What I’ve learnt about life from death

To date, I’ve experienced the deaths of my parents, all of my grandparents and some friends my age.


My first encounter with death was when my elementary school friend passed away.

He was 10, after fighting leukaemia. I was his kindergarten buddy – I held his hand showing him around our playground. I still remember how sweet his smile was.


I have also experienced “small deaths”, like when I moved countries (I’ve lived in 6 countries to date) and when I had a burn out.


Here are some lessons I’ve learnt about life from death:


1.Life is filled with cycles.

Like nature, we go through stages of development.  There is a rhythm to nature’s orders. What goes up will come down. It is just how it is, not good, not bad.

Let go the judgments, especially towards ourselves. While giving our best effort in a challenging time, it is important to tell ourselves: it is just a natural phase.


2. Some cycles are longer than others.

At times, one cycle happens one after the other. Sometime, multiple cycles run in parallel, but at different stages.

These cycles happen when they do, beyond our control.

What matters most is that we face the experiences in the best way that we know how.


3. Just like seasons in a year, every shift brings a profound experience.

It usually is emotionally intense and unique.

There is a time for everything.

The more we’re mindful about it, the lighter our steps are.


4. Timing is uniquely linked to individuals.


Our timing is our timing. Comparing it with others is unnecessary.

There is always a reason that we can understand later, in hindsight, why we need the time that we do.

Focus on us in the now, do our best and choose to feel grateful for who we are and what we have.


5. When death (or any major loss) happens in our life, everything automatically changes.

If our life is a house, death is like one big part of our foundation collapses, and it brings the house down. It is a major shift, a jump-start, for us to build a different house (our life).

Give ourselves time and space to grief thoroughly. Do not make any big decision until we feel settled. Only then, decide.


When a key member of our family dies, no replacement can be done. S/he is NOT meant to be replaced. It is IMPOSSIBLE.

Instead, the rest of the family/system needs to re-allocate roles. Bring everyone into the same page and have open and respectful discussion about it.


When a structure collapses, the rules attached to it are buried with it.

Building a new structure means bringing in some new rules and some new players. Take advantage of this.


Remember, the collected wisdoms and experiences we have gathered throughout our live remains with us regardless. We have what we need.


Love is energy so it continues to flow even without physical bodies. It is always there, in different way.


6. We can fully move forward in life when we can let go of the incomplete emotions connected to the death or other loss.

No, unfortunately, we’re not well trained to do that.

Heck, more of us are often told not to be too emotional or not to be that expressive in the time of deaths or loss. I can testify how misleading this is.

Time does not heal anything when we are not willing to acknowledge the things that are incomplete.


No, we don’t need the involvement of the (dead) people we have unfinished business with to put a completion to it.

Just us, showing up fully in our lives and go through the grieving process (yes, it is a systematic process) full-heartedly. Getting a grief consultant is something I’d highly recommend.


7. Everyone experiences death or loss, no exception. There is no reason to feel isolated going through this.

This is one of some experiences that level out every single being on this planet.

Reach out for support or lend your heart to people who need it.


8. The most profound way to live our life fully is to be able to let go the past.

The ultimate way to do that is to truly and genuinely forgive ourselves, for all the choices that we made in the past that are no longer relevant nor appropriate for our life today.


We make a decision that feels right for a particular situation at a particular time.

Let go the guilt and shame. Make it a conscious choice.


9. Life is a journey of collecting: experiences, memories, emotions, people, possessions, resources, wisdoms, knowledge, skills. 


It is so easy to be a hoarder without realizing it. Are we? Are we attached to all the above?

Choose wisely and timely what to keep in our lives and what to leave behind. Stay un-attached.


When we travel, we only bring what we need.

The same with life. Declutter it and us regularly.

Growth happens at the end of our comfort zone, so create a space in us for new experience, people and things.


10. Nothing is permanent.


Everything has an expiration date: our food, our belongings, the people in our lives and ourselves.


Accepting this as a fact consequently means we are to treat time as something precious.

Choose to fill it with uplifting experiences with loving companions. Celebrate our lives because all the experiences we have, at times filled with pain, at times with joy, are precious.


Seneca, a Roman Stoic Philosopher says: “A man cannot live well if he knows not how to die well”.


Do you know what it would take for you to die peacefully?


Happy contemplating,



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