By Ally Bolender
Web Content Assistant Manager
This question reminds me of a conversation I had with my great grandmother a while back. My great grandfather had died a few years before, and she was talking about her 99th birthday coming up.
She said something along the lines of, “I always figured that after your great grandpa died I would follow close behind, but somehow I’m still here.”
I was kind of stunned by what she said, but she continued, “I’ve been waiting for the day to come. I just kind of sit around, waiting.”
It seems clear to me that once you reach an old age, you become more comfortable with the idea of death. By that point, you’ve lost most of your friends and family. You’ve had your life experiences, done what you’ve needed to do, and now peacefully age until the day comes. I can’t say if that’s true for everyone or not, but after living for another 60 years or so, I can’t imagine it being too difficult to accept.
But, unfortunately, we all don’t go from old age.
The thought of death is squeamish for some people, including myself. I think maybe a part of that stems from not entirely knowing what will come after our time on earth is over. We have religions and theories, but we truly don’t know the greatest question.
But it’s all about accepting the inevitable, right? Even though we know it will happen, as humans we still ponder when, why, how, then what? We’re intelligent beings that can’t accept that one thing out of our control.
There’s no three-step process to being comfortably with mortality, and accepting mortality doesn’t arrive the same way for everyone.
So, instead, I like to focus on what I want to do before I die. It sounds very cliché, but I try to live each day as if it were my last. Once you program yourself to realize how much enjoyment comes from the simplicities of life and emotions, you naturally become aware that you are alive, and that is certainly not something to take for granted.
There are plenty of books on mortality and accepting death, but one book that programed myself to really value my “alive-ness” is “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.”
The premise of this book is basically, “look, we’re all going to die. It’s going to happen. Stop giving a f*ck about all the stupid crap and hurry! Do what you can before you’re dead!” Definitely a good read if you’re trying to get comfortable with living life knowing that any day could be your last.
Whether old age, a life-altering experience or a reprogram of the brain, you can get to the point where you are comfortable with your mortality. Instead of spending time worrying about it, spend time making active changes in your life to reach that comfortability with it.
Avoid thinking about how uncomfortable you are with it, and look for ways to change the way you think about mortality and death. After all, it’s going to happen whether you’re comfortable with it or not.
However, if it gives you any comfort, I like to remind myself:
Even though life feels short, it’s the longest thing we’ll ever know.