We are really dysfunctional when it comes to addressing the 100% guaranteed, universal experience. Death. Our society is pretty inept at dealing with it. We don’t talk about death until we are unequivocally confronted by it. When we do if we’re not the ones in a close enough vicinity to confront the grief of it, we want to move on from the topic as quickly as possible.
We tend to think of death as reserved for the old. When it isn’t it’s some sort of failing. The single ubiquitous experience is almost always avoided as a topic in polite conversation. We don’t plan for it or entertain it as a possibility. When we have no choice but to discuss it, we use hushed tones and euphemisms.
It’s strange because Christianity influences much of American culture surrounding death. But Christianity hasn’t always been like this. Catholic tradition has a phrase for taking the time to consider your own mortality, momento mori. Protestantism, too, from it’s earliest beginnings, considered mortality. Martin Luther’s wedding ring included a skull and inscription to remember death.
It can sound morbid, but the purpose was anything but. Considering your mortality was for the purpose of living well. In the case of momento mori, considering you will soon – quite literally – “meet your maker” was used to spur believers to live more virtuous lives and to remember the world will still spin on without them in it. Contemplating the briefness of your time, helps you use it more effectively. We’ve lost some of that ability to stare reality in the face.
Understanding death as a universal experience, doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt when someone you love dies. But, ignoring it is a possibility and ultimately inevitable, compounds the pain. We fail to prepare our finances, our resources, and our hearts. When we fail to prepare, we add to the legal to do lists and practical to do lists. We add additional shock over the emotional hurt that will be there in any case.
We also fall into the lull of living our lives like we have all the time in the world. We fail to understand that how we live each day is what our legacy will ultimately be made up of.
Remembering your mortality. Not simply considering the abstract idea that death is a thing, but that you specifically will die. That you will not get forever here.
It’s not a morbid thing. It’s an important thing. If you take time, periodically, to consider your time is limited, you use the time more effectively. To live more and love harder.
Make room in your life to remember your mortality.