Lessons Learned

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde


Today my grampa would’ve turned 130 years old. We’ve been without him for almost 25 years now.

That’s so hard to believe. (That’s him holding me before my baptism.)

He passed away when he was just shy of turning 106-years old. Sometimes I think about him in the context of my current job. Our work involves hospice and end-of-life matters. We have a program, for example, that fulfills little “last wishes” for patients approaching the end of their lives. Sometimes I wonder what would grampa have wanted? After 105+ years of walking on our earth, was there anything he still wanted to experience or receive? Was he content?

And does age make a difference when it comes to last wishes? At work today, we received a request from a hospice patient who simply wants to have Christmas lights hung on their house one last time for their family. This patient is my age — not even half the age of my grampa when he passed.

After a few years in this job, I’m fairly convinced that death helps us to cut the core of what is most important in life, in the simplest of terms, regardless of how old we are.

“Working with dying patients has shown me the importance of living fully while we still can.”

The above quote came from an article I saw today: 14 Things I Learned From Working With the Dying. Click on the link for the full article, but here are the 14 lessons outlined by the author:

1.) Find what brings you joy and meaning, and start doing those things now.

2.) Treat yourself no differently than you would your closest friend. You are kind and loving when you speak with them — why not speak to yourself the same way?

3.) Step out of your comfort zone and embrace the world around you. The more you do, the more you’ll feel comfortable in all sorts of situations.

4.) Realize that life is constantly changing, and enjoy each new experience. Nothing stays the same for long — that’s what makes life exciting.

5.) Practice being grateful for all things, large and small. Gratitude keeps you open to everything good in your life.

6.) Focus completely on what is happening right now in your immediate experience. The present moment is right where life is happening.

7.) Give of yourself by being of service to others. You never know whose life you might change for the better.

8.) Connect only with the people you respect. Don’t settle for anything less than mutually giving relationships.

9.) Let go of old resentments you are holding on to and choose to forgive. This will free you from the burden of carrying them around.

10.) Don’t let your dreams remain dreams. Pursue them with everything you’ve got.

11.) Accept and be true to the unique individual you are. The world needs you just as you are.

12.) Try to accomplish one important goal a day. The results you’ll see after a year will astound you.

13.) Do work that feeds you. When you are fulfilled in your work, you’ll have a strong sense of purpose and meaning.

14.) Realize that tomorrow is a brand-new “today” — a time to begin again.

And may I add #15: Hang your Christmas lights each year with care and gratitude. Do it just as soon as you can, surrounded by the love of family.

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