Tick Tock goes the clock, when it will stop no one knows. And it will stop. For all of us. For every living thing on this planet. The only thing in this life we can be 100% certain of is that we will die. Our culture refuses to acknowledge this yet all the while spewing phrases like “live like you’re dying!”, “live like there’s no tomorrow!” Sure, live like this day is your last but don’t talk about death because it’s a morbid subject. It seems to take someone important in your life crossing over to the next experience after this one to actually believe, oh sh*t, I’m going to die too.
I have experienced death prior to my Mom dying. We lost a girl named Bernadette when I was in 9th grade. That shook a lot of kids in school (and their parents) because for many, that was the closest experience of death we’ve been near; especially someone our age. I lost my Grandma when I was 12 and Grandpa followed when I was 25. I’ve lost pets growing up and that can be as painful as losing people. And the latest to add to the brady bunch of death was my Mom when I was 27. My Mom’s death shook me the most of all. If the woman who gave me life could die, well, I guess I’m not immune to it either. Her death made the clock inside begin ticking so loud it’s all I hear. The ever present sound reminds me that my time here on Earth isn’t forever and that I don’t want my death day to arrive without having made a difference in this world, in other people’s lives. Sometimes the ticking does get quieter but though it can be maddening when it is loud, I prefer it loud because it reminds me to be kinder, to help someone, love deeper, do more each moment to make sure when death comes a-knocking, I can die knowing I did all I could to make my time on Earth meaningful to myself and to others.
Life is really messy and even though we all have a death sentence, we may still get angrier than necessary when someone cuts us off, or a family member is being insensitive, or that coworker ignores you when you say ‘Good Morning.’ Many nights you’ll go to bed kicking yourself thinking ‘I can do better, why is this so hard?’ All I can say is keep doing the best you can. I don’t think it’s morbid to have death on your mind 24/7 in the sense that you understand it will come, and everyone around you will go through it so you can keep working harder each day to be a better person. If you look at everything and everyone around you and think, ‘hey- they are dying too’, you might be surprised how different you react to people and situations. The easiest way to practice this is with someone or some being that you love with all of your heart. For me, it’s my cats. Yeah, sometimes I get annoyed when they meow incessantly for no reason, or throw up on the couch as I’m running out the door to work, or poop next to the litter box so I bring them to the vet to find out $600 later, nothing is wrong. BUT the majority of the time, as I put my death glasses on, I look at them and remember they too will die one day and I don’t know how much time I have with them. So when Adeline runs up to me with the fuzzy ball to play fetch, instead of sighing ‘I don’t have time!’ I take a few minutes to play with her because a day will come when she’s not around anymore to bring me the fuzzy and how I sure will miss those days– and those days are NOW.
Talking or thinking about death doesn’t always have to evoke sad, fearful, and painful feelings. Death is going to happen, so why do we ignore it? Do we fear if we think about it that we are somehow attracting it to us sooner, that we are inviting it into our lives? Well guess what? It’s already in our lives, in everyone’s lives! We can lessen the pain of loss SO much if everyone stops running from it. I remember when my Mom was dying of cancer, we weren’t allowed to talk about it, especially in front of Mom. Everyone had to carry on as if death wasn’t approaching, and therefore, no one could really make peace with her upcoming transition nor have open conversations discussing her wishes, her fears, our fears, share stories, take more videos/photos, make sure she had all the emotional, physical and spiritual support to ease her transition as much as possible. Not being able to talk about the reality and certainty of death until death took her last breath has made the grieving process incredibly complicated and filled with unspoken words and actions. But you can only have open conversations about this kind of stuff with others who are open to it as well, who are able to face their fears about death. The longest anyone has ever lived is 122 years. Death is eternity. So why wouldn’t we put more thought into how we might want to spend that eternity or prepare for it in the very least in the ~100 or less years we have? Since we know we only have ~100 years or less, we should all turn up the volume of our clocks and get busy living and figuring out what actually matters like our lives depend on it, because they do.
A few books, music and videos currently sparking up thoughts of what it means to live and to die:
Let’s lighten it up with some music:
Short clips, shows, movies:
“What does it mean to die a conscious death? First, living a conscious life is a prerequisite for dying a conscious death: It means being as fully present with the experience as possible; so as not to avoid or deny it, but to embrace it as part of the sacred continuum of life that it is. It means a full acceptance and surrender to the fact that all things must pass, including the finite body we temporarily occupy. It means consciously merging with an aspect of ourselves that knows its way home and how to transcend fear and pain—as well as our attachment to regret and resentment. In other words, dying a conscious death means knowing we are returning home from our sacred sojourn on the planet to our true Essence and welcoming the journey.”