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How living backwards can help you get the most out of your life.

In a world where many bow to Almighty Progress, living backwards may sound like a clunky proposition at best.

However, although greater simplicity is something I fully support, it’s not what I have in mind when it comes to living backwards.

The phrase came to me recently when I was, once again, updating the emergency notebook I created many years ago for my husband and me. It has endured many seasons and updates along the way, and this year even graduated from its digs in a one inch white binder to a full three inches, with a red cover to boot.

Emergency notebook

The expansion isn’t necessarily a result of our personal lives becoming more complex—because they’re actually simpler than they’ve ever been. Instead, the world around us seems to be increasingly difficult to access.

As I plodded my way through all the essential information that one of us would be grateful for if something happened to the other, I realized how valuable it is to live backwards. Of imagining my Final Moment on earth and the last-minute details I’d want to give my husband to ensure he’d be okay.

An unpleasant topic

Most people don’t like to think about that Final Moment. Most would rather gorge themselves on what the future may hold instead of embracing the fact that part of that equation is the unpredictability of death.

Prior to my 15 years with hospice, I worked in critical care units for both adults and children for many years. And I spent many sad moments in waiting rooms with doctors informing shell-shocked families that a loved one had suddenly died. Sometimes it was an unexpected illness. Sometimes a tragic accident. Rarely was anyone ready for the news.

Imagine your Final Moment

As you gaze into the future, I urge you to imagine your Final Moment on earth and live backwards. What legacy will you leave? What impact will you have made? What details will be left undone, or, better yet—what mess may remain in your wake?

In the context of all of that, what should your priorities be today?

As a Christian, I know I’ll be stepping beyond the challenges of this life and into the waiting arms of Jesus.

But my loved ones will remain behind.

They’ll carry both the burden of their grief and the practicalities of managing without me. I’m trying to be aware of that on a daily basis so I can leave a widening ripple of love and legacy as I go—instead of a tsunami of regrets and things left undone.

How about you?

What will your loved ones face after your Final Moment is through?

To ease the load you’ll leave, I urge you to consider the following and take specific steps to live backwards and address them in the months ahead.

If you were facing your Final Moment on earth:

  • What primary thought would occupy your mind?
  • What issue would cause you the most anxiety?
  • What details would your loved ones need that they don’t have access to now?

In addition, if you became ill or injured, and couldn’t speak for yourself:

  • Who would make your healthcare decisions for you?
  • Do you know what your wishes for care would be?
  • How would that person know?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to living backwards, and I provide a comprehensive look at them in my upcoming Traveler Course,  Living Backwards: How to create a no-regrets Final Moment through the choices you make today.

That nagging feeling

Our outdated emergency notebook had been eating at me. Knowing that I had left much undone was a nagging feeling that clung to me every time I climbed into the car and tempted my fate with the two-lane, high-speed country roads we live on.

Now that it’s done, I have a lot more peace. And I have to say I was certainly grateful to have it when #Irma was heading our way and we had to quickly head for the hills.

When I went through it with my husband, I told him, “This is because I love you so much.”

I still have many things that I need to attend to. But at least when Jesus calls me Home, I’ll know that I’ve done everything I can at this point to ease the burden that I leave.

The more prepared I am for my Final Moment ahead, the more I can embrace each day that the Lord gives me here.

How about you?


For more resources, please visit our page, Resources for the Journey.

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