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Death & Its Only Guarantee

Grief

Earlier this week, a guy my age that I knew died.

He was in a motorcycle accident, wasn’t wearing his helmet, hit his head, and after being in a coma for several days he very sadly passed on.

His funeral is tomorrow. It is the 27th funeral for someone I personally have known that was my age or younger. I’m only 33 and I’ve been feeling the sting of death following me for two decades now.

I have had many friends die in car accidents. I have had friends drown in flash floods. I have had friends overdose on drugs or commit suicide. I have lost friends to cancer and sickness. Two of my friends (brothers) drowned while scuba diving in a canal pipe. One friend fell off a cliff while hiking. I’ve so sadly been to the funerals of children and of babies. I was holding my own little sister’s head in my hands as she took her final breaths.

Mortality. We are all forced to think about it from time to time, aren’t we? The death of someone I know this week certainly has made me think twice about getting back on my brand new Harley, the motorcycle that before this week I was so thrilled about finally having. I’m sure it will pass. After all, I still drive my car, I still hike, and I still swim even though I’ve lost people through those means as well.

But why have I personally known so many young people to tragically lose their lives? Is it because death follows me? God, I hope not.

Death has come for me personally three times in the past two years, all the stories of which I’ve shared on this blog. Hell, it’s been coming for me my entire life. At the age of three, I was electrocuted once and not much later I was almost killed by a car. Yet, somehow then and now, I have always managed to escape it.

But the truth is, I could die tomorrow. I could die today. This could be the last blog post you ever see from me, and that is true every single day with every word I type. There is no guarantee that I will get to be there when my son grows up, graduates, finds love, has kids, and becomes a man. There is no guarantee that I will make it to all the camping trips and fun vacations I have planned with my son and with my girlfriend. I might not ever make it back to Sunday dinner to see my family.

God, I hope I do. But there are no guarantees, are there.  In fact, death is the only guarantee.

I could be hit by a stray bullet while standing at a crosswalk. I could die in a car accident. I could stay out in the sun too long and get heat stroke. I could be given the wrong prescription drug. I could be stampeded by a herd of escaped elephants. I could be murdered by a crazy blog reader. I could keel over from an aneurism.

There are no guarantees that I’ll make it to tomorrow. That is the one solid truth that exists for every single one of us. From the richest to the poorest, the blackest to the whitest, the gayest to the straightest, the most religious to the biggest heathen. Nobody escapes death.

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

62 comments
CrissyLance
CrissyLance

Sorry for your loss Dan!  I think that death should remind us to really live every day, because you just never know.  I know I will always live on in the hearts of my children and that is all I need to know about what happens to me after.  Brian will live on in your heart and the hearts of all who knew and loved him.  Hugs!

TheSiege
TheSiege

Brian Thaut was one of my best friends.  I've known him since high school.  There is not a better person than him on this earth.  He will be missed by all.


chirper
chirper

Way to make a tragic death about you..... now that's sad

chasinamie
chasinamie

I'm glad you wrote this. Very inspiring! It seems that we all are dragging our feet through our obligations and hoping for a better day, but this is it - this is what we have, so why not live it instead of trying to avoid the inevitable and wait for the perfect conditions to start living? "The problem is, you think you have time". Someone important said that, but I'm not sure who...

PamelaSioux
PamelaSioux

Dear Brother:

I am grateful that your influence and love has been felt by so many who have gotten to know you before passing. How blessed your little sister to be held lovingly as she left. Forgive me if my words cause pain; I understand personally how it is to have to accept a sibling passing from Earth. And regardless of the opinions of others, I have learned that we do indeed come back and back to Earth. Some of us have taken a vow to return until all have become enlightened and realize that we are all One. This is referred to as the bodhisatva vow in buddhism. I dont claim to be a buddhist, but I have had it proven to me through my psychic experiences and validation of facts that reincarnation does happen. I send Love and comfort to you for the loss you surely feel. Blessings in all things, I wish for my words to be a comfort. Namaste~

Nikk
Nikk

If you think that your reason for being and your work here on this planet is finished... and you're still alive.... it hasn't.  (misquoted I'm sure) from Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsh.  I can't look it up as I've given the book away to someone who needed it.  My sympathy on your loss.... Don't leave it too long before you get on the bike because of this.  If your number is up, death will find you whether you're on a motorcycle or safe in your bed.

Sparrowchild
Sparrowchild

I'm sorry that you've had to experience so much death in such a short amount of time. :(  *sends hugs* And sorry for your most recent loss. 

So, I was gonna say I'll never set foot outside again after reading all the random ways I could die, but then I realized that I could get eaten by my soul devouring parrot. Nowhere is safe! That could be a very very scary thought. It does kinda poke up anxiety, but if I twist my perspective a little that way and prod it a bit this way, I can look at it with the intended idea of appreciating every moment and living my life instead of hiding away.

