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The Secret of Life is DEATH Is there one subject more unwelcome than death?

Is there one word more feared an d reviled, at least in Western Society? Death is the grim reaper, the final coun tdown, the end of life. Our death is a subject with which we are distinctly unco mfortable. It is final and absolute. The prospect of dying too painful to even t hink about. So our best solution to this uncomfortable topic is not to think abo ut it, mention it, or even deal with it. Perhaps, instead, we should think about it and what it means in our lives. "You're a long time dead," as they say in Ireland. "Live for today, be happy if you can". We don't deal with death until we have no further option, the loss of a loved one, an acquaintance, a family member. Perhaps we think about it when we reach a certain age, and perhaps we are confronted with it when serious illness strikes. The truth is even if we feel mortal then that moment passes with our r ecovery. We almost want to believe that we are invincible and will live forever. Our death is the single most unwelcome and feared event in our lives. What thoug h if we were wrong? What if we have been looking down the wrong end of the teles cope? What if we have let that fear of death control our lives? Might that fear prevent us from really living and celebrating life for what it could be? Isn't i t true also that many people are dissatisfied with their lives? This is not diss atisfaction based on lack of possessions or money. This is an empty life and a l ack of meaning and depth in our day to day existence. We know there is supposed to be more to life. We know there should be. We know i n our hearts that our struggles to survive and to accumulate, power or riches, d o not make us happy. We know too that people die unfulfilled, with many regrets and all too soon life is over. We know too that suicide rates are higher than ev er before. We know that depression increases with the onset of middle age. Yet our death is the single thing that is guaranteed in life. The same thing app lies, though the time frame may vary, to every 'living' thing. Pity the fruit fl y, then whose life cycle last about one week. Are we envious of the oak tree, th en whose life span extends to a matter of hundreds of years? Probably not, is th e answer. Who wants to live forever? If we were honest, those poor folk of fiction doomed to eternal life, seem very tired with the whole process. The fact is we are all going to die and that death will be the single most important even of our lives. Not only that, we are goin g to have to deal with the death of grandparents, parents, siblings and even our children. How can it be that we discuss death then only in hushed fearful whisp ers? Why is death our taboo subject and our greatest fear? Analysing that fear helps us understand the nature of our reticence. Although ha lf the world for a start doesn't fear death in the way that we in the West do. E astern religions maintain a belief in reincarnation. They don't believe death is the endgame. Whether we accept a traditional Christian viewpoint or not, death in these terms is not seen as the end of anything other than a spell in this lif e. In a sense such a death is a rebirth and as much a reason for celebration as anything else. After all, this would at least imply another "crack of the whip," so to speak. Nevertheless such a rebirth, if possible and even probable doesn't alter the fac t of our death and the end of our time on this earth. This moment is for everyon e involved a deeply transforming process. The many wonderful people who work in hospices and witness death on a regular basis, give many fascinating accounts of different deaths. They see and hold the hands of people who are afraid to die, as well as those who are prepared. They see those who are reconciled with the wo rld and those who have things left unsaid or undone. It is clear from these expe

riences that the act of death and the manner or our dying has much to teach us a bout our lives. The very least of which is the chance to make our peace, to say our farewells, and to organise our affairs. The remarkable fact is that dying can teach us about living. We are used to thin king the other way around. Perhaps we should ask ourselves why we should be so a fraid of the prospect of our death. Of course we perceive it as a final act. Wha tever we think about the afterlife or the absence of one, we can agree on that f inality. Yet those who do not believe in their hearts in an afterlife or rebirth , are filled with uncertainty. That results in a fear of the unknown. Isn't it i nteresting that we don't seem to be remotely preoccupied with where we were befo re we were born? If we are afraid to die however, is it not true to say that we must also be afra id to live? In the same way that our fear of death, when we examine it, is essen tially this, a fear of losing our ego. That is the thing which we have been clin ging onto since we were old enough to understand that we were alive. The result is that this fear dominates our lives. We not only refuse to talk about it, we s hudder at the thought of it. No wonder we find ose who are dying lling to live. We so called success omfort at all and the reality so hard to deal with. No wonder we try and hide th away in hospices. We are terrified and as a result we are unwi cling onto ego and we define our lives through possessions or and power. Even though we know that these things bring us no c are nothing more than an illusion.

The real life is the one that has our death at its head. It is the one that dare s to live fully, to engage in experience and to learn and to grow. It is one tha t is filled with happiness and lived in the moment, knowing that there is no oth er. It is a life that has no fear of love or intimacy. It is one where we do not cling to others or old habits. It is one in which we learn to let go of the ego and become 'selfless'. Death can transform life. It is a fact that if we accepted it, embraced it, were not afraid to discuss it, our lives would be much richer. We would feel stronge r and if we were not afraid of such a loss of ego, what could stand in our way? All fears stem from this fear, which is in essence a fear of the unknown and of nothingness. We stand to lose nothing and gain everything. If we tried to move away from our fear - through understanding learning and read ing we would find that there is a place where people who love life and all it ha s to teach us, do not fear death. They see it as a natural progression and even embrace it and give it its rightful place in our lives. The fact is that many of us live in a culture that celebrates worthless and poin tless values. We live in a constant denial of the fact of our death. We allow ou rselves very little preparation. We need to demystify death not to deny it. We n eed to make it a part of our lives. To do that means accepting our own religious beliefs in the afterlife or studying the religious beliefs of others in the hop e that we too can find acceptance and peace of mind. When we learn to accept that, we might learn to live without fear. Our lives hav e been moving towards this point. Life is a preparation for death. All of us wil l go there one way or another. If you had the choice, and the supreme privilege of this life is that you have: which way would you choose? Would your life be a happy fulfilled one until death or a fearful one because of death? It's time we faced our fears and made death a part of our lives. The secret of life is death Why are we so afraid of death?

Why do we try to hide? Especially those with no belief In life on the other side? Death is a part of living That we must accept if we Are to have peace and contentment Because can't you see If we live with fear all the while It must affect our own lifestyle We substitute peace of mind For money and power and we find That life is not as it should be So accept death and you'll feel free.