This week we will be exploring L.S. Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom.”

Today’s Bible reading

John 14:1-4 CEB

14 “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. 4 You know the way to the place I’m going.”

More thoughts for meditation 

Dugdale references three modern views of death that reflect our societies anxious urge to put the unknowable in a box, give it labels and attempt to file it away so we don’t have to worry about it again. This assumes that not practicing daily reflections on our death will be better than keeping our mortality at the front of our minds. As L.S Dugdale says in The Lost Art of Dying “there is no quick fix for the anxiety of death.” Even for people who practice this meditation regularly. But what is usually found by remembering our death is a deepening of humility and a consciousness of how precious every moment is. 

Reflecting on passing through to the Great Unknown will mean unknowable things for us but it will at least mean we are saying goodbye to the world as we know it. Ruminating on this truth may help us to see what we have as special. Seeing ourselves as truly unique in this world and whose demise is inevitable may help us to treat the people we meet with  a deeper respect. Even more the people we love. 

Dugdale argues that recognizing finitude and embracing community are the foundational elements of dying well. As you can imagine, these tasks are much more valuable if practiced over the course of a lifetime. Much more valuable than waiting until the years before your death to do so. The point is the sooner we can prepare to die well, the better.

Suggestions for action

Allow whatever comes up for you to exist for a few more moments. Your experiences around death will undoubtedly be uncomfortable to remember. Take some time to journal or think about these questions.

What is the worst part about the fact that you are going to die? Take note of what emotions come up for you…fear, anger, sadness? How easy would it be for you to bring the topic of death up to somebody you’re close with? Would they at least listen to your reflecting on these questions if not answer them for themselves?