Darren Lawrence

Seeing death as a positive motivation for a better life

Over the last month, I have been to 3 funerals. This brought out a whole range of feelings and reflections and I felt compelled to record them through this blog.

As well as grieving the loss of Tom, Ken, and Marge, those present celebrated their lives. I learned more about them than I ever knew, and more than I’d ever asked them about their lives. It made me realise that we only ever see a glimpse of a whole person, everything they have done, do, and are. The reason I went to pay my respects was because each of them had made their own impact and contribution to my own life over the years and I will always remember and be grateful for that. They made my life better in different ways and it was a pleasure to know them. Hopefully I contributed to theirs – it has certainly made me reflect on how I’d like to be a positive force on others lives while I am here.

It gave me a different perspective, as well as providing an opportunity to ‘catch up’ with some old friends (why do we often leave it until a funeral to do that?)

It shouldn’t really take thoughts of death to motivate us into living the life we really want, or to be the people we want to be. The reality however, is that for most of our days we wake up, get up, do what we do, get home, then rinse and repeat. We get embroiled in the minutiae, with the assumption that life will continue just the same. All the while the clock is ticking.

‘See you next week!’
‘Looking forward to it!’

Holidays, work responsibilities, events and projects, outings, gigs, football matches, birthdays, Christmases. All planned with the assumption that we have more life to live. And for most of us that is true and the reason why it is a shock when we lose someone. But we don’t have all the time in the world, one day it will run out for all of us – the one guarantee in life (as well as taxes)!

Some people may think death is not an appropriate topic for a blog. But as The Flaming Lips sang ‘Do you realise that everyone you know someday will die?’

Some of you may feel it is depressing, morbid, something we can’t speak about, or taboo. For some people it is just too difficult and upsetting to think about and face up to, and I understand that. For others they may believe in life after death. Personally I believe that we should talk about it, more open and at a deeper level.

For me a positive thing that has come out of the last month is a reality check that I need to enjoy life more, now (rather than postponing it) in the present moment, be mindful, appreciate the important people in my life more, and not get so wound up in the day to day. ‘Good’ things happen, ‘bad’ things happen, it’s all part of life.

In coaching, there is an exercise we sometimes use called the Rocking Chair Test. Imagine that you are 85 years old, on your rocking chair, looking back on your life. What was the best bit? What was the part you’d most like to change? What do you wish you had done? Did you live your life as the person you hoped to be? That can bring some useful reflections.

Finally, another thought-provoking exercise is to imagine that you have one more year to live. Really imagine that.

How does this change what you do, and how you live your life, day to day?

‘Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows’

Michael Landon (1936-1991), American actor