A life worth dying for

We need to change the conversation about death, says author and life coach Stephen Garrett.

“Maybe later,” you’re thinking — perhaps with the urge to run in the opposite direction.

There’s no denying we have a funny relationship with time, and an even more uncomfortable relationship with death. We greet each birthday with a sense of accomplishment, but also a sense of the things we didn’t accomplish or have yet to accomplish. We have an uneasy awareness that “time is running out”, but at the same time we’re great procrastinators. After all, “there’s always tomorrow.”

And Garrett would know. He has encountered death in both a personal and professional capacity. The first wake-up call came when his sister passed away and he was painfully aware of the things left unsaid. And as a hospice worker, he noted the regrets of people on their death beds had a similar theme. “Oh I wish I had…”, “I should have…” and “If I only could I have…” were words he heard all too often, leaving him with one burning question:

“Why didn’t you?”

“Because I thought I had time. Because I thought I had tomorrow. I thought I had next month,” he explains in his presentation at ideaCity 2011.

That urge to run away from a conversation about death? All the more reason to have it. No, we’re not talking estate planning, funeral arrangements and living wills — though they’re important too. The goal is to have a life worth celebrating when all is said and done. It seems like the ultimate contradiction: only by acknowledging death can we really live.

“We need to treat death as a friend and an ally,” says Garrett. “A little reminder on our shoulder that we have a life we are living today.”

Our culture trains us to fear death, to push it away and try to put it off as much as possible, he notes. However, we need to rethink our approach to death. It can be an inspiration and a motivator.

“There’s no time like the present to get in touch with your heart… and see what’s living there. And see what needs to be spoken or written or danced or rowed or climbed before you die.”

But don’t take our word for it. Watch Garrett’s full talk here:

Watch live streaming video from ideacity at livestream.com

For more information, visit Garrett’s website at www.stephengarrettnow.com and download a preview of his forthcoming book, Embracing Your Death: a New Lease on Life.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ Andriy Kravchenko

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