terry lige every man dies

Every Man Dies

As I journey through my days and weeks, there are certain themes that emerge that call for my attention that I cannot ignore. The theme that has consistently called for my attention since the beginning of this year is death.

It is never an easy thing to talk about death and dying; in fact, many of us do not want to talk about it because we are afraid of dying. Ernest Becker, in his book The Denial of Death, tells us that ‘we’re able to conceptualize alternate versions of reality without ourselves in it.” This realization causes what he calls “death terror.” We are all aware on some level that our physical self will eventually die, that this death is inevitable, and that it’s inevitability, on some unconscious level, terrifies us.

I have to admit that I am finding it difficult to write about it in this article; however, I am going through a season right now where people I know have passed away or are close to death. As I consider this season, it is important to pay attention to what I can learn about the experience because the truth is, my life can become so much more meaningful if I can see it in the light of my death.

As I consider death, I am reminded of a quote from the movie Braveheart where the main character William Wallace says, ‘every man dies, not every man truly lives.’ There are two parts to this quote that I want to look at. In this first article, I am going to focus on the reality that every man dies and then next week I will talk about, not every man truly lives.

Every man Dies

Death is obviously inevitable for every one of us and yet, not many of us want to consider its inevitability. We would rather avoid thinking about it and what it ultimately means to us but there are times when we really need to ask ourselves what we can learn from it.

I have had the privilege of walking through the final days of life with a few different individuals close to me. What I learned from them had to do with perspective and focus. It was in those final days that their focus was on what was really important to them, especially when it came to people and relationships. Their concern was not on their passing or what was in front of them as they transitioned, but on the impact they made on the people they cared about.

Their example is what inspires me to consider what is truly important to me. What do I value as worth living for? My life can become so consumed with things that have very little lasting value. Mark Manson in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k addresses this need for perspective when he says; “Confronting the reality of our own mortality is important because it obliterates all the crappy, fragile, superficial values in life. While most people whittle theirs days chasing another buck, or a little more fame and attention, or a little bit more assurance that they’re right or loved, death confronts all of us with a far more painful and important question: What is your legacy?

I remember a few years ago making an off-hand statement, that the true indication of my impact on others will be determined by how many people show up at my funeral. I think I came up with that thought as I considered my father’s funeral. He was only 38 when he died and there were maybe a couple hundred people that showed up at his funeral. That seemed a lot to a fifteen year old, however, what really impressed me was not so much the number of people that showed up but what they had to say about him and the impact he had on their lives. I was so impressed with what they said, that I committed in that moment to be just like my dad.

In some ways, I believe I have accomplished what I committed to and in some ways I have fell woefully short of his example. However, as I considered his death and my own and I am reminded how important it is to leave a legacy.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?


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