dying alone

All those who pass deserve to be remembered.

The final week of October, hosting Halloween, Samhain, and Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, has been associated with the dead for hundreds of years. During this pivotal week in Autumn, millions of people around the world pause to remember, honor, respect, and fear those who have passed as they imagine the worlds that lie beyond the grave.

However, for many, the world of the dead – with its ghosts and goblins and ghouls – isn’t nearly as frightening as death itself. Universally, regardless of your personal beliefs, death is our last and largest adventure. While several of us are blessed to have our friends and loved ones nearby as we make that great transition, there are huge swaths of people around the world who will ultimately end up making that journey by themselves. “Dying alone” is consistently ranked within the top 5 fears that individuals report – especially as they grow older.

While there isn’t much that can be done to prevent all people from dying alone, there is something we could all do to ensure that those who have passed are given some form of sendoff. No matter what you think happens beyond the grave, there is something to be said for the human value of taking a moment to honor the life of an individual who left a mark on our planet, however small that mark may have been. In South Korea right now, there is a burgeoning movement among individuals who saw a need here and volunteer their time to ensure that those who would otherwise pass with no regard are given some measure of honor.

In fact, there are people around the world who donate their time in similar ways. While it may seem like a small or meaningless gesture, it can make a world of difference to a person who would otherwise have anticipated that no one would be there to pay them heed after they passed. It can also be an incredibly meaningful experience for the “giver” – allowing them to account for their own life and death.

The end of life is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. As we conclude a week of celebrating and honoring that tradition, we would encourage you to keep those who are passing/have passed in your hearts and minds (particularly those on that journey alone).


  1. Rick says:

    This is a great article!! I do think that this is very important, a truly selfless and noble thing to do, and a great way to get out of ourselves. Now your site is doing what I think it should be doing. Paying attention to people’s lives and souls and not stirring up political B.S. Thank you so much for the change that I’ve been seeing very recently… If this continues I feel I can again recommend this site. Hospice centers are always looking for volunteers and the people are so incredibly grateful for just a few minutes of human contact.

  2. Terry Hayes says:

    I was not at my grandfathers death. When I arrived at the hospital I felt as if he were in the room with me. The feeling of his presence was with me until a made the last turn towards home. He lived on the other side of the city. When I reached that run I sensed him saying he had to leave. I think while he may have been alone at the time of death having family there to say there last goodbye would have been a loving gesture.

      1. Cheryl Basili says:

        This article hits close to home. I was with my 28 year old son when he had a heart attack in a Boston hospital and died in my arms. He was brought back after 10 minutes of aggressive CPR. I feel blessed to have been there with him, he was not alone! Thanks to the lord for bringing him back to me. Thy will be done, not mine. Cheryl.

  3. Robert says:

    i dont know what to say exactly but im going to try, i do not know if i want to die alone so to speak but yet i do not want anyone to be burdened? is that the word i am wanting to use ? but what is on the other side? is there anything? or something? i feel like there is, but can i honestly say 100% that there is? is it punishment? is it reward? or is it a little of both? i find it hard to grasp or believe, that God would throw one of his creations, me or anyone, into a eternal fire, being separated from God for all of eternity, but yet, what about people like Ted Bundy? Charles Manson? Stalin? Hitler, and the list goes on and on. I just cannot say at this point but i suppose that is where faith comes in doesn’t it?

    1. Paul Craft says:

      There are many biblical hints at the truth after death. IMO, your beliefs create your own reality and to the same degree your reality in the hereafter. If you believe in hell and damnation you may well spend some time there until thectruth of Gods creation is revealed to you in a way that you can truly understand. Faith in God as the loving source of all-that-is, means knowing that no patent could ever stop loving their child, and would never abandon them. This reality is but a dream, when you awake you are immortal and infinite.

      1. Gwen/Petherwyn says:

        Thank-you Paul, that was very well written.

    2. Arthur Kelley says:

      5. God gave all beings to Christ that he might save them. “Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” John 17:2 This plainly evinces, that it was God’s design, in giving Christ dominion over all flesh, that they should all enjoy eternal life. 6. It is certain that Christ will save all that the Father hath given him. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out.” John 6:37 These three propositions are irrefragable evidence of the final happiness of all men. 1st. God hath given all things to Christ. 2d. All that God hath given him shall come to him; and 3d. him that cometh he will in nowise cast out. All are given; all shall come; and none shall be cast out. What is the unavoidable conclusion?

