Taking Death Out of the Closet

Isn’t it about time we opened the door to one of the last taboo topics? These days we can openly discuss everything else. Our sexual exploits, children’s toilet training and family secrets are all fair game for talk shows and dinner conversation. So what’s up with our resistance to talking about death? I mean, every BODY does it.

Somewhere, once upon a time in our cultural training, the subject of death became taboo. Was it because we grew frightened by the mystery of what lies beyond our physical plain? Did we turn away from the pain of knowing our own human frailty? What makes us get all squirmy at the thought of our inevitable demise?

In the past months I’ve been living with the proximity of death as I’ve watched my mother’s slow decline from lung cancer. It’s stripped away all pretense, leaving raw exposed nerves and a determination to not shy away. She’s always been a teacher, not only by profession but by default, through her own unintended impacts. I have witnessed what it means to suffer regret as she's struggled to reconcile her past and her unmet longings.

Thru this experience I've learned, that when all is said and done, we and we alone are responsible for our own happiness. No one else can make us happy, because no one else was ever meant to. Taking responsibility for our life gives us freedom of choice, and this is where grace can be found. While sitting with the discomfort of this new awareness, I've looked in the mirror and asked, “so what must I do before I die”? Gently and honestly I've taken stock of my life thus far. How do I want to be remembered? If I were to die tomorrow, what legacy do I want have left behind?

What does it take to live a life that leads to a peaceful death? By asking these questions with compassion and wide-eyed curiosity, we discover new clues to a joyful existence. Your comments are welcome.



Thanks for your post Cynthia. I heartily agree! I had the humbling privilege of speaking at a local TEDx conference in Salem, OR back in Nov 2013 and touched on this very issue -- we need to stop fearing death, as that only gets in the way of truly living life!


Posted by Keith Seckel