What Death Teaches Us About Life

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With the holidays at an end, it is time to breathe while you are working on your goals. I also have been thinking, of the friends and family that I have lost in the past 2 years. My thoughts are also of the folks that have died before them and I realize there are some good lessons about life in their passing. Be it from relatives that I never met or my friend who I lost right before Thanksgiving. My grandmother died just last week and it got me to pondering over what lessons about life you can glean from death. There are a lot of wonderful lessons that are gleaned from people who sadly do die.

Life is Short so Slow Down

When you look at the expanse of time people at most occupy a space of around 70 years. To those of us who have made half that many circles around the sun, it may seem like a long time. Yet if you know that humans have been walking around on earth for an estimated 200,000 years you can see that is a small drop in the bucket. Then when you see that we only have a short amount of time on here on earth you start to understand Robert Herrick’s poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

   Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

   Tomorrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick – To The VIrgins, to Make Much of Time

Time is short and you see, especially when in reflection. There is the reason that Carpe Diem is in our lexicon. We have to take the day and make each one great. Life is a daily battle of you getting every ounce of greatness out of it and life carrying you away. You have to stop often and smell the flowers. You won’t break anything if you do stop and witness beauty around you.

Yeah, people will at times want you to rush and hurry but you will not get anything done any faster. It will take you longer if you do rush. So, slow down take a stroll. Walk barefoot through the park. Breathe deep and let your shoulders relax you will be better off for it.

Life is fragile

We have all faced tragedy more times than we want to think about. That loss shows us that though we often feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof our lives can end at any moment. Not just by some accident but by many different ailments that can happen upon us in an instant. I have known people who died from a pulmonary embolism. I remember we were at a regional band tournament and one band’s director as they were about to start just dropped dead on the field. It was shocking and sudden.

We never know when our time is up. So why would you want to cower in your house? Do you want to pass while in bed or outdoors doing what you love? Granted I don’t want to die yet, but I don’t want to go to the great beyond while doing what I hate even more so. So don’t waste your precious time you have just going through the motions. Embrace the time you have and be grateful that you have it.

You will never have all the answers

So many times when a life is lost we ask the hardest question. Why? We sometimes want to rage against our God or we try to find the culprit if the death was by another person’s hands. Some people are driven to revenge while others take a more forgiving path. There are so many answers that will never be answered by asking, “why was someone is taken and not another”. We may fight survivors’ guilt and battle through the worst days of our lives. But Trying to find why often provides little to no answers.

We have to learn to pick ourselves up off the dirt and find the strength to keep going. Even when we can’t understand how there could be a God that can appear to be so cruel by wiping the memory from a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. We can’t understand why a loved one would have to experience pain daily when they have cancer. We don’t have the answers and possibly never will. Therefore you have to remember the times for that person. Remember who they were. Telling stories doesn’t explain why but keeps the spirit of our loved ones alive. I have tons of stories about my dad. I don’t know why he had to die 10 years ago but sadly he did, and I still eat my French fries with a fork on his birthday.

You witness the beauty in love

You ever watch an elderly couple tend each other you see love. Watch as they tend to the other while that one is sick and lay dying. You see the beauty of devotion humans are capable of expressing. I got to witness this recently in the past couple of years. My Mother-in-law died of Alzheimer’s and her husband was by her side the whole time. He would show up in the morning and wouldn’t leave till the evening. He would talk to her and even when she lost the memory of him you could see the love and dedication he had of her.

Marlene Bryan The maker of incredible Sour Cream Fudge and someone who taught me, all are welcome

Then I saw the radiating beauty of love again these past 2 months. My Grandfather tended to my grandmother though he was exhausted. He got her up in the morning dressed her, bathed her, fed her. He loved her completely and in a way that left me hoping I can come close to that level of dedication and commitment. There is truer beauty than the dedication and care a human can bestow on another human being.

Life is Unique

Each life has its own particular spark. There is something about life that makes it special. That spark is often known as a soul. That special little something that sets it apart from everybody else. Yeah, we may all look the same from afar but you come close and you see we each have a weird side, a passion that we will talk about for days. My grandmother was a dessert wizard. Ever have sour cream fudge? No? Oh, you are missing out. That was her passion. Helping people in her way she touched people’s lives.

