I just finished writing an article for publication in a journal focused on ecology and culture; they accepted my proposal for a piece that begins with the title “The Ecology of Grief.”
Despite the possible depressing-sounding subject matter (which, admittedly, does revolve around loss, dying, death, and grief – and which amply references COVID-19), the essay provides a positive spin on thriving in life.
What suddenly struck me, though (which would warrant a “bop upside the head” gesture) –
- after twenty years of hospice volunteerism,
- engaging in recent weeks with the most chipper, vibrant hospice patient ever who I currently serve via telephone (per coronavirus restrictions on in-person visits),
- after more than a decade of practices, writings, volunteer efforts, webinars, etc in the compassion and gratefulness movements
– is the direct mirror between what experts consider important to a good and peaceful death and what other experts consider significant for a good and peaceful life.
It is said that the four most important things to say at end of life (whether you’re the one who is dying or their beloved) are: Forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you.
It is said in the compassion and gratitude, wellness and wellbeing bodies of work that the most important things to practice in life (those that help individuals and societies thrive) are: To be compassionate, kind, good, loving. To practice unconditional gratefulness. To seek health. To seek, create, and be beauty. These help us to thrive, to serve, and to remember our embedded place in the world of humans AND nonhumans.
Woah! What we do in life matters! What we do at end of life matters. And we can practice these. And not only does practicing them ease our way at the end of the road, when we might really need a well-oiled practice to smooth our transition to The Whatever Beyond, it makes our life better now. It makes the lives of everyone around us – the world – better now.