Death-Bed Priorities

As far as I know, no one has ever said on his death-bed that he wished he’d spent more time at the office. I think we can be reasonably sure, therefore, that we won’t be saying that, either. The bon mots attributed to the witty and the celebrated will probably be beyond most of us; so what shall we be saying — always assuming that we are allowed a death-bed in the first place, and that the gift of speech will attend us to the last?

I have been present at the deaths of several people over the years. No one I’ve known has spent their last minutes going over wrongs done to themselves, only wrongs they have done to others. The regrets they have voiced were not that they never climbed Everest or couldn’t afford a Matisse or a Maserati, but that they didn’t give time to others, or that they failed to notice another’s need. The sins of omission as well as commission seem to crowd round us in our last hours. They don’t block out the good memories or the gratitude, but they do seem to be quite troubling.

All this is quite encouraging for those who have been taught from their earliest years to pray for the grace of a good death — in other words, to die in a state of grace, repenting of sin and giving glory and thanksgiving to God for all his mercies. As we live, so we die. If our life now is Christ, just think what it will be for all eternity!

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