Thursday, 23 September 2021

T To Your Health

Accept Your Mortality

By the time we’re old enough to realize that “dead” means our pet cat won’t be with us any more, we begin to come to grips with the fact that everything and everyone will, eventually die, including us. As much as anything else, how we adapt to that fact affects how we choose to live.

Many people go to enormous lengths to ignore, deny, and battle against the reality of their mortality. The first gray hair, the laugh lines that were not there yesterday, the “crow’s feet,” and the various aches and pains all announce that they are in fact aging even though they may still feel very young at heart! The cosmetic industry and anti-aging products, for example, offer a little false hope that the process can be stopped, or at least postponed a bit.

Some people, usually younger than older, seem to want to defy death through reckless or “daring” activities, perhaps to prove that this particular rule of life does not apply to them ... at least until one of their friends or heroes ends up in a casket. Others are so fearful of death that they refuse to think about or talk about such mortality-related issues as making a will, purchasing a cemetery plot, planning their funeral, or even attending one. Some hope that someday technology will be able to restore life or clone a person who has passed away.

Others go to great lengths to pretend that death can be overcome. “...the quest for immortality has placed its faith in all manner of emerging technologies,” wrote Dr. William Cheshire Jr. “Occasionally the ambition of these pursuits is immoderate.... Futurist Ray Kurzweil’s hyperbolic prophesy of uploading the brain into a computer and living forever in cyberspace has attracted a curious popularity. According to Kurzweil, ‘At that point the longevity of one’s mind file will not depend on the continued viability of any particular hardware medium (for example, the survival of a biological body and brain). Ultimately software-based humans will be vastly extended beyond the severe limitations of humans as we know them today. They will live out on the Web, projecting bodies whenever they need or want them, including virtual bodies in diverse realms of virtual reality, holographically projected bodies, foglet-projected bodies, and physical bodies comprising nanobot swarms and other forms of nanotechnology.’”[i]

Ordinarily, as we age, we come to more realistic terms with our mortality. An Ontario, Canada study found, “Attitudes toward death vary, but often older adults are less anxious and more matter-of-fact about death. As they see others close to them die, they begin to accept their own mortality, and tend to speak more freely about death and dying.”[ii]

A University of Florida study found that faith makes a difference in how people deal with death. For some, religion helps; for others, it doesn’t. The study of 103 relatively healthy older adults and 19 hospice patients, all of whom were older than 60, found sharp differences between people who are “intrinsically” and “extrinsically” religious. Those with an intrinsic religious orientation dedicated their life to God or a higher power and reported they were less afraid of death and experienced greater feelings of well-being than people who fit into the extrinsic religious category of using religion for external ends, such as a way to make friends or increase community social standing.[iii]

As we internalize the reality of our own death, it will change us, hopefully for the better. There can be a new level of peace and we will do things differently. We will understand that nothing is our world is permanent. The beautiful sunset, the colors of the fall leaves, the garden after a rain; not even that perfect sweater or new car - they are all here for an “instant” so we better learn to enjoy that instant while it lasts. As the poet William Blake wrote, “He who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”

This article is adapted from the A to Z Guide to Healthier Living, by Drs. David Biebel, James E. Dill, and Bobbie Dill, RN. All rights reserved.

[i]William P. Cheshire Jr, MD, “Grey Matters: In the Twilight of Aging, a Twinkle of Hope.” Ethics & Medicine, Vol. 24, No 1, Spring 2008.




Columnist: Dr. David B. Biebel

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Dr. Biebel has authored or co-authored twenty books, including one bestseller: If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? and the Gold Medallion winner, New Light on Depression. His recent releases include Making God Visible and Away in a Manger: The Christmas Story from a Nativity Scene Lamb's Point of View.

His goal is to help people attain and retain optimal physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health (personal wholeness) so they can love the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. He founded Healthy Life Press ( to help new authors with something to contribute in this arena to get their works into print.

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