How long is a lifetime?

Listen to this obituary

I love to walk in cemeteries. They are peaceful, nobody bothers you, and they are thought-provoking. I have known people that visited the resting place of a loved one on a very regular basis (several times a week) over many years. That’s OK. There is no firm timeline nor “normal” manner for grieving. This is done at your speed, and it is your journey.

One thing I notice in cemeteries is the age of the deceased. As I get older and read the obituaries, it is astounding how many people younger than I have passed on. The truth is, we only live a lifetime.

The very concept of a lifetime implies perimeters. We all have family and friends who did not live as long as we would have liked for them to live. That’s why every day is a celebration to value!

This is why I heard of a businessman who came into work one day to his large company, and he said to his plant managers, CPA’s and legal counsel = “Suppose I died last night. I want to know if this was the day after, how would the company fare? Additionally, how would my family be provided for? Would things carry on or fall apart? I am going around this table, and I want each of you to tell me what would be the case if I died last night.

I am sure there are a few people who overestimate their worth in the security of their family and business, but most of us underestimate our importance to the people that we love and causes that we care about.

Zechariah 1:5 (NKJV)
5  “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 

Isaiah 38:1-2 (NKJV)
1  In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’
2  Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD.

Now wasn’t it great that King Hezekiah had that chance to set his business in order? But you and I right now have that advantage. But, our life’s time may be almost gone. So, I would propose to one and all, “Set your house in order!”

What can we do to help our family when we die? (1) Take care of our financial business. What legal  paperwork do I need to create, update, and share with my survivors? In my case, it is all done. I have written my obituary, have a current will, advanced medical directives, and the inclusion of my wife in owning all my assets, etc. She even knows what funeral home to use, and where I will be buried. (2) If you are a religious person, make sure you take care of your hereafter business here.

It has helped me in times of loss to know that grief has stages that most people go through, but the intensity and duration of those stages vary in direct proportion to our preparedness for the last event of life — which is death.

How long is a lifetime? 

It may be shorter than we think.

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Doug Greenway

These blog articles are written by the retired minister and former educator and counselor, Doug Greenway. He'd love to hear from you with your comments, questions, or suggestions for future topics. You may reach Doug at

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