Excerpt from the Book

Our conversation, beyond any coaching or self-help book from the past, helped me define my beliefs and what matters most to me, not just in dying but in living. It opened the door to saying things we might never have said about our beliefs on love and life, on life and on death, on love and letting go. Through this lens, we each found a new inner compass – and a kick in the pants to get on with living now, not later. While I know we weren’t the first to make this connection, for the first time I felt it in my bones.

My mother’s choice was to accept her death. Full on and facing forward. My mother’s gift was to offer me this choice too. To accept all of it and live life with death. Not either/or. Both/and.

I can choose to live as if I will never die, to live in spite of the fact that I will one day die, or to live enhanced by the deep knowing that this life, for myself and for everyone I meet, is not ever to be taken for granted. In what turned out to be the last 10 days of her life, though neither of us knew it at the time, my mother chose. My mother’s last gift to me, her daughter, was the absolute freedom to choose.

We all live increasingly busy and fast paced lives. Systems are failing. Change is upon us all. Yet when it all boils down, it makes no difference where you live, what your role is, or how much you have. From rural communities to the inner city, if you’re a daughter, a mother, a partner, a sister or a friend – in the end, we all want the best for our lives and for our last days, for ourselves and for those we love.

I wasn’t with my mother at the end. But someone else was. She took her last breath in the middle of the night with a paid caregiver beside her. What I now knew was that

if we want to spend our last days of living on our terms, we will all need to be there with and for each other, sisters, daughters, healthcare professionals, volunteers…‘strangers’ to us now. Yet these ‘strangers’ may be with us at one of the most profound moments of our lives.

I also learned to ask the question:

what was possible in my life if I no longer waited to speak what was in my heart and aligned my actions and courage with all I knew and believed in?

And I knew in no uncertain terms that life is simply too short to put off living what matters most.

Buy Dying to Make a Difference