How does a dying man find peace?

My dad died last year. He had leukemia back in 2010, then GVH, and his health and life were never quite the same after that.

Now, no one would have ever described my dad as peaceful. Intimidating and insatiable, he was one to race through life in pursuit of whatever he wanted, leaving certain degrees of human wreckage in his wake.

And, yes, we had our share of unresolved issues.

Near the end, everyone always told me, “You have to set things right with your dad before he dies.”

I never really got the chance.

For the last three days of his life, my dad was made completely comfortable and barely conscious in his hospital bed. Tubes and machines slowly pumped breath and fluids through his body; his eyes never opened.

I realized there would be no more communication as I sat and watched him gradually shut down.

But, honestly, I’ve never seen a person in such a peaceful state. He seemed meditative, still, calm, and completely stripped of all concerns. For him, the needless games we all get so used to playing throughout our lives had been brought to a quiet and sudden end.

At that point, nothing unsaid mattered anymore. Any resentment, anger, bitterness, or unrest (on his part) was gone. All unfinished business had faded already to nothing.

I watched a human (like me) return to his primal state and then slip away.

Then my only regret became not having spent a little more time with him at the hospital during those final weeks. But really nothing else—no unsettled scores or frustrations—could matter.

So for those who are or will soon be left behind, it seems unnecessarily harmful and unhealthy to carry animosity toward the dead or dying. Hopefully what their death reveals about the brevity of life can help the living see themselves and their priorities differently.

We’re all just people after all.


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