Three days after Christmas, my 91-year-old grandma passed away.
I was with her in her final moments.
I stood at the end of her bed, my hands gently holding her bare feet as her breathing became more labored. We knew the end was coming. Without thinking, I silently reached out to my mom and sister, clasping hands with them as they then clasped hands with my aunts. We formed a circle around my grandma, and I couldn’t help but be moved by how powerful it felt. All us girls—granddaughters, daughters—together, honoring a special lady whose life force was diminishing before our very eyes.
In the moment, we were grieving, but underneath the sadness was something stronger, something I hope is surrounding me on the day I leave this world: unconditional love.
I will never forget how palpable the love felt in that room. The moment life left my grandma’s body, I felt what I can only describe as a presence, a peace, a feeling of complete clarity. Time stood still. It was like everything melded together, everything made sense. Everything was exactly as it should be.
She was gone, but not really.
As I look back on this experience now, a month later, I know without a doubt that death isn’t something to be feared. It’s merely a transition to whatever comes next; a return back to spirit. Death is also a gift that can give us perspective and empower us to make changes now, while we still have the chance.
As I saw my grandma face her final hours of life, I couldn’t help but wonder what it’ll be like when it’s my turn to leave this earth. Imagining how you’ll feel when your life is nearly over is a powerful and sobering exercise.
Imagine you’re on your deathbed, reflecting on the life you’ve just led.
Are you feeling content? At peace with your choices? Are you happy with the risks you took (or didn’t take)? The decisions you made? How you spent your time? The way you treated others? The way you treated yourself?
Do you have any regrets?
What will others say about you at your funeral? In your obituary?
Do your answers surprise you? Do they make you want to adjust some things in your life?
Now is the perfect time to course-correct if something in your life isn’t in alignment. It’s so easy to get distracted by everyday things that we miss the bigger picture. But eventually, the big picture will be the only thing left of your life. Empower yourself to make choices now that your future self—your dying self—will thank you for.
Life really is a gift. The years may seem long, but time is fleeting. One minute you’re celebrating your 91st birthday, the next you’re a collection of memories held in the hearts of others.
Despite all of the drama and trauma that can hijack our happiness at every twist and turn, life is sacred. (And oh-so short.) Every single bit of it has meaning, the good and the bad. And when it’s all over, all that really matters is love—the love you gave and the love you received.