I was a bit worried about taking up horseback riding a couple years ago. Other people cautioned me about it, too. But a friend pointed out that even if I died as a result of a riding accident, at least I would die doing something I love. So far, I've gotten some bumps and bruises, temporarily hurt my back and broken my nose lol But I wouldn't give it up for anything!

aprilraven
aprilraven

You've conveyed very eloquently my thoughts about death and what happens or doesn't after we die in this life. I'm hesitant to claim any belief or religious orientation though because my beliefs fall into many categories - atheist, agnostic, humanist, pagan, buddhist, and so on. The bottom line is that I believe I'm here to grow as a person and help others along the way. Whatever actions make either of those happen are ones that keep me on my right path. I neither believe nor disbelieve that doing these things will help me when I die. I'm doing them solely because I believe that's why we're here. As for any possible afterlife or rebirth, I'll just have to figure out why I'm there when/if I get there.

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

trrantual
trrantual

This calls to mind some lyrics from the song "Eulogy" by Frank Turner:

I may not be the perfect kind of person,
I may not do what mom and dad dreamed,
but on the day I die, I'll say at least I f&!*ing tried.
and that's the only eulogy I need.

WendyRose
WendyRose

I witnessed my brother's death when I was 5 years old.  He was 9.  It was June 15, 1978 and he was the victim of a pool drain entrapment.  His death changed the course of my life...at age 40, I can look back now and say, without a doubt, that losing my brother has been the single most profound event in my life. It taught me that tomorrow is never guaranteed. It taught me to choose my battles wisely, because life is too short to fight all of them all the time.  It taught me to love deeply and unconditionally, and it taught me to speak my mind before it's too late to be heard. 

I think it's important to spend some time feeling the feelings that comes with this territory instead of always pushing them aside or burying them under the facade of "I'm fine."

Great post!

(Also, I had to look up the word "pensive".)


SinghDaman
SinghDaman

i have no words,,, death is ul;timate reality,,,either we will weep or laugh we must die we will die we have to die,,,soul never die body dies ,,souls are one flame ,,it comes from one lflame and  go back in one flame ,,,i shared to manies ,,,ur page is really mind catcher ,,u r really human being that is so diffrent in this selfish word,,,,,,,we love u really your drugh friend,,,,daman from india ,,warm wecome of call when ever come india +91-97808-31779 mobile


Lynda Whitlow
Lynda Whitlow

<3 awesome again Dan, well thought and well written.

AdamG
AdamG

"Life is too short to be mean to one another. It’s too short to be petty or jealous. It’s too short to hold onto pain and hurt from the past. It’s way too short to spend even one extra second trying to bring others down or hurt other people’s chances at happiness."

I am 42 years old, and only now am I beginning to understand this. It is both freeing and terrifying to open myself to people who believe differently than I do, but I'm trying to let go of my dogmatism and be open and accepting even of those whom I will never agree with. It's hard, though, to remember that this is why I need to be that open. I could die today. Any of us could. 

Nobody gets out of life alive. 

myspokenheart
myspokenheart

Thanks Dan... great words of truth.Our only guarantee is death... I get your comment wondering if possibly death is following you... sometimes I feel that way myself, other times I just acknowledge that death happens every minute of every day and people are always touched by it, just some people more than others I suppose (me being one of those people). But in the same breathe I can also say that life goes on and every minute of every day new life is born, and people are always touched by that too. 

Oh and I pictured the couch potato choking on their chips laughing at their favorite scene in the movie/sitcom they are watching... just saying...

JenTeale
JenTeale

10 years ago, my next-door-neighbor was killed in a car accident, leaving behind her husband and 6-year old son.  She was 32 years old.  Three months later, my nephew died at the age of 14, after living a life of being mentally and physically handicapped due to a brain tumor when he was 3 months old. Six years later, his father (my brother-in-law) passed away from an incredibly rare and incredibly aggressive tumor in his heart.  My sister-in-law and her daughter lost their son/brother and husband/father in the space of just a few years.  This February, on the 10-year anniversary of his wife's death, my next-door neighbor accidentally drank himself to death, leaving his now 16-year old son to find him in the morning.  This past year, I've attended the funerals of 2 young girls, ages 15 and 19, who both died of cancer, and seeing their parents' grief, as a parent myself, made my blood run cold and my heart break with sorrow.  My mother lost 2 brothers and my grandmother 2 sons (half of her children), 7 years apart, both of them killed in car accidents.  They were both in their 20's - one was killed at a bad intersection with a blind curve, and the other was killed when a drunk driver crossed the yellow line and hit his car, killing my uncle, the 3 friends who were with him, and the drunk driver as well.

Sometimes all of the pain that I see around me is mind-numbing, and my heart aches for everyone who has suffered such horrible losses.  And there's nothing we can really do but to be there for our friends and loved ones who are suffering, and to keep smiling and loving even in the face of all that pain.

Dan, you're an amazing person.  Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.  Thank you for your gift of hope and of making us feel like we have been blessed with a wonderful and caring friend, whom it just so happens we have never met.


