Death More Intimate

We all die.

Every person you’ve ever known; every relative and friend, every pet, every living thing you’ve ever heard about or seen dies at some point. Dying is part of life. It reflects the larger Impermanence of all things.

There’s a funny, inexplicable separation between knowing something intellectually, and KNOWING something by experience. Everyone currently alive knows they’re going to die, yet almost none of them have done it before.

So, it’s no surprise that considering death can stir up fear. For much of the human race, denial is the simplest means of coping with the fact. Such is the central idea in Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Denial of Death.

“The irony of man’s condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation; but it is life itself which awakens it, and so we must shrink from being fully alive.”
― Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death

From’s article ‘The Odds of Dying‘.
Infographic by Karl Tate.

And yet, neither does knowing that death is imminent mean that all is peachy keen.
Losing a loved one is one of the largest sources of Grief in life. We have an entire section devoted to helping prepare for, deal with, and help others. Please give it a look if it may help you:

The goal of this page, however, is to bring us back to the reasonable middle ground:

  • knowing we’re going to die
  • letting it be ok
  • talking and thinking about it more openly
  • letting it inform our time alive

So, here’s to death! Here’s to the friend that we all share to greet us at the end of life’s path.


A movie that brings attention to the certainty of death…this clip shows a mother and son trying to spend their last moment together.

A movie that brings attention to the certainty of death…this clip shows a mother and son trying to spend their last moment together.

What might happen to your body after it’s donated to science. Another look at the fascinating work of Dr. Gunther Von Hagen.

We fear it so much that we avoid thinking about it at all costs — even when death is exactly what we think we’re talking about.

A hypothetical secret glimpse into the lives of people inside a hospital building. We are all dealing with a lot more than you might think, especially the ever-present threat of dying.

A short special about Death Cafes, in which folks get together to talk more openly about death.

Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.

What You Learn During a Plane Crash – A man recounts his brush with death, complete with time to digest his thoughts.

Why most people ‘die’ before 25. A motivational perspective.

Death Anxiety and Terror Management

Am I dying? What happens next when a badly hurt person asks you this question.

A 1.5-hour Documentary on the ideas behind The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker
(Here’s a 10-minute summary)
(5-minute summary)

Time of Death

This docu-series follows brave, terminally ill individuals as they live out their final days, supported by family, friends, healthcare teams and hospice workers, who gently help guide the process.

This clip shows Cheyenne, suffering from ALS, possessing a powerful sense of spirit and optimism.

Conquering Our Fear of Death, from Shots of Awe

A Comic from Zen Pencils

We love this comic, in which Stanley Kubrick’s quote is explored as a response to the human condition of creating meaning in life, despite inevitable death. You can check out the original post on the Zen Pencils website here. (Click to see the whole comic)

Consider This…

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The odds that your cause of death will be in a fatal car crash are at least 1 in 113. (source)(source)(source)

Every time you get in a car, the likelihood that you will THEN die in a car crash are 1 in 47,718. (source)

The odds that you will sustain some kind of injury from a car crash in your lifetime are about 1 in 200. (source)

Here is a good article with car accident statistics by country.

How would we handle the fear of death if we truly understood how much it is a constant companion?

A couple more interesting facts:

Click the image to see the full infographic.


Some Quotes

Joy at the smallest things comes to you only when you have accepted death. But if you look out greedily for all that you could still live, then nothing is great enough for your pleasure, and the smallest things that continue to surround you are no longer a joy. Therefore I behold death, since it teaches me how to live. If you accept death, it is altogether like a frosty night and an anxious misgiving, but a frosty night in a vineyard full of sweet grapes. You will soon take pleasure in your wealth. Death ripens. One needs death to be able to harvest the fruit. Without death, life would be meaningless, since the long-lasting rises again and denies its own meaning. To be, and to enjoy your being, you need death, and limitation enables you to fulfill your being. – Carl Jung

Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.

“Fast-forward xx years from today. Imagine that scene of your own funeral. You have that program in your hand. What does it say? You watch your loved ones get up and speak about you and their love for you. What do they say? Who were you in their eyes?” – Steven Covey

Live like it’s your last day…What does that even mean?
Does it mean you should party with crack and hookers all day long? Or does it mean “don’t worry about the future”?
I have two kids. I have to think about the future. And crack doesn’t seem like fun. And I’d rather be with someone I love.
I try to do this instead: live life like it’s everyone else’s last day.
Then you learn to treat everyone with the highest respect. They are dying tomorrow! – James Altucher.