How to Die Well
We are all going to die. But that does not mean that we are all going to die well. If we are going to die well, first we must remember death (memento mori).
Second, we must look to and learn from Jesus. Jesus, as the perfect Son of God, lived and died well. We’d be wise to take our cues in life and death from Him. Below are eight ways we can die well.
“…Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father…” (John 13:1).
We don’t always know when we’re going to die, but we do know we will die (Heb. 9:27). It is wise to anticipate and expect it and try as best we can to be ready for it by God’s grace and for His glory.
I think we best anticipate our death by living each day as if today may be our last day. The truth is, we could meet our Maker today.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
That’s number one. That’s most important. Amazingly, God loved the world, the broken, fallen world, so much that He sent Jesus into the fractured world, so that whosoever believes in Him would not forever perish but rather of eternal and abundant life (John 3:16). So, if you have not trusted in Jesus and repented of your sins, do so today. Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Jesus “loved His own who were in the world” and “He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).
Being ready to die well means living in love. Jesus loved to the end. Dying well for us too means loving until the end.
Jesus, from the cross, said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
How can we hold unto hurts in life, when Jesus forgave from the cross? How can we hold unto hurts in life, when Jesus forgave at the cost of His life?
Jesus modeled forgiveness from first to last—He came to earth to forgive and left forgiving. How can we who have been forgiven, not forgive (Matt. 6:7-15; 18:21-35)?
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Even as Jesus took upon Himself the worst ordeal that we can fathom and that was completely undeserved, He still had the good news of salvation on His lips. The one true King hung on the cross—a perfect rose between two criminal thorns—and shared the message of salvation with the underserving.
If the message of salvation was on the King’s lips on the cross, how much more should it be on ours?! So, if we are to die well, we must tell well. We must share the reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). We must share the reason why even while we grieve, we have hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18).
“When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).
Jesus cared for His mother and so He made provisions for her. If we are to die well, we, like Jesus, will make the necessary provisions to care for our loved ones. This does not mean that those provisions need to be lavish and lush, but I do think we should do what we can to help those in our care.
Jesus called out with a loud voice: “’Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46).
In Jesus’ dying breath He did what He had always done, He breathed in and breathed out trust (Matt. 6:25-34). God has proven Himself in life, we can trust Him in death. Further, Jesus died and was raised to life to bring us to God and thereby Jesus proved that God is truth worthy.
When we trust God in life, it prepares us to trust Him in death. We must all pass through “the Jordan” but we’re helped when we recall God has been with us the whole journey. So, may our dying breath and our last mind glimmer be one of trust. May our faith not fail when are frame is frail and our skin is pale, like an anchor deep may our trust be tethered to the lamb who is the conquering lion.
“Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to His mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:28-30).
Jesus shared a need. He said, “I thirst.” In part, this is connected to a prophecy about Jesus the Messiah (see Ps. 69:21). But I believe another application is it shows us that it is okay to for people that are suffering to seek alleviation of suffering. Proverb 31:6 says to “give strong drink to the one who is perishing.”
So, we see it is okay, and I believe even right, to receive medical help to lessen pain and provide comfort.
 I found Matthew McCullough’s book, Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope, really helpful and eyeopening.
Tags: death, Die, dying, dying well, Heb. 9:27, Hebrews 9:27, How to Die Well, how to prepare to die?, memento mori, preparing to die, Remember Death
About Paul O'BrienI am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)
I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)