You are dying. Live like it.

What if you knew you were going to die this year. Would that change the way that you lived?

Would you make different choices and decisions in your family because you knew there was an end?

I stood in the high school gymnasium bleachers, chatting with a friend about our plans for the upcoming winter break. She said their family was booked to go on a cruise but that there was a basketball game scheduled now, so they didn’t think they were going to be able to go.

I asked her, “if you knew you were going to die soon would you go on the cruise?”

Yes. All day long yes.

Because high school basketball isn’t what’s really important in the scheme of life.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that my kids are committed to their sports and that they have the health and ability to be a part of this culture. I love what they gain through sport and being a part of a team, but I don’t agree with it always taking first place in our lives.

When push comes to shove we must choose our family once in awhile.


Otherwise you miss out on this. There were many reasons to say no to taking this trip to Hawaii in October. Staying connected as a family is a priority for us, so we needed to say yes.

We must consciously think of the end of our lives. Will we remember that game our kid played in or will we remember that memorable vacation we all spent together? When my son is on that court and I’m in the stands, I am supporting him but not connecting with him. There’s a big difference and it’s why we need to recognize when it’s time to say yes to our family team.

Maybe we shouldn’t go away because we will have to miss our kids activities or because money is tight. But, we will never regret saying yes to our family adventure in the end.

We’ve got it all wrong that we feel more dedicated and tied to our kids activities, teams and coaches than we do to our own family members. 

I don’t know if my friend’s son is a star basketball player or not. I don’t know if he plays the entire game or sits the bench. Perhaps the team really needs him for the win, but in the same breath why do we hesitate to let the team down over letting our own family down?

Then she says, we could save money by not going on the cruise too. True. We can always save money and sometimes it’s necessary to do so.  Other times we use that as an excuse to stay put because it’s easier.

I said to her, “you can’t take the money with you when you die either.”

We like to use excuses to live small. Oh we have basketball. We shouldn’t spend the money. We shouldn’t do this and we shouldn’t do that. Says who? Our lives become entrapped by all the shouldn’ts that we tell ourselves not to do. These excuses we live by will be the regrets that we will have in the end.

Try running decisions in your life through the filter of if I were to die tomorrow, is this how I want to live today?

I know it’s not comfortable to think or talk about our own mortality, but we need to remember that death is inevitable. It’s one thing that we all have in common, we’re just not sure of God’s timing. Perhaps the phrases- life is short and You Only Live Once are cliché but they are most certainly truth.

That family didn’t end up going on the cruise and the team lost by over 20 points. Guess what? My friend said they should’ve gone on that cruise.

We only get one shot at this day. This week. This month. This year. Say yes to your adventure. You will never regret doing that.


7 replies
  1. Becky Wells
    Becky Wells says:

    LOVE this article and message 🙂 I always ask my self in stressful situations, what would my death bed future self tell me. This perspective always helps snap me back into reality and focus on what’s really important. Thank you for all your inspiring words and love. So grateful we are connected 🙂 XO

  2. PTHammonds
    PTHammonds says:

    My good friend lives like this and lost her daughter at age 19. They have zero regrets in life and have tons of memories of adventures they had as a family–and continue to have with their son. Good reminder for us all, as I contemplate planning a summer vacation or a home reno project. I’m thinking the vacation will win.

  3. Diane
    Diane says:

    This is SPOT ON. I argue with parents all the time who lives are completely ruled by sports. Seriously? It’s ridiculous that schools/coaches think this is IT. And it’s worse when parents fall for it.

  4. Becky R.
    Becky R. says:

    I agree about living life as if you didn’t have much time left. And of course family time is important, and sports are ridiculous to give priority to over our family. BUT… When we sign up to be on a team, we do so as a commitment to each team member to practice, and have specific positions to play that were practiced together. When someone doesn’t show up, the team is handicapped. It happens when someone is injured or sick, but for someone to not show up because that player’s family suddenly decides to go on vacation? it harms the team. And poor example for our kid. It teaches our child that commitments are less important than fun stuff. Future commitments like unfulfilling job, struggling marriage, regretted promises – there should be a pattern of sticking to it. And team- not necessarily sports. Robotics Team, Odyssey of the Mind, Debate – each team member critical. School orchestra – there’s plenty of violinists, but what if the only Bass player or harp player’s family decided – family time first. ..sorry such a long post, but I’ve been in too many volunteer “teams” situations where people bail out for fun – leaving the rest of us overworked. Happening right now.

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      This is a great and truthful response! This is the struggle- balancing our commitments to all of our ‘teams’ in life. I don’t at all believe in spontaneous vacationing and leaving a team high and dry. I do believe that during a long sports season (8 mos.- year round) we should plan a family break if we need it. Our spring break is coming up and we are staying put to not miss high school baseball, hockey, soccer and whatever else the kids have, because we did take off for October break. It is very different for my son who is in band and debate, as he cannot miss his competitions because his presence is critical like you said. Oh, the joy of the juggle 🙂 As long as family time is part of the juggle and that the kids don’t look back on their childhood and all they can remember doing is organized activities. Thanks for reading and commenting Becky!


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