The Question I’ve Been Pondering Most of My LifeDec 25, 2023
In my previous blog to you, I invited you to use this month to reflect on 2023 to help you prepare for 2024. As a death contemplator, I also believe that it’s essential to look ahead to discover what’s important now. And I’m not talking about the end of the year, I’m talking about the end of your life.
Death changes us.
When I survived a bad car accident at the age of 16, the first thing I did when I got back home was write letters to my three best friends at the time. In these letters, I told them how much I loved them, what I appreciated about them, and what my hopes for them were. Writing those letters was the first thing I ever did to prepare for my inevitable death, and I’ve been contemplating death and my mortality ever since.
My reaction to the car accident was not unusual. So much has been written about people who experience these kinds of wake-up calls as a result of narrowly escaping death or getting terminal diagnoses. Also, people in their dying days often speak about experiencing enormous growth and transformation including an increased appreciation for life and the people they love.
Don’t you want to have what they’re having?
The question I’ve pondered most of my life is, why would you postpone experiencing growth, transformation, and an appreciation for life?
I’ve come to realize that consciously contemplating my own mortality is the most powerful tool to help me live with purpose, intention and love. That’s why I’m on a mission to help people explore the reality of their mortality through heart-centered, inquiry-based end-of-life education and planning.
7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death
One of the exercises in Willow's 7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death workbook and the online program prompts you to think about and articulate your hopes and fears about your inevitable death. This simple but profound exercise often results in an enormous release of tension, and has propelled people to make changes in the way they’re living their life. Try it for yourself below!
EXERCISE: HOPES AND FEARS
Take a moment to think about your inevitable death. Notice and try to name how you’re feeling. Spend time with the following questions either through journaling, quiet reflection or in conversation with others. As you explore, try to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and observations, including any questions that arise.
- What fear and concerns do you have about your inevitable death and dying?
- What hopes and desires do you have for your inevitable death and dying?
One person told me that as a result of thinking of her hopes and fears around her inevitable death, she changed how she cares for herself. Her hope and desire is for an elaborate ritual — perhaps lasting a few days — with her people transporting, washing, caring for, and dressing her deceased body. Only after articulating this hope did she realize that she wasn’t taking great care of her body in the here and now! After doing this exercise, she changed her personal-care practice dramatically.
As for me, my biggest fear around my inevitable death is that my daughter will be unprepared and traumatized when I die. Knowing this compelled me to have open and regular conversations about death and dying with her, which we do. We also have an agreement that we never part or go to bed angry at each other.
I invite you to try this exercise for yourself, and if inspired, contact us at [email protected] to share your hopes and fears and how this exercise impacted you.
If you’re looking for more, there are 3 ways to explore all of Willow’s 7 Tools for Making Sense of Life and Death.
Self-Study On-line Program
For $77, work at your own pace and let us walk you through the 7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death workbook.
- Includes the digital workbook, and resource sheets and additional tools not found anywhere else.
7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death print workbook
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7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death fillable, digital workbook
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Please keep in mind, that if you never take the time to think about what matters in the end, you may never know what matters now.
Reena (she/her) Co-founder of Willow End of Life Education and Planning