In My Own Last Words:
Insights Shared by the Dying
In My Own Last Words is a collection of poignant insights from individuals nearing the end of their lives. This compelling read explores how grief and death can be valuable tools for understanding what is truly important in life. This book reflects on what we can learn from the dying about making the most of our own lives.
Filled with piercing wisdom, In My Own Last Words includes a number of final heart-wrenching thoughts from people dying of COVID-19. These haunting reflections often arrive at moments of exceptional clarity. “In terms of life’s pivotal events,” one contributor states, “you only know much later what they are good for…I’ve often asked myself why we recognize this only in hindsight. Why not earlier, why not at the moment it happens?” She goes on to assert, “Well, life is like that. You must opt for life. Then everything will be okay, no matter what happens to you.”
Ultimately, this book compels readers to take inventory of their own lives and reflect on their values, priorities, and the legacy they want to leave behind. Yet it is impossible to talk about rethinking one’s life without addressing the importance of grieving. In My Own Last Words affirms that when we dare to grieve, we are returning to who we are. It frames grieving as the gateway to implementing the core of what the dying teach us: to live fully.
“There’s no one that this book doesn’t speak to, no one who won’t find value in it for themselves. It should be required reading for everyone over the age of twelve.”
—Andrew Postman, co-author of the bestselling Chasing Daylight
Read an Excerpt from In My Own Last Words:
My Epiphany: Grief is Gold
Not long after I started doing this work, I had an epiphany: Grieving is so much more than just releasing the emotion itself so we can regain the life energy we had before our loss. No, grieving is much more powerful. It holds the potential for great inner transformation. Done properly, it has a life-changing effect. We will not be the same as we were before.
When we give ourselves permission to grieve, we give ourselves permission to become comfortable with the vulnerable, wounded beings we all are inside. Yes, we all are! It’s just that we cover it up with all sorts of different layers of artifice. As scary as grief work feels in the beginning, it is a truly healing experience and utterly rewarding. Believe me, I have done it.
First and foremost, having the courage to feel pain, to cry, to truly mourn what we have lost, is the number one doorway back to our truest selves—and as a consequence, to others. All of a sudden, we become able to connect with others around us on a more profound level than ever before and develop unprecedented closeness. Grief reunites us. It rebuilds communion and community. And isn’t that what we need to do anyway?
Secondly, it has a powerful cleansing effect. Just as we cleanse our bodies from the outside, grieving cleanses our souls from the inside. It is an exhausting process, but as it progresses, it refills us with an indescribable energy of fullness, consciousness, and clarity. And it is in that transcendence when the new can arise, and we feel how we can create from a more powerful place than before.
Ultimately, when we stop sidestepping grief but choose to move through it, we allow ourselves to deepen and ripen. To see life through the lens of its essence. It is from that new inner place that we can then focus on redefining and realigning our values, diminishing our regrets, and living with a deepened sense of meaning.
Grief, this unwanted emotion, has the power to deeply transform us. It is gold.