There are two phases of life. The one in which you’re unaware of death and the one in which you are. Once you lose someone close to you, you live life differently. The finality of life becomes abundantly clear and you question why you do things.
Knowing that life will end is good. It pushes you to make the most of your life. Learn a new skill. Change your career. Settle down, get married and have children. See the world. Donate to someone in need. You have a new found focus on living when you know it will end.
I’m a different person after June 30, 2016. That was the day my father died. Prior to that I had lost grandparents but losing my father hit me differently. I was there the moment he died. I witnessed his last breath.
The weeks after his death, I remember not being able to work. I couldn’t focus. What was the point? I couldn’t understand how my job mattered. All I saw was black and white. It either was important or it wasn’t.
It’s funny how that happens. You’re not stressed when you’re grieving. In fact, you have a new found understanding of life.
As time passes, you get sucked back into life and your usual thoughts. You stress about an assignment at work. You stress about having errands to do. You stress about paying the mortgage. But you seem to forget that in one second, your life could be over. And if it did, you’d have spent the last second stressing.
If only we could maintain clarity in everything being temporary.
Memento mori — remember death! These are important words. If we kept in mind that we will soon inevitably die, our lives would be completely different. If a person knows that he will die in a half hour, he certainly will not bother doing trivial, stupid, or, especially, bad things during this half hour. Perhaps you have half a century before you die-what makes this any different from a half hour? ~ Leo Tolstoy
So how does your life change when you remember death?
You focus on things that matter.
We live with to do lists. Often times these items are not essential. They don’t make us happy. They don’t add value to our lives. When you live like you’re dying, you’re able to prioritize the things that truly matter to you. You’ll spend more time with your children.
You show your appreciation.
If you don’t know if tomorrow will come, you will show appreciation today. That coworker that completed an assignment for you, you’ll say thank you. You’ll call an old friend. You’ll send your aunt a present for her birthday. You will go above and beyond what you normally do to show people you value them. You’ll cherish your relationships with others.
You are honest.
With death in mind, you have nothing to lie about. Don’t want to go somewhere? Say no. Need a mental health day at work? Say so. Would rather be home spending time with your family instead of going to an event? Say no. There is absolutely no reason to come up with lies. Do the things you truly want to do and be honest about it.
You love more.
I will not leave the house without saying goodbye to my husband and children. I make an effort to kiss them all before I leave. My husband tells me to drive safe for the same reason. He walks me to my car and helps with my things. We love more knowing. We’ve both experience loss and that has made us closer.
I’m not perfect. I forget that tomorrow may never come. I get sucked into useless thoughts. But when I remember, I’m relaxed. Life has clarity. My thoughts move from I don’t know to I know. I am positive, loving, honest and appreciative. When I don’t remember, I’m negative. I focus on things that don’t add value to my life, that don’t make me a better person. This article is a reminder to focus on things and people you care about. Hug someone a little longer. Tell someone thank you. Spend an extra 10 minutes playing outside with your children. By living life remembering death, you’re ensuring you make the most of every moment.