Home > Blog > Life, Death, and Breathing.

Life, Death, and Breathing.

I have a job that confronts life, death, and everything in between.

I have a life that confronts living, dying, and the reality of being in the middle.

I have patients that have to confront their own mortality in order to find their life.

Currently I work on the Cardiothoracic ward at Auckland Hospital. We have people in of all ages, who have to go through what can only be described as major surgery, not without its risk, in order to squeeze more out of life. For some, they squeeze an extra 5 years; for others, the younger patients, they aim to squeeze another 50. Some are successful, and as I discovered in the first week of the job some make great progress, only to have their heart stop, and despite all efforts, not restart.

When life and death is so closely intertwined into day to day work, you can almost become desensitised to it. Death can become another statistic…

… and then I remember my diagnosis.

I remember that I am going to become that statistic. I remember that behind that statistic is a life. One lived (hopefully) well, and one that hopefully dies well.

Then I remember that we are all dying. Ten out of ten people will die, we just do it at different rates, we do it unpredictably. Whether it is being hit by a bus, or being diagnosed with cancer, or passing away in our sleep in the distant future, we are all heading in the same direction.

And then I realise that whilst I might be at risk to the desensitisation of death, and dying, what I have noticed is that others are desensitised to being alive. Somehow, the value of life has been forgotten, because medicine has been so good at hiding us from death.

Life for me has become a precious commodity, one which carries more value than any comparative analogy might offer. I know my life is short, but it is worth every second, and every breath; because they are breaths and seconds that I will never get to re-live. I have seen too many people who have become desensitised to life, those for whom money, apple products, ambition, or self interest retain more value than the breath they just took. Apple products are cool, but the breath I just took is what allows me to appreciate them; and the breath I just took has no value, but for the grace of God who gives it to me.

… and if I value my own breath so much, then it is a waste if it is not spent serving those who also breathe, otherwise i’m a self-serving fool.

It is in light of my mortality that the breath of life has found its value, it is the Love of Christ that gives me that breath.

It is when I breathe, slow, deliberately, filling my lungs, that life becomes the most amazing, the most colourful, and the most incredible journey. A journey that is not travelled with my own strength.

It is in part it the strength of family, friends, and especially Hannah, but primarily it is strength from Faith. Faith that there is something greater than me, faith that I am loved unconditionally, and faith in Christ that beyond this life lies a greater, more abundant life.

I might not find healing in this life, but through faith in Christ, I’m know I’m going to find it in the next…

.. and while I am alive I’m trying to not be desensitised to death, and even more-so, I’m trying not to be desensitised to life.

Thanks for listening.

Categories: Blog
  1. June 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Your words take my breath away. And I and inspired to live a life worth living blessed by my connection to my Heavenly Father, those that have been before me and those who surround me with their love (and love my apple products)

  2. Melissa
    June 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    Jared. Wow. You really do have a gift with words. Even in the darkness, The father continues to use you, and you remain so willing to See the Glory of Christ, it really is an amazing honour to have you speak into my life simply through the blog.

    If healing is not in the plan for this life time, know that your life has been and continues to be a shining light. If the biggest thing to come of what you are going through is that you are correcting people, teaching people and being the voice that God needs in such a selfish and desperate world, then you are hitting the mark. Your words, your passion are something this little planet earth really needs.

    God bless you man

  3. June 23, 2011 at 7:31 am

    As someone with metastatic breast cancer your words resonate with me a great deal – thank you for writing this. It is the ‘living’ with cancer that is important – thank you for putting it so eloquently

  4. Paula
    June 23, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Wow. I wish I had your faith. Blessings to you and your wife.

  5. Debbie
    June 23, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    wow, a real gold nugget of great insight and wisdom – thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Melissa P
    June 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Jared, I met you as a patient yesterday. I hope you realise that your bedside manner & downright humble & compassionate nature, got me through a very tough day. This morning as they woke me & started the ball rolling prepping me for surgery a call came through. My operation was cancelled. I was devastated… only because I had my self psyched for it, but the up side is they had to cancel as one of the team had worked all night on a saving someone. Some person had just been brought a bit more time & my kids get their Mum back for another night of cuddles.

    I am lucky as it appears that through a lot of wonderful staff at Auckland Hospital, they have managed to wave a few magic wands & hopefully I will be operated on Saturday.
    I hope you realise what a difference you made for me & will hopefully see you next week . Have a great weekend. Melissa Room 7 xx

    • Jared
      June 23, 2011 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Melissa.

      I was sorry to hear you op was cancelled this morning!! I went to see you around 10/11am but someone else had already inherited your room by then! The transplant surgery overnight decimated the theatre list today, which happens every now and then, as transplants tend to be unpredictable in both timing and length. Hopefully saturday will go ahead!! I will be back on the wards on wednesday after round 33 which I start tomorrow.

      • Melissa P
        June 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm

        It’s a date!! Good luck tomorrow, 33 has to be a lucky number x

      • Jared
        June 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

        Hi Melissa, I was on nights last night, went to visit, and again I see you had left the hospital!. Hope your recovery is going well.

  7. Sacha
    July 14, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Thank you sooo much for writing this!!! As you may know, very recently Claire Gibbons gave birth to a beautiful little girl, and I just love her!!! Every minute I get to spend with her, every little change in her body astounds me. She is the most beautiful miracle!!! I think I somehow forget that I am too. That each breath I get is one more moment God has given me to live, love and follow him. Thank you thank you thank you for the incredibly necessary reminder!!!

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