Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 20 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

What if today was your last day on earth? 


Deliris | Shutterstock

Cecilia Pigg - published on 10/08/19

Ask yourself the following questions, because you never know when it will be too late.

I’ll never forget the last time I saw my Nana alive. My parents and siblings and I were in Arizona, spending time with her and my Grandpa in their home. She had ALS, and it had progressed such that she could no longer talk, eat, or walk on her own.

I was brushing my teeth at the bathroom sink on the last day of our visit. As my Grandpa wheeled her past the bathroom, I came out, toothbrush in hand, and said goodnight again. She smiled big, her mouth filling with saliva bubbles she could not easily swallow, and gave me a tiny nod and wave. A few hours later, I saw the flashing red and white lights of the ambulance through the window of the bedroom I was sleeping in. We got out of bed to say goodbye to her body one last time before they wheeled her away.

Seeing her lying there on her bed, but no longer with us, was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Just a few hours before she was smiling at me, alive. Now, she was gone.

The anniversary of her death is coming up, and it reminds me to take a second to look at my life every year. We are not guaranteed any amount of time on this earth. As Jesus says, you do not know the day nor the hour, so stay awake (Matthew 25:13).

How can we stay awake to what’s important in life?

Take a minute today to think about your death. Not in a morbid or pitiful way, but in an honest, concrete way. You will die. And you don’t know when. So, consider the following questions. If today was your last day on earth, would you be ready to die?

First, here are practical things to focus on for the good of your body:

  1. What do you want your funeral to be like? Think about if you want certain hymns sung or an open casket for visitation.
  2. Where do you want to be buried? If you have a preference of cemetery or who you want to be buried next to, think about that.
  3. Does someone you know and trust know the answers to the previous questions so that they can take care of things for you?

Next, here are practical things to focus on for the good of your soul:

  1. When was the last time you went to confession? Might as well find a time to go this weekend.
  2. Who do you still need to forgive? Now is the time to try to repair relationship; don’t wait another decade.
  3. How much time do you spend on small or petty frustrations throughout the day? If you have a habit of getting too worked up about life’s minor annoyances, put them into perspective today.

There is no time like the present to consider the bigger picture of your life:

  1. Are you living the way you want to be remembered?
  2. What do you spend your time on every day?
  3. What do you wish were different about your life right now?

All of the Halloween decorations starting at us in stores right now makes for a perfect time to do some self-reflection. Memento mori is a Latin phrase that means remember death. That fake skeleton hanging from the window in your neighbor’s house can be a subtle reminder to memento mori. Take stock of your life this week. What you do while you’re alive matters, so make the most of it.


Read more:
The secret to dying well, according to St. Robert Bellarmine


Read more:
The best way to support a friend whose loved one is dying


Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.