How to Make the Most of the Time We Have Left (Advice on Death/Loss).
Dear Andrew. . .
How do we cope with death? I fear losing the people I love the most and I am afraid of losing them 'prematurely', too soon. How do we make the most of the time we have left?
Death is always in the back of our minds. We are constantly reminded of death when watching the news or when crossing the street. It is an ever present aspect of life.
Most of us try to avoid thinking about death because it makes us uncomfortable and scared, and rightly so. Death is the antithesis to everyone and everything we love. We have no idea what is on the other side and this haunts us to our core.
Eliminating the fear of death might be impossible. Every human is afraid of death whether they want to admit it or not. The only way to truly comfort ourselves is to befriend this fear in a reluctant kind of way. It is to walk on the ground upon which this fear is being born, even if our legs do not feel like they can support us. It is to find a voice that is both inside and outside of us that can soothe our worries while never lying to us about the pain we will one day experience.
To cope with death, we must pass through the door of both pain and beauty simultaneously. We must imagine the day we will have to let go while also remembering we do not have to yet; we do not have to because we still have time. We still have time to smile and laugh with the people we love.
When we remind ourselves of life’s finality, the beauty that is still around us becomes impossible not to notice. We start to not take for granted the phone calls with our parents and the dinners with our friends. We begin appreciating everyone and everything while we still have them.
In some sense, the best way to cope with death is to embrace it in this seemingly odd way. By shaking hands with this fearful presence, we naturally become more attentive and generous to the ones we love. Almost like a reflex, we realize that every time we see someone that is one less time we will see them. This makes every moment and exchange with them that much more precious.
Finally, there is one thing that can escape death’s gravitational pull. The only thing that is not subject to death is love. When our ashes have settled, the love we created will live on. It will live on in the generosity we showed, and in the lessons and wisdom we bestowed. It will live on in the people who learned to smile and love like us. If you witness a parent next to their child, you will see what I am talking about. You will see bits and pieces of the past shining through the future.
In light of this, there is only one ‘real’ choice when it comes to death. The only choice we have is to make friends with it while never forgetting the devastating blow it will strike upon our hearts one day. We must stand atop this ground, even if it rattles the deepest parts of us. We must shake hands with the fact that eventually we will have to let go of everyone and everything we love. By doing this, the deepest parts of our hearts will naturally open. Our hearts will open as we cherish every drop of life we have left. Our hearts will open wider than we ever knew possible, and if we are lucky, which I believe we are, our love will open the hearts of others too.
Questions for Andrew?
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