Death Helps Us Appreciate Life

The wife of a very close music friend died rather unexpectedly. I can only imagine what she experienced in the last week of her life: she was told that one procedure might give her 6 more months to live; a test revealed that the cancer had spread far and wide, so, alas, the procedure could not be done. In fact, the test revealed that she actually only had a few days left.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Can you imagine how difficult that would be to hear after thinking you had 6 months? I would think it an adjustment that might be impossible to make quickly. And yet, there was no choice offered her. Everyone around her was hopeful; then, hopes were dashed. I understand it was not an easy death. It made me very sad to hear this.
I attended her funeral that was filled with warmth, love, deep sorrow and devastation for some. Her husband, my dear friend, hugged me tight, taking me up on “talking later” when he needed/wanted support. He was amazingly “together” and somewhat cheerful. Perhaps he was relieved that her suffering was over. Or perhaps he was so glad to have us all there to share our love and concern for the living. That’s how I felt at my sister’s funeral a few years back: happy to see people that loved my Sis. I’ll call my friend tomorrow when I have time to listen.
Days later I thought about how remarkable it is that we can wake up each new day. We go to sleep—unconscious, breathing automatically, sometimes dreaming/sometimes not dreaming—and wake up refreshed from sleep. It’s a little miracle all in itself. We are so fortunate to be able to do this—to wake up. Not everyone gets to do so. In fact, there are people all over the world who may not get to wake up tomorrow.
Being alive and getting to wake up tomorrow is an enormous gift to cherish—one not to be taken for granted. Getting to breathe clearly and effortlessly—another gift we rarely think about. Consciously pausing to reflect upon what we are grateful for—this would serve us well. Setting our day’s course in the direction of enjoying something for ourselves as well as making someone else’s life better this day—does this cross our mind(s)? I hope so. In fact, these questions hint at answering how we might appreciate life even more than we do.
Consider this:
1. Take time each morning to bask in the glow of being alive.
2. Follow your breath, sinking down into your soul. Listen to your soul’s wants and needs. Plan ways in which you can manifest them.
3. Think about something you’d like to enjoy this day. It can be small, medium or large. Then consider how you might make someone else’s life better, also. It might be through your actual work or it might be through a volunteer activity. It could simply be through some thoughtful gesture you make to someone you know, or to a stranger.
4. End your day thinking about what you are grateful for. Think of 1-3 things. Being alive can be one of the three.
5. Set an intention for creating something excellent. Do this at least once a week.
Knowing that we all will face a physical ending at some point—and accepting this fact without undue fear—can help us appreciate all the days that we have to be alive. We get more “turns” to see the seasons change, to write someone a note, to attend a favorite arts or sporting event, to hug someone we love, to go on another run in the park, to fix that favorite meal, etc. We get to consciously cherish how delicious it feels to fall asleep when we’re tired and to wake up refreshed, ready for a new day. We get another turn at morning meditation or prayer. We might even put in for a promotion or write another chapter in that book we’re finishing. Who knows… the list can be endless.
What “turns” do you still want to have? What do you long to do that you put on the shelf and try to ignore? What beauty beckons you? What is it that you are called to do in this lifetime? And what are you absolutely determined to be or do while you are breathing in and out? Take note of any answer you get to these questions.
Be sure to appreciate life—even if you aren’t mourning someone’s passing. And if you are saying goodbye to someone, make sure you celebrate and appreciate the life they had. Move then to treasuring and investing in the life you have now. We needn’t have death to remind us about appreciating life, and yet when it does, perhaps we’ll take a quantum leap into creating a magnificent life worth living.

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