Ratio of Birth to Death is One to One!

No one gets off this planet alive—one of the guarantees life gives us is that it ends with death! (Rather profound of me, isn’t it?) However as vibrant, loving, and caring people we have a choice: As the book, Five Days at Memorial states in the final sentence, “. . . we have the luxury to prepare and resolve how we wish to make decisions!” What decisions are you going to make? Let me challenge you to read on. . .

I was recently reading about the 2005 disaster of Hurricane Katrina and how it decimated New Orleans. This natural disaster caused horrific conditions and chaos at the Memorialfive-days-at-memorial Medical Center in downtown New Orleans. The book, Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, describes the life and death decisions the hospital’s medical staff had to make including who would live and who would die.

As I read the book I was struck with how fragile life is, the amazing dedication of the medical community, and the tough yet fragile nature of the human spirit during life changing decisions.

What really has stayed with me was the statement: “The Ratio of Birth to Death is One to One!” which has raised some interesting questions:

  • Why are Americans so unprepared for death when it occurs?
  • Generally, why do we celebrate every milestone of life except death?
  • Why does everyone want to rush to the miracle of birth yet shy away from the reality of death?

I have a few thoughts on these questions that I will frame with another series of questions that would be fun to discuss, debate, and learn from (and with) others:

  • Is it fear of the unknown?
  • Is it a total lack of belief in God and eternal life?
  • Is it a disappointment that a “wholehearted life” was not lived?
  • Is it that fascination with the wonders of the world and those within it were not a priority?
  • Is it because life has been filled with regrets and too many “I should haves”?
  • Are we disappointed that we did not stretch outside our comfort zone?
  • Is it that we embrace the miracle of life, yet do not understand the reality of death?
  • Is it that we see birth (new life) as “sweet” and “beautiful” yet death can be so painful and ugly?
  • Is it the loss of a loved one and fear of loneliness?
  • Or ???

I have many thoughts and reactions to these questions, yet to ramble in a vacuum on these seems to me a bit too self-centered as it is not about Bob, but about those we choose to live and share our lives with.

“Because I love this life,I know I shall love death as well” – Ravindranath Tagore


Take this short Ramble as a challenge to all of us, me included, to embrace life and to honor and rejoice in death in the same manner we do in reading the last chapter of a great book, by being thankful for the time spent, for the insight it gave us, for the value it added to our lives and how we impacted others.

I invite you to go back and re-read my previous Rambling blog post, “Welcome to the Rest of your Life.”

Here is to LIFE and DEATH


4 thoughts on “Ratio of Birth to Death is One to One!

  1. Bob,
    Thank you for sharing these reflections – there is so much depth here and I’m struck that you write about embracing death as a way to live more wholeheartedly on Ash Wednesday! For liturgically based churches, this is that turning again to look at what steals life in our own lives and turning intentionally back to God. Thank you, Bob and keep these ramblings coming!


  2. Bob — read or heard somewhere the concern many of us harbor is the fact that we go to our death with “our song unsung.” Also heard that there are two important days in each of our lives — “the day we are born and the day we figure out why.” So what is your song (the why) and are you singing it everyday? Ramble on buddy.


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