Living with Death: Dying Completes Us

How many of our years are actually lived?

Soon, I will be 40 — another milestone birthday that doesn’t matter any more than the 39 before it. Yet, in the face of my 40th birthday, I have obsessed a little more than usual about my future demise. While I am not necessarily closer to death than I was yesterday, the probability of it does increase as age takes its toll on my mind and my body.

I don’t know if it is the thought of being dead or the actual process of dying that gets me more anxious. Not knowing what comes during and after death is a common fear that many of us have. Death is the greatest unknown of living; like waiting for a flu shot needle to break the skin, we live not knowing when it will come, but we know it will. But as the past year of deep morbid thought has taught me, I am not all that scared to die; I am much more afraid to live.

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Marcus Aurelius

Isn’t it amazing how much we allow things from our past to affect our future? Even if we don’t really think about the memories everyday, the emotions and deep connection we have to the pain of our past plays a huge part in what we worry about for the future. I guess, it’s our brain’s way of protecting us from what it doesn’t know with what it does.

So, why then are we worried about dying or being dead?

Could it be that we aren’t really living because we are still holding on to the pain of our past?

It seems to me that the only way we can accept the reality of death is if we sincerely accept the reality of life. Our past did not kill us, we are still alive! So live! Our last flu-shot didn’t kill us, so why be afraid of the needle?

Assembling the pieces of your life

Recently I read a book that described death as being a completed life. When our day comes to move on, we will be complete. This adjective puts a sense of calm into something that seems too abrupt and final. You will spend your entire life -no matter how long or short- working towards being complete.

Whether or not you feel complete at the time of your death is up to how you live your life past the pain that held you back. You will never feel complete if the pieces of your life are never assembled.

How complete will you live your life from this moment forward?


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