Final Gifts: Life's final lesson for us all

Oh boy.

Here we go, right?

“The role of death in mentoring”? Will anyone even read this? Will they have nightmares?

I hope not.

In a previous post I shared that, for the last couple of months, I have been training to become a hospice volunteer. One of our assignments was to read a book called “Final Gifts.”

This book, written by hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, chronicles story after story of the final months, weeks, days, and breaths of some of the many patients they have cared for over their careers. You will need kleenex, and that may be off-putting to some.

But you also need this book. We all do.

The truth is, we get more and more detailed instruction for how to drive a car or apply for a credit card than we will ever be offered over the course of our own lifetimes about how to prepare for our own deaths.

Over and over again throughout “Final Gifts,” we witness folks, in their final hours, frightened unnecessarily because no one has ever asked them the question, “Would you like to know what to expect?”

While no one of us can ever know exactly how it will be for us at the time of our death, we can be greatly reassured in knowing what it has been like for others, both the dying and their loved ones, and also for the medical professionals who have cared for them. As I read “Final Gifts”, kleenex in hand, it occurred to me that waking up to the reality of our own death also wakes us up to the reality of our own life, its passing days, its temporal nature, its preciousness.

Learning about death, oddly, makes us feel more alive. Or at least it does for me.

Today’s Takeaway: Death can be an odd subject – we all know it’s coming, we assume it won’t be for awhile yet, we think somehow we will just “be ready” by the time it gets here. But how much better to discover now that, far from being macabre or fearful, learning about our own death can be liberating, joyful, and rather inspiring! This week, consider giving yourself a gift – a “Final Gifts” – to ease your mind and open it at the same time.



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    Last reviewed: 25 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2011). The Role of Death in Mentoring. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from



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Recent Comments
  • Shannon Cutts: You are so welcome, Kristi!
  • Kristi: This is absolutely wonderful. Thank you for writing and sharing this!
  • Shannon Cutts: You are so welcome, Maisen – it just reminds me that we all struggle with something and we all...
  • Spirited Lady: Boy, can I relate to this one Shannon! I would bet most people have an OOPS! in their past of some...
  • Shannon Cutts: You are so welcome, Maisen – it is a joy to share this journey with you! :-)
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