No one wants to die alone. It may feel a bit morbid, but thinking about your last earthly days is one of the most clarifying questions any one of us can ask.

The truth is there are only a very few people who are likely to be there when you take your last breath. And unless you don’t want anyone around at all, wouldn’t it be wise to invest most now in the people who are likely to be there at the end? Who will be around you on your deathbed?

For many years I worried a great deal about what everybody else thought of me: teachers, employers, classmates, coworkers, patients, friends, and business contacts. It’s right to treat all these people well, kindly, and with respect. But almost all of them are only in your life for a short time. And that’s OK.

Recognizing how temporary most relationships are is both freeing and sobering.

It’s freeing because you don’t need to worry too much about the opinion of short-term people – at least not as much as we often do. Even those people who said or did something to hurt you are probably out of your life now, or may be in the near future. The wounds take time to heal, but those people only have as much power as we give them.

The popular classmate, the girl or guy who wouldn’t give you the time of day, the customer who wouldn’t buy from you, the employer who treated you badly, the teacher who gave you a bad grade, the neighbor who let his trees drop limbs on your driveway – none of them will be around when it matters most.

On the other hand, such a thought is sobering because it’s so easy to invest too little in the few people who WILL be there at the end. Close family and perhaps one or two close friends – that’s it. Does anyone else really matter nearly as much? If everyone else hated you, but the two or three people you cared most about thought the world of you, wouldn’t that be OK?

The legacy we leave, the impact of the totality of our lives, the people we touch (for good or for ill) – these are the only things that will really matter when everything else is over.

Here’s a simple exercise:

  1. Imagine the last day of your life. It probably won’t end up being exactly the way you imagine it, but think about it anyway. How do you feel? Who is there with you? Who do you wish was there with you?
  2. Think of the people who are around you on that day. It won’t be many: it may well be one, or three, or a few. Write down their names.
  3. Invest in those few people today! How does your schedule need to change in order to do so? How do you need to treat them differently? Have you told them “I love you” TODAY?

Is God on your short list? I hope so. Make sure He is, and invest in your relationship with Him today.

And for your spouse, your children, other close family, or a very close friend, make sure they KNOW how important they are to you. Let the other stuff go; you can’t take it with you anyway.

As the six-year-old little girl said, “If you love someone, hurry up and show it.”

Your Turn: Who will be around YOUR deathbed? How can you invest in those relationships today? Leave a comment below. 

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