Imagine you have just returned from the doctor and you have been told the worst news of you life, and that is it is over. You have been diagnosed with a terminal condition and you have only a few months left to live. It is a sobering thought that we all may face this news someday. So the question is what would you do in your last days and how would you ready yourself?
To know when you are going to die can certainly mess with your head, particularly if it will be a suffering death like lung cancer as you slowly suffocate. Smokers do their best not to think about this, but frequently that is their fate. Then there are deaths that are much quicker but leaves you no less emotionally traumatized like having AIDS. You feel fine until that next minor little bug hits and it takes you out for good. Emotionally that is like walking in a minefield and standing still is not an option.
Then there are other types of deaths, for example being in an aircraft that is falling from the sky. Suddenly you find yourself facing your fate amongst screaming and hysterical people as you see the earth below rapidly approaching. What would your last thoughts be as all that you had planned for yourself and your loved ones will never happen?
There is no answer for the question, as everyone would react differently. Some may see death as a blessing to the end of a long hard life. Others may simply party until they drop doing all that they wanted to do. Some may be totally withdrawn and cry the last days away. Then there are those who simply will not accept fate.
The people who will not accept fate will fight off death to the bitter end, seeking out whatever treatment options are available, no matter where they are or at what cost or how experimental they are. They would offer themselves up taking the risk that the treatment may kill them because it is so unproven.
When we consider the swine flu and the coming bird flu, that can pose another thought. What will we do and how will we act knowing we are not terminally ill, but there is a virus about that can quickly change that. Do we go on with life not worrying about trivial things or do we take extreme measures to protect ourselves?
Then there is yet another group of people who are contemplating suicide. They may be terminally ill and not want to suffer or be a burden to the family as they slowly die. So taking their own life in a way is a humane way to die. But there are others who try to stop that, hence the debate goes on about doctor assisted suicides or mercy killings as others put it.
Then there is yet another group of people who may find financial problems or loss of face a reason to contemplate suicide. But for them that is more related to mental health and they should be seeking counseling to resolve the underlying problems, and not looking for a ledge to jump from.
So the question is what would you do knowing your days were numbered. Please take the time to post your answer below if you wish, after all it is not a crime to express your last wishes of how you would like to spend your last days.
In an ironic note, The head picture of this post Farrah Fawcett died less than 24 hours after this post was published. Her choice to make public her story of her fight with cancer was a very noble choice she made. It allowed people to see what emotions and personal difficulties are tied to this type of battle. That contribution was part of the motivation to write this particular post and to make people think about just how mortal we are. She will be missed.
All who are born are destined to die. So make peace with this concept and when you feel death approaching try and still your mind and let go of all the attachments and intricacies of your life. It’s hard to do, and this is why regular meditation is a great tool to help you in the last moments of your life.
Regular meditation keeps your mind clear and unattached so you can just observe quietly what is in your inner mind. This is key because I believe as you separate from your physical body what you think determines your next future. Keeping calm and unattached will be helpful so you won’t get trapped into some random thoughts and emotions.
For me, a trick to get my mind to stop running like crazy is I imagine that I just got hit by a bus and my body is starting to fail. Nothing matters any more, not my concept of self, not family, not my job, not how much money I have, not what I need to do tomorrow, not what I think about the cute girl walking down the street, etc, etc. This has an amazing calming effect on my mind and I can really focus my mind on quiet observation and awareness. I think I will go into this mindset during the time of my death.
It sounds morbid but I am speaking from the heart. Planning for death and exercising your mind to focus is just another very important aspect of living. Don’t neglect it!
One more thing- the concept of your last thought determinining your future is quite common in Asian superstition. This is why suicides or other violent often produce ghosts that are trapped, according to some Thai beliefs.
The idea is that the violent thought or feeling at the time of death is so strong it traps the spirit in a very angry or disturbed space. This could actually be true but you won’t know until you die yourself.