We all help each other in our particular way. We see some folks who just shine with their life force. Though there are times that we disagree, we as people always celebrate people touching others and letting them know they are special. We each are different and celebrate the cool ways we help each other.

We often get into trouble when we work too hard in trying to be like others. People are never satisfied when we try to keep up with the Joneses. We find our fulfillment when we embrace our uniqueness.

You have to carry on

Death often shows us that we have strength. We display this after our loved ones pass away. We often struggle and at times need some help but we become stronger with each day that we carry on. Going on with life is sometimes viewed as almost harsh because some people see it as if we are forgetting those who died. Though it looks like we are leaving them behind we are honoring them by carrying on. We keep that person’s spirit alive in the stories we tell of that person.

He was always wearing band aids. He called them his elephant repellent.

It doesn’t mean we are forgetting that person. My dad still creeps up on me from time to time. I will see a cane that he would have liked or I find myself saying “Golliee”. I still giggle when I think of my dad when something would fall apart and I would hear him say, “It became discombobulated”. We carry on with each passing. We become stronger not because we forget that person but because we carry the memory of that person with us.

You have far more friends than you ever thought

If you ever go to a funeral of someone who passed suddenly, you will see the meaning of this. You may think that there will be a small group but there are always more people than you would imagine. Who will show up and start telling stories about that person? You do touch lives. With each person, you meet you form a connection at first that connection is small and depending on how you tend that connection it can grow to a strong bond or it will wither away. The strong bond can form without you even realizing that it happens. Yet, they do form especially when you are dealing with your community.

Reconnect with those People from your youth

This I discovered with the passing of my high school friend. I saw some dear friends who I haven’t seen since graduation. The bond and need to connect with those who knew you when you were young is important. They help you to stay young at heart. These old friends help each other and emotional bonds to your high school friends grow with age. I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing the people I grew up with till I saw them again. Social media can only do so much. The physical eye to eye connection is one thing we often miss.

Don’t go at life alone – you need corroborators

You are going to have big fish tales and you will need to have those with you to share the stories. They can be there to expound on what you saw. They can add the details you missed. You live longer when you have connections with other people. Many go their life without making new friends and working to keep old ones going. We need connection with others if you are older and your wife died then forget the outcry your kids may or may not have. Men live longer when they are married.

Have fun

I often say Life is too short to take seriously. You can laugh at so much, especially at the very stressful times. Look at the old phrase, “We will laugh about this later” more often than not. If you can laugh at yourself, you are 10 steps ahead of most other people. So laugh and try to find joy in everything. Next time you go to a funeral, pay attention you will see several people laughing. Why, because it relieves stress. Laughing is one of the purest displays of emotions. It breaks the tension and can put you at ease.

Laugh and laugh often even in the sad times you can laugh it is alright to do so. Anybody tells you otherwise they need to laugh more. If they give any flack give them my email and let me talk to them.

Don’t take life too seriously. We have to connect with others it is a basic human need. We do so, by sharing stories and about the exploits of our youth. We meet people who turn into friends. We can only do that if we slow down and take time to look around. Yes, that means you have to put your phone in your pocket and bring your head up from the 45° position it often is seen.

Experience life because it isn’t around for as long as you think. Grow in the number of friends you have. Do something each day that scares you. Embrace and celebrate those times you get out of your comfort zone. Each time you do you become a stronger and more interesting person to the other people in your life. So go out and celebrate being above ground. The air is great.

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About Bryan Goodwin

I like being able to help people find their "why" and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.


  1. This is such a fantastic and real post! I really needed to read this today. Life is so fragile and does change in a moment. I lost my dad when I was 17 and since then have had a strange and cold reaction to death. As I am aging it is starting to be a little more painful each time someone goes.

    1. I agree it can be painful. There are so many scars that we have that can be irritated by some of the smallest or greatest shifts in our lives. I can see how losing a parent at such a young age can be hard and how it can stick with you through the years. My dad has only been gone for 10 years as of this month, and as I mentioned he still sneaks up on me.

      Though I may shed a tear in his memory I still laugh in celebration because I was blessed enough to have him as my dad.

      Can you describe the sensation that you feel after each friend is lost?

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