counseling, psychology, self-help

What Death Teaches Us About Life

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Death…it is a topic most of us do not like to talk about much less think about.

Unless we are quite old or in very bad health, death is something that is probably NOT on the forefront of our mind.

In fact, if anything we may feel that we still have PLENTY of time ahead of us.

Plenty of time to….travel

Plenty of time to….get serious about our health

Plenty of time to….fall in love

Plenty of time to…..have children

Plenty of time to…..pursue our dreams

Plenty of time to….mend fences

Plenty of time to…get our finances in order

Plenty of time to…..change careers

Plenty of time to…..????

Fill in the blank. What is it that YOU feel you still have plenty of time to do?

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Maybe you are reading this and you do not know what to fill in your blank with. Many of us never pay mind to the fact that every day that passes, we are all one day closer to death.

It is a morbid truth. A morbid truth many of us avoid thinking about.

In my life death is a topic that is ever-present as my husband is a funeral director. Death is a part of his daily life.

As a therapist, I have also worked with clients through the stages of grief that the death of a loved one brings about.

For these somewhat unique reasons I have very much been influenced by truths about life and death.

Death is something that can shake us to our core.

It can cause an existential crisis–leading us to question EVERYTHING about our life.

Death is something many of us struggle with facing–whether it is our own eventual passing or the passing of a love one.

However, life and death are a package deal. Once we are born, we ALL will inevitably meet the same ending. Everyone we love and care for will eventual pass away.

We too shall pass.

Throughout our lives, there are lessons to be learned from ALL our life experiences. Death of my loved ones has taught me much. It made me realize I do not have all the time in the world.  Some days I wake up and I cannot believe how quickly life is flying by. Some days I can’t believe how many years I have already lived.

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Knowing we all will eventually die should be a gentle reminder that while there is plenty of time, there is not unlimited time.

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Death is the reminder that our time here on Earth is so brief in the grand scheme of things. If Earth is billions of years old and we all get on average about 80 years on the planet, we are all here oh so briefly…

Death is so final. So permanent. So life changing.

Facing it sounds terrifying. Watching someone you love face it is heart breaking.

The reality is my experiences with death and the dying have shaped my life. My priorities have shifted. My idea of what makes a meaningful life has evolved.

Death has a way of recalibrating our values, goals, and views on relationships.

My relationships have changed. I know who my tribe is and I let them know as often as I can how much I appreciate them. I aim to say I love you as often I can to all of my loved ones. I offer encouragement. I provide a shoulder to lean on to those I care about. I try to be generous and thoughtful. Often the time I take off from work is to visit those I love who are scattered across the country.

The realization of how short life is has made me stop spending time with people who don’t value me. No longer do I give my time to just anyone. I don’t feel the need to engage in petty arguments with petty people. I avoid people whose favorite pastime is gossiping. People who are self-centered are no longer part of my inner circle. I will exit stage left from people who show they don’t care. No fuss, no drama, just a quiet retreat.

Of course, I am human and do from time to time waste my time on the trivial. I get sucked into the petty. I sweat the small stuff. I get caught up in nonsense. It is usually shortly after the fact that I realize my time could have been better spent.

Death makes us realize how much of our time is spent on things that don’t even matter.

Death changes people. I believe in the power of people to evolve and grow. Death can be the catalyst for growth.

Death has taught me about the importance of forgiveness. If someone hurts me, comes back into my life with remorse, my heart would welcome almost anyone back.

Compassion is one of the things death has taught me about life.

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The fact that life is short has contributed to me choosing a career that is about more than just earning a paycheck. Over our lifetime, we spend many of our days at work and I want my career to be about more than just making the most amount of money possible. My time is limited and I want to try to derive meaning from how I earn a living.

I do not want the thousands of hours a year spent at work just to be about dollars and figures.

Death and the realization of how limited our time is has shaped my perspective.

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What can death teach us all?

  1. It has this way of showing us the meaning of life and how foolish it is to spend our time sweating the small stuff. Ask yourself, Does this REALLY matter in the grand scheme of things? If it doesn’t let it go.
  2. Life is uncertain. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Enjoy each day. Don’t let a bad day feel like a bad life.
  3. Give second chances. To people who deserve it. Don’t give second chances to people who do not. Your time is precious and it is the one things NONE of us can get back.death 5
  4. The present moment. Cherish it. It is all we have.death3
  5. Life is precious and short. Don’t wait.
  6. Death reminds us of our own humanity and can teach humility. Stay humble.
  7. Death is a game changer. I often ask clients who are struggling the following types of questions:  What would you do if you only had weeks to live? Who would you want to spend your time with? Where would you like to go? What would you spend your last weeks doing? What would your IDEAL life look like?

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE TIME YOU HAVE LEFT?

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To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader in New Jersey):

https://anewcounselingservices.com/erin-theodorou%2Cm-ed-%2C-lpc

 

 

 

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