“If you wish to live a life free from sorrow, think of what is going to happen as if it has already happened.” – Epictetus
Each of us are going to experience difficulties that are going to be so hard on us that we will question our own ability to get through them. Of these, the loss of a loved one is likely going to be the hardest thing many of us are going to face. Some of these losses can be predicted. For example, most of us with living parents can expect to survive beyond their passing.
While it is not fun to think about anyone dying, especially a loved one, it is helpful to keep in mind that death is an unavoidable part of life. We are all – each of us – going to die. Ignoring it, pretending it isn’t going to happen, or lying to ourselves to believe that not thinking about these things is the same as happiness helps nothing. It’s still coming.
A better but slightly counter intuitive approach is to think about these things as if they have already occurred. Literally, pretend a loved one has already died. What did we wish we had said? Done? Are we happy with the relationship we maintained with them? Did we make them feel how important they were to us while they were living? Even in the best of relationships the answer to those questions is likely to be ‘no.’
By practicing this a few times a week, maybe even a few times a day we give ourselves the opportunity to do something about these relationships before it is too late.
Because death is coming. For all of us.
virtus fortis vocat