The Art of Dying Well

Fall is probably my favorite season. I love the leaves on fire (figuratively speaking), the cool air drifting across the city, and especially, the warm satisfying taste of a pumpkin spice latte. There’s a crisp smell in the air and a feeling of imminence. It’s odd sense that, even as many parts of the natural world are falling asleep, something else is waking up at the same time.

This year, the onset of fall is drawing my mind to the correlations between the leaves falling and trees “dying,” and the natural mortality that we all face. Morbid? Maybe. But I was recently followed on twitter by @CalebWilde (who I promptly followed back), and his specialized field of work intrigued me and drew me into many of these thoughts. Caleb is a funeral director and he punningly describes himself on his twitter profileĀ as “the last person to let you down.” You can read his blog here and he’s got some great thoughts about the thin veil between life and death.

But the question that came to me is, why do we so strongly avoid this topic? Is it possible to discover the art of living well, without also coming to terms and learning to excel in the art of dying well? I think of Blackberry, the cell phone company that was once popular and is now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and irrelevancy, and I ask myself, do we let things in our lives go through seasons? Even seasons of death? Is it possible that there is a time for things we love and embrace with passion to ebb and fade away, not with tenacious clinging, but with a grateful farewell empowered by a continuing grace?

Our stuff won’t last. The church sign in front of your preferred house of worship won’t last. Maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe some things are powerful and good, but intended only for a season, then ready to be passed on to the new seeds of the Spirit’s innovation. Can we find life, even in a season of death?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, …

Ecclesiastes 3

Breathe in the air. Something’s dying. But something greater is coming to life. We are people of the resurrection. But resurrection has death as an absolute requirement.

Maybe our lives work the same way.


What are you holding on to that may have been meant for a season? Relationships? Positions or titles? Or something else?