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Finding Joy At The End of Life

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Finding Joy At The End of Life

Soothing music for a dying lady.
Bronnie  Ware
Bronnie Ware More by this author
Nov 17, 2013 at 09:00 AM

Grace shared many stories with me; reflecting on her life, of the children growing up, the neighborhood changing, then often back to her dying regret. She wished she’d had the courage to live a life true to her own heart, not the life others expected of her. When there is limited time left, there is little to lose by being totally honest. What we share with each other now was straight to the core of important things. There was no idle chatter anymore as all of the subjects covered were deeply personal. Opening up to Grace was unexpectedly very healing for me and my listening ear became healing for her.

The Power of Music

Eventually we also came onto the subject of where my life was now, my musical directions, and how I had started to write songs and perform. Over a cup of tea, Grace insisted I bring my guitar to work the next day and play her something, which was an absolute pleasure for me. With a heart of happiness, I sang to Grace as she smiled and hummed, sitting up in her bed. She embraced every song I shared, receiving them as if each one was the best song in the world. Her family too came to hear some of them and was equally beautiful and supportive. One song in particular Grace absolutely loved, as she had always wanted to travel. It was called “Beneath Australian Skies.”

After that day, she would ask me to sing to her regularly. There was no need for a guitar Grace had said. So I’d sit there in her bedroom, singing to this delightful little lady, as she closed her eyes smiling, absorbing everything I sang. Songs were requested over and over and I never tired of singing them to her.

Finding Joy in Difficult Times

Each day Grace’s health deteriorated. She was not able to walk well now and though Grace had accepted the commode by the bed, she refused when it came to her bowel movements. She wanted to use a proper toilet so I didn’t have to clean the commode. There was no budging her on this, even when I tried to assure Grace it was no big deal for me to do. So ages passed as we made our way to the bathroom, which thankfully was next to her bedroom. She was very weak. When the business was done and she was clean, I assisted her with standing up then pulled her underpants back up. Balancing her while doing the undies thing had to be quite a swift move.

As we then started our hike back to the bedroom, Grace leaning on her walking frame and me following, holding her hips, I noticed that in the rush I had tucked a little of her nightdress into the back of her underpants. Smiling at this dear little woman in her last days, tottering back to bed, I was then overwhelmed with joy as she started to sing “Beneath Australian Skies” as she walked. A few of the words were in the wrong places, but that just made the moment even more endearing.

I knew then that I had just experienced the high point of my musical career. Nothing that could ever happen again would ever top the joy I experienced at that moment. If I never wrote another song it would not have bothered me. To have brought this dear person so much pleasure through my music, and to then receive that pleasure back by hearing her singing my song in her final days, opened my heart more than anything I had ever hoped for musically. 

 Excerpted from The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware. Copyright ©2012 (Hay House).

About Author
Bronnie  Ware
Bronnie Ware is a writer, singer/songwriter, and songwriting teacher from Australia. Continue reading