We’re All Going To Die One Day, And That’s Okay
It’s inevitable. As sure as you were born to walk this earth, you’ll also depart it and there’s only one way to do that. While death is sad, it inevitability carries something beautiful with it.
Death is an equalizer because ultimately, it doesn’t matter how rich you are or how little you had, death comes to all of us. Though, the rich may be able to delay it longer by throwing their money at experimental care and a better quality of healthcare. They can only delay it for so long, though.
With the advancement of science and technology, our lifespans are longer than ever before. In 1860s America, the average lifespan was just 39.4 years old, while today it’s climbed to 78.9.
Okay, so it took 160 years to get as far as that, but even in 1980, it was only 73. So, things have changed and while we’ve found a multitude of ways to stave off the inevitable, death is still inevitable. We may buy some time, we may make our last days more comfortable, but we all die. While there will always be a way to extend life, while there will always be a way to fight it off, sooner or later it’s a battle we will lose. We all will.
The very fact that we refer to it as a battle is illuminating. We describe a cancer survivor as having fought and won. We describe those who pass from cancer as having lost the fight. We have pitted ourselves against Mother Nature as though we can overpower her.
We’ve convinced ourselves that those who pass just weren’t strong enough to beat it again. The very nature of our language around illness and death is wrong. As if to convince ourselves that we’ll be able to cheat death.
You may triumph for now, you may triumph again, but in the end, death will be triumphant. It’s a fact we have to accept at some point. The sooner you accept it, the better, because the sooner you accept that death is inevitable, the freer you’ll live.
The big question is — what will you do with your life?
You only get one chance to live it. Are you making the most of things? With 2020 going the way it has, death has become a common conversation. It’s something we’ve all had to face up to as we’ve watched people all over the world fall sick and die, many of whom were perfectly healthy before catching COVID-19.
Death never feels more real than when you’re personally impacted by it, whether it’s a close friend, loved one, or even someone related to someone you know. After a death, all types of questions spiral into your mind. You find yourself talking about death more. How will you go? How would you prefer to go? What death is like, what comes next or doesn’t?
You may feel anxiety or fear about dying, especially if someone close to you died. It can be especially difficult if you have children or if the person who died had children. It’s difficult when someone around your age passes suddenly or when a friend’s parent dies. You suddenly become aware of your own parents’ mortality.
After a sudden death, you may suddenly find a new appreciation of your friends, family, relationship, and even time. You might find joy in the mundanity of daily life. You may be prompted to complete a will, have a clear out, or face up to things you previously put off. It may result in the deepening of your religion or the separation from it. You may ponder the meaning of life, question your purpose, and wonder about what comes next.
I don’t want to talk about how you can reduce your risk factors by changing your lifestyle because genetics will ultimately have its say. I don’t want to discuss the randomness of cancer, where now 50% of the population will at some point deal with a diagnosis.
Forget about genes, forget about lifestyle, forget about the randomness of life. Instead, I want to talk about what you’re doing with your life. Death is, after all, a part of life. Life would be meaningless without death, it’s just a part of the process. Death is what makes life important.
Once you accept the inevitability of death, you can think about what kind of life you’d like to build for yourself.
When you reach the end of your days (presuming you have a deathbed moment to review your life), what would you like to look back on? Do you want to review a life of long hours and unhappy arguments in a miserable relationship? Or do you want to look back on a life filled with love, light, and laughter? Sadly, we all too often live a life based on the expectations of others.
You only get one chance at life and your wants, needs, and desires matter. Your focus should be on living a life that aligns with your deeply held beliefs and personal values and focusing on that rather than worrying about what other people think about the life you’re leading.
When you get caught up in what others think or how others may perceive you, you lose sight of what truly matters in life. What matters is your happiness and life is far too short to spend a single second of it in a state of unhappiness.
Life may be difficult at times, but when you live your values and surround yourself with people who love and support you, you’ll enjoy it more. A life well-lived is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
While 2020 might have thrown everything out of whack, it’s certainly given all of us an opportunity to reconsider the lives we’re leading. As everyone spent more time with their families and in lockdown, it’s shone a light on how mixed up many of our priorities have become. It’s given us a chance to think about how we want to live. If death comes to us all, isn’t how we live even more important? So, what is important to you?
Thoughts of death are normal, especially after you’ve experienced a loss. Don’t shut down or pretend it won’t happen, instead talk to someone close to you about death and more importantly, why you’re here and what you’re going to do with your life.
It’s a valuable conversation to have, especially if you’re struggling with determining your purpose. Planning for the end of life isn’t morbid, it’s just common sense. However, you shouldn’t rush into planning it, especially if you’ve just experienced a loss.
Know yourself well and know how to plan appropriately. You can only plan so much for the future. At some point, it goes beyond control. You can only do so much and after that, you can’t, because you’ll be gone. One day you’ll die and someone will have to go through all of your stuff and decide what’s worth passing on and what isn’t.
I will die someday and so will you. It’s okay.