3 Lessons Writing About Death Has Taught Me About Life


I spent most of my childhood being terrified of death.

I can remember laying in bed when I was younger, feeling my heart swell in my chest every time the thought of death even crossed my mind. Most nights, I’d end up jumping out of bed and running to my parent’s bedroom because I simply couldn’t accept the fact that one day, I was going to die.

I think I feared death so much because I lost my father when I was three years old to a fatal car accident when he was just 25. My father’s death left a profound impression on me, and inspired me to think more about it, even when it made me uncomfortable. That’s why, when given the opportunity to explore the idea of death as a blogger, I saw it as a challenge that would change me forever.

It’s been three years since I took the job as a funeral service writer, and I’ve learned a lot about myself (and life) since then. Here are the three most important lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Death provides a necessary balance to life.

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I’ve come to realize that death is what makes life possible. Every beginning must have an end and every end brings a new beginning. I don’t want to challenge or push any religions or thought systems here, but my own death will bring a new beginning in some way. As Steve Jobs once said, it allows us to rid ourselves of the old and make room for the new.  This thought has helped me realize that the death of many things in my life have allowed me to make room for new beginnings. Without the death of the old, we wouldn’t be able to evolve and change from new things that make their way into our lives, would we?

2. Death is what fuels life.

Death is the most irreversible, permanent thing there is. But without it, there is no inspiration to experience life. If we were all immortal, our days wouldn’t be numbered. And without our biological clocks ticking, we wouldn’t see a need to pack as much as we do into our short time here. Because I’m the age my father was when he passed away, I feel an extreme need to get out and live this amazing life I’ve been given. Life is such a precious gift that can be torn away from you in a heartbeat, so why sit around and let it pass you by?

3. Death inspires you to be here, in the moment.

Somewhere on the journey of exploring the idea of death, I came across the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass. To this day, it’s one of the most insightful books I’ve ever read. The title itself taught me a very valuable lesson: be here now. It sounds simple, but are you really present in all the moments of your life, or are you distracted by your past and future? Do you spend more time trying to be happy than actually being happy? It wasn’t until I read this quote for the first time three years ago that I realized I was guilty of distracting myself from the present moment:

“Early in the journey you wonder how long the journey will take and whether you will make it in this lifetime. Later you will see that where you are going is HERE and you will arrive NOW…so you stop asking.”

This quote has allowed me to bring more intention and integrity into everything I do. It has taught me that if now is the only moment we have for sure, why not embrace it?  

Final thoughts

Over the last three years, I’ve learned that death isn’t just something I should accept, but an essential part of life. It’s the ending to the beautiful, whirlwind story of my life that I must write on my own. And since my life story is my message to the world, I’m going to make sure it’s a damn good one.

What has your career in death taught you about life over the years? Tell me in the comments below!

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  1. Robert Carway

    So true. Without death there would be no reason to “carpe diem.” Thank you.