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The easy way

It’s important to think about death. Very important.

Buuuut…it ain’t easy.

Most people fight it. Tooth and nail.

It doesn’t matter how many times I tell you to think about it or plan for it. You just don’t want to do it, right?

Because it’s scary. Or it’s morbid. Or it makes you feel ick. Or it’s bad luck. Or…well…you will do it…just…um…not today. Right?

I know someone who I have been trying to get to think about death for years. Years I tell you!

She has dealt with deaths in her life and she has dealt with potentially life-threatening illness a few times. And each time I’ve told her it would help her a huge amount to actually face the concept of her own death.

Her reason not to each time has been the same, and it may make sense to you. She’s said that it feels like bad luck or giving in or welcoming death if she starts to think about what might happen. That she needs to put all her focus on living and not entertain the idea of dying. This might be well and good….if all of her focus was actually on living. The problem is that most people have so much fear of death in them that, especially when it comes to life-threatening illness, their fear of death is really running the show underneath it all. The way to free yourself from a crippling fear of death isn’t to ignore it. It’s to face it.

But she, perhaps like you, didn’t buy it.

Recently I finally convinced her to start facing her fear of death and start contemplating the idea of her own death (so that then she truly can focus on living). All these years (Years! Did I mention that’s how long its taken?) I’ve been telling her that the fear of facing it is far worse than when you actually face it. And that once you really look it in the eye it is far more relaxing and freeing than you could possibly imagine.

And guess what. Shock bloody horror…she says I’m right! (Well of course I was.)

It’s the same thing I used to hear when running Death Cafes all those years ago. People come in scared, nervous, wondering if they aren’t a bit screwy, coming along to have a coffee and discuss death of all terrible things. They leave feeling more relaxed and at peace and realizing that its everyone else who is screwy for not talking about it.

Facing the idea of your death and the fact that it could happen long before you imagine can free you from your fear. It can give you a wake up call about how you’re living and what you want to do. And it can stop you from living under the shadow of the fear of death that most people do. It can stop you living like, as Stephen Levine said, you still have one foot in the womb.

A great way to start this is by imagining if you were to die tomorrow – heart attack, choking on a marshmallow, attack by a lethal rabid kitten, anvil on your head, fatal unicycle accident (you get the drift) – and listing all the things you can be grateful for in your life to date. All the beauty, the wonder, the love, the learnings. All you’ve created up to this point. Everything you can love in your past and your present, if your future were to disappear tomorrow.

This is the exercise I took my friend through. She expected it to be bleak and sad and scary. Instead she enjoyed it and was able to reflect on what a wonderful life she’s lived so far. Something she so often forgets.

And wouldn’t you know, she wishes she’d done this sooner.

Try this. Seriously.

Or…you could ignore me, and keep on listening to me harping on for years and years (and years) about the importance of doing this. Just like my friend did.

Sure. Fine. Up to you. Do it the hard way then. See if I care 😉

I do care of course. Save yourself the unnecessarily looooooooong journey my friend took. Take the quicker easier route. (Please!)



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