How Death Reminds You to Seize the Day

How Death Reminds You to Seize the Day

My goal as an artist and, I feel, my calling in life, is to encourage people. So, when dealing with the subject of death, it’s easy to think of it in a morose, depressing way, but I would rather look at the positive side.

Just like the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground signals that autumn is here and winter is on it’s way, so also when someone dies, we are reminded of the brevity of life. We think again about our priorities and if we are doing the things that really matter. It’s so easy to chase after more stuff, more success, and happiness in all the wrong places. But the only thing we can take with us when we die is ourselves and those we love.

My neighbor, Stu, died about a month ago. I had just gotten to know him–he lived a couple blocks down, but would often walk by and then hang out my next-door neighbor’s house. He was the big, rough kind of a guy that could definitely hold his liquor, but had a softer side too.

We found that out when my wife had stopped by our neighbor’s house. Stu was sitting out in front, and he was introduced to my eight-year-old son, who has special needs. When my son found out Stu’s name, he said, “BEEF Stew!” That was the first association in his mind apparently. Stu just smiled and laughed.

Later on, I gave Stu a print of my drawing “Inscribed,” that has the hands of God with many names etched in. I was surprised that Stu really loved the drawing and was touched by it. He came by later that week and gave us a huge bag of frozen chicken and fish that he had caught, enough to feed a small army! We were really blessed by that generosity.

That was the last we saw Stu.

We found out Saturday morning that he had gone out motorcycle riding Friday night, missed a turn in the road, and that was it. He was gone.

I drew this sketch of him (11 x 14, pencil on paper), made prints of it, and had them given to his family at the funeral. My hope is that it would help ease their loss and be an encouragement to them.

"Stu," 11 x 14, pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo, portrait artis

“Stu,” 11 x 14, pencil on paper, by Matt Philleo, portrait artist


My neighbor’s untimely passing made me think again about how short life is. And how we need to treasure every moment we have. More than that, we have a promise from God that this death is not the end, but only the beginning. As Jesus said, “He who hears my word has eternal life, and will not come into judgment, but has crossed over from death to life.” And also, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”

If we trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, paying the price of our sins with his shed blood, death, and resurrection, we do not need to fear death.

Rather, let it remind us to seize the day and life life to the full in the light of God’s presence. With that, we can tell others about what God did for us, how much He loves us, and wants us to be with Him and our loved ones forever.

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"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!

Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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  1. You painting with its seize the day sprit makes me think of how the holy spirit articulates itself through the hands and craft of the artists. God like Vince Lombardi wants us to run to daylight to fulfill our purpose even if it costs us a few bruises. Okay you have all heard “Winning everything it is the only thing. But I believe that is superseded by Grantland
    Rice’s, ” When the one great score keeper comes to write against your name it’s not whether you won or lost but how you played the game=====

    • Matt Philleo

      I agree, Phil. Many people win the game, but did they play by the rules? Did they have sportsmanlike conduct during the game? Did they show the right attitude after they won? Thanks for your insightful comments!

  2. In death, there is life… through Jesus Christ.


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