Facing death sounds like such a morbid, taboo topic. Something we choose to not talk about. Rather ignore and wish away. We like to talk about life, opportunity, dreams and ideas. But somehow, death does not really fit into this conversation so well.
It is however the one thing that we all have in common. Put differently, the moment you took your first breath, you started dying. Yet, we never talk about it. We choose to not think about it. Still, death (or the denial of death) is one of the primary driving forces of everything you do in life…
The moment you took your first breath, you started dying.
Now before you choose to phone me up to see if i’m okay. Maybe some context is needed?
My grandmother passed away this week. She was an absolutely wonderful and delightful, inspirational person who personified love and grace in such an enormous way that, as children, we did not even understand it. We could only bask it it when we were around her. I cannot recall any memory of her which is even remotely negative in any way…
The last couple of years were not so pretty however. Illness stripped her of so much of who she was. It was difficult to see the grandma i grew up with. When i heard the news that she was finally freed from the confines that life has placed on her. More than sad, i was relieved.
Yesterday our family got together to celebrate her life. And, inevitably, face death. Not just her death, but our own. In western culture, death is not something to be considered or talked about. It is to hide behind the grandiose, hubris induced illusion of wanting to be immortal and living forever.
In our conversation, we discussed the effect of facing death and considering the reality of it. The result might not be so morbid as you might expect.
- You develop a very quick value for what life is about when considering the fact that life is in fact limited and not to be taken for granted.
- The effect is that you start to consider what is truly important. And what is not.
- Living in the “now” is suddenly much more comfortable. Normally life is lived in “yesterday” and “tomorrow”. Death removes those options and you are left with the moment you are in. Where you are. With the people who are with you.
- When hearing the wonderful stories people are telling as they recall memories of my gran when she was alive, you need to wonder what stories you want people will tell when they get together when you die. Then you wonder why they are not telling those stories right now, while you are alive. When do you become the person you want people to remember when you are gone?
- Your to-do list, number of twitter followers, Klout score, Google analytics, YouTube views, marketing plan, latest product, newest toy, or awesome business idea suddenly drops off the scale of things that are important.
- People close to you rise to the top of the “what’s important” list.
- Gratitude overwhelms you
When do you become the person you want people to remember when you are gone?
I find it fascinating that something so seemingly morbid and negative has the ability to draw so much good out of us. Maybe death is not as ugly as the selfish, emotional pain we feel when we miss someone. Maybe we should consider death on a daily basis to help us live life in a way that is worthy of the extravagantly unmerited blessing that life truly is. Maybe this post is just to say, Thank you Ouma, i love you. i will miss you