Gregory Boyle is one of my favorite authors and speakers. He is a Jesuit priest, and the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program.


A few years ago, I heard him speak of his mother’s final days before she died.


Boyle said that she was not afraid of dying; she was happy to be going home. One of her last days, she partially woke up and said, “Oh, for crying out loud,” and went back to sleep. “She was pissed she was not dead,” Boyle said with a smile. And then he added this detail. When she did die, he said, she let out a “glorious gasp and left us. If you heard that (sound), you would never fear death again.”


I have tried to imagine what that gasp sounded like. Did it contain joy? Did it contain surprise? Boyle’s mother was a accomplished singer so I wondered if that gasp sounded a bit like music. I am quite taken with this particular story. Indeed, when my times comes, I plan to let out a “glorious gasp” as I leave this world for the life to come.


What have you seen or heard that helps you overcome the fear of death? What do you hope will be your final sound on earth?  


-Written by Rev. Amy Miracle

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  1. Nancy January 11, 2023 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    What a wonderful way to think about that final moment on earth. Thanks for this story.

  2. Rosemary Tolliver January 12, 2023 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing that story! Whatever my last breath sounds like, I hope it will be filled with peace and love. Wise writings, art and music have all helped grow my understanding that when my body dies, my spirit will join the life force that is Christ. Also, learning that I can avoid “normal” funeral home practices and plan for a natural burial has greatly reduced my fear of death.

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