If you’re free to prepare for dying before it’s happening…

This is my 336th post about death and dying on this blog. And I am now into the final month of this yearlong project.

I am amazed and grateful that I get to contemplate dying so intentionally and comfortably before it is happening. I know that I will not always be up for this work.

Some friends of mine, while they have been hospitalized or sick, have testified to me that it is not possible for them to read and think about death under such circumstances. It seems too raw and too sad.

This makes sense.

We have investment accounts and retirement savings so that we do not need to think and worry too much about money later in life.

It seems worthwhile to store away reflection on the last things and to build an accounting of what matters ultimately when we are young and healthy so that we do not need to worry about this so much when we are sick or dying.



The Value of a Last Lecture

Today I am remembering Fr. James V. Schall – Jesuit priest, longtime professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, and the author of more than thirty books. He died around this time two years ago.

I had heard that he had given a Last Lecture at Georgetown entitled “The Final Gladness,” but I only listened to it for my first time this evening.

Here is the video of the lecture and below are some highlights in summary as well as some brief thoughts on the value of a last lecture.

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Now I Have A Skull On My Desk

“We got you something for your birthday to remind you of your mortality,” Sam said.

Daniel and Max followed him into my office and the three of them proceeded to present me with a box that contained the skull pictured above.

“Thanks,” I told them. “Very thoughtful!”

Some years ago, a religious sister with the epic name Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, received a ceramic skull during a retreat. This began her daily meditations on death, about which she tweeted, chronicling her new insights that came from keeping a skull on her desk. Working on Parliament Hill, I particularly appreciated Day 6.

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