How Reflecting On Mortality Can Lead You To a More Thriving Life

October inevitably comes around every year and every year in October I am ambushed with emotions. I lost two people in that month whom I was deeply close to, which left my world turned upside down. It’s coming up on 8 years ago that I lost my dad. Part of my grief was my close examination on the idea of death. Prior to these losses in my life, I was terrified of the fact that one day, no matter how much money you possess or how saintly you live your life, we all have an end date and cannot escape it. My dad would always question why birthdays and death days are imprinted on tombstones when it’s the in between part that matters. Hence, when he passed, all of his obituaries, prayer cards, and even my brother’s tattoo were stamped with July 14th, 1954 - DASH - October 8th, 2010. The “dash” is what he was remembered for; not the morning in July when he was born, or the dark day in October when he took his last breath in front of loved ones.

This devastating event enlightened me to two things; 1) this life goes incredibly quickly so you better start living out your legacy now, and 2) I am no longer afraid to die since I have the possibility of seeing him again one day.

In the book, The Struggle for Significance by Brennecke and Amick it states “the beginning is not at birth - we’ll get there eventually. The real beginning is at death. A full understanding and appreciation of life must begin with a realization that it will end”. The only thing that is guaranteed in life is death. Death brings about dread, anger, anxiety, and unfairness. As morbid as it sounds, it really is the only certainty in life. Once this concept is accepted, you can start to live your life full of meaning and without regret.

After pondering this existential question, I became aware that I was living a “half-experienced” life. My days blended together; I was on autopilot checking off my to-do list, and I really didn’t have much that made me truly happy. This state of being had to change immediately. My fear became laying on my deathbed, regretting all the things I did not do in life.

Life is meant to be deeply felt, filled with meaning, and fully engaged. We should be facing each day with enthusiasm, but instead we are in a constant mundane mentality. We either dwell on the days that are gone and cannot be undone, or live in a future that is not promised. Then, when life is taken away from us in an instant, we wish we would have lived with more intention.

If the death of my father taught me one thing, it was to understand the fragility of life. Sometimes it takes a tragic accident, a life altering situation, or the death of a loved one to really understand that our lives are truly precious. Our time on earth is finite, so let’s start living that way! Take each day and make the best of it. Find the lessons in the dark moments. We have all heard “life is too short”, so why are we not more aware of mortality?  Take this as your second chance and change the quality of your life. Live the life you feel you were destined for. Love hard and without regrets. There is a purpose, and it’s up to you to start living a life that matters.

Ashton Saldanadeath, october