The Intimacy of Death

Working at a Hospice I asked a woman: “What’s it like to know you are dying?” she responded “what is it like pretending you aren’t?”

While sitting in a chemotherapy waiting room earlier this year, I thought to myself “some of these people are actively dying.” A feeling of sadness overwhelmed me and a wee bit of anxiety crept inside my chest. A few moments later, my thoughts shifted to “we are all dying.” In that awareness, the anxiety began to dissipate.

It is so easy to walk around this world with the illusion that we will live forever. In fact, longevity is what most humans strive for. This false idea that humans are immortal covers up the sweetness and palpable intimacy of life. The journey of exploration into the intimacy of life begins with a conscious awareness of death. In this acknowledgement of death, we are free to live more fully.

Here are some ways to become more intimate with death:

  1. Make a list of your fears around death and discuss them with a family member or friend.
  2. Host a death dinner and invite your closest friends to share their experiences and thoughts on death.
  3. Educate yourself about end-of-life care and the death process.  Click Here for a resource list to get you started.
  4. Reserve a time to reflect on what mortality means to you. A good question to start with: If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do differently today?

Looking through the lens of mortality, life takes on a whole new meaning. One’s day-to-day experience of life no longer relies solely on the mind, but of the senses too. As fleeting as life is, this present moment living, generated by the awareness of death, renders great stillness. In these moments, life and death have no separation. They are merely dancing partners, shifting the lead according to one’s individual song of life.

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