What death has taught me about life


When my previous partner died about a few years ago it catapulted me forward in every way imaginable. You don’t need that kind of agony to propel yourself into a new phase of life – but when bad things happen, I’ve learned not to waste the insights. They can be all you have left.

In darkest grief I felt like a black hole was pulling me in. I was gut-wrenchingly lonely and financially exposed because my partner had been in denial about dying and left a lot of things undone. Vultures smelled the combined scents of dying and financial disarray in the air and circled.The days following a death direct the harsh lens of ultimate reality on those left behind, so that you can see right through their skin; you see what they’re made of, how they behave when they’re hungry, sad and alone. I saw through many people as they disappeared; as stuff disappeared with them. The old life dissolved.

Winter was long.


Then unexpectedly, I triumphed.

Not over people: those who loved, continued to love; those who hated, continued to hate. Nor did I triumph over death — we all die one day.

I triumphed by being catapulted body and soul into realising that our physical time is utterly limited and when it finishes you’re not ready unless you live every day how you want to be remembered. I understood how everything could finish when you’re right in the middle of things and that the time to love completely, to live your values and take action on them isn’t going to wait. Now is all we have.

Death taught me that every moment is throbbing with possibility — there’s no time to waste being anything but an embodiment of your values and core desires, immersed in that which lights you up. It taught me that if you’re not in pain — you’re lucky, and if you are in pain – it’s best to deal with it sooner rather than later.

Death taught me life is so much simpler than we make it out to be. There’s no time for resentment-building in relationships, no time for being cruel, small-minded or greedy — and to be that way is delusional because it will play out through the seeds you sow, the energy of your soul. There’s no time to intentionally hurt, to create damage — there’s not even any point. That kind of victory is a death and there’s no time for death in life.

From death, I learned to live passionately, live kindly, to love like there’s no tomorrow, because everything else is a waste of our precious time.


Author: Debra Campbell-Tunks, curated from What Death Taught Me About Life