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I’m taking a life span development class this quarter. Next week is our last week of classes, and so, because we’ve been working through the life span chronologically, we spent yesterday evening talking about death and dying – and our own, in particular.

I suppose there is something strange about me, in that I enjoyed the intensity of that class vastly more than the kegger I abandoned to attend it. But this is beside the point.

What was interesting is that we took a survey at the beginning of the class. It was about 10 pages, and consisted of questions such as “How would you prefer to die?” and “Where would you prefer to spend your last days?” (each of these were followed by a list of ten or so options, to be ranked in order by the surveyee), along with queries about wills, eulogies, questions about what ought be done with your body, and personal beliefs about what, if anything, happened to you once you died. We all filled out our responses, and then had an open discussion about the sort of issues that were raised by the process. Needless to say it was a powerful three hours.

One of the things I most personally enjoyed, though, was noting my own reaction to the survey. I’d filled out an identical form before I started working with the Centre for Living with Dying, and my reaction then was one of severe discomfort. I didn’t allow myself to think too deeply about that many of the questions, and dashed off a series of poorly-thought-out responses to what I thought about euthanasia and my wishes about life support. It was fascinating, and humbling, to see what an impact grief counseling has had on my reactions and wishes.

I won’t go into that here, but I did want to recommend looking at something like this.

What would you want to happen if you got in a car accident on the way home tonight and ended up on life support? How would you want to be remembered? What regrets would you have? Who would take over your obligations?

I love how this topic makes my heart feel so full that my throat chokes. It reminds me to tell people I love them more often. It reminds me how small my own life is, and how fragile, and how important it is not to squander it.

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