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Can a Minister Heed His Own Lessons of Death?

A roadmap of how to live a good life.

The Reverend Forrest Church never expected to live past 60, since all the men in his family — including former United States Senator Frank Church —had died before reaching that age.

So when Reverend Church was diagnosed three years ago with terminal cancer, he decided to go public with his imminent "progress" toward death. His hope was to help others find their way to a "good death," if that was possible, as he had counseled others to do for more than 30 years as a Unitarian minister.

In April, a three-month-long series of talks began between Church and writer Carl Lehmann-Haupt, in which they covered issues ranging from questioning the afterlife to having regrets to finally accepting death. "We're all terminally ill," Church said. "Life is a gift that comes with death

In the end, Church focused on life, love, faith, and family. He died on Sept. 24, 2009, a day after his 61st birthday.

The conversations are the final gift Church gave us—a roadmap of how it's possible to live a good life to the end.