Dying Empty: What Chadwick Boseman’s Death Taught Me About Life

2020 has been a devastating year for us all. Whether we experienced the death of a loved one or not, the entire nation is suffering under the mental anguish of a pandemic. The uncertainty of not knowing what’s next, losing one’s job, and watching/reading the news of yet another senseless killing is taking its toll on us all.

When the news of fellow Howard University alum Chadwick Boseman’s death came, it was another body blow to the flurry of blows 2020 has landed upon us. He’d been our hero on screen but learning of the work done and time given to children with cancer, Black Lives Matter, and more, we realize now he was a hero off-screen as well.

We think of the sacrifice he and his family made to share his talent and inspiration with us but there’s another way to look at it. Chadwick was a true example of how one should spend their time on this earth. He passionately pursued his dream and gave his time, talent, and treasure all while fighting for his life.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.”

– Chadwick Boseman

That’s dying empty.

To die empty means that you live a life where you utilize your gifts and talents to benefit the world. You hold nothing back. You’re so focused on your calling that when it is time for you to go, you have nothing left undone.

The book, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, was first published in 2013 as a guide for reclaiming your passion, finding your voice, and unleashing your brilliance every day. But I first heard of the term during an interview I held with a 16-year-old young man. I had asked him what he wanted to be known for after his passing and he responded that he wanted to use his gifts and talents to the full…i.e. die empty. You can watch the interview here.

I was stunned to hear such maturity and conviction from such a young man, and it made me wonder: how many of us procrastinate pursuing our dream or telling someone how we feel because of the assumption that we’ll always have tomorrow? I know I do.

Many believe the richest land in the world holds oil or diamond mines. But really, it’s the nursing homes and cemeteries. The biggest regret for the elderly is not taking that risk or pursuing their calling, and millions die without ever living their life’s dream, sharing their gift with the world, or using their voice to enact change. Personally, I cannot blame them. It’s difficult pouring out your soul, telling your business to the world, or expressing feelings that may not be reciprocated.

But if Chad’s death taught us anything, it’s to live life according to your purpose. To no longer wait to do what you know you’ve been called to do. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.


  1. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you, Elona, for sharing and pouring your heart into your work and writing, You’re such a great writer, I want more, more, more….and Chadwick was a beast, on and off the screen…and one of my favorites, Mick Jagger, says Chadwick is one of his favorites,


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