It 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.”
It is reminiscent of the grace that was the inspiring Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture. On 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.”
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.