Death Takes a Holiday

IMG_1956I was recently asked what have I learned from working in the funeral profession. The truth is I learn something almost everyday. But one of the things that amazes me is as humans how much control we have over when we die and this is more apparent during this time of year.

I’m also often asked if there is a time of year that we are more busy at the mortuary. It really is difficult to predict, but there are always a couple of weeks that the death rate seems to rise. The weeks right after Christmas and into the first part of January are always busier. Over 90 percent of the people we care for die after a diagnosed illness and not a sudden traumatic death. Most have been battling a disease for months if not years. Often when the final terminal diagnosis of six months or less is given it falls within reach of the holidays so the patient decides to spend one more Christmas with family and friends. Literally, they make the decision to live until Christmas. It seems a little crazy, I know, but our caseload will often double from the 26th of December through January 15th. I see this happen other times of the year, as well, if an individual has a family wedding or special birthday or even vacation they want to be attend. But, Christmas is common to a great majority of us so it makes sense the greatest concentration of “will to live” would be seen during this time.

It’s one of those lessons I have always categorized under “Simply Miraculous.” Living beyond the disease overtaking you…miracle. Deciding to live to a certain day…simple.

Here’s the thing. So many of the lessons I have learned from the dead are really about living. If we have the power to live longer than a doctor says or stay alive to experience a specific day we have the power to change other aspects of our lives long before we are dying. Not a new idea, but one we often forget. Most of us don’t carry a terminal card in our wallet right now, but we can set goals that can change the way we live, embrace opportunities, experience new things and places, and love family and friends. Don’t let the worst illness or the simplest hang nail stop you from anything you want to do. Start small and decide this morning how tonight is going to end. God gives us a great deal of power in our lives. Be sure to use it well LONG before it is the last choice you make and always live like you are dying!

-life as eric

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