Before I Die

“Life is brief and tender. Thinking about death clarifies our life.” ~Candy Chang

Death may seem closer as we age, but the truth is that any of us could die at any time with no warning and no time to do the things that we truly want to do, want to give, want to say …

Last month, I went to the Heartwood Retreat Center with several women friends, where we had an opportunity to write on a huge outdoor chalk board, “BEFORE I DIE I Want to…”*

It gave me pause for reflection. What if this day, this moment were my last? Would I choose to experience it differently? I realized that while there are things on my list that I would love to do and 20170304_162735I hope that I have time to do them, overall I feel peaceful and happy with my life as it is.

This story is an inspiring way to live: One day, as St. Anthony was hoeing in his garden, someone came up to him and asked: “What would you do if you were told that you would die tomorrow? Without hesitation, he replied: “I would continue hoeing in my garden.”

Thinking about death, calmly accepting that all that I am and all that I have could be gone in a moment has become a way for me to check in to the present moment and ask whether I am happy and content with what I am doing or with whom I am with NOW.

My partner Francesco, who experienced a death consciousness at an early age due to the loss of his father and several friends, created a sense of urgency to live his life exactly as he wants to. He asks himself: “How and with whom do I want to spend my precious, finite time? Am I living my passion? If the answer is no, then how can I change my life so that I am living in my truth?”

While I can’t recall being fearful of dying, I do experience angst over the thought of losing someone I love, especially my parents who are now in their late 80’s. I can’t imagine a world without them, nor of those I hold dear in my heart. But all I can really do is live fully in the moment and be grateful for every single day.

When I become aware of my own mortality I become more appreciative of each person, place, and experience. I am intentional about letting those I love know how much I care about them. I live more in the moment when I stop my busy mind to savor a gentle breeze, listen to a bird singing, and tend my life’s garden.

And I try to pay more attention to how I engage with each person on a daily basis whether someone I know or a stranger, asking myself what if this were the last time I saw this person… is this how I would want to leave them? If not, how can I express a little loving kindness? I try to make each day the best one that I can.

Would you have any regrets if you were to die today? If so, what would be the one thing you would wish that you had done? What would it take to do it NOW?


I invite you to stop and take a moment. Pick up a pen and write on a piece of paper


Scroll down to leave a comment below if you would like to share it with others. You can add your name or not as you choose. I will share mine as well. Nothing is too simple or complex. Perhaps we can inspire each other or just simply clarify what about our life matters – and live it more fully NOW.

*“BEFORE I DIE… is a global public art project that invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public.
“The original ‘Before I Die I Want To… wall was created by artist Candy Chang on an abandoned house in New Orleans after she lost someone she loved. Since then, over 2000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 70 countries. Each wall is a tribute to living an examined life.”

Before I die I want to…

I want to ignite a kindness movement. (LC)
I want to have a pure heart. (FT)
Live like there is no tomorrow…because there isn’t one. (JP)
Bring love to as many people as I can, through the songs I sing. (AG)
Have a spiritual awakening that brings true awareness of the Oneness. (PM)
I want to clear my heart of any remaining judgment and separateness, knowing that we are all one. I want to experience even more moments of being in love with the world. (MB)
See my grandchildren. (RW)
Fulfill my potential. (KZ)
Live my passions and love everyone, including myself (SB)
Clean my closets and drawers (SN)
I want to swim with the dolphins (AMA)




  1. Live my passions and love everyone, including myself SB

  2. Mary Boutieller says:

    Thank you Linda, for the lovely newsletter, and for all your words of wisdom and work in the world. Having seen so much death in my work as a firefighter and paramedic, I know that death is a part of life, and that worrying about dying just takes away from living in the present and beautiful moment. Before I die, I would like to clear my heart of any remaining judgment and separateness, knowing that we are all one. And I would like to experience even more moments of being in love with the world. Namaste’, Mary

  3. Paula Montana says:

    This is a lovely piece, Linda! Thank you for pointing us toward what is important! I signed on to write, “Before I die, I’d like to have a spiritual awakening that brings true awareness of the Oneness.” Mary’s comment seems to perfectly describe what that might feel like. I couldn’t say it any better. And what could be more important? Paula

  4. Linda, this was an inspiring newsletter. Death is a more evident reality the older we get. I thought seriously about death putting myself in the event. It made the question vivid. Would I do anything different if I were going to die unexpectedly tomorrow? Not really. If I knew it was certain, then the day before I die I would release a gratitude letter filled with love for the life I was privileged to have had. Om Shanti, Jo

    • Linda Commito says:

      Beautiful, Jo. I love the idea of a gratitude letter filled with love for the live you’ve had. I would also want to send it to all of my friends and family who inspired me to love and who made my life richer for our relationship.

  5. Ann Medlin Hall says:

    I, too, recently went to Heartwood Retreat Center for a mindfulness retreat and so enjoyed the Before I Die project. Very powerful and moving meditation. Sending you ripples of kindness and a heart full of love!

  6. Before I die? Loved what you wrote so I want to thank you. There, that’s done, now, before I die, I want to help the world know that we don’t die. My Mom left her earth ‘suit’ a few weeks ago and she made it so abundantly clear — her last gift to me was the lesson in the last two hours of her earthly life — that we transform, change shape, as she said, “change zip codes”, but, die? Never. Our relationship continues… different, no warm hugs (though, sometimes I swear I can feel them), but, it continues in a new form. Before I leave this earth suit I’d like to teach and learn more deeply and completely how good it all is and that we and “it” are all one wonderful Oneness Magnificent Thing.

    • Linda Commito says:

      Nancy, Thank you for sharing your validation of a life beyond this one. I am glad that you and your mom continue to share a beautiful connection….and if you would ever like a physical hug, I would be happy to give you a big one.

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