"People facing death can be our greatest teachers. Their lessons may not come with lightning speed or in conventional ways. But they often come straight from the heart, and are more lasting than any other lessons we can learn"
Patti Moore, APRN, RN
This quote is from my book No Mission No Margin: Creating A Successful Hospice With Care and Competence and it jumped out at me today. My 35 years of hospice work has exposed me to many, many people who knew they are facing death. Each person gave me something to add to how I wanted to LIVE my life and I say a prayer for them, my unintentional teachers.
This past weekend was filled with tragedy. I heard of my colleague and friend Kathy Brandt's death. Kathy dedicated her entire professional life to hospice and palliative care and served in many national roles. Kathy made a difference on a grand scale. When Kathy discovered she had terminal cancer she chose QUALITY over QUANTITY of life and refused invasive treatments. Then she took perhaps her greatest and most courageous act, she wanted the world to see what living with dying was like so Kathy and her wife and son chronicled her last months of life on her Face Book page. Kathy continued to teach us even in her death. Her obituary will be in the New York Times this weekend. I honor her, my intentional teacher.
I and much of the nation continue to grapple with the recent senseless massacres in El Paso and Dayton. My heart is heavy as I hold space there for those who were killed wishing they somehow could know that they have positively impacted the world. In death, they have (sadly once again) forced us as a nation to examine our conscience of what we will and will not tolerate. Each of us must consider what we want to put out into the world. I choose kindness and love and resolve, I choose to have no regrets and to life life as fully as I can each day to honor those unintentional teachers.
I challenge you to take some extra time in the coming weeks and offer more kindness, less judgement, more smiles and hugs and laughter and less anger and frustration and impatience to those you love and even total strangers. Because we are all connected whether we acknowledge it or not. Be the teacher, intentional or not, show the world what you are made of.