Death is an undeniable aspect of the human experience, yet it remains one of the least discussed subjects in our society. We avoid talking about it, even though we’re surrounded by death all our lives, and it’s the final transition we go through. By avoiding the topic of death, we miss out on opportunities to grow both personally and in our relationships with others. It’s only by confronting it head-on that we can truly find peace in the face of this inevitable transition.
Main Causes of Fear Surrounding This Transition
There are many reasons why thinking of our final transition might be scary, but one of the main causes could be that staying silent about it does us no favors. After all, we “fear the unknown,” and death is one of the greatest unknowns in life.
Grief may also impact our view of death. However, a big part of the pain of grief – again – is the fact that people don’t talk about it. When a loved one is no longer with you, you should talk about them to the people closest to you. To tiptoe around the elephant in the room is painful for everyone involved. The person you lost was a life – and, in many cases, a major part of your life. You can and should grieve that for as long as it takes.
It’s also important to prepare your kids for death by being honest about the reality of it.
If you can, start slow by saying that you’re sad because a pet died – or your friend died. If you’ve experienced a death in your family, letting your child be involved in the memorial can bring a great deal of peace, too. As is true in many other areas of communication, age-appropriate honesty and clarity are good rules of thumb.
To find peace in the face of death, we need to embrace our mortality and realize that this transition will happen to us one day. Acceptance and surrender are key parts of the process. By acknowledging that death is part of life, we can begin to let go of our fear and resistance. It is through acceptance that we can find meaning and purpose, knowing that our time is limited.
This allows us to prioritize what truly matters and live life to the fullest. Each moment becomes more precious, and we become more present and engaged.
Part of this is also to “death-proof” your life. Another reason death could scare us is because we don’t want life to end – we have so much left to do!
But if you live every day as if it’s your last by not putting things off, you will minimize the regrets you have as you face death. This also helps prevent regrets your loved ones could have from strained relationships. Treating every day as if it’s your last – and dealing with your unresolved anger – can be a huge step in the right direction.
Ruminating on death – as strange as it may sound – can also help. Caitlin Doughty of “Ask a Mortician” has an informative YouTube channel dedicated to unpacking death. She talks about historical and cultural traditions surrounding death and more.
You can plan for the practical aspects of death by asking yourself:
- Do I want to be cremated, buried naturally, or embalmed – or something else?
- What do I want my funeral service(s) to be like?
- Is there anything I’d like in my casket (if not cremated)?
- What do I want to happen to my estate?
- Will I need a will, a trust, or both?
- What pictures do I want to be shared at my funeral? (Create a shared album!)
- What songs do I want to be played at my funeral? (Create a playlist!)
- What do I want to be remembered for?
- What do I want my obituary to say? (Write it yourself!)
Finding Peace in the Face of Death
Several strategies can help us find peace when confronted with the reality of death. Meditation and mindfulness can be powerful in fostering a sense of calm and acceptance. By focusing on the “now” and accepting our thoughts and emotions without judgment, we can remember the impermanence of life and find peace.
Connecting with nature is another effective way to find solace in the face of death. Time outdoors, surrounded by the beauty and wonder of the natural world, can remind us of the cycles of life and the interconnectedness of all living things. Nature has a way of putting things into perspective.
Spiritual guidance can also provide comfort and support. Whether through religious practices or personal beliefs, spirituality helps us understand and navigate the mysteries of life and death. Connecting with something greater than ourselves can bring a feeling of peace and purpose.
Strong support systems are vital throughout our lives. Family and friends can provide a great deal of emotional support and companionship during difficult times. Sharing our fears, worries, and emotions with loved ones can lighten our burdens and help us feel less alone in our journey.
Our support systems help us celebrate new life – and they help us cope with life lost. When loved ones have been on the brink of death (or even approaching unknown circumstances in their lives), friends and family show up early in the morning and late at night to support us, share resources, and provide light in an otherwise dark time.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and have no idea what to say when they tell you, “Let me know if you need anything” (or if you’re the one asking), we’ve got you! Keep reading to learn how to sign up for our newsletter, where you can get helpful resources like “15 Ways You Can Help a Friend Who is Grieving the Loss of a Loved One”! (Coming soon!)
Therapy and counseling can also help you navigate the complex emotions that crop up when confronting death. A trained professional can provide guidance and help you process your feelings, offering tools and strategies for finding peace and acceptance. (Real talk: when April’s mother-in-law died, her therapist was the first person she called after the funeral home.)
Support groups are another valuable resource. Connecting with those who have experienced similar loss or are facing their mortality can provide a sense of belonging and understanding. Sharing stories can be cathartic and can offer new perspectives about your experience.
Legacy and Leaving an Impact
Thinking about our legacy is another way we can find peace. Documenting our personal stories, whether through writing or other self-expression, can help us reflect on our lives and leave a lasting impact. By sharing our experiences, wisdom, and lessons learned, we can inspire others. If you wonder what you’d be leaving unsaid if you died tomorrow, writing it out and leaving a message for the people you love can put your mind at ease.
Acts of kindness and service are another meaningful way to leave an impact. By choosing acts of love and compassion, we create a ripple effect that goes far beyond our own existence. Small gestures of kindness can bring comfort and joy to others, and they can also bring us a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
Building relationships is also crucial in finding peace in the face of death. Nurturing connections with loved ones and building meaningful relationships allows us to leave a lasting impact on the lives of others. When we invest in our relationships and foster deep connections, we can find solace in the knowledge that we have made a difference in the lives of those we love.
Maya Angelou once told a beautiful story of her Uncle Willie and the legacy he left. Chances are that her uncle never knew the great impact he left – not only on his niece but on the other people he interacted with.
Legacy is something that we are always unintentionally building. Build it well!
Finding Peace Through Planning for the Future
Embracing the journey and finding peace in the face of death is a deeply personal and transformative process. Acknowledging the reality of our mortality and embracing death as an integral part of life helps us find solace. Through practices like meditation, connecting with nature, seeking spiritual guidance, and leaning on our support systems, we can navigate the complex journey of confronting death.
Leaving a positive legacy and cultivating meaningful relationships can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Ultimately, by embracing the journey and confronting death with an open heart and a willingness to explore the unknown, we can find peace, growth, and enlightenment.
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