Being Realistic about Death

Accepting the fact that life is short and can end any time, we stop wasting the precious opportunities we have to do something meaningful, while we still have the chance.

Explanation

Death is a topic that many people do not like to think about. But death is a fact of life and something that everyone will have to face. If we have not prepared ourselves for what is unavoidable, we may very well die with great fear and regrets. Therefore, death meditation is extremely helpful and important. 

There are many meditations that we can do about death, such as imagining how we would deal with being told that we have a fatal incurable disease. The following meditation is a standard one done in order to motivate ourselves to work on improving our attitudes and behavior now while we still have the opportunities to do so. In this meditation, after calming down by focusing on the breath, we think about the following points:

Meditation

Death is inevitable, because:  

  • It is definite that the death will come, and no circumstance can prevent it from ever happening to us – throughout history no one who was ever born has escaped dying, so what makes us so special that we won’t die? 
  • Our life span cannot be extended when it is time for us to die and the remainder of our life span left to live is decreasing unceasingly – every moment of our lives we are getting older and closer to death, not younger and further from death. It is like being on a moving conveyor belt going, without stop, toward our inevitable death.
  • We will die even if we have not had the time while still alive to take the measures that will allow us to die with peace of mind and no regrets – death can come, like from a sudden heart attack or car accident, all of a sudden when we least expect it.

There is no certainty about when we will die, because:  

  • In general, there is no certainty to our life span – we don’t need to be old in order to die. 
  • There are more chances of dying and less chances of remaining alive – with global warming, there are more and more natural disasters and pandemic diseases; with ever-dwindling natural resources and economic inequalities, there is more and more violence; with increasing feelings of hopelessness, there are more drug overdoses, and so on.
  • Our bodies are extremely fragile – the slightest sickness or accident can cause our death. 

Except for taking the preventive measures of working to improve our attitudes and behavior, nothing else can help us die with peace of mind and no regrets. If we were to face our deaths right now:

  • Our wealth would be of no help – our money would only be a number on a computer screen.
  • Friends and relatives would be of no help – we would have to leave them behind and if they were crying all around us, they would just make us very upset.
  • Not even our body would be of any help – how much comfort could we derive from having lost those extra kilos or pounds?  

Therefore, we decide that the only thing that makes sense in life is to take measures to prevent our dying with fear and regrets. 

Summary

Gaining awareness of the inevitability of death is not for the sake of making us depressed or full of fears. When we realize that the time we have left in this life is limited and no one can guarantee when it will end, we become motivated to take the fullest advantage of the opportunities and time we now have. Staying mindful of death helps us to overcome the laziness and procrastination that prevent us from taking positive steps to avoid things getting worse in the future.

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