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What a small town obituary writer learned about living by Matt Davis

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/20/15

This is something to read and share—and, I suspect, there is abundant material here for a good homily.

From Huffington Post:

In the healthiest sense possible, Heather Lende has an intimate relationship with death.

Portgreenbackdrop-largeShe is the longtime obituary writer in her small Alaska hometown of Haines, having memorialized some 400 departed locals, neighbors, friends. She volunteers at the hospice center, and had her own close brush with oblivion. Ten years ago, Lende was hit by a truck while bicycling; the vehicle ran over her torso and crushed her pelvis. She was lucky to survive.

By no means has proximity to death stifled her life. Lende is a cheerful mother and grandmother, a gifted writer and author of multiple books, a performer in the local theater and a community volunteer.

Her latest book, out April 28, is “Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer.” We spoke with Lende for Sophia, a HuffPost project to collect life lessons from accomplished people.

She shared 10 key insights she’s learned from her years of observing people living well and dying well, too.

You’ll want to read what she has to say, with such insights as “The under-appreciated joy of ordinary days” and “At the end, sometimes there’s just time. Be present for it.”

One example:

I met a woman who was a hospice volunteer. She was older, so a lot of the people she was working with were her friends. I said, how do you do it sometimes? She said, I tell myself before I walk in the door that it is good that I’m there — and then I try to make it so.

This didn’t make the book; I could never quite articulate how to say it. But I think that’s so important. I’ve started to do this. I’ll look around the room and I’ll think to myself, “Well, it’s good that I’m here.” And then I’ll think, “How is it good that I’m here? There must be something good I can do for these people in this room at this moment. If I just wait, maybe it’ll happen.”

There’s something to that. I wish there was a simple way to find the good around you all the time. But life is more complicated than that, and the way we live it is.

But if we consciously catch ourselves when we’re in one of those grumpy, nothing-is-going-right moods, and say, “Wait a minute. What can I do here to make this situation better?” And often turning towards making it better for someone else, in one of those backdoor kind of ways, it makes it better for you.

Also, check out Heather Lende’s blog.

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