of them being gone, they are all looking down wanting one thing.  That you live your life.  That they didn’t die in vain.  That there was a lesson there, that they left, I don’t know, a mark.  That’s it, that they left an indelible mark that only you can grasp and do something with.

In the words of Mr. Les Brown, if you died today, what dreams, what abilities, what talents, what gifts would die with you?  As I said before, there are no answers.   I feel your pain, I have cried those tears.  Don’t live a life of sorrow but rejoice that you enjoyed that person for as long as the good Lord allowed them to be a part of your life.  Find solace in the fact that they are watching over you and doing greater works in the next world.  Above all, know that they loved you and all they would ever want is for you to be happy and be at peace.




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