There was a time when I thought that death acceptance was the opposite of death denial. I also thought that there were two signs of death denial: fear of death and dying, and strong attachments to life and living. My thinking was that if I didn’t have fear and anxiety about death, and I could sever my strong attachments in life, I would live peacefully with the full acceptance of death.
How much value is there really in the act of self reflection? Aren’t we humans being overly self indulgent if we’re continuously noticing how we’re impacted by whatever it is we’re up to? These thoughtful questions were posed to us recently by a workshop participant.
If we’re talking about self reflection in isolation, we’re with you sister! Lift your head, open your eyes and get engaged. However, self reflection or “attention” when partnered with “action” can have immeasurable pragmatic and profound value—these are the essential elements of affecting change.
Holistic end-of-life planning requires both action and attention.
This marriage of action and attention with regards to preparing for your someday, one day, inevitable death is the foundation of everything we do at Willow EoL. For example, our 7 Tools for Making Sense of Life & Death online program and workbook provide an exercise in both pragmatic planning and personal discovery.
Within the scope of these tools, by action we mean reading, answering questions, and possibly researching, and talking with other people in your life. By attention we mean noticing what’s going on for you in all of the steps along the way. The more you allow yourself to react and then notice how you feel and observe your thoughts and your body’s responses, the more you’ll learn and grow.
This noticing is your being’s way of alerting you that there’s something in you that wants and needs your further attention; consider yourself invited to explore further and dig deeper. This self reflection leads to personal discovery and the opportunity to incorporate what you learned into your future actions.
Throughout Willow’s holistic end-of-life planning tools, we ask you to reflect by considering these five questions:
- How do you feel?
- What are your thoughts?
- What did you observe?
- What did you learn or gain insight around?
- Any questions?
As with all things in life, you get to choose.
Move along and stay on the surface or allow yourself to go deep. Willow’s tools are about you—your life and your death. This may be the first time you’ve thought about your death, or the first time you’ve put this much time and energy into contemplating the fact that one day, some day, you will die.
The energy you devote to preparing for your inevitable death will help you make the most of your precious and finite life. Promise.
What about you?
What’s an example of how attention and action have affected change in your life or community?