Contemplating Death

It is a sad week. A friend of mine passed away from brain cancer, one day after her 44th birthday. 

I’ve heard people talk about losing someone they love when they are “too young to die” and how it affects them. With the deepest respect and gratitude to my friend, here’s how this has affected and changed me.

Firstly, Because of her type of cancer, my friend struggled with moving her body. Movements that I take for granted. Standing. Walking. Scratching my nose. Talking. She has made me realize…marvel!…at how we are able to do that. Just think of the nerve connections, muscle fibres, chemical reactions, timing and coordination that’s needed just to move your arm to scratch your nose! It is absolutely a miracle that we can do this…let alone do this without much thought.

Right now, look at the palm of your hand. Wiggle your fingers. Turn your palm down. Isn’t it amazing?! You are moving with practically no effort.

Secondly, small things matter. Details. Tiny experiences. Like the sensation of touch. I have started a practice of admiring and appreciating how wonderful the water from the shower feels on the skin of my arm and hand as I move it through the stream. I encourage you to try this the next time you are in the shower or bathtub. Pay particular attention to the feel of the warm water and the way you can freely and effortlessly move. Be as present to the experience as possible.

Lastly, my friend has helped me get some perspective on what’s actually important in my life. I ask myself, “If I were to die tomorrow, what would not matter today?” Is the thing that is occupying so much of my time and energy really important? Sometimes it is that important, but oftentimes it is not. I’m usually stressed about it for no good reason. 

For example, if today was my last day, would I really care if it is snowing, raining, or cold? Or would I be satisfied in just living another day? Are the things I complain about really worth complaining about?

Some people say that contemplating death is morbid, but I don’t think that’s always true. We are mortal beings. Death is inevitable. There’s no denying it. But death isn’t really the “taker of life”; it gives value to life. One reason life is precious is that there is an end to it. Our days are numbered. 

Contemplating your own death may not be fun or easy, but it allows you to uncover your values. It allows you to take a step back and re-evaluate the time you spend on this planet Earth. By thinking now about how you want to be remembered and what you want to be remembered for when you die, you can start from the end. Starting from the end gives you the opportunity to align your life now with what you want then, staying true to your values as you go through the journey of life. 

Thank you, my friend, for helping me appreciate more of the little things in my life and helping me see the value in truly living. Rest in peace.

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart, 

The Stress Experts

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