Death is never an easy subject to broach or discuss. It makes us sad and uncomfortable, yet I think dealing with death is at the heart of our human potential and happiness.
I’m not talking about dealing with death when someone we are close to dies or when we attend a co-workers funeral, or even when a celebrity dies that we were deeply connected with in our mind. I’m speaking about dealing with the subject of non purpose and non existence when everything is nice and rosy, because it is not the dying that’s hard, it’s the leaving behind.
This will not be a religious discussion about Heaven or lack there of. I think I will let you lead the charge there and decide for yourself. I just simply want to share this morning the importance of remembering that there will come a day when we will no longer be here. If you don’t believe me and that idea sounds far fetched, just tell me the name of your great, great, great grandmother or grandfather. Sadly, that is exactly how your great, great, great grandchildren will feel about you and know even less.
I think death is here to make sure that we understand being and there is a great difference living your life being and existing by merely doing. Everyday is a battle field and we need to decide if we will do or if we will be. It’s important because doing makes us things and makes other people things as well. Being on the other hand makes us uniquely human, which is fully fulfilled when we reach out and grasp someone else how is uniquely human. Death, in her kindness reminds us that we are here to be for some time.
I think this is why our pets live shorter lives than we do. They love us, and we love them. We form a great bond and a relationship and then they are gone. They teach us that it is important to be grateful and not take any single day for granted, because in the end it is nothing more than a series of days.
How about that? Discussing death without tears and angst? But I think its most important.
I think if you and I spend more time in quiet contemplation asking why we were born and why we are going to die, we will act differently and live differently. We will love ourselves, love other people, and enjoy life as it comes to us, both in its ups and downs.
One day we will be leaving and what is it that we want to leave behind? Do we want a large bank account, or a house that will be flipped on the market? Do we want a collection of rare gems and diamonds to go off to auction? It will. Those we leave those things to are not us. They don’t have our context. They don’t have our experience. They will not care for the eight track tapes with the same intensity we do, or not at all.
So why not embrace living and leave death be herself and come when she must.
We can’t avoid meeting her one day, but we do control the stories we can tell her when she makes her appearance and its those stories for which we were born. We are here to share ourselves and be something. To be and to embrace other beings in their dignity and uniqueness. Death doesn’t spoil any of it. She makes sure we don’t sit shyly on the side, like a grade eight dance.
I hope you spend some time on a regular basis contemplating the inevitability of your death. I hope you don’t get scared and overwhelmed. Start with imagining who will be there by your bedside as you lay dying, and you know what? Go and be with them today, because that is the only way to ensure they are not too busy when that fateful day finally comes.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Mathew Macquarrie via unsplash.com