Death Comes Calling

This week our friend Bruce contacted us to say his dear wife of thirty plus years had died suddenly the day before.  He didn’t give many details and when I offered our phone numbers to call us, he said he was just too broken right now. 

              The next night I got a call from a former member of the church I came from to accept the Montana pastorate.  He was calling from the hospital with seven blockages in his heart and awaiting surgery the next morning.  In such moments, it can seem like death is stalking you.

              The next day I got a text from a hospice chaplain that one of our church members who has long been in nursing home care was “imminent,” death expected within hours.  When I went to the nursing home, the woman had died not long before I arrived. 

              Somehow these events combined have weighed on me.  I came across the phrase in a poem “the obesity of grief.”  How descriptive of the heaviness, the immensity of loss. 

              Whenever I think of death or the inherent grief,  I think of the poet John O’Donohue, who spoke so eloquently and wisely about those experiences.  I share with you “For Death,” which he penned:

For Death

By John O’Donohue

“From the moment you were born,
your death has walked beside you.
Though it seldom shows its face,
you still feel its empty touch
when fear invades your life,
or what you love is lost
or inner damage is incurred…

Yet when destiny draws you
into these spaces of poverty,
and your heart stays generous
until some door opens into the light,
you are quietly befriending your death;
so that you will have no need to fear
when your time comes to turn and leave,

that the silent presence of your death
would call your life to attention,
wake you up to how scarce your time is
and to the urgency to become free
and equal to the call of your destiny.

That you would gather yourself
and decide carefully
how you now can live
the life you would love
to look back on
from your deathbed.”

May we indeed be called to attention, gather ourselves and decide carefully how we can live in this present moment.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  I once attended a workshop where we were instructed to imagine ourselves at 80. (Amazing how that doesn’t feel so very far away now. At the time I was 36).  We were to consider receiving some message, some wisdom, from our 80 year-old selves.  I remember the message I understood, both startling and comforting, was “Thank you for doing the things you needed to do so that I can look back on my life now with a sense of satisfaction and gratitude.”  I did and I can.

5 thoughts on “Death Comes Calling”

  1. Oh Kate, this is so meaningful and resonates with me in a very personal way. Moving to Florida, after a near death experience, was one such life change that came from our desire to live a life of joy and adventure. We want to use our time in meaningful ways that are challenging, joyful, and to be explorers of the wonders in the world around us. Most of all, we want to share our lives with others who have the same desire. It’s one reason we love you and Terry so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Kate, for sharing that beautiful poem. Pausing to recognize death as our walking companion, and even more frighteningly the companion of those we most love, always opens my eyes to the potential joy within each day if only I recognize it. Ironic that O’Donohue died of a sudden cardiac event at relatively young age preventing him from the opportunity to reflectively “look back” from his own deathbed. I’m grateful for his, and your, words encouraging me to live well and find joy today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really heartbroken when I learned that he had died. He was such a light in the world. I’m grateful that I stumbled onto him at an Evolution of Psychotherapy conference. I have the CDs of his reading his poetry that just warm my heart…..


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