We all live our lives differently, but there are things that we should all be doing.

Death and dying are two things that none of us want to think about, but something we are all going to have to face, and, hopefully, come to terms with. I recently had a patient come to say goodbye as he has a type of cancer. However, he does not want to treat it, or to even find out what type it is as he has lived a good life. He and his wife are spending his final days together with the addition of his family and friends. With them sitting in front of me I could see true love, but could also see, and I’m sorry, worry as well as acceptance. They did not have all the time they wanted together, but they have made the most of the time that they’ve had.

His acceptance of death has made me look at death and dying again. I remember in high school taking a death and dying class. In that class, we learned about our humanity and about the stages of grief. In college there was another course on death I took, and in medical school the coursework is, obviously, all about preventing death and dying. But to me there is a difference between death and dying which is why I really liked the high school class. Death is the absolute end; when we no longer exist. However, I feel that dying is the process through which death happens, but that it is also a state that many of us are in when we are not living to our full potential.

Dying also happens when we just go through the motions without living, without laughing, and without the joy or sorrow. Dying is when we are stagnate in life; slowly moving towards death. We never know when death is going to come for us, so why would we want to be dying every day in our lives?

Take a few moments and reflect on your life now. If you knew the end was tomorrow, or really soon, is there anything that you would change about how you are living? Would you continue to work at the job you don’t like just because it pays the bills, or would you go find a new job that satisfies your soul? Would you spend as much time on social media and the internet, or would you spend more time in person with family and friends.

I hope for all of us that death is something that is far far away, and that if you are currently dying in life that you make changes for the years continue to move faster and faster. Before we know it death will be knocking on our doors. Go out and live, go out and laugh, go out and spread love and joy. But mostly live like tomorrow is your last day.

Image Credit: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT (WIkipedia of The Dying Gaul) (CC BY-SA 3.0)