What Do YOU Want to Do Before You Die?


Many years ago a friend of mine – also in ministry – made a very keen observation which I have never forgotten. Her name is Kymberly, and one day after her parish had celebrated the funeral of one of their parishioners, someone made the comment that Kym was very comfortable ministering to people who were in the midst of grief, people who were wrecked over the loss of their loved one, people who at that time had difficulty putting one foot in front of the other because their eyes had swollen shut from tears.

Later I asked Kym why it was she was comfortable with that part of ministry, and she responded, “because we’re around it all the time.”  Kym was right. For instance, at my last parish, during my final year there I personally presided at 88 funerals, and that did not include the services I did at funeral homes or at graveside for folks who just weren’t comfortable in a church setting. In addition to those 88 funerals in English, our parish also performed funerals for about 45 families from our Spanish-speaking community. (That number of funerals would decimate many small churches I know.)

Somehow between the large number of funerals I have presided at, and coping with the death of my own father and two brothers and other close friends and family members, I have, like Kym alluded to, become oddly familiar with death. As a person of faith, I believe that death is not the end, but a temporary separation and I look forward to that sweet day when I will experience a reunion with those who have gone on before me marked with the sign of faith. This is not to say I don’t grieve. I’m Irish. We Irish people grieve greatly. We may do so with a wicked sense of humor, but still, we grieve.

I’m sure you are familiar with TED Talks. They’re fantastic, aren’t they? I’d like to share a short, six-minute TED Talk with you today. It’s by Candy Chang, and after you watch the video and read the article I think you’ll enjoy asking yourself the same question at the title of this blog:  What Do YOU Want To Do Before You Die?  It’s a great question, isn’t it?  It’s sort of like a bucket-list. Candy did the most amazing thing with her grief, and her simple idea has now touched the lives of more than 2 million people who have watched this talk, as well as countless individuals in 15 languages and 45 countries who have also asked themselves this very good question.

As familiar as I am with death, dying and grief, I have to confess that when I see someone like Candy weep at the very mention of her dear friend Joan, it touches me to the core of my being. God bless all those who love and then lose someone they love. May God heal their brokenness and may we all do all we can to tend to their needs until they can stand on their own again.

So, please think on it; and if you’d care to, share your thoughts: What Do YOU Want To Do Before You Die?

As for me, what do I want to do before I die?

First and foremost, I want to become the person God has created me to be.

And then, before I die I want to: have a family of my own; get a degree in counseling; have a home big enough to share with friends and family; travel to see what God is doing around the world … and  – give a TED Talk! (I don’t know yet what the topic will be, but mark my words, someday I’m gonna do it!)

How’s about you?

Peace friends,


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  • Wynne says:

    I’d love to see your TED talk!

  • Jane Adkins says:

    I can’t think of anything I’d like to do before I die. I’ve been blessed with more than I could ever imagine and I can honestly say “been there, done that” to so many things. I’d always wanted to play piano but maybe I can do that if and when I get to heaven. If I die today I’m “all good”. If God is “all good” with me too than life has been all it should be.

  • Barbara. C. says:

    My grandmother always told me that she had done everything she wanted to do, somethings more than once. She said she had made some mistakes and paid dearly for some of those, but she even enjoyed some of them. She was married six times to five husbands, widowed three times, owned and flew her own airplane from 1927 to 1934, owned at least three businesses and raised me to believe I could do whatever I set my mind to do. In her spirt I presently in Italy with two of my granddaughters celebrating b graduation and a birthday by visiting Venice, Pia and Florence. She would love this!

  • Katie B says:

    Yes, in my Irish Catholic household growing up, the obituary was referred to as the Irish Sports Page.

  • Joan Skiscim says:

    Just finished your inspiring blog. I will have to do some thinking about what I want to do before I die. Actually I have lived through so much, happiness, grief, joy, I guess I would like to be able to comfort those who are suffering the things I have already experienced and let them know they will survive. My favorite expression is “things always work out, it is the getting there that is hard” I hope someone will be there for me in my next trial.

  • Rose says:

    This is so totally brilliant – so thought provoking – life is preparation for death…..
    Before I die, I want to –
    * Love my husband to death 🙂
    * Read all the books on my ‘if I have time’ list
    * Have a house near the water
    * Go back to Florence
    * Be the best friend I can possibly be to my friends

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