Are you ready to die?

I have arrived at a weird place in my life.

My father passed away two years ago. My mother is late-stage Alzheimer’s. I turned 50 years old this year. A few contemporaries and friends have recently passed away. And several close friends are fighting valiant, yet scary, battles with cancer.

And…I will declare that I am ready to die.

Now, let me explain, and be VERY clear: I do not WANT to die. I have more to do and accomplish, and as of this writing, healthy. But,

  • I can honestly say I’ve achieved what I wanted in life, and am at peace with my place in the world.
  • I am happily married. To have a partner who accepts me and my flaws, and enjoys the journey we are on, is beyond measure.
  • Legally, with trusts, life insurance, retirement planning, etc., I FINALLY have all my personal and family affairs where it all needs to be. If I go suddenly, Stephanie (and my mother) will be taken care of.
  • After many, many years, my debts are paid off.
  • After ten+ years of work and focus, I have gotten my life simplified and minimalized, and I only own now what I truly need and treasure.
  • I no longer have a fear of missing out. I am content with how I have chosen to live my life. And I can celebrate what others are doing with their lives. No jealousy.
  • I can finally embrace stillness and quiet, and now relish it. Before, I always felt I had more to be doing, and couldn’t allow myself the luxury of quiet.
  • And finally, launching The Todd & Stephanie Schnick Foundation has given me the project and purpose that will fuel, sustain, and energize me until my final days.

Understand this: it took me nearly fifty years to get to this point of being ready to die. Lots of trial and error, lots of setbacks, lots of stress and agony. But guess what? I am finally there.

I also have to admit that (many) past life mistakes, my Dad’s surprisingly quick death, and the harsh realities of caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s, have given me the impetus to think (and take action) on these things.

Now, important to remember, I don’t get to coast and amble into the sunset. This life that I have built will require ongoing maintenance. This will require daily work. This will require strict discipline to keep the weeds at bay. Because if I am not careful, it can all come tumbling down.

And I am more in tune with my health, at least the desire, to get much more focused on making smarter decisions on how I eat, exercise, and work on my mental health (the former me would never have admitted I needed to work on my mental health). There is much room for improvement on living a healthier life, but honestly, I feel like with all of the above settled, I can now finally focus on it.

I am not going to claim that life is perfect. I still have bad days, I still have doubts, I still question things, I still have bad days at work, and even the work of the foundation brings a lot of frustrations. But this mindset I have achieved gives me a platform to handle these negatives in a calmer, more adult fashion. Or at least the opportunity to do so. 😉

But I must admit that it feels very satisfying to know that should I find myself suddenly on my deathbed, I would be in a place where I would be at peace, feeling that I’m leaving the Earth in a good place.

Oh, like all of us, I have regrets, but now I wouldn’t dwell on them. You cannot imagine, strange to say, the joy that brings.

I am not a fool, this place that I am in life can change. Life has a funny way of dealing new cards that shift the balance. But I feel that I am less susceptible to those kinds of harsh impacts.

As I said, it took me a long, long time to arrive at this mindset. And looking back, I am proud of the long and winding road I took to get here.

Yes, this little manifesto is to inform you of two things: Arriving at this place in life is possible, certainly so if I can get there. And you have to begin the work on it now, and become committed to it. It will be rewarding, but not easy.

At the end of the day, I can now say I am ready to die. Are you?

“Tongue-in-cheek combined with a wink” image via Shutterstock (Gill Copeland)


Gareth J. Young October 4, 2019 Reply

What a wonderful piece. I, too, am ready to die. It brings great peace to be in this place. A wise person (probably well know to many of your readers) added a wonderful coda to this idea: we each need to find something we are prepared to die for. The point is that being ready to die is really important, but only half the puzzle. Knowing what you really want to live for, which is to say that thing for which you are prepared to die, is the other half.

Todd Schnick October 4, 2019 Reply

Thanks Gareth. I can count on one hand people who would be “ready to die,” and you would have been on that list.

And yes, as to something to die for, I’ll be thinking about this all weekend. Thanks a lot. 😉

Scott October 4, 2019 Reply

Todd –

After facing a serious illness last year, I adjusted my mindset a great deal. I wish I were as buttoned up as you – if I suddenly departed, there are a few too many loose ends – so I keep chipping away at the list. I’m still too busy, I’m still too frustrated (but it’s getting better), and I am never able to shut off fully (though I’m reading “Digital Minimalism” and pondering how to implement it…).

As a fan of your work, I hear the call. I admire what you’ve done since relocating. Yes, I’m paying attention and have witnessed the transformation from halfway across the country. Keep on keepin’ on.

Todd Schnick October 4, 2019 Reply

Thanks Scott, for reading. Chipping away at the list puts you ahead of most. Appreciate you paying attention….

L Celeste Gardner Geldreich December 9, 2020 Reply

I love your list! I’ve been getting more in touch with death for a while now and convene the Houston Death Cafe through Meet Up. I will keep your post and reference it. Might use it for discussion groups. Check out my website for more deathy reflections… peace and joy!

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