I like to talk about many concepts that are around loss and death.
I never forget my shock and then horror, fear, utter level of sadness and grief that I experienced 19 years ago this day as I watched the planes go through the twin towers. I remember watching the reruns of the attacks all day and feeling retraumatized over and over again. A sense of safety crashed. The horror of waiting for more to come and the paranoia of who’s done it and when will it be done again creeped in. This was a people to people attack, so there was a sense of anger and blame that creeped in toward human beings. I remember although I had quit cigarettes for 5 years, that day I decided to smoke as if it was ok to self destruct, since human beings were going to destroy themselves anyway. Obviously that irrational thinking was short lived.
So what was the difference for me between Sept. 11, 2001 with the Jan. 14 1994 earthquake which devastated Northridge, California. The San Fernando valley looked like a war zone with so much destruction. I felt fear, utter powerlessness and holding on until it was all over, then the after shock kept coming which created more horror. Yet, it appeared that it would be finally over and that the destructions were done already and it was time to recreate and rebuild. This was a non personal nature realignment and although there was frustration about the inconvenience and the destruction, there was no blame, so our world became about helping and building.
Yesterday was the suicide prevention day. according to the World Health Organization, every 40 seconds someone in the world takes their own life, which means 800,000 people a year. The rate of suicide in the world has risen 35% and it has risen at the time of the pandemic.
What does a person need to think and feel like to want to take their own life. As I have worked with many suicidal clients for the past 30 years, utter feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. A sense of resignation about their own abilities or thinking that any ability would not really matter. A sense of loss of meaning or purpose. How each person would get to this point varies.
So, whether a person’s life is threatened by another human being, act of nature, accident, losing someone close to death, or one chooses to end their own life, everyone experiences facing death throughout their life. There is an existential anxiety and dread that comes with facing one’s own mortality. The meaning of life and the purpose gets reexamined. Values get reprioritized. Attention goes inward and then focuses on what really matters to that person. Mostly, what is left can become precious, or loose all meaning.
How do you handle the thought of death or facing death?How would you prioritize differently if you were facing death?What values would you uphold and commit to if you were facing death?
Now, act on the values that you prioritize and live every moment of your life as if it could be the last.