Today’s post is probably the last thing you would expect to read on a website called Saving Joyfully. After all what is Joyful about the end of life? I have been blessed to learn many important lessons, through individuals whose lives and final days have impacted my own life. These lessons are great reminders that even the end of life can still hold some joy. They also hopefully stand as a reminder today of what should be important in our own lives May we all be thankful today for this gift we have of life, and treasure each moment that remains.

Money has great significance to us in life and many spend their whole lives chasing it. What happens when the end of life is drawing near? Do we have different priorities when either we or our loved ones are faced with the end? So many people have different beliefs on what is important in life and even in death. One thing I have seen in these situations though is that death can bring your whole life into perspective.

Where did I learn these lessons?

I have seen it from both a personal perspective with my own loved ones and also from a healthcare caregivers perspective. I worked for many years in healthcare beginning as a nursing assistant where I watched many people in their final days. My next career was as a medical assistant in a pediatric pulmonary physicians office, and I cared for many very ill patients on a daily basis. More recently I work in medical billing and my current position is actually billing for skilled nursing facilities (nursing homes). I have seen the end of life from both personal and financial standpoints. I can tell you there are certain things that have stood out to me over the years and remained memorable to me.

Some of the things that we prioritize throughout our lives matter very little in our final days. I believe that we can learn a lot witnessing those who are faced with the end. There is a clarity and a wisdom that comes with accepting that your time is drawing near. Not everyone has the luxury of experiencing this in their lifetime. There are some who are taken far too soon and never have this luxury. I really do believe that there are many important lessons that we should all learn from those faced with their final days.

What is most important when you are faced with the end of life?

  1. Relationships…… People typically matter most in our lives especially when we are faced with the end. Life and death seem empty without someone who cares about you. Throughout our lives many of us grow apart from those we love or are faced with differences that separate us from those we once held dear. I have seen so many in their final days and I can honestly say that most have expressed a sincere desire to be with their loved ones they no longer see. Many have warned me over the years that you do not want to neglect your loved ones today because in the end they are the people you will want by your side.
  2. Reconciliation…..Many people have expressed to me over the years that what they really want in their final days is to experience reconciliation. This is a very tough one that many will never have the chance to experience. I can relate to this in my own personal life on so many levels, so please do not think that I do not understand. Reconciliation and forgiveness are a powerful and important thing to most when the end draws near. Seeking reconciliation and closure is so significant to most in their final hours and often to the loved ones involved.
  3. Where are you going?…. In so many people’s lives this is an important question. Some believe in a God and some do not. Many seek answers and often religion in the end of life, because they want to believe that life goes on after death. This becomes extremely important to most people in the end of life. This has been a common desire throughout history, many religions address the end of life in different ways. Hospitals keep chaplains on hand for this very reason to provide peace and comfort to those of various religious backgrounds.
  4. Time….. Just imagine if time is so important to you know won’t it be more important when the end of life arrives? Just imagine how important time will be to you if you have very little time left. If you were faced today with your final moments here on earth, what would you do? How would you spend your remaining time?
  5. Money….. Our finances are not completely unimportant in our final days, in fact it can be even more important to have them in order. Believe it or not money  can still cause stress in our lives in our final days, because we worry about what will happen to our loved ones. Life insurance can help with end of life costs and so can health insurance, but both of these can have their limitations. Health insurance provides for a lot in the end of life, but the amounts covered depend on a lot of factors. Making sure you are financially prepared for the end is very important for you and also for your loved ones. Money has a significant use in the end to provide for immediate needs, cover costs of a funeral and burial and to care for your loved ones after your death.
  6. Minimizing suffering…. This can be anything from mental, emotional and even physical suffering for a person who is nearing the end of life. Money and good healthcare can play a key part in minimizing financial anxiety and also physically pain as a person nears the end. People want to be comfortable and be free of all anxiety in their final days.

I believe we are never more thankful for those who work in the medical profession than in those final days. It is through those days that we are faced with the reality of our situation and our need for their care. We become so aware that we can no longer control what is going on around us. We begin to accept that we are now at the mercy of the nurses, physicians and medical personnel. If you are a medical professional never forget how much what you do matters, especially in the life of someone who has reached their final days.

This post is just reflection of lessons learned, through many wonderful people, whose lives have touched my own life in their final days. I am better for having known these people in my lifetime and to gain this wisdom from them. I am honored to have been a caregiver and even friend to many I may have never known otherwise. My thankfulness challenge during this month has made me increasingly more aware of what I’m thankful for in my life. I am very Thankful for all of the wonderful individuals, who taught me in their own ways what to never take for granted. Today I am thankful for the blessing of life.