Life is a brief excursion

“Life is a brief excursion; death is always the destiny.”    – Graham Woodhouse


I remember many years ago standing at a classroom window overlooking a day care centre watching children at play in the yard.  A person was standing next to me and for some reason the conversation drifted to a discussion about death.  I shared with her that that I had been a volunteer at a local hospice.  Her response was, “Oh, that must be really depressing.”   Still looking out the window, I replied, “No, for me working in a day care would be depressing.”  Each of us is drawn to different aspects of life. Death has been a great teacher for me.

I didn’t used to think about death and dying much. This changed when as a young man I visiting a dear uncle who was dying of cancer in a hospital some distance from where I lived. I felt awkward and didn’t know what to say to him. He passed away not long after my visit and I was never able to tell him that I loved him or that I was grateful that he had been in my life. My first experience of someone close to me dying had closed me down. Afterwards, feeling ashamed, I made up my mind not to repeat the experience.

The passing of my uncle was what led me to involvement in hospice work. Since then I have learned that keeping death as part of my life is a very valuable tool.  Keeping in mind that life is indeed short and that each day is a blessing, reminds me to focus on what is important.  Who is most precious to me and how have I treated them today?  What do I really want to accomplish with my time here on earth?  Taking death into consideration helps me feel more alive and more involved in living.

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