On Death

I’ve been focusing so much on the feeling of love lately, and noticing how it makes me feel very “alive.” But the opposite is also true – the feeling of deep sadness also puts us in touch with the essence of life. If you really allow yourself to feel it, grief, in all its pain and difficulty, awakens the root of what it is to be human.

At my aunt’s funeral yesterday, my heart was heavy. I felt sad. But I also felt thoughtful and peaceful, and connected to my loved ones in our loss. Family was all around me, and that felt good. There were hugs, plans made for future visits, and words that aren’t spoken often enough: I love you. I miss you.

And in the heart of all that was my own deep questioning. Where is her spirit now? How long, or how little time, do we all have left on this earth? Have I made the most of my time so far? Have I appreciated my family as much as I can? What if I really knew that my time was limited?

We all know on some level that our time here is finite, but to really acknowledge that deadline is truly awakening.

It is a traditional buddhist practice to contemplate, even meditate on, death. In part, this is related to the doctrine of impermanence. It is only by recognizing how precious and how short life is that we are most likely to make it meaningful and to live it fully.

“We have to learn how to die in every moment in order to be fully alive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“If we really understood and remembered that life was impermanent, we would do everything we could to make the other person happy right here and right now.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

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