Death is some­thing I think about of­ten. It might be my anx­i­ety dis­or­der, but most days, the thought en­ters my mind, Am I dy­ing?” I mean, tech­ni­cally, the an­swer is al­ways yes. We’re all dy­ing every day. The pan­demic makes this that much worse. Add to that my no longer be­ing re­li­gious and, there­fore, no longer be­liev­ing what I used to, and you’ve got your­self quite the cock­tail of anx­i­ety.

I’m barely be­gin­ning to ex­plore how other peo­ple view death. It was­n’t some­thing I gave much thought to for most of my life, and I ar­ro­gantly thought that any­one not be­long­ing to my re­li­gion was with­out hope when it came to death. See, I thought I had all the an­swers. That death is tem­po­rary; that it’s like sleep—you’re asleep one mo­ment and then awake again the next.

Religion can be ex­cep­tion­ally com­fort­ing in that way. I did­n’t think about my mor­tal­ity or what the fu­ture en­tailed. Most be­lief sys­tems con­vince you that you never die.

But I don’t be­lieve that any­more. And it’s tough. I feel as if I’ve been robbed of some­thing. The af­ter­life was al­ways rep­re­sen­ta­tive of an ideal life. A life in which I was per­fectly healthy, I had a home with­out a mort­gage on the beach some­where, and I could en­joy my life away from the suf­fo­cat­ing grasp of cap­i­tal­ism.

I don’t mean to be re­duc­tive, but be­liev­ing in an af­ter­life is kind of like be­liev­ing in Santa Claus. It would be fan­tas­tic if it were real, but there’s just no ev­i­dence to prove it fac­tual. And hon­estly, it’s hard for me to ac­cept it. It is the re­al­iza­tion that there is no per­fect life, and that just as so many be­fore me, one day I will cease to ex­ist and my life will be over.

But truth mat­ters to me, and from my re­search, this is the re­al­ity. Living in truth means ac­cept­ing dif­fi­cult things that defy what I thought to be true. And I don’t want to be dog­matic about it ei­ther; I don’t know 100 per­cent what will hap­pen when I die. But com­ing to terms with the fi­nal­ity of life also gives it a beau­ti­ful new pur­pose. It helps me cen­ter and be pre­sent and ap­pre­ci­ate every mo­ment. It helps me re­mem­ber that I need to tell the peo­ple I love that I love them. It helps me be mind­ful of the im­pact I have on oth­ers and how they feel in my pres­ence.

So while this new un­der­stand­ing of death has been dif­fi­cult (and will con­tinue to be), I’m ul­ti­mately grate­ful that I have the chance to ac­cept it and grieve it now. That re­al­ity will in­flu­ence every­thing I do with the rest of this won­der­ful life that I have. And that is a gift.

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  1. Joel 🐻 Bear Joel 🐻 Bear
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings so openly. Death is something most of us don't talk much about (especially not outside of religious contexts). I've wrestled with it from many different angles as well. If you ever want to have an open conversation, let me know.
  2. caro 🖤🔮✨ caro 🖤🔮✨
    “coming to terms with the finality of life also gives it a beautiful new purpose”
  3. caro 🖤🔮✨ caro 🖤🔮✨
    Thank you for sharing. It’s easy to get caught up in the nothingness of death. A great reminder that the privilege of knowing we will die and our life will end is living life now on purpose.

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