If You Had Your Choice: How Would You Prefer to Die?

If you had your choice, have you ever thought about how you would prefer to die? It may seem like a strange question, but it is one that is worth thinking about and answering. 

knight-321443_1280photo by jaymethunt courtesy of Pixabay

For me, the most noble way to die is defending or protecting others. Jesus said in John 15, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” So the soldier, the policeman, the fireman, the teacher, the crossing guard, whoever dies trying to protect others, they die the most heroic death. We honor them for the nobility of their sacrifice.

On the other end of the scale is the inglorious death. A life lived selfishly without thought for others, one who lives solely for oneself. We all know people who have passed and no one missed them. They lived their lives in a total self-gratifying way. Surely none of us would want to pass that way.

There are a lot of ways in the middle of the scale to die. You can die doing something you love. I have known of a couple of young men who have died climbing mountains. The only consolation their families had was, “They died doing what they loved.” At best, it is little consolation when you see a young life cut off while in its prime.

I don’t think any of us wants to die because of our own foolish choices. No one wants to go to a bar and die on the way home because we were drunk. We don’t want to die  from an overdose of drugs. We don’t want to die from lung cancer because we chose to smoke our entire lives. We don’t want to die because we were texting while driving.

When we truly think about how we would want to die, it should give us motivation about how we should live. If we want to die in service to others, we should prepare ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually so that we have the mindset we need if we are ever in that situation. It should make us want to make right choices so that we could add to the lives of others for the short while we are here on this earth.

If we look at our lives and see we are heading down a road of dissipation and addiction, we might want to take a day or two off of our drug of choice and really take stock of where we are. Do we need to get help to get sober or clean? There is no shame in admitting we need help. It is one of the bravest and most courageous things we can do.

Are we spending our entire lives solely trying to please ourselves? While it may feel good at the moment, in the end our selfishness will add only a hollow ring to our lives. Remember the question put to the man at a funeral, “How much did he leave behind?” The answer was and is always, “All of it.” We need to learn to share what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves. It will give our lives true meaning and purpose.

Let’s look at our lives and our lifestyles and see if we need to make any adjustments. After all, our lives are but a breath here, and we will soon be gone. So again I ask, “If you had your choice, how would you prefer to die?

Penelope

A few months ago, Ann, one of my good friends passed away. I had known her for decades and she had been very close to me and my family. She lived in another state and I had called her a few months before and was made aware that her health was failing. When she passed, I was sad but accepted it and was not very emotional about it. My son and another friend called to ask me how I was doing with the news. I said, “I think I’m fine.”

low angle photo of linear leaf plant
Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

 

In the meantime, my husband and I bought a Ravenna Palm and placed it in a beautiful pot. We put it in the corner of the living room and it looked perfect there. I love my plants and I named the plant Penelope. A few days later, I was having trouble with my allergies. I looked up palm plants and it stated that most palms are female but the male palms give off allergens. It also said that most people who sell plants are not aware of this when ordering palms so you can get either one in a shop.

I called the place we bought the plant and they told me we could bring it back. We returned it and I asked the man if they were going to return it to the shelf. He said, “No, we will have to put it into the dumpster. We cannot restock it because it does not have the restocking sticker on it.” I looked at my husband and tears came to my eyes. I walked out to the car quickly and started sobbing. He looked at me and said, “Valerie, what is going on?” I replied that I didn’t want them to kill Palmy, my new generic name for the male palm.  I told him we could keep it on the back patio and in the garage in the winter. He agreed and like the dutiful husband he is, marched back into the store, repurchased the palm and brought it back to the car.

He then looked at me and said, “Valerie, what is really going on?” By that time I had calmed down and said, “I think I’m sad about Ann’s death.” He said, “Well I hope so, that is a pretty strong reaction for a plant we’ve only had for four days!” It was at that point that I realized that I was experiencing grief from my friend’s death, but I was not aware of it and had been unable to process it.

I was brought up in a home where we did not show a lot of emotion. Logic and reason ruled the day and little if any weight was given to an argument filled with emotion. From the time I was small, I learned to stuff my emotions and deal with whatever situation I encountered. When I did feel grief or some other sad emotion, it was hard for me to cry. As an adult, I have had difficulty crying, even when I have lost someone very dear to me. If I needed to cry, I would watch  a movie with a sad ending. It would enable me to cry a bit and release some of my pent up emotions.

After the incident with Penelope, I began to think about the ability to process emotions in a healthy way, especially grief. Depending on the culture and the home we are brought up in, we are either allowed or discouraged from showing our emotions. Whether we show them or not, they are still there inside of us. I believe it is much healthier to be able to express our emotions appropriately, rather than stuffing them and putting up a brave front. 

Since then, I have been trying to allow myself to express grief when I am alone. I have had a few breakthroughs and hope that in the future I will be able to be in touch with my emotions in a more positive way. After all, a person should not have to put on a sad movie in order to express the emotions that are pent up inside of them, should they?

 

What Are They Going To Do With The Body?

Have you ever been so sick that you wondered, “What they were going to do with the body?”

chest-67592_1280image by Wikilmages Courtesy of Pixabay

When I was attending the university, I stopped into a small deli and bought a custard. It was in a display case that was not refrigerated. I didn’t know much about food and so I bought it and ate it. That evening I became sick, very, very sick. For a few days, I wondered, “What are they going to do with the body?” Would my dad want it shipped to the States and bury it in the family plot or would I be buried in Milan close to other family members? A few days later, I recovered and the food poisoning was behind me.

People for millennia have thought about that same question. The very rich and powerful have had their bodies interred with great magnificence. The pharaohs built pyramids for their final resting place, while leaders of other cultures have had great sepulchers made. The wealthy have spent a fortune in order to rest in beautiful coffins like the Byzantine one above. On the other end of the socio-economic spectrum, the average person has had to content himself with a simple burial. If fortunate, they would buried in a plain wooden coffin. Many people were just wrapped in cloth and placed into a grave. Still others were burned on a funeral pyre. Either way, someone had to answer the question, “What are they going to do with the body?”

It’s something to think about, but an even more important question is; “What is going to happen to my soul when I die?” Many of us have thought about it and sought out truth to help us deal with that question.

I know atheists and agnostics who do not believe that we have a soul. Or if they do, they believe that it goes into the grave with the body. They don’t believe in an afterlife and live their lives entirely within the four-dimensional framework that they find themselves in. They do not worry about the question of the soul because they don’t believe they will have to give an account to God for the way they lived.

But what if they are wrong? What if there is a great God in the universe and they will have to answer one day for the life they led and the beliefs they cherished? What then? Well, then it will be too late to make another decision and backtrack and recheck their logic.

For me, I have already made that decision. I studied many religions and I chose to believe in the teachings of the One Person who actually went into the grave and came back three days later. I believe He knows the questions we need to ask and He has the answers for them. He is not afraid of any questions we might ask Him while we are looking and seeking to find the Truth.

So if you don’t know the answer to the most important question, i.e. “What is going to happen to my soul when I die?” I would encourage you to make a real attempt to get that question answered. It could be the most important question you will ever ask and the answer could have real eternal consequences.

* In physics, the fourth dimension is time.