“As a dying person, what is your advice to the living?”
This is the question posted by Calvin Rosser to the Q&A site Quora after his mum passed away, leading him to think “about how we can best spend our finite time on this planet.”
Hundreds of users from around the world revealed their touching stories and sage advice, sharing the profound impact the knowledge of your impending death has on you.
Here are just a few of the answers.
Heather Johnson was 25 with three small children under seven when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Here’s what she shared.
My advice to those who are living would be to simply ‘play.’ Play and make life fun! Fish, bowl, golf, read, skate, hike, hunt… Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, take time to do it! Don’t take life seriously ALL of the time and reward yourself with what makes you happy.
Mend fences. Say what you need to say. Cherish the LIVING, as if they are gone.. in other words, don’t wait until your mother or fathers funeral to invite guests and give a beautiful eulogy to send them off to the afterlife.. invite guests, throw a party in their honor, and seriously.. seriously… Write and share a living eulogy with them and their friends so they know all of the wonderful ways they’ve touched your life and they will realize what they mean to you while they are living among you today!
Nurture positive relationships and learn how to let go of those who are a negative impact on you. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, be sure to tell intriguing stories of your ancestors and of yourself when you where young so they can pass them on to the next generation.
If someone has hurt you or done you wrong and they apologize, accept it. Don’t leave this earth while another feels guilt or remorse, it’s hard to recover from that.
And once again…. play! Play hard! Laugh! Try new things!
The saying is true that you cannot take your wealth with you when you go. So spend it and give freely. Promote happiness.
Don’t live in fear of dying. Doctors told me I would 25 years ago and I’m still here, laughing and playing.
Ossama Suleiman was told he had six months to one year to live, after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2009. He shares his story.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a grade 4 brain cancer, after surgery the oncologist came back with the sad news that the statistics look quite ugly, he gave me treatments for 9 months, and 6 months to one year to live.
I was engaged preparing to marry in few months. We broke up, I didn’t see why I would leave a widow behind and break her heart.
I had no desire to pursue anything further in life…
It was a time of complete shutdown.
They started to teach me statistics again. An average of 1 year, means some people die in 3 years, while others die in 6 months, and that I should have the positivity to assume I’m on the long term survival side.
By continuing to go to work, I kept myself busy, not thinking too much about my cancer.. I travelled , did some of the stuff I always wanted to do, visited places I always wanted to go.
I started to revisit my friends, hang out with those I really liked, got rid of those who made me feel sad, or felt pity. There are those who just don’t know what to tell you, then it gets awkward…
It is not something you want to talk about with everyone. You want to feel good, and not be down all the time.
I started to be more of a minimalist.. I had no desire in all the nice stuff I had always dreamt of, as My life seemed to come to a stop
However over time.. I started to realize that I’m happier .. I had special concerns for my parents, I started spending more time with my parents. With my family They are the joy of my life.. Too sad I never realized that earlier
8 years later I’m still around, although the cancer hit back several times, and my left side is now paralyzed, I’m still active going to work, participating in charities, trying to keep myself busy and active.
I was 32 when I was diagnosed, now hitting the 40’s I feel more mature, I’m guessing age is an important factor in how we take such news.
After all life goes on, and it is how you take the news that makes all the difference..
Keep busy, don’t let your mind wander too much.. No one knows when you are going to die..
There’s a shock at the beginning, try to pass it, embrace the news and you will feel the tranquility after a while..
My key messages would be:
- no one knows when you are going to die, all doctors have are statistics.
- Happiness is in the small and little things.. Time with family, reading a good book, listening to nice music, enjoying a movie.. Spending time on the beach, watching a sunset, nature, forest , a bird…
- Through charity work I started to appreciate what I have, there are sooo many underprivileged people who would dream of what we take as granted, running water, electricity, food,medicine, family.
- Each night I count at least 10 things I’m grateful for in my life.
- I also started to keep a journal of the things that make me really happy and doing more of that.
Mia Freedman speaks to Gold Logie Winner Samuel Johnson after the death of his sister Connie.
Melody Bertrile, who came very close to death twice in her life – once in a horrific car crash that killed her brother cousin and another time when she developed sepsis after having a c-section birth – had this to say.
Looking back on it today, I have one piece of advice: always, always let the ones you love know that you love them. Because one day you will no longer have them.
Always treat staff of any kind well. Remember their names. Talk to them. Be kind. They might just have the determination to go out of their way to save your life.
Always ensure you have a support system. You never know when something may happen.
Be at peace with everything you do. Make peace with enemies. Make sure you will not regret the last words you said to someone, or their words to you.
Always be saving for medical expenses. Having a cushion there can help you when your life is on the line.
Appreciate everything in life. Got cut off in traffic? That person really needs to get somewhere. Got your order screwed up? It’s ok, they have many things going on, be kind and patient. Made a mistake? It’ll be alright, we’re all human after all.