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In the Lion King, the theme song The “Circle of Life” reminds us that life presents unexpected challenges and difficulties. Yet, it also offers opportunities for great hope and optimism, so be happy. Don’t worry. Live life to the fullest. We’re encouraged to celebrate the circle of life. However, we oftentimes shun stages of the final cycle of life within that circle. We hope at conception. We rejoice at birth. We coach and admonish and shape courses throughout life. Yet, we avoid and hope to postpone aging. We ignore and deny as long as we possibly can that final venture of the cycle of life–death. 

 

Joys of Aging

Billions of dollars flood the markets regarding preserving youthfulness—cosmetic surgery and supplements and fitness programs bombard media on every front. Why do we spend vasts amounts of money to live longer yet look younger? Most of us want to live long lives without any evidence that we’ve made such a trek. It’s an oxymoron on every level. Consider how the joys of aging sing from every wrinkle that reflects happy days filled with giggles and smiles. Consider how the deferred joys of aging whispers from deep furrows engraved on foreheads burden with sobs and tears. There’s joy in sharing the story behind each marking that salutes our age. There’s joy in living long enough to snatch moments of our former selves. We smile. We cry. We grimace, yet we’re grateful to have lived long. Longevity is a blessing, so let’s embrace all that comes along with it. In the words of my Aunt Frances, “Aging is no fun, but I’m glad to be here.” Yes, we’re here for just but so long–some long, some short, some but a few moments.

 

Why is Talking About Dying So Uncomfortable?

If you’re a Treky, you know all about the “final frontier.” That realm that waits beyond our here-and-now summons each of us commencing from our first breath. The voyage of the cycle of life travels toward its final destination. Since we know these truths to be self-evident, why do we wrestle with it so much? It doesn’t matter how many days or years we’ve lived; for most, it’s never enough. Suppose we are fortunate enough to accept that death is an essential step in our sojourn. On the other hand, we may struggle with convincing family and loved ones to help usher us into that space beyond time as we know it. It’s awkward, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The mission for many people of faith encompasses the goal of every Star Trek voyage: “to boldly go where no one has gone before.” So, let’s get comfortable and talk about it. Because I assist families with writing last stories and preparing for their end-of-life services, I’ve become very comfortable discussing death, that final cycle of life. My mother-in-law used to say, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

 

Prepare for End of Life

If we’ve lived well, death becomes a solemn reward. If our bodies become riddled with pain, death serves as a peaceful respite. Suppose we believe there is another frontier beyond the borders of this present cycle of life. In that case, we won’t need to avoid that final cycle of life with terror and dread. For Christian believers, Scripture reminds us “…to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” The main point here: Death is a vital part of the cycle of life while we eagerly fulfill our role in the circle of life, so why not make peace with this undeniable reality? I don’t suggest that we drudge through life morosely. On the contrary, live a life full of joy. Hakuna Matata–Be happy for the rest of your days. Don’t worry. Just prepare for the inevitable end of your days.

 

Here’s to facing the final cycle of life with confidence and readiness.

 

Live Long and Prosper

 

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