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The Closeness Of Mortality

As a nation, we quite recently watched with hope and fear the plight of the nine coal-miners trapped underground for several days in Pennsylvania. As these individuals were in the process of being rescued from what could have been the place of their death, I found myself thinking about the mindset of these individuals prior to the events that led up to their confinement. I wondered about their awareness of death, and specifically, their awareness of their own death. Many individuals daily work under what may be considered as dangerous or potentially dangerous conditions. Many of us do not, with the relative safety of an office building or other place of employment that generally speaking keeps us “out of harm’s way.” Those who worked in the World Trade Center Towers probably thought themselves safe, or protected… Yet we rob ourselves of valuable life by not being or remaining more fully conscious of the fact that we are all to perish in the relatively near future. The dimming and cessation of our own consciousness awaits us… How would you live your life differently TODAY, NOW, if you knew for certain that you had but limited time remaining here on this planet? How would you spend your time? What may suddenly seem important – and what not so important? Do you think that perhaps your priorities would change? When we lose touch (relatively speaking of course) with the impending cessation of our own lives, the snuffing out of our own consciousness, we tend to the responsibility of conducting ourselves with a certain passivity, a quality of drifting from that which is truly important to us. If you knew that today would be your last day alive, would you really be all that concerned about the petty annoyances of daily living that tend to occupy our minds, needlessly? The same holds true for our lost loved ones; did they make the most of their limited time here? It has been said that it is not so much the number of years lived that most matters, but rather the amount of life truly lived in those years. Your challenge is thus to become and remain more conscious of the fact of your upcoming death, and through this awareness, to infuse your day to day existence with more of a sense of urgency to complete those tasks and to spend your time in ways that are most meaningful for you and those you love. It is also most interesting to note that one of the factors associated with grief after a loss is your perception of your loved one’s degree of fulfillment in life. That is, the more you believe that your loved one had a full and fulfilling life, the more readily you can accept the death and move along the pathway to completing your grief work over the loss. It follows then that by living your life in a fulfilling manner, you may assist your loved ones in their mourning over your death when that time comes. Mercifully, the Pennsylvania coal miners have been given a second chance. Please don’t wait. Examine your life now, and live your days fully and in ways that are truly meaningful to you.

A highly recommended reading in this regard is “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a fascinating true-to-life account of living as fully as possible. The author of this magnificent piece is Mitch Albom - published by Doubleday (1997).

Grief Counselor, Dr. Steven Bailley
Grief Counselor
The purpose of these articles is to provide interested readers with information and thoughts about loss, grief, mourning, and grief counseling. A variety of grief-related topics have been covered. It is my sincerest hope that you will find the information presented here to be of interest and assistance to you. If there are specific topics of interest that you would like to see added in the future, I welcome you to email me with your suggestions. If you have a need to talk with me, please call me at my office at (713) 914-9944.
Collection of papers and articles on grief, and coping with grief
The need to express our grief… Grief is Different For Each of Us The emotions of grief: Guilt
Grief, Mourning and Grief Counseling The Experience of Grief The Emotions of Grief: Anger
Reactions from others… The Seasons of My Heart The emotions of grief: “I feel like I’ve lost control of myself.”
The Closeness of Mortality Ambivalence
A 'Grief Journal' Grief After Suicide
Research and clinical experience support the idea that many bereaved individuals gain benefit from grief counseling. Ideally, counseling can help people to cope as adaptively as possible during difficult times that follow a loss, and can also assist in bringing grief to a more adequate resolution. Should you decide to explore the possibility of seeking professional assistance, at any time following your loss, I welcome you to contact me to explore this option (appointments and fee schedule are available upon request). Every person is unique, and I will work with you to assist you in coping with your specific needs. At this most difficult time in your life, I wish to extend to you my sincerest condolences for your loss.

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