  4. Tom Jaynes says:

    There is an old story of an elderly lady who had just received a diagnosis of a terminal illness with no more than a few months to live. She went through all the emotions that usually accompany this type of news. She felt, sadness, anger, self pity and finally acceptance. She also came to realize that she had an opportunity that most people do not have or choose not to do. She could plan her own funeral! And this she did in great detail. Calling upon the assistance of her pastor she made all the arrangements for her final services. At the end of the preparations, she asked the pastor for a special favor. She said, “You know, I have been a member of this church all my life and have truly enjoyed the times of fellowship I have had here with you and many friends. I especially enjoyed the meals. One thing we do here is eat! There was always a luncheon or a dinner going on in the church and I loved them because of the chance to spend time with so many lovely people.” She then reached in to her purse and pulled out a fork from her old family silver service. She handed it to the Pastor and said, “Please place this in my hand on the final day of the services. Make it very noticeable to my friends that come to say their final farewells. You see, whenever we had a meal in church, as the main meal dishes were being picked up, often they would tell me to save my fork. I knew right then and there that something wonderful was coming. Not just a dish of jello or a scoop of ice cream, but a piece of Mrs. Jameson’s chocolate cake or Miss Thompson’s cherry pie. It was going to be great! That is the message I want to send to all may friends as I leave. Something wonderful is coming! I believe that with every fiber of my being and I do not want them to ever forget it.”
    The Pastor gladly agreed to do this for her and on that final day, everyone noticed the fork and asked why. In his eulogy, the Pastor explained her final wish. As they left the church the Pastor handed each person a small plastic fork and told them to keep it in their purse or in their pocket as a constant reminder of the wonderful things to come. She had passed quietly and at peace. She also passed alone, except for the fork on her nightstand.
    May we all know this peace. Blessings to all.

    1. Beth says:

      This is a lovely story, with many warming messages. Thanks so much for sharing. I also so appreciate that there are no biblical references in it. I really like this topic as well, because it has so much to do with ministering. The topic of assisting people in the dying process is a noble undertaking (not meant to be a double entendre’!).

  5. Debbie says:

    My God is a forgiving God, I believe your never alone in this life His Son is always with us, coming into this life or leaving it. I’m not afraid to die when my time comes I’m kind of excited to pass over to see family members, my pets that I’ve loved and to start a new journey No one dies alone Jesus is there reaching his hand to you to help you cross over… Just my thoughts

  6. ralph baginski says:

    as an only child with no offspring I’ve accepted that, unless my spouse is still alive, I will most likely be alone when I die. no biggie. there will be plenty of company when I get to where I’m going.

  7. Bob says:

    No Christian ever dies alone unless they want to.

  8. Wendy mc says:

    I have been thinking of how to die alot lately not that I’m going to cause my death , but that I fear laying in a bed in pain not being able to do anything to help myself. I’m in pain daily and take pain meds and go to a pain clinic. I have to move in bed all nite long to avoid pain. I found a DNR tattoo is not considered a legal statement. So many people think they are super hero’s by saving a person from death. I want to know where my rights are. I’m ready to go into God’s opens hands. So are many other people who can’t be physically healed. But as the world is today you are doomed to suffer. To take drugs legally to die you have to move to a different state. People are forced to take meds for cancer. But yet in this world to live $ wise the government won’t help you live comfortably. But they will force you to live in pain and sickness. Does this sound crazy to only me??

    1. Paul Craft says:

      You are aware of the pain, it is therefore something other than you and yet I feel that without it you will have little identity. Why do you suffer so? What do you gain from suffering? If you ate truly ready to meet God then you would simply give up your consciousness. The fact that you haven’t suggests that you are not truly ready. Life is a gift to be defined by choice. At some level of awareness you are choosing to be a victim and endure. Can you find peace in your pain? Can you accept yourself? Can you love yourself as God lives you?

      1. Beth Hurewitz says:

        A most profound reply.

  9. Bob says:

    No you are sound of mind.

  10. Merle Kharasch Gross says:

    There is a growing movement in the United States to establish community-based volunteer groups whose members participate in the ritual known as “Tahara” which is the preparation for burial of a Jewish person. Have a look at the “Kavod v’Nichum” Website. It is focused on providing comfort and dignity to the family and that, of course, includes care and respect for the dead. Truly, that is the meaning of “undertaker” in that they are charged with the care of the dead. Jewish communities have always had a “Chevra Kadisha” a burial society whose members undertake the care of both the living and the dead.

  11. Henrietta says:

    I believe we all need somebody there with us as a rite of passage, to help with the passing over without fear, and to radiate love and care!

  12. James Pace says:

    I would like to die one of two ways…either in my sleep or in service to another…to sacrifice oneself to serve another is the ultimate expression of love…..

