A good friend recently died unexpectedly. He was a vibrant member of our community, and always seemed to have energy to spare. However, he’d been fighting a recent infection and hadn’t been feeling well. He told me he was flying back to his home in Canada for “some tests.” The next thing I hear is that he died, the cause being undetected cancer that had spread throughout his organs.
I’m both saddened and shocked by his death. As I’ve grown older, experiencing some illness and aches, I’ve come to realize that I won’t last forever. But the fact that I could die as suddenly as my friend is sobering. Now I ask myself, “Am I prepared to die?”
Brus, do you have any advise for me here?
This is a question that only you can answer. To do this, you must first ask yourself such questions as, “What is my attitude toward death? Do I fear dying? Do I see death as failure? Is the whole subject of death just too overwhelming, too morbid, one to be avoided?” Delving deeply into questions of how you regard death altogether is an important preparation in itself.
None of us knows for sure when or how he or she is going to die. Some live long, others not so long. Some die just as their lives begin. Just as there is a joy in birth, there is sadness in death. Both of these experiences are part of a natural order, one we share with the life cycles of all animals and plants. For example, in flowers, we can see that after fully blooming, they fade and die; and some die from disease or bad weather before they can even bloom. This is no different than our lives.
We also don’t know for sure what happens to us after we die. We each carry a personal belief of what may happen after death and, for many of us, we take comfort in our beliefs. Whatever our belief or disbelief, we can’t avoid the fact is death is a transition, the end of life as we know it.
Developing an honest relationship with death actually helps us to realize how precious each moment is, simply because we really don’t know for sure if we have another moment to live. This helps enormously in discriminating who and what are important in our lives. This also helps with the practical planning of creating a will and how one wants to spend one’s last years and days of life.
Unnerved, recognizing this process of dying and death as a natural transition does help us in facing this inevitability directly, and without fear.
I hope this has been a little helpful.