Alphabet Series - D is for Death

There are so many other D words I would like to write about – devotion, delight, and even divorce. But death is something, try as we might, we can’t avoid. So, let’s talk a little bit about it and then we can move on to E – maybe enjoy, engage or employ.

At this point in my life I have no interest in dying. I don’t know if I ever will. I would like to think that when the time comes, I would be at peace with it, but I don’t clearly see that path yet. I have a friend who has lived a rewarding life and still very much enjoys it, and yet he has told me numerous times “This would be a good day to die.” As best as I can understand, his life is full. He feels fulfilled, the people he loves know that he loves them, and his affairs are in good order. So he is at peace. Good for him. As one of our mutual friends pointed out, while today might be a good day for him to die, if he did die today, it wouldn’t be a good day for us.

Death is here, like it or not. Hopefully taking some time to think about it will help make life more worth living, so maybe one day you too will think this would be a good day to die.

I want to believe that once you die you are at peace. We are all familiar with the phrase – rest in peace and it is comforting to know that death may be accompanied by peace. The closest I can come to grasping what may happen when I die is what happens when I fall asleep. There is a surrendering that takes place as my thoughts still themselves and I glide into my unconscious. Hopefully that gentle transition is what would accompany death. That said, I once had a serious car accident and as my car was rolling over and I had lost all control of the situation all I could think of was that this was a stupid way to die. There was no gentle allowance of the possibility. Which is maybe why I did not die on that day.

I am not so much afraid of death as I am afraid of not living. I read somewhere that a person who was about to die looked at his Facebook news feed so he could see what he was missing. There are things I don’t want to miss in the future. It is sort of like putting down a book midway through and not ever knowing how things turn out. I find myself sometimes thinking about people who lived hundreds of years ago and how amazed they would be if they woke up today and saw what happened to their world. I am not sure they would be happy, but I imagine they would be surprised. I remember an early ad on television for Xerox which had some monks copying a manuscript. Now we can copy in minutes what might have taken a monk years.

I was asked to write about death, because as my social group has gotten older the subject finds its way more frequently into conversations. Our bodies need more tending, people we know have died and more of our life is behind us than in front of us. There is no cure for death that I know about. I do believe that those people who are most afraid of dying are the ones whose lives have been the most unfulfilling. Perhaps for today to be a good day to die we need to be more at peace with what we have made of our life. We can’t do anything about what we have made of our lives, but we still have time to make each day we have as rich and rewarding as it can be.

To help me make my life more meaningful, rewarding and gratifying, I ask myself throughout the day one question. I ask – what is the most loving thing I can do right now? Then I try to do it. Perhaps as those loving days pile up I will find myself more at peace with surrendering my life. But today is not that day.

While some may think this is a good day to die, I only want the people who want to die today to die today. For the rest of us, even if it is a good day to die let it also be a good day to live. Let’s keep being as loving as we can be to ourselves, our friends and family and the world we share. Maybe if we live better we will be able to die more peacefully. One can hope.


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