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He Died Peacefully

Do you read obituaries? I’m obsessed with them. It makes no difference if I know the person or not, I am just intrigued with what is written to capture another’s life. Obituaries are very expensive, so brevity is a financial must. For example, The New York Times charges $263 for the first four lines and then $52 per line after that, with about 28 characters per line. That would amount to the first three sentences of this blog! There are some unique patterns that I have observed after reading hundreds of them, probably thousands. Very frequently the author says, that the deceased died peacefully at home, and/or they died peacefully surrounded by family. It paints a lovely image that brings comfort to the family and to those reading the obit. Having worked in hospice care for years, our goal was always what we called the ‘good death,’ which was indeed a peaceful passing. This phrase is almost exclusively written about the elderly and never about children or young people. It just doesn’t seem to apply.

Death is a hard topic to write about and to read about, although it is the one thing we all have in common. I do believe that the loved ones left grieving cling to those ending images and want others to know that very personal piece of the story. But my aha moment was this, wouldn’t it be powerful to read that someone ‘lived in peace!’ Honestly, we have very little control over our final passing, but we have total power over our living! That thought has moved me to think about the beauty of living peacefully with myself and with others. In a world of conflict, living in peace should be our daily goal. Then perhaps the living and dying will be the same. Each of our journeys has an ending, and we never know the end of the story, but we can purpose to make the journey more peaceful. What a beautiful and brief obituary, “She lived in peace!”

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