A fun day meditating on death

Monk Nhat Hahn Dekar meditating on death.

Monk Nhat Hahn Dekar meditating on death

bootcamp2015-small 2(Reposted from 2015) In which I eagerly and fearfully spend a whole day meditating on death. On purpose. For fun.


At last the event I had wanted and feared: a full day dedicated to contemplating my own mortality. It turned out to be quite jolly.

To be precise, I was booked in for a day’s retreat on Life, Death and Transformation, under the guidance of a remarkable of pair of leaders. Hilary Lovelace has decades of experience in nursing the dying, and Stephen Archer as a trained Buddhist monk has been on close terms with his own death for years. I was very impressed: they were wise, clever, honest, funny and kind. And non-religious: I prefer that.

Here’s the blurb:

The purpose of this workshop to explore how freeing up our relationship with death can become a transformative force for healing and well being.

What did I hope to achieve?

Let me see. Perhaps to look my own death straight in the eye without flinching. Perhaps to own the knowledge, deep down, that yes, my death is inevitable.

And why in the name of goodness would anyone desire such a thing, you ask?

Not sure. I just see it as accepting reality, not just intellectually but emotionally, which in this case is extremely difficult to do. I need help!

Anyway, it’s the flip side of accepting that I may live another 25 years. Without this bucket of cold water, a healthy energetic oldie like myself could slide into magical thinking. I might believe I am sure to live all those bonus years, instead of just quite likely. I might believe that blueberries will banish the grim reaper.

Most people keep awareness of their mortality safely at bay until they drop in their tracks.  It’s too scary. That’s OK, I’m not criticising. What would I know, anyway? Do whatever makes you happy.

But for me, a “good” old age (which is not a bad old age) needs a supplement: awareness that it will end some day, nothing surer. Have I got that awareness yet? No way.

Writing puts it in perspective

If I just went to the workshop without writing about it… it might fade away rapidly. By writing about it, I figure out what I’ve learned. I’ve been writing into life…

5 thoughts on “A fun day meditating on death

  1. Being in my 83rd year, having had prostate cancer in 2006,, a stoke in 2011, and stomach cancer in 2015,

    I must admit I’ve given quite a bit of thought to death and dying. Also wonder what the hell s keeping me going besides my sadistic doctors who seem hell bent on keeping me alive, plodding along, until I reach 100. 🙄

    Many years ago I signed up/bequeathed my corpse to the University of Wollongong, I think they’ve given up on getting me 😀

    It would be nice to go out as my dad did, he went to bed one night, and just forgot to wake up the next morning. Much to my mothers disgust. She missed out on her cup of tea in bed, He’d given her a cuppa in bed pretty well all the 50 years they were together.

    I think he was getting his own back 😈 :bear:

    1. I think you know what keeps you going. Want to share your secret?

      1. I just enjoy living, I find life exciting and make the most of it, I have no fear of dying and always look on the bright side. I don;t think I’d like the the dark side. Darth Vader is not my favourite bloke 😀

  2. Glynis Jolly says:

    Although I have written about my near-death experience, I cannot say I have written exclusively about my death. This is an exercise I think I will try.

    1. What an interesting idea. I will be fascinated– but do it for yourself. Who knows what you’ll discover in the process.

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