03/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Death Makes Life Clear

I just returned to Boston from New York City where I officiated a memorial service for a precious woman who, in my less-than-humble opinion, died too young. She was 39; she left behind an adored husband and two daughters, ages five and two.

The service was what it was meant to be. We remembered and celebrated the important gifts her life gave us. We made space for our longing in the days to come.

Death, whether we like it or not, makes life exceedingly clear.

In the hours after her memorial, person after person came up to me to thank me for what I'd said, and each, in his or her own way, acknowledged that this hastily-ended life make them think about how they are leading their own singular existence here on Earth.

I encouraged everyone present to do something, anything, whatever they could dream up, that was excessively good -- for themselves -- in the memory of our friend.

My message hit home. Several people approached me with business ideas that they'd been considering, but were now determined to pursue.

Others told me they would go into counseling to clear up some mess or other.

Still others said they would pursue artistic endeavors that they'd put off for whatever reason.

Even more told me that they would take a page out of our deceased beloved's book and create a genuine spiritual practice for themselves.

Death makes life so clear.

My heart aches for the family she's left behind, and rejoices in the valuable lesson her life gives all of us: this life that we each lead in this place and this time is the only one we'll get in just quite this format. Live it to the fullest.

Sweet friend, we'll miss you; thank you for teaching us so exquisitely.

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