Jim McCarthy is a motivational speaker and leadership consultant that puts on a workshop entitled “When is the exact day you will die?” He begins his seminar by instructing his audience to do the following “Please imagine your death. When is the exact day, month and year? What is the cause of your death? What are your last thoughts, emotions, and sensations and who will be with you at the time of your death?” He knows this will get a reaction from his audience, but he says for so many people, it is the first time they have given these questions any serious thought.
His purpose for doing this seminar is to ask people to understand that in order to live a happy fulfilling and pleasurable life, he feels strongly that we need to grasp our own mortality. McCarthy did this for himself when he received a cancer diagnosis a few years ago, and consequently he wants to pass on what he learned in the process. He is surprised how incredibly emotional this exercise is for so many in his audience. He says that invariably a few people will cry as they’re doing the exercise. Some refuse to participate. He asks people to share their answers with someone sitting next to them and then gives them time to have an eight minute discussion about the exercise. For everyone that participates, it truly is an eye opener.
One of his main points is to make people aware that they don’t have forever to create a family or be a compassionate parent or to take care of their own health and especially to allow themselves to be happy.
Pope Francis has been known to say that he too is contemplating his mortality and does not feel he has many years left. He says that it might not be long before he “goes off to his Father’s House.” Perhaps there are things with his health that makes him think about this.
The difference here, is that Pope Francis is thinking about this same subject with a spiritual influence in mind.
“Yet we are courageous and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
A palliative nurse wrote a book a few years ago entitled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, a life transformed by the nearly dying.” In a nutshell here are the top five regrets from most people who are dying: 1) “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. So many of my dreams went unfulfilled.” 2) “I wished I hadn’t worked so hard.” 3) “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings more.” 4) “I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.” 5) “I wish I’d let myself be happier.”
So what about you? Do you have these same feelings at this point in your life now? Obviously, the learning point here is that hopefully we won’t have regrets when we reach the end of our lives. The problem I see is that no one gets through life without making some mistakes and having some regrets as a result.
My question for Jim McCarthy when I read about his workshop is this: what about the spiritual health of his audience and their relationship with God? My mother used to say that you should always be ready to be with God. I’m sure if I were putting on this workshop I would incorporate my mother’s thoughts to the exercise. Would anyone or everyone feel they had not allowed enough time for prayer or appreciation for God in their lives?
I too had a scary cancer diagnosis over seven years ago and I can assure you, your thoughts do go to “what if I were to die soon?” I strongly believe that there would be few regrets if you included a relationship with God into your everyday life. The reason is, that God is love and He always offers forgiveness. There is no sin that he can’t forgive. When you realize this and appreciate this in your everyday life, I think you will be so much happier when you reach the end of life.
To this day I am amazed about the people who were close to me who have died and how they handled the end of their lives. My brothers and my parents all handled it with grace and love. What a gift they gave to those they left behind. They each had faith in their life and I truly think it helped them when they reached the end. All three of my brothers died too soon at young ages. I think their only regret, if they had any, was not being able to enjoy watching their grandchildren grow up. I’m sure they are at a place now where they can watch anyway.
I agree with Jim McCarthy in teaching his audience about the importance of appreciating and loving life as it is now. I understand that it’s important to approach life with enthusiasm and to live it as happily as we can. I also think that preparation for the next life should always be included with the life we are living now. Heaven is a place of resplendent glory. Being with Jesus in the glory of heaven is far more superior then this life.
“He indeed died for all so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians: 5:15)
Copyright 2015 Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh
About the Author
Catherine Mendenhall-Baugh (Cathy) completed her education in Special Education and English and now works as an Agent in the Insurance Industry. A mother and Grandmother, Cathy grew up in a large Catholic family and has spent the last 30 years as a caregiver for her husband, Jack. She is a cancer survivor which inspired her to begin writing six years ago.