What Death Teaches Us About Life

Why I believe I was chosen to be with dying people

I don’t know why I’m on this path. I’m certain, at least I think I am, that I would have not picked it. But it certainly seems to have, for some reason, chosen me.

I sat with a lady again today and held her hand as she took her last breath. I had been there almost an hour consoling the family as they came to terms with the end of life. We laughed together, cried together, and, at times, just sat in silence together, witnessing the life of their loved one slowly slip away.

Then the moment came. She suddenly closed her eyes, took two quick short breaths, and was gone. …………

I hurt from the innermost parts of my being; not over the loss of life, but over the blatant, in-my-face, almost sadistic, realization of how BRIEF life is! It was as if someone was holding me by the back of my neck, forcing me to watch yet another person die. I’ve seen a lot of people die during my tenure as a hospice chaplain, but this time I walked away wondering what death was trying to tell me.

I sped away with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart. I was driven, yet again, to go deep within and ask myself, “What in the hell am I doing with my life?” Then another question came to me, “What am I not doing with my life?” And the next obvious question followed, “Why not?”

I started to think that I was somehow being punished. I’ve spoken to tens of thousands, preached to nations, I’ve started churches, built businesses, traveled the world encouraging millions, and yet I sit holding the hands of another dying person. WHY?

AND THEN….I FINALLY GOT IT!

My life has never been about me; it’s been about you!

My life, my journey, has been about you. Every inch of it. Every pain, every fear, every struggle, every dark place, ever setback, every lesson, every person I’ve watched die… everything….has been about you!

If being around death has taught me anything, it’s taught me how bad I want to live, and help other people live too. And not just live; but live life to the fullest; with a purpose! To know the reason for my existence and to spend every waking moment of doing “that,” that’s what I’ve wanted from life.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Death has taught me that life is for living. But in all my years of being around death and dying as a hospice chaplain, I’ve met very few people who could tell me why they lived. Sure they told me about their family, their career, how they traveled, acquired a certain amount of material wealth, but they couldn’t tell me the reason they were born.

I finally realize that I’ve faced death time and time again in my life so that this insatiable desire to live could be birthed in me; a desire that would, one day, inspire you and millions like you to LIVE, and to live more abundantly.

Purpose Is Your Birthright!

It matters not how you came into this world; the very fact that you are here reveals that you were born on purpose for purpose. YOU FIT! You are a piece in life’s puzzle that no one else can fill.

You are more than gender, more than career, more than social status or a role to fill. You are the essence of life itself, you are “Ruah,” the very “Breath of God” incarnate. NOBODY CAN BE YOU! Nobody can do you like you do you!

What Was Death Trying To Tell Me? Death was telling me that I was born to live and to inspire others to live life to the fullest!

Why did I sit beside another person today and watch them die? So I could be with you right now and inspire you to LIVE!

I don’t know you friend, but I encourage you that you are bigger than whatever may be holding you back! You are stronger than whatever that is weighing you down. Whatever that is trying to defeat you, you are more than a conqueror. Greater is that which is in you than that which is coming against you!

Life's for living and for finishing

If you are reading this, there is still time. I encourage you friend to use every ounce of life you have in you to LIVE. Not just survive, not merely exist, but to THRIVE — to fully live out the course of your days, so that when it is your time to go, “thou you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil.” Death will not have to come for you, for you will freely and willingly lay your life down, for you will know, at that moment, it is finished.

Life is for running your race and FINISHING your course. Don’t you dare give up one second sooner! If I have spent the last fifteen years of my life consumed with death and dying so that on this day I could write this letter to inspire and encourage you to live, and you choose to live; to the fullest, then I believe that the time I’ve spent in my life being around death was worth it!

Three Key Questions To Answer

  1. What are you doing with your life?
  2. What are you NOT doing with your life?
  3. Why?

Whatever may have you down, friend, shake it off, rise up, square your shoulders, fill your lungs full of breath, while you still can, and LIVE!

~ jeff crume