“You die the way you live.”

Coming from someone who’s worked closely with, and for, the dying for many years, you’d better believe it.

A lot of times we act as if we’re never going to fall sick. We act as if we’ll stay healthy and young and independent for as long as we wish. We act as if we’re never going to need anyone to help us out, the way our patients do. And many a time we act like death is never coming to us, at least not too soon.

It’s closer than we thought it is, and it may not be as easy as it seems. Shut your eyes and you’re gone, hopefully to heaven.

Working closely with the dying has helped us understand, and at times celebrate, the life that is going to be left behind. Things seemed easy for some, and difficult for others. Quick for some, draggy for others. Peaceful for some, and eventful for others.

It would appear to us as if these are beyond our control.

Some of us believe that we can’t run away from whatever is fated for us. Some others believe in luck. Some believe entirely on hard work and own choices. Well, whatever makes us happy and at peace with life. For me it’s a combination of all three, well not so much on luck maybe. For me all is fated but we still need to work, we still make choices, we still need to think hard and work hard and pray hard too. All in all, we are responsible for our own fate, but we still have to accept that there are so many uncertainties in life.

Choices, eh?

Our line of work made us learn some important life lessons that not many would expect to gain from what most people call a job.

While talking to our patients, their families, a lot of life stories would come out – they would  either help us in managing the patient, planning for their care at home, or the stories would come out because we were the only listening ears they could find.

These are the stories that would help us to be more humble, helpful, generous, thoughtful, and kind. These are the stories that would remind us that we are all human, that we need each other, that one day, one fine day, we might just fall sick and dependent on others. That one day we will need someone to arrange our burial. No matter how strong we are now, at that point of time, we are in someone else’s hands, and we don’t know who that will be.

These are the stories that would tell us not to take things for granted.

Make peace with your loved ones.

Never leave your families behind.

If you’ve been nice to others, life (and death) will be nice to you. Even when your family do not appreciate you, there will be others who would.

Make peace with your family – mum, dad, husband/wife and children, siblings.

Fill everyday with meaning, so that there’ll be no regrets.

Make your brains, hands, legs, senses, and you heart to good use. You’ll never know when you’ll lose them.

Be nice even when people are not nice to you.

Make peace with your family and loved ones.

Smile and make things easy for everyone around you.

Life is not all about money, but you need to save some for your burial arrangements.

Make a will when you are well.

Take care of your loved ones when they are well, not only when they’re sick and unconscious. You can always find another job, but you have only one mum and dad.

Treat others the way you want yourself to be treated.

Empathize.

Make peace with your family and friends.

Make peace with the world too. Life is too short for grudges.

* * *

Things are easier said than done. I know, but it’s our choice.

Oh, and have a good week, everyone.

* * *

P/S; The phrase “you die the way you live” was spoken, frequently, by Dr Richard Lim, aka my boss.

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