How Mortality Can Make Us Grateful

By Jimmy Warden

In my life, there have been two times, that are vivid as ever, when I truly thought I was going to die. They both occurred within the past five years and involved significant car accidents where the driver (in one case the driver being me) lost control of the car and veered off the road on a highspeed highway, sending the vehicle crashing into some nearby trees. Somehow, in one of these accidents, I walked away unscathed, but the other one I suffered a dislocated shoulder and lacerations above my eye. With these experiences, I immediately was faced with the idea that I could have taken my last breath. Despite the negativity that often surrounds situations like this, I was able to find some good in them, due to the fact I was faced with my own mortality in those moments. The result of facing my own mortality has made me more grateful for each day because I felt that I have been given not just a second, but also a third chance at life.

A challenge about death is that people deal with it in a lot of different ways. However, there is a shared fear (by most) that death could take us away at any moment. Whether it be a car/motorcycle accident, a fall from a massive height, a gunshot, old age, or sickness, life can be taken from any one of us in the blink of an eye. This fear of death has seemed to be more heightened with the pandemic that we are all currently living through. This fear, however, can make it really hard to enjoy life, or be grateful for it. Sometimes, this fear of death is all people can think about. Sometimes, it makes people think, “what’s the point of doing anything if I’m just going to die”. To me, this is not necessarily the best outlook to have, because the default mode of thinking here is negative. Don’t get me wrong, I have had many days where I have been worried about the underlying fear of death, as well as thinking, “what’s the point”, if I’m just going to be a blip in time of the universe’s existence. This mode of thinking has never led to anything positive. The only way I have been able to shake this at times, is to be grateful for life itself, as well as its fragility.

The more that we can accept life’s fragility, the more that we can take advantage of the fact that we’re here on Earth. Knowing that we only have a limited amount of time can create a sense of urgency to do something meaningful with each day. However, be careful to not put too much pressure on yourself because you don’t want to become your own worst enemy by feeling like you’re never doing enough. Meaningful actions can be as simple as calling an old friend or someone you love. It could be paying for the person’s coffee behind you. It could be forgiving someone whom you’ve been holding a grudge against for quite some time. Whatever it may be, there is something beautiful in trying to do something meaningful, even if the gesture is small. As Mother Theresa once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. This is why it is so important not to hold grudges, to reach out to others to check on them, and most importantly, take care of yourself in the best way possible. That way, you are physically capable of doing these things and you’re minimizing Mother Nature’s chances of taking you before your time was ready. These acts of kindness and love can also help manifest a feeling of gratitude for life itself.

Considering our time is quite limited on Earth, it’s best to keep this in mind in order to be grateful for each day that passes. Not only that, but the chances of actually becoming a living, breathing human being are astronomically low. So, not only are we extremely lucky to have been created, but each day of our life that passes is another blessing in and of itself. This feeling can help us during the dark days because a lot of people have those days, which sometimes span months, and unfortunately years. However, without the dark days, without the bad days, we wouldn’t be able to know the bright and beautiful days. And after rain, there’s usually a rainbow. Without the clouds, we can’t have the blue sky. Even with the clouds, there is always the blue sky, patiently waiting for us.

Despite the negativity that surrounds death, we must accept it for what it is. Once we do, we can start to understand that its fragility can actually inspire us to do something that makes our life, or someone else’s life a little bit better. Whether it’s a small act of kindness or a large donation of time, money, or effort, they all have the potential to create a more meaningful life. Considering we are lucky to be alive in the first place, we should try our best to be grateful for eac day we are on Earth, because every day above ground, is a good day.

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