“Grace. How you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain, and, so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. In the end, it all comes down to one word, grace. It’s how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light.”*
Not everyone dies with peace and grace. I have many memories from nursing visits that have been punctuated with someone’s suffering, and another’s anger, and families’ aching loss. Today, though, was the anniversary of a truly beautiful death, and I sometimes go over in my mind what makes some deaths so indescribably special. For some, it has been the sweeping expressions of love: visions of a sister singing softly to her dying brother, a mother gently washing her daughter, a husband tenderly lifting his wife to lay beside her. For others, it’s part of an uncanny knowing as time was running out, a dying person’s ability to encircle the loved ones around their bedside, at just the right moment, giving the gift of a peaceful death to those who continue breathing.
A common theme, at every beautiful death I have witnessed, is the lonesome sojourner’s willingness to accept the reality that they are dying, and their desire to diminish the suffering of the loved ones left behind. For some, it’s heard in the wistful “goodbye”, the whispered “I love you”, the tearful “I will miss you”. For others, it is the graceful slipping away, the quiet acquiescence of a dying person’s final hours.
I know it is a hope we all share, when our time comes, to be able to leave this life with grace.
I am thankful for those who have shown me in their life’s ebb just how it is done.