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Yesterday’s conference that I attended was about “Holy Dying.” I know that sounds a bit odd for a title, but the conference was full of spiritual wisdom.

One of the “take home” things I brought home with me was a list of “5 Regrets Dying People Often Have”  from a presentation given by a hospice nurse:

  1. “I should have lived life for myself rather than focusing on living up to the expectations of others.”
  2. “I should not have worked so hard.”
  3. “I should have had the courage to express my feelings more often.”
  4. “I wish I’d not lost touch with my friends.”
  5. “I  wish I’d ‘lived happier.'”

Really thinking about those five things emphasizes one of the main points of yesterday’s conference: that a life well lived is the best preparation for death. It is important to live in the moment in the reality of the “here and now.” We are experiencing a precious gift, and we often take it for granted and miss the miracle inherent in being part of God’s creation. A speaker at the conference also said that if we are ready to die at any moment, then we are ready to fully live at any moment. The way the presenters were talking about living in the moment reminded me of the importance recovering people put on living one day at a time because today is the only reality we have at the moment.

Looking at the list of “regrets, ” I realize 12 step recovery programs help people form supportive, healthy relationships with friends, to live more “serenely” or “happily”, and to express their feelings during the course of sharing at 12 step meetings and also when actively working the programs 12 steps.

Another “take home” bit of information from this conference had to do with understanding the “work of dying” a person needs to do —–things that need to be said by the dying person.

These were:

  1. ”I forgive you”
  2. “Do you forgive me?”
  3. “Thank you.”
  4. “I love you.”
  5. “Goodbye.”

If we always said these things to the people we love and are close to—–if we lived each moment as if we were dying—-wouldn’t we be living much better in the present moment? I think AA’s 12 steps help people in recovery do the work necessary to give and get forgiveness and  to say thank you. Their way of expressing love and saying goodbye, at least in this region of the country, is to say the Lord’s Prayer.

What am I trying to say with all of this? It is important to live the present moment “mindfully” with as much awareness as you can, it is important to communicate feelings, to forgive and be forgiven, to tell people you love them and to not assume you will always have time to “do it in the future.” The other main point I am trying to make, and it is an important one for me personally, is people in recovery are lucky enough to have a “recipe for living” embedded in following the 12 steps that makes living each day as if you were dying a bit easier for them.

Please comment and  share your thoughts about “living and dying well.” Thank you. God bless and keep you.

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