Our modern lives are designed to keep death out of our sight. We do not actively think about or discuss this subject, except when death claims someone in our community. But what if we stepped back from life to consciously reflect on death and our attitude toward it? What if we were to make a friend out of this foe?
Andrea Miller, the owner, founder and company director of Sunnyside Productions, joins us to discuss if it’s possible — regardless of what belief we hold about what happens when someone dies — for us to come together, across diverse faiths and traditions, to recognize the same set of truths, principles and implications for how to use our awareness of death to uplift our consciousness and help us to do our best work during our remaining time in this life?
Part of our fear of death is productive. The fear of the virus, for instance, has made many of us, almost overnight, change a number of deep-set habits. Many of us wear face masks, practice social distancing, meet people on Zoom, observe quiet Friday evenings at home, avoid touching our faces, and diligently sanitize our hands. In more normal conditions, when there is no fear, over ninety percent of people give up on their new year’s resolutions, because behavior change is hard to do when there’s no fear or other motivational force.
But part of our fear of death is unproductive. It distracts us, demoralizes us and diminishes us. Since there is no way to guarantee that death will shun us, what might we gain if we stopped shunning death? In the middle of a speech during the Civil War, President Lincoln was criticized by some for showing respect for Southerners instead of seeing them as enemies that should be destroyed. Lincoln responded with a rhetorical question, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Perhaps we too could destroy our unproductive fear of death by making it our friend.
The episode “What Death Has to Teach Us” offers key insights on: