How Contemplating Death Can Enhance Life

Hob&Bird2 - Contemplating DeathAs the saying goes: Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. Taxes, however, come due at predictable times, which forces us to prepare, even if we hate doing it. Death, on the other had, is completely unpredictable and so much easier to put it out of our minds until it is too late.

A friend of mine recently lost her husband to a heart attack. Sudden, with little warning! Gone! It really can happen just like that. So it is wise to have your life in order.

Statistics, of course favor our dying in hospital, possibly full of tubes on life support. The media has lots of scary stories about how our medical system is keeping us alive past our body’s expiration date. Katy Butler’s best seller, Knocking on Heaven’s Door, describes how the decision to implant a pacemaker in her father’s chest not only hastened the advance of his dementia but kept him going, in increasing incapacity, years after the promised release of his fragile heart. I read an article last night about how most physicians choose a more peaceful life-end than they provide their patients, because they know better than to submit to the aggressive treatments that are now available.

I am not sure that scare tactics are the best way to encourage people to think about death. It might make them more cautious about their medical decisions, which is good, but fear tends to promote avoidance rather than action.

Instead, I suggest we contemplate our death because it can enhance our life.

Last spring I organized a six-part series on dying well for cancer survivors and their families. It was amazing to see how just talking about death reduces a lot of the fear. And fear is what fuels much of our end-of-life misery

Awareness of our impermanence can encourage us to engage in life more fully. It reminds us that life is precious and to handle it with care. It snaps us out of everyday minutia and into a wider view of who we are and why we are here. That is what happened to me after my parents died. I saw life and death in a completely different way. It made me both curious and courageous and lead to the making of my film series, Secrets of Life and Death. One of the first people I interviewed for my series told me that losing her partner took away her fear of life. I know exactly what she means.

Of course it is easier to embrace these life-affirming benefit when death is not breathing down your neck. That is why I recommend its contemplation before you get a life-threatening diagnosis or face a sudden death.

It is also easier to do in the company of others. Next Wednesday, October 23, at 5 pm PST, I invite you to join me for my interview on Blogtalk Radio with host Uma Girish. I’ll be sharing the story of the creation of Secrets of Life and Death and many of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Come with your questions and own discoveries about life and death.

No need to register. Join us live or listen to the recording, by clicking on this link:


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Grief Transformation Coach Michelle Peticolas, Ph.D. helps people transform their grief with a holistic approach to mind, body and spirit that heals trauma, reframes past attachments and releases limiting beliefs while uncovering a true life purpose and direction. If you’re ready to shift into a whole new way of being with death and loss, a new way of living your life, get Michelle’s complimentary guide, Essentials for Grieving Well at

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