When You Die

In April Walter Bruening, the world’s oldest man, died at the age of 114.  Having seen an entire century unfold he had a lot of wise advice to share.  His last piece of advice is the hardest to swallow but the greatest in importance.

From Walter:

“We’re all going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die.”

I am not even half of Walter’s age but this is a lesson I learned early.  At the age of 17 I had a cardiac arrest.  Since that time I have had a dozen surgeries, been electrically paddled on multiple occasions and had 3 pacemakers.  My heart is electrically challenged!  This makes life very unpredictable.  When my heart is behaving I am normal, when it’s not, it is life threatening.

The one thing that I have learned about life and death is this:

In moments when I have been privileged to peer over the edge of life, never once did I think about the things I had done.  My every fleeting thought was fixated on God and the people I loved.  I can promise you that you can do things without loving a soul, but in the end it will mean nothing to you or to God.

One of these days I’m going to die…and you’re going to die too…and when you do, your family is going to take your body out to the cemetery, lower it into the ground and throw dirt in your face.  Then, they are going to go back home, eat potato salad and talk about your life.  When they do, what will they talk about?  Will they talk about your title or your testimony?  Will they talk about your title  – doctor, attorney, manager, businesswoman?  Or your testimony of how you loved your children, your co-workers, your neighbors?  Will they talk about your title as PTA President, club tennis champion or golfer? Or, your testimony of how you loved the needy in your community?  Will they talk about what you did or how you loved them as you did it?

You will die.  Do not be afraid!  But each and every day remember that this is a day you may not have tomorrow.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • I love this, Susan. I think your writing and your perspective is just blossoming!

  • Mb20lady


  • Teisher

    So very true. Facing a very serious and rare form of cancer, I had a sarcoma tumor the size of a grapefruit between my spine and rectum. This was in 2008, started in January that year and continued on with 5 surgeries, colostomy (not fun), sespus. Etc, etc. I am in clinical remission now and thru that year, included 6 months of chemo, in the hospital one week each month, and several transfusions. My point being I had many opportunities to die but my beautiful family, kept me going especially my daughter and husband who literally saved me. I was afraid to die the first time it came and then soon learned if it was Gods choice, so be it. I am not afraid anymore, but I do take time each day to reflect, go into my garden and pick a boquet…..life is a gift, don’t throw it away!

    • Beautiful! I couldn’t agree more. But could you please pick a bouquet for me tomorrow? My house flooded and it seems like forever that I been able to stop and smell the roses 🙂

  • Shannon McFerren

    My grandmother is 101 and still going strong. Her statement is this: “God must still have a plan for my life if He is keeping me here!” That is amazing to me! She is such an inspiration to us all and the Bible says it best….Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you (Exodus 20:12).

    • Shannon that is exactly what I have thought since the day I had a cardiac arrest – God what is it you still want me to do?

  • Melissaeloe

    Thank you for sharing your “heartfelt” story. You truly are amazing! This really is what it is all about, not our weight, clothes, cars, or homes. Those things are extra, but it is our true selves that matter. what are our true feelings and thoughts? Are they pointed toward God and what we will possess when all else is over? ie. our soul? Thank you for reminding me.
    God bless you and your family,