Our time here is finite. If you can conquer your fear of death, the time you have, no matter how long or short, becomes that much more meaningful and precious. Achieving happiness today becomes easier. What’s truly important takes on greater clarity. Too often, I think, we don’t realize these truths until death robs us of the opportunity altogether or we are in our waning years. I won’t pretend to tell you how to put death in perspective. I understand it’s different for each of us. For me, Faith (one of my cornerstones) is a critical tool, but not the only one. Death is scary. Death can be cruel. Death is a part of life.
I think death is harder to deal with when it’s not your own. The impact from a loved one’s death can be traumatic and devastating. I know the sorrow of losing both my parents. I know the sorrow of losing friends. Every death leaves its own unique hole in your life. These holes can’t be filled in. They’re permanent. But I have found that if you look deep enough into the sadness, you can find joy too. It’s a paradox I can’t explain but if you’ve known death in your life, you may know what I’m talking about. The death of others around us may be the hardest part of life, and the underlying cause of the desire to avoid thinking about our own mortality. Personally, I forced myself early to deal with death head-on to ensure the grief didn’t consume me. It was among the best actions I’ve ever taken.
The late Steve Jobs, before he got sick, had this to say about death,
"Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. The benefit of death is you know not to waste life living someone else’s choices."
That’s insightful, I think. It’s an attitude worth assimilating into our lives, if possible. Live life. Live it fully.
I apologize if this post seems unfocused or rambling but I’m prompted to explore this topic today as much to remind myself of the fragility of life, and to motivate myself and you to appreciate every moment of it completely, as to search for that joy hidden somewhere in the sadness. Tragically, the unique and painful hole of losing a child was imposed on the life of a friend of mine yesterday. As a consequence, my paradigm of coping with death is being tested fiercely.