Oct 26, 2008

Death and Gratitude

It seems that out of everything, comes something good.

I attended the funeral of my brother-in-law this week. During the sermon, his past life was recalled. Where he was born, his high school, his military experience, his occupation. The pastor went on to discuss the things that he enjoyed in life. What his favorite hobbies were. How he loved farming, and enjoyed looking at the sunsets. The time he spent with his kids, the vacations, the trials, the joys. I was amazed at how little I knew about my brother-in-law!

Many times we don't slow down enough to appreciate the life of those we care about.

I was reminded of my own pain, the pain of my son's death some 25 years ago. I will never,- ever forget the pain of holding my dying son in my arms. Seeing his face, stroking his hair... I'll never forget the last time his eyes looked at me as if to say, "it's okay, dad!"

I will never forget, that as my son's life drifted away, the world kept going. People kept going about their daily routines. As I drove home from the hospital, I remember people cutting others off in traffic and honking their horns. Did they really appreciate the gift of life they still had?

This was a life-changing event that I will be eternally grateful for. Looking back on my son's death is hard, but seeing what came to me because of that event, I can see that I'm truly blessed.

Before my son's illness, I was consumed in the material world. I went to work to make as much money as I could, to buy material things that I would soon become disappointed with. And the cycle would start anew. I did not take time to appreciate all that I had. Not a single moment. I was seeing happiness in how much I could achieve, acquire and consume.

My son Matthew's death opened my eyes and changed my life forever. I began to see life differently. Matthew showed me how to appreciate every moment of life. I enjoy every new day, every sunset. I appreciate those lives I encounter. It was by slowing down and appreciating, that I found the greatest gift of life- gratitude!

Gratitude has enabled me to live a fulfilled, happy life.

Another's death is our opportunity to appreciate and enjoy everything that we've been given. Death, though final, gives new life to those who survive. If we live a life of gratitude,- abundance and joy will be ours.


I will always be grateful.

Thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for the beauty of all natural things.

Thank you for the people I will encounter this day. Thank you for all the things that I will learn from them, and for the joy they will bring into my day.

Thank you for my family. Thank you for my wife who has brought me countless joys. Thank you for my children, who without, my life would be incomplete. Thank you for all the laughs and conversations. Thank you for the trials and what we have learned from them.

Thank you for who I am. Thank you for the talents you have given me. Thank you for the experiences that my talents have brought me.

I will always be grateful.

Thank you for the gift of life.

Should I no longer be able to work, I will be thankful for all of the talents I was given.

Should I no longer be able to walk, I will be thankful for all the times I was able to run, jump and laugh.

Should I no longer be able to see, I will be thankful for all the beautiful sights I’ve seen.

Should I no longer be able to feel the wind on my face, or feel the warmth of the sun, I will be thankful for days that I was given to enjoy.

Should I no longer be able to be with a loved one, I will be thankful for all of the precious moments we had together.

And on my deathbed, I will be thankful for the wonderful life I was blessed with.

I will always be grateful.


Gratitude is a gift that can not ever be taken from us. It helps us to appreciate what others that have died, have done for us. It helps us to remember the special moments and joys that the deceased have brought into our lives. Through gratitude, our loved ones never die, but live on forever in our memories and prayers of thanks.

Thank you my son Matthew, for showing me the gift and joys of gratitude.

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