If I Knew I Were Dying, What Would I Want To Talk About Now

Last year, I wrote a blog post titled, “If I Knew I Were Dying, What Would I Want To Talk About Now.”  I had then recently watched, The PBS NewsHour, which presented Hospice Chaplain Carrie Egan, in an “In My Humble Opinion” segment called “Don’t Wait Till Your Dying Words to Say What’s Most Important.”  It aired January 16, 2017.

Last year, I wrote that it had taken me several months to share this segment. I said, “After all, we Boomers are forever young and death is a concept we would prefer remaining a distant concept.”

I meant that then, just one year ago.  It has not taken me several months to share this segment with you again for 2018.  It took one day.  What a difference in perspective reaching the decade of the 70’s makes.  We may be “young, young” but we are not immortal.

Chaplain Carrie Egan shared that most people do not have “last words” of any significance to share. Typically, one dying is unconscious in pain.  She said, “death can take one by surprise.”

Her words may not resonate with you now, and that is wonderful.  Just read them again.  I shared in another post about my Aunt Fay who saved to travel in her retirement, got lymphoma at retirement and died.  Before she died, she told me to travel before retirement, for her age 65, because you never know what it is your last travel.  Go younger.  Don’t wait.

I made that a mantra.  Grandpa and I shared the mantra and we finished all the wonders of the world, and spent this past first year of retirement “finishing up” our travel bucket list.  We followed Aunt Fay long before I heard of Chaplain Carrie Egan.  I just reread my first post for the 2018 New Year, which became more meaningful after I shared it a second time.  So does this post.  Sometimes it takes thought and reflection and surprises for us to heed those with some much knowledge and experience about life.

Significantly, Chaplain Carrie Egan shared that if we have something important to tell our loved ones that we feel a need to plan out what to say, why wait to say it.  If it is so important that we think about it or are worried about it now, then we should say it now. . . while we are able to do so.  As she emphasized,

“Ask for forgiveness now.”

“Say you love someone now.”

“Share whatever wisdom you have with the world right now.”

Chaplain Carrie Egan said that when people ask about dying words, which they do frequently to her as a Hospice Chaplain, what they are really asking is what is so important in this life that it should be the very last thing we talk about.

So instead of asking what do other people talk about right before they are dying, ask yourself what do you really want to talk about now, is what she wisely recommends. That is a really good question and is a really good thing to think about. . . now.

Do not plan your last words, according to Chaplain Carrie Egan.  Plan the first words you think are important enough to share.  If you need impetus to consider the wisdom of her advice, watch the entire segment here.

After our holiday celebration with local and out of town family all together, GG (Great Grandmother), in her ninety fifth year, said this may be the last time she sees the out of town family.  We Boomer Grandparents should also think this may be the last time we see the out of town family, and appreciate each and every day, planning the first words we think are important enough to share.

Now, thinking as a grandparent, I propose that you videotape yourself. . . .now.  Diary now. Write to the children and grandchildren now. Our family has a tradition of videotaping the great grandparents holding the newborn and telling the baby what he or she would like to impart about life.  Why wait only for great grandparents.  Start the tradition in your family with the grandparents.

As Aunt Fay said, do not wait.  Remember each day that Chaplain Carrie Egan shared that most people do not have “last words” of any significance to share. Typically, one dying is unconscious in pain.  She said, “death can take one by surprise.”

I am a Boomer grandparent who is forever young. There may be a “surprise” in store for one or more of us Boomers that we cannot anticipate or plan for.  If you find yourself with such a “surprise,” then this post will be a “aha” moment to memorialize the all moments that are left, however long or short one’s life is.  The grandchildren will never forget you with personal video messages of life.

We Boomer grandparents know how quickly our years have flown by and we do not want our grandchildren to postpone life.  We want to be role models of a life well lived. Hopefully, we will remain with them for years to come, but, if we don’t, with the videos, letters, diaries, we leave behind, they too will have a reason for a mantra of “live life to its fullest.”





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