My client, although in his eighties, had the body structure of a man in his twenties. He had been a long distance runner before death: a Hall of Famer. His limbs and torso were lean and limber, his skin lacked the usual sagging and spots of aging, and his posture was straight and narrow. As I prepared him for his services, I marveled at how well he had preserved the coveted fountain of youth.
I reflected upon his habits. He had obviously consumed a very healthy balanced diet without the absurdities of fast food and sweets, maintained a code of health excluding the life-shortening effects of smoking, drugs, or alcohol, and he had practiced a rigid schedule of conditioning and competitions. It caused me to evaluate my own code of health commitments.
Due to my work, I am bombarded with the realities of one’s choices upon death. My husband often quotes my philosophy that “We choose our death.” There are, in some instances, circumstances beyond our control, however, more often than not; we do indeed choose our deaths.
We may not have had honest conversation with ourselves at 16 years of age about the cancer that would follow our choice to smoke; cirrhosis that would follow our choice to consume alcohol; addiction with our choice to consume illegal drugs; auto accidents from our choice to drive distracted; heart disease due to inactivity; high blood pressure due to obesity; skin cancer due to overexposure; murder due to compromising our safety by being in dangerous places, having dangerous associates, or being unaware of our surroundings; etcetera. Yet, when it comes to the day that we lay on an embalming table, the facts are undeniable: most people chose their deaths.
My client, however, chose life. In his eighties, he suffered a stroke. Had he not lived so healthily, perhaps he would have died at a much younger age or of some dreadful disease. Instead, he lived actively until the end, and death was kind to him. He did not linger through pain and suffering, his family was not called upon to witness a loss of dignity, he passed quickly as he retired for the evening.
I have thought about this all week. In fact, I went out straight away and purchased a membership to the health club for my husband and me for our Valentines Day gift. Is there any better gift than an extension of life through health, and a kinder death through conditioning? Over the last several years, we have implemented more healthy choices in our diets and we have both sustained substantial weight loss. Since nearing our sixties, however, we have let our activity commitments slide. Inactivity is a dreadful practice for anyone hoping to enjoy his or her end of life years.
My client, without knowing it, revealed the coveted secrets to the glorious Fountain of Youth while laying on my Texas Funeral Home embalming table. He has renewed my quest for the elusive, but not impossible, youthful benefits found in good health habits. Please join me in my quest for better and extended health along with a kinder passage into death.
Tracy Renee Lee,Managing Funeral Director of Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City, Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and Certified Grief Counselor. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.