The Denial of Death

“Come to terms with death. Thereafter, anything is possible.”

~ Albert Camus

In A Man’s Search for Meaning, one of the main themes proposed by Viktor Frankl in his theory of logotherapy was the idea that one’s search meaning in life is the primary motivational force in life. It is important to acknowledge that the temporal limitation of life is an integral component to such a force: the meaning to human life is predicated on an inevitable death. It is really this inevitable, looming death that truly motivates us, that provides the impetus for all human endeavour. Our consciousness of death, despite our best attempts to ignore it, is what propels us to create and act in the world; it alone gives meaning to every moment through the mere fact that it could be your last. We no longer are forced to confront death anymore: the death of our fellow humans largely happen in hospitals; the food we eat is processed in farms and factories far away from our own homes. This dissociation from the process of death leads one to grow up without ever needing to truly contemplate the limitations of our existence. This possibly adds to the shock and grief felt when we inevitably lose those close to us.

“We are all part of the brotherhood and sisterhood of death.”

~ Robert Greene

Instead of ignoring this universal truth, we should use our impending death to stir us into action, to create a sense of urgency to live the life of your dreams. Such an appreciation for death will allow you to fully appreciate life. All of us will perish sooner or later, including your friends, and including your enemies. Use this realization to develop and harness your empathy for others, to see the vulnerabilities in every individual. When one lives in such a manner, life becomes a great adventure: your trials are temporary and only serve to strengthen you, your joys are short-lived and all the more sweeter for it. The acknowledgement of the nearness of death is freeing.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

~ Mark Twain


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