Reflecting on Mortality

Reflecting on Mortality

The recent passing of my Uncle has stirred in me deeper reflections on life and mortality. He was not a great man, nor an evil one – simply a man who led a messy, imperfect life, but who nonetheless found glimmers of happiness and meaning amidst the suffering and struggle. His death, more viscerally than others I’ve experienced, reminds me that our time on this Earth is finite.

It’s easy, in the day-to-day, to ignore our mortality. We sail through life feeling invincible, until a health scare or tragedy pierces that illusion. A sudden cancer diagnosis, worrying chest pains, or the loss of someone close to us – these jolt us into awareness of life’s fragility, sending us spiraling into anxiety as we scour WebMD and imagine all the maladies that could claim us.

But what if, instead of careening between obliviousness and panic, we cultivated a healthier relationship with our mortality? What if some ritual or practice could keep us mindful that our days are numbered, inspiring us to live more intentionally and prepare pragmatically for death? I believe developing such a mindset brings a newfound sense of perspective and peace.

For myself, this means first getting my affairs in order while I’m still able. It’s alarming how often people pass without even a basic will in place, burdening their families with the costs of the funeral and the ugly battles over money and possessions. I refuse to leave my loved ones in such a lurch. For their sake, I’m committed to building up robust college funds for my kids, paying down debt, and ensuring my wife has income if I’m gone. Taking care of the finances is step one.

But equally crucial is planning for the intangibles. If I die, how will my business and creative endeavors carry on? Who will take the reins on my unfinished projects? I need to map out that continuity now, to minimize the loose ends left behind. Moreover, I must bequeath to my children not just money, but a philosophical inheritance – my values, my dreams for their lives, my belief in the richness of this world. I want to instill in them a love for learning, wanderlust for travel, a passion for music and art. That means penning letters to their future selves, curating reading lists, and connecting them with mentors and experiences to nourish those ideals.

Perhaps most sobering of all, I need to envision my own exit and make those tough decisions for my family now, to spare them that anguish later. Decide how any assets will be divided so there’s no cause for quarrels. Choose what keepsakes to bestow on whom so my treasures become theirs. Ensure they’ll have not just financial stability, but emotional support and strong role models to lean on. My boys deserve that safety net of love.

But in contemplating the end, I’ve realized the most vital piece is how I live in the meantime. Yes, my family needs me to have a will, to build up savings, to say my goodbyes. But more than that, they need me to be present, to be my best self, to show them what it means to thrive. Staring down mortality has taught me that preparing for death is really about embracing life fully, chasing my potential, and growing into the man and father I want to be. It’s about modeling for my kids how to navigate adversity and wrest joy from this existence. Only then can I face the end with peace, knowing I’ve paved a path for them.

So as the grief of loss mingles with musings on my own inevitable passing, I arrive at this truth: the way to master our fate is not to evade death, but to truly inhabit the life we have. We can’t control when we exit this world, but we can pour our souls into every day above ground – doing work we’re proud of, making memories with those we cherish, evolving into wiser and kinder versions of ourselves. Let us plant the seeds now of love, resilience, and purpose. Then, when death does come knocking, our legacy will be a garden in full bloom, nourishing the earth we leave behind.

As told to Ruthless Magazine