  13. Paul Craft says:

    Service to another is an expression of unconditional love, can that be a sacrifice? I think sacrifice is a theme made up by man, I cannot see it as truly spiritual or Godly. That said i do understand your point 🙂

  14. Dianne Wall says:

    I just lost my cousin to cancer. Wasn’t all that long ago we buried my uncle because of cancer…I’m hoping my uncle WWII and Korean has embraced his son Nam vet and they are happy and contented. My family now extremely smaller is scattered from north to south. PA to FL, hard to make it to anyone’s issues life or death. I pray for any of us a peaceful painless passing, I would pray that for anyone. Dying alone you won’t see people being sad for you. I would feel guilty for leaving them for a better place. I too deal with pain every day. Nervous if I had to know I was going to pass soon. Whether there is a place for good and bad and in between, God had stricken the evil and the good Moses, Job, Adam, Eve. Wasn’t it Job who was faithful to God and no matter what God caused Job never faltered or was disobedient toward God. He remained a faithful servant.

  15. Rosalinda Sepeda Sanchez says:

    I am not afraid to die rather it be alone or surrounded by love ones. It is How I am going to die, a heart attached, in a car/truck wreck or even shortness of breath. I am a creation of God and God is all loving, my faith is so strong that I know God will forgive me for my sins.
    I think that evil people such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Hitler only to mention a few will have their way to repent for their wrong doing. Sort of going through the left door they will have to answer to God for their sins.

  16. Daron Jones says:

    I do not fear death but how it will come. If I die saveing another thin my life was well spent. I don’t won’t to die for the few dollar’s in my pocket so someone can get high. Dieing is as much a part of life as being born. It is what we chose to do with our life that makes a difference. Regardless of any thing else be honest with your self and God as he truley knows what is in your heart. May God bless all of us.

  17. John Owens says:

    It would be nice to die surrounded by loved ones, like my dad, but it can happen anytime, anywhere. I may well be alone when it does. I try to tell my friends and loved ones good things now, while I can, so that if they die or I die, they will know they have been appreciated by me. Either way, once dead, I will be alone in my sleep, like all others who have died before me, waiting for the call to resurrection.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    My father died alone. We had not heard from him in years and someone from the family called my sister to tell her that he had passed in Nevada. She went to find out more about the situation and found that he had been living and working there for some time, his apartment manager said that he had not been seen for a while, and so he entered the apartment and found him dead inside having had a heart attack. No one was there for possibly over a week, I am not sure of all the details but no one was there for him that was what the manager said, so he saved his things for a while, and when no one came to claim them he threw them out. The reason I share this is because I want people to know that there are many people alone out there, now my father was alone out of his own choosing. For years we tried and he would not reply, many times we picked up the phone with no response, all I can think is that he must have been going through some things that he could not share with us? IDK. Either way, as I read this post I realize that volunteering my services in this way could possibly bring some closure for me. Comments are welcome.

  19. Stephen Devlin says:

    I think if your confident in your walk with the spirit your never alone.And if your free from persecution or oppression then it is more than ok.i never liked the fact that friends and family have to grieve when in death there is life and life abundantly.On earth we are a catapillar,when we die it’s our cacoon,the afterlife we become butterflies.The earth is painfull and a very short time,the afterlife is eternal,and a greater feeling of true love that you will never experience on earth.We get close to that feeling when you have a child born,or the way a pet looks to you with love even when you’ve been mad at them for tearing up your shoes.Just remember every moment of every day we have the opportunity to serve each other,and when you get to heaven you will say one thing,”I wish I would’ve done more for God!!!

  20. Rev. John Preshur says:

    If you have the Lord Jesus Christ in your life you are never alone

  21. John Owens says:

    Even though loved ones were present, even Jesus Christ was alone in His death, hence the exclamation, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?!?”

  22. Beth Hurewitz says:

    I consider what it must be like to check out, what ease or challenge awaits me in the state of death. I seldom think about how I’m going to die as the “how” of it frightens me. I don’t like to have such thoughts floating around in my mind. My mind is much too powerful and I have a strength in visualization, so I steer clear of such thoughts.

    I do not like death, this particular topic is my bane! I have the hardest time with it, because to me it represents loss. Perhaps if I embrace the many losses of my life, lost to death, then I would be better with it. To me, there is a permanence that is wholly unacceptable. And there goes the struggle. I appreciate the moments when a thought or song or memory comes popping in my head and I realize that someone from the other side is reaching out to me, these are comforting moments for sure.

    The dichotomy I live is the commitment to live each and every minute that is given to me. To not allow one of my moments of life to go un-breathed, un-lived, un-taken. It is my job to take all that is given to me, and not shortchange myself of even a minute of it. The flip side is that when a loved one passes, I tend to hang very close to the place where life meets death, in mourning for them, out of concern for them. Almost as though I am waiting to make sure they really want to stay there, because if they don’t, I’m right there to high-tail it with them if they head my way!

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