The Last Words...
I had the honor of accompanying a friend who was dying. She
gathered 8 of us around her and we met every other week with our
friend who was given “one year to live”. We used Steven Levine’s
book by the same name as we met and listened to our friend and also
listened to our own thoughts about our own mortality. One of the
exercises in that book is to think about what you would like to be the
last words that you say.
Alas, mostly it seems that people slip into unconsciousness a bit
before they die and the “last words” are never clearly that. But, if you
COULD determine your last words, what would you want them to be?
Singer songwriter Jennifer Berenson has a beautiful song called
“Praises for the world” in which she says that more than anything she
can think of, she would want her last words to be exactly that,
“praises for the world”. When I ask this question of friends, the most
common answer I get is that people want to leave the world saying “I
I had the wake up experience of meeting another woman who was
imminently dying. I was completely charmed by her presence her
honesty, her humor in the face of death. She was strong and
vulnerable, had a beautiful vision of her life, and could laugh at her
own demise. After meeting her and learning that she died shortly
afterwards, I had the thought that I wanted to die just like she did;
honest, courageous, funny, humble, etc.etc. A couple of days after
that insight, I had another truer one -- I suddenly realized that this
woman did not suddenly acquire those ways of being because she was dying! And, that if I wanted to die like she died, I had better get busy living like she lived.
So, what words do you hope to be able to utter when you die? What
do those words demand of you in the meantime?