Alan Frischer, MD, MPH
Updated: Sep 26, 2021
I recently spent time with a longtime friend who is now actively dying. It was a stark reminder that this gift called “life” is short and precious. I am in a profession where I am reminded of this every day. I truly understand my patients, family, and friends when they express how difficult it is to lose a loved one. I want to make it clear to you all that, despite my years of experience, I have no secret methods for coping. My style is to get sad and teary-eyed.
What particularly inspired me about my friend is that he stated, with great conviction, that he was ready to go. Throughout his life, he had built a solid community around him, and had spiritual faith, a strong family, and helped others whenever he was able. He reminded me that one day, when it is my time, I will also go. So let me pass along that very reminder to all of you: one day you will also go. The last I heard, none of us are getting out of here alive.
Wonderful people visit my office regularly with illnesses that can be quite serious. They also see me with more mundane personal, work and family issues. We all tend to get lost in coping with day-to-day life. Meanwhile, that simple, precious gift of life can slip by.
Please stop and take a moment to ask yourself what it is you want out of life. If that isn’t the path you are on, I urge you to do your best to actively make changes. Whatever direction you take, life is filled with constant growth that includes major failures, triumphs, joys, frustrations, disappointments, hope, and love.
Let me pass along another suggestion; one that I heard long ago, and still feel is brilliant: write your eulogy today. How will people think about you after you go? How do you want them to remember you? Did you actively participate in your family and in your community to make them a better place? Did you gain the respect of young and old? Did you reach out and help the less fortunate when you could? Did you learn your own lessons of patience, tolerance, and love? Did you spend a lifetime continuing to learn new knowledge and skills? In the end, did you find plenty of things that brought you joy and happiness?
I want to thank my old friend for being a teacher to me during his final chapter of life. It is worth remembering why we are here. Let’s make a promise, today, that life is meaningful and worth the sometimes impossible journeys that face us. Let’s make our world and our life a better and more joyous place in which to live.