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Can you die happy?

Henri Nouwen observed, “Dying is about giving yourself away, trusting yourself to God.” Embracing the reality of our eventual death gives context to our loss and suffering and frees us to truly live. My mentor, Andrew Shearman, loves to ask the question, “Can you die happy?”  The question…
By Seth Barnes

Henri Nouwen observed, “Dying is about giving yourself away, trusting yourself to God.”

Embracing the reality of our eventual death gives context to our loss and suffering and frees us to truly live.

My mentor, Andrew Shearman, loves to ask the question, “Can you die happy?” 

The question contains a paradox. Death is something most people dread. Funerals are generally dreary affairs. To die happy runs against that grain; how does a person actually do that?

Certainly all of us who have made Jesus our Lord and expect to go to heaven can die happy in anticipating that, but dying happy also has to do with fulfilling your purpose on earth. Too many of us allow circumstances and societal expectations to dictate our life path. We run from the very risks that have the potential to liberate us to find and fulfill our purpose in life.

St. Francis took mad risks, leaving a life of luxury to follow Jesus as a radical. At the end of his life he said, “I have done what was mine to do; now you do what is yours to do.”

The question is, “What is yours to do?” That is the key to dying happy. And I think it looks like this picture of my daughter Emily and her pals – I think this is the kind of bust-a-gut joy Jesus wants us to have as we sync up with what is ours to do in life.

Dan Allender says, “For most people, living well means simply doing our best according to the standards of our culture. Am I really willing to move toward the kind of meaning that far exceeds being a ‘good’ person? Am I ready to embrace the true meaning of my life and lead a wildly full ending?”

I admit, I personally seem to struggle with this issue every day of life. We’re such a reality-based, rationally-driven culture. Here are my best efforts at answering the question in past blogs.

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