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Five Lessons My Mother Taught Me About Death

I’ve always been afraid of everything—the dark, scary movies, spiders, my big brother chasing me around the house in a creepy mask. But the thing I’ve always feared most of all was death. Every time I’d say goodbye to a family member I’d have to say, “I love you” just in case it was the last time. I’ve always tried to live life to the fullest in case I might not live that long. So I guess, in a strange way, death’s motivations have blessed my life.


In my youth, I’d only ever experienced the death of one person close to me—my grandmother. I was only about seven. I didn’t know her very well, but what I knew I loved very much—but more than that, I knew my mother loved her very much. Seeing my mother’s pain, watching her kiss her mother’s cheek one last time before they closed the casket, was the most emotional pain I’d ever felt. It seemed too final, too sad, too empty. I hated that feeling and have been afraid of it ever since.

My own angel mother was called home almost two years ago. It was a long, bitter fight with cancer and she battled it with a strength only a mother could muster. Her death was not sudden or unexpected. It was long, drawn-out and dreaded. Many times, we hoped for a miracle, and many times we questioned God’s plan. I don’t think I will ever learn why God takes some and leaves others. I do not know why death must be so horrible. But what I’ve decided is this: Death has brought me down to the depths of pain—I could let it beat me, or I could let it teach me.

And so, strange as it is, I have dubbed death a “Master Teacher” and am sharing the five things death has taught me.

1. Time Truly Can Heal All Wounds.

The day after my mother’s funeral I was in her home washing the counters and I found a sticky note with a list she’d written.

The pain was too much. Seeing her handwriting, so fluid and beautiful, brought me to my knees with sobs. I cried for days. I never thought that feeling would go away. It’s been almost two years and now I can say that I miss her just as much as I did that day, but the sorrow is not so poignant. I know she is still with me, even if I can’t feel her presence. I know I will see her again someday, and that brings peace to my soul.

2. People Want to Talk About Their Loved One.

Kami and Mom

Having not had much experience with death, I was extremely inept at speaking to people who had experienced the loss of a loved one, and I felt like they’d rather not talk about it because it was too painful; however, in my experience I couldn’t talk about my mother enough. I wanted everyone to ask me about her. I wanted to tell them how she laid by me and sang me lullabies all the way up through high school. I wanted to tell them how she’d get down on the floor and chase my children around the kitchen on her 70-year-old knees. I wanted to tell them how every night of her life I could have walked into her room and found her on her knees at her bedside. Every time I speak of her, the Spirit speaks to my heart that she still lives and a small amount of healing takes place.

3. Watching Someone Suffer Changes Your Desires to be Equal to God’s.

For two years my family prayed and fasted that my mother could be healed. She was as righteous a woman as they come and if anyone deserved to live, it was her. But God had a different plan for her and for us as well. But how could He bring us around to seeing things His way?… suffering. Those last few weeks of her life our prayers changed from, “God please spare her” to “God please take her home.” I never realized what a tool suffering is in God’s hands. It has the power to change desires.

4. I’ll Never Understand Why in This Life.

All my life I’ve tried to understand why some are called home earlier than others. Why must a parent bury their child? Why must a child be without a mother or father, or both? Why do some not even get a chance to experience more than a second of life here on earth? I understand that God must need them more than we do, but why? How could He need them more than their own child, parent or spouse? The answer is simple—I’ll never know until it’s my turn. But I have faith that there is a good reason. A wise old man who has experienced many deaths in his family once told me, “Life goes on. There’s a time to cry, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, a time to smile. So… pick a time!”

That has stuck with me. Life goes on. Millions before me have dealt with lost loved ones and survived. So will I. And before I know it, I will be reunited with them once again. So why fret now? Aren’t I just wasting precious time with my living loved ones?

5. Don't Waste a Minute!

And that brings me to my final point. Our days are numbered—whether more or less we do not know. So put your phone down. Look into your child’s face. Tell them you love them. Tell them how amazing they are. Snuggle them in their beds.

Kami playing with her children

Read them an extra story tonight. Kiss your spouse. Take that vacation. Do those dishes for her. Massage his feet. Learn to play that instrument. Write that novel. Get that checkup you’ve been avoiding because you have no money for yourself. Don’t wait! This life is meant to be lived—so let death teach you how.


About Kami

My name is Kami Orr, and my husband Hayden and I have four beautiful children.

I grew up on a dairy farm driving dump trucks and digging ditches, and ended up in the glamorous world of ballroom dance and photography. I have been making up dances since I can remember. I’d make my mom and dad come watch my performances, I’m sure were more than comical. But that love for dancing perpetuated me into a life of dance, touring the world, competing in national ballroom competitions, teaching at BYU-Idaho, and starting my own ballroom dance academy here in Texas.

Among her many talents and creative endeavours, Kami runs her own business, "Kami Orr Photography and Design." Check it out by clicking the link below.


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I loved reading your 5 things that death has taught you. I love your Mother and you!

Mary Sinnett

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