LIVING IN THE FACE OF DEATH

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Image by mikebaird via Flickr

In today’s edition of  The Philippine Star, I read an article by Fr. Francis Alvarez.  He relates his journey with a dying man named Manuel, and how he inspired the man to create a legacy by bringing his daughter back to faith.  It was a short but touching story, and it has led me to reminisce on my experiences with dying patients.  Yes, death can bring about positive changes.

As a hospice and palliative care practitioner, I have encountered 5 positive words and phrases that truly bring about positive change.  They include the following:

1.  I love you

How many of you say this to your loved ones each day?  In the case of dying patients, these words are truly miraculous.  Saying these 3 magic words prior to one’s passing, there is an air of peacefulness in the face of death.

2.  I am sorry

Truly life-changing.  Asking for forgiveness is such a heart-wrenching event.  It becomes even more significant when followed by

3.   I forgive you

The clincher.  Forgiving and being forgiven has changed so many lives.  I always remember how the sinner was able to enter paradise by asking for forgiveness and being forgiven by Christ on the cross.  It removes so much guilt and hurt, and becomes a turning point for a better life.

4.  Thank you

As if saying “It is finished”, a heartfelt expression of gratitude on the deathbed is an ultimate compliment.  It has inspired those left behind to do better and live life to the fullest.

5.  Goodbye

Releasing a loved one hanging on to dear life when the end is inevitable is so noble.  It requires exquisite will power to let go of someone so dear, but doing so is absolutely liberating.  It allows people to move forward.

You do not have to wait for the very last moments of life to say positive things.  Say they now.  Say them often.  And say them heartily to your loved ones.  In death we have the capacity to make people live by saying I love you, I forgive you, I thank you, and I am sorry.  Imagine the impact these words can have if the person still has a full life to live.  It would certainly make it so much easier to say goodbye – in God‘s time.  Just like Manuel, even at the end of life, we can create a legacy.

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