Thinking About Death: The Key To Happiness
- March 20, 2018
- Esther Followwill-Johnson
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than into a house of feasting…
Death is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Eccel. 7:2
I think about death pretty often. No, I am not depressed, or cowering in gloomy corners all day. I have quite a sunny disposition! But I have to admit, death is something I find myself thinking about a lot. I’ve realized, it IS possible to daily consider death without being sinister, dark or hopeless. In fact, thinking about death is necessary to a having a truly joyful existence.
Consider this: everything about our modern lives are built around TRYING NOT TO think about death. We prefer comedy, and “feel-good” things. We don’t want to worry about pain, or suffering or loss because they make us so uncomfortable.
I am not exempt; I truly hate pain and am incredibly weak. Loss petrifies me. That feeling runs deep for me, and maybe does for you too. Nothing is more terrifying than the idea of losing someone I love… which is exactly why it is so important to be mindful of the “end of every man.” LIFE IS SHORT.
(You know this. But focusing on it is crucial.)
That person you love the most —yep that one that came to your mind first— they aren’t promised tomorrow. None of us are. Every single time you hug your friend, parent, spouse or sibling goodbye, it might be your last time.
I promise you, if you think about that, it will change how you interact with people.
Drama? Grudges? Unforgiveness? Giving someone the silent treatment? You may not have next week or next month to sort those things out, and make them right. Don’t hold onto that stuff because you literally don’t have time for it. Even if you do have a full 80 years here… no one is given a guarantee.
We all hate loss. But we have no control over it, so might as well just let go. Stop carrying the unnecessary baggage and live free. I will love my husband so much better if every time I look in those ocean-blue eyes, I realize I might not get to tomorrow. Morbid thought? Nope. It’s that kind of thing that sets my heart on fire. Because loving people…. HAVING them here with us, is such a profound privilege. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. This moment is so valuable because it is the only one we really have.
Thinking about death is good for our minds, hearts, and happiness because:
It makes us thankful for what we have now.
It reminds us to treat people with more love and to not be so impatient with each other.
It helps us be more intentional with our time and priorities.
It identifies our fears, which can be so easy to bury…. and that allows us to bring those fears to the Father. (All good for a healthy mind and heart!)
It helps prioritize what matters most. We won’t waste any emotional, spiritual or mental space agonizing about things that are not important in light of eternity, and the returning Jesus!
It reminds us that we are NOT GOD. He is the only one that knows our future, our last moment… and that knowledge humbles us into a right posture before him and toward other people.
If we are numbering our days, making the most of each one, life here will be better in every possible way.
Let’s normalize thinking about death, talking about death, and remembering that our lives on earth are not the end-all. The only way to live well, is to be mindful of our expiration date. It’s coming. So, apologize. Forgive. Let it go. Choose love. We are just a vapor… and the best thing we can do is live this life in mindfulness of the next one.