Recently I saw a blog post about a man, a photographer, whose wife was diagnosed with cancer five months after they got married. In an effort to humanize the disease and document his wife’s struggle, he took pictures of her throughout her treatment and ultimately, until her death.
This blog post moved me. But I mean, it really moved me. Like, changed me.
It’s easy to pay lip service to the fleeting nature of life, there are plenty of sound bytes about “only living once” and “seizing the day” “as if it were your last.” But something fundamental changes when we learn that someone we love is dying.
There is a shift that happens once someone tells you that your partner, or child, or parent has a finite time left with you in this life. Things become simpler. You forgive. You forget. You love more boldly and fully, without reservation and without fear, because there is nothing left to lose.
So, I invite you to take someone’s hand if you need some support. I am not a doctor, but I am here to tell you:
You are already on your deathbed.
You don’t need a medical professional to tell you that you (and everyone you love) have a finite amount of time to live—it is a necessary corollary of the fact that you, and they, are alive.
Seriously, let that sink in for a minute, if you can.
What things would you do for your partner if you knew their time with you was limited?
How much kinder would you be to your parents if you knew they would be gone someday?
What would you do for yourself, how would you spend your time, if you knew you were dying?
Why do we withhold the things we would freely give if someone gave us a concrete timeline?
Think about what you would say to someone you love if you knew they were going to die in a year, in a month, at their funeral. Think about what you would do for them or try to help them do for themselves. Think about the things you would forgive, or the things that you would ask for.
Think about how you would love them.
Say those things.
Do those things.
Ask for it.
Love them that way.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise