The Art of Dying

When I first started doing ministry and chaplaincy work, I was faced with my own mortality. It didn’t take long for me to learn that death was real. My first funeral I officiated was my baptism into this new reality. I didn’t realize that the person we were honoring that day–that even their death–they were showing others the gift of life.
When a family member passes away, I encourage the family to remember to live well, working to dignify the way they’re approaching life.

I’ve seen it several times: even people who are young and have been given terminal news, those who have strived to live life withe dignity have a certain type of passing. I honestly can’t explain it.


“The great majority of people do not leave life in a way they would choose. In previous centuries, [people] believed in the concept of ars moriendi , the art of dying…. We live today in the era not of the art of dying, but of the art of saving life, and the dilemmas in that art are multitudinous.

Nuland contends…The dignity that we seek in dying must be found in the dignity with which we have lived our lives. Ars moriendi is ars vivendi : The art of dying is the art of living…. Who has lived in dignity, dies in dignity.”

by Harold Koenig: Dying, Grieving, Faith, and Family: A Pastoral Care Approach

What are some ways that we can enter into the art of dying (so that we can practice the art of living)?

  1. Take responsibility for your inner life, becoming aware of your true self.
  2. Deepen a life of spirituality and purpose (we all have a deep call in our lives)
  3. Love and forgive others well
  4. Take some risks in life that will contribute and make a difference in someone’s life
  5. Take some adventures…just do it

Make an appointment to talk with the Chaplain about these matters. 🙂

Today, may we give ourselves over to the Giver of Life and may we live with dignity and purpose.

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