How do I have a peaceful death?
For most of the last two years, I have been doing an experiment to live as if it’s my last year to live. I have also been studying more about death from various sources. From these, I would say, to have a peaceful death, live a peaceful life right now. From what I have learned so far, these are some of the fundamentals to having a good death:
Love unconditionally, all beings, including those who have triggered hurt in you. Courageously express love. Don’t hold back. Take risks in love so you have no regrets later.
Love yourself and embrace all your imperfections and weaknesses along with your beauty.
(There are many possible recipients of our love – Ourselves, our loved ones, our colleagues, bosses, clients, neighbours, strangers we meet, strangers we don’t meet (people who make things we use etc), the environment, animals. In these categories, there are further divisions into those we have peaceful relations with, and those who trigger pain in us. I have found that when we expand our love to more and more sentient beings, the more peace and joy we have in our lives. And love is not just a feeling. It is concrete action.)
Forgive – yourself and others. If you learn how to be a better person from painful encounters, then you can even be grateful to those who have triggered pain in you.
Apologise and make amends.
Serve, in the best way you can. Find your Calling – the work where you use your strengths to add meaningful value to the world. And there are many ways to serve others each day. Find ways to use your limited resources for high impact.
Learn your life lessons. In fact, Elisabeth Kubler Ross who was an expert in death and dying said that our “only purpose of life is growth.” Certain patterns repeat in our lives till we learn what they’re trying to tell us, and grow from them.
Be true to yourself in a way that the greater good is served.
Books I recommend on learning from death are “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, and “A Year to Live” by Stephen Levine. “Tuesdays with Morrie” is also good; it’s a real-life conversation between a man and his former teacher who was dying. And “Chasing Daylight” was written by the late Chair and CEO of KPMG, Eugene O ‘ Kelly on what happened after he got cancer.
Movies with the theme of death include “Tuesdays with Morrie”, “The Bucket List”, “Ikiru”, “Life is Beautiful” and “Cast Away”. And here’s a great song to remind you to live each day as if it were your last day.
“Solace: Wisdom of the dying” is a documentary on death and dying by both the dying and experts.
(This is part of an interview I did with Matthieu Ricard. These are my thoughts to the questions I posed to him. Please click here for his responses. )