The New Trend in Dying

Life Goes OnIt used to be all about growing old gracefully, but now that is passé.  Grow old however you so choose. The new trend is all about dying gracefully.

When I was in college there was a very popular class about death and dying.  While taking a class about death and dying sounded excruciatingly morbid to me, everyone who had taken the class spoke about it as an wonderfully eye-opening experience.  The class spoke about dying and death in a matter-of-fact way which lessened their fear of the inevitable.  I suppose it is similar to the lessons that Valerie Harper is giving the world right now.

News of Valerie Harper’s incurable cancer and her determination to live in the moment while she still can is a reminder to us all.  Her grace, candor and shining example of how to live while we are here is making an impression on millions.  As she has said, “Death is out there for all of us.  There’s other ways to handle it than just sit on the couch and accept.”

Living and dying with grace

It is reminiscent of the grace that was the inspiring Randy Pausch, author of The Last LectureOn September 18th, 2007, after being given the news that his time on earth was nearing the end, Randy, a dynamic professor at Carnegie Mellon University, gave the lecture of a lifetime.  If you have not seen it yet, do yourself an enormous favor and take the time to watch this:

His life lessons were exceptionally poignant and the beauty of the message was in his focus on really living, even in the face of death.  As he said in the lecture, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

Let’s face it.  Until recently it was not commonplace to hear words like, “I’m dying and I’m having fun.”

Live gracefully

Last week on The Today Show, Natalie Morales did a piece on journalist Susan Spencer-Wendel. She too knows that her days are numbered as she suffers from ALS.  After receiving her diagnosis, Spencer-Wendel vowed to live out her remaining days with joy and gratitude.  She made a plan. She traveled. She documented her days in her just-released book, Until I Say Goodbye, a beautiful memoir about her time spent living in the face of death.

Each of these three inspiring people got it so, so right.  After all, each one of us is facing death.  We just may not have been told when that fate will meet us.  Let’s spend our time living.  And when our time is up, let us all go out gracefully.

Dying gracefully – what a beautiful way to live.  I don’t know about you, but I hope this trend is here to stay.

Do you have today?


  1. I love these quotes…it is so true…we are often so worried about the end that we forget to live the beginning and middle…

  2. Beautiful post, Jessica.

  3. what a beautiful post. ABSOLUTELY nothing to add but an amen.

  4. This makes things sound so much more peaceful. It took me years to be able to hear the word death or dying without having anxiety over it. Such a tough topic for many that it’s nice to see those inspiring others to live without fear and enjoy our lives, whether long or short.

  5. This is a beautiful post. I read Randy Pausch’s book years ago and many of the things he says still stay with me today. Often times it is more difficult for those that are not living with terminal illness to accept the feelings that those that are have. Beautiful quotes by beautiful (and strong) people.

  6. Beautiful post! I LOVE Randy Pausch – one of my favorite books!

  7. I love the philosophy of living each day with gratitude. There is such a sense of joy and ownership in that!

  8. Wow, this really is something to think about. Thank you for this post. It was quite moving for me.

  9. I love listening to the last lecture. So motivational and such a wonderful man. My son has a spot in the house to draw on the walls!

  10. While being sad it is all very inspiring and I’d love to be as strong as these people when facing death. At this time I don’t think I could be so brave, but one day I hope to be.

  11. Yes, yes, and yes. There is no choice but to appreciate each day. Thanks for the reminders!

  12. I’m not sure if I’m just tired or what, but this post totally made me tear up and think for sure. It’s definitely something to really think about.

  13. this is such a stunning post with a spot on message. When I was taking care of my Grandmother when she battled Alzheimer’s it was SO HARD to not always see that she was dying every day. Reminders like this post are just good for the soul. Thank you.

  14. Liz @ The Six Year Itch says:

    Gah, I am terrified of dying. Absolutely mortified that its eventually going to happen. These wonderful people have way more courage and grace than I’ll ever have. If I don’t go in my sleep, I’ll be kicking and screaming the entire time.

  15. Musings on Motherhood and Midlife says:

    What a beautiful post. I’ll never forget when my grandmother who had dementia was in a nursing home, I visited her determined just to give her one in-the-moment pampering experience. So I gave her a gentle hand massage with a scented lotion. After a few moments of having my hands rubbing hers she opened her eyes in recognition and called me by her pet nickname for me, ” number one” which she hadn’t said in years. “I love you number one,” she said. I told her, “Grandma I love you, too.” That was the last time I saw her before she passed away, but I’m grateful she had that moment of pleasure, and I was part of it.

  16. So true! What a beautiful gift life is for each of us–and for those of us who haven’t been given a time frame how much more we should embrace living life because who knows when it will be up!? Thank you for sharing!

  17. Fantastic!

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