Keep smiling.  :)

Cat9
Cat9

Death should be a reminder of loving and giving ourselves to who is still here. I was made to have that reminder at age 36 when I lost my husband and father of 4. Never the pain so deep, but I hold my babies a little tighter, I give more to my friends, I don't waste time wondering if i should tell someone I love them or care about them I just do. Fighting seems less significant. The biggest lesson that we can learn from our mortality is... that life is fleeting. Love freely, give your gift of time to those that you care about.. the rest is just stuff. 


Cynthia Bohli
Cynthia Bohli

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend! I have not experienced the loss of very many people during my life. Most of them were elderly:grandparents, aunts & uncles. A few former classmates have passed, and I totally get that it gets you thinking about your own life. In my husband's family, his grandfather, uncle, father, and 3 yrs ago, his brother all died in their early-mid 50's. It's really frightening to have that little dark cloud haning over my husband's head, you know? Is he going to be next? He's 51 now, and doesn't take that great care of himself......:(

TaraCampbell
TaraCampbell

So sorry for your many losses. Death does not follow you. I suppose the more people you are friends with, the more chances there are to lose more friends. I am 28 and I have known death of those same age or younger since I was 13, the first one being still in junior high when he took his own life. A close friend from high school passed away from diabetes right after graduation, my best friend shot herself in the head while pregnant (I still wake up in tears over that one), another friend overdosed on his birthday, a friend's son who I watched grow up ended his life at 14 by jumping in front of a train, my little brother murdered by my older brother (that I don't think I will ever get over). It's sad how I can go on and each time it happens I go through a foggy period in my life realizing how brief our lives are. I feel for you. I truly do. I hope your friend's funeral is an honorable and loving one. 

treefrogmom
treefrogmom

That photo is too much like the Weeping Angels from Dr Who for me to read this post.  But sorry for your loss.

jws
jws

So sorry for your loss.  Thank you for your words. 

BrittanyABoone
BrittanyABoone

I can't tell you how many people I've known that were my age who have died, either by taking their own life or by some type of accident. I've also lost a lot of family members to cancer, the most recent being my dad, who a little over a year ago lost his five year battle with cancer. When he was put on hospice they gave him a week, 45 days at best. It's hard watching someone you love be in pain and fighting for their lives, I watched both my parents do it, and I lost both of them. I feel the most important thing you can do, every day that you wake up and have a voice or a hand that can still write, is to tell everyone you love just how much you love them. As the one left after death, I know my parents loved me, but I wonder did I ever tell them enough how much I loved them?

InfinityFinali
InfinityFinali

I have a tattoo that essentially bespeaks everything you wrote in your blog today. The cherry blossom in Japanese culture teaches the lesson that all things beautiful and precious fade and die and are lost. I was inspired by three girls I knew who all died in a row. A DUI accident. Leukemia, and bone cancer. I'm only twenty-two and I can think of too many people I went to high school with who died young and often suddenly. I appreciate your view on death and how it's okay to not know what happens next. It's how I feel too :)

Joan Griffin
Joan Griffin

So many truths in your blog, Dan. Enough to really make a person think ...about life, death, "God, the Universe, and Everything".

Anita Gravelle
Anita Gravelle

I 100% agree with your stance on being Agnostic. I find it completely arrogant to discount beliefs in either direction. If people want to have faith, that's their business. If they want to be atheist, so be it. But neither camp should go around shoving said beliefs on others. Those of us who choose to accept that no one really "knows" should be allowed to live that way in peace :)

barefootmama0709
barefootmama0709

Tomorrow marks three months since we lost our 5-year-old son in a freak accident. Life is short and very precious and there's no going back. Make the most of it!

KatarinaDobrick
KatarinaDobrick

I have had to deal with three deaths in the last six weeks and of course it makes me think about my own. They have taken a toll on me, especially the last two, people who meant a great deal to me, one of which I never got to say Im sorry to for something I wish I hadnt said six months ago (I was angry and the life of my dog had been threatened by this person), though I think they were angry as well. I worry that this last death is going to take a toll on another family member and that it may ultimately cause their demise as well. At that point I will be completely alone, something which I am not sure I can handle. On one hand I am not afraid of death, but on the other hand I am in regards to the fact that I am concerned who will take care of my furbabies and that I havent had the opportunity to do everything I wanted to do within my lifespan. This latest installment has really hit home and hard and leaves me with a heck of a lot to think about.

raikoala
raikoala

I honestly wish that if I should live long, that by the time I die, wherever I am, I'll be legally allowed to kill myself peacefully, instead of having to suffer sickness, injury or pain. Let's face it: Most of us will not naturally slip away in our sleep, blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are dieing. Most of us will suffer pain or at least heavy medication, for a variable length of time. I hope when it is my time, I can chose not to suffer unnecessarily. I am 30 now and I have still some things to achieve while not being dead, so I do hope that I will make it for a while longer. But in any case, I always make a point to separate on a good word from all those I care about, so that if I should not make it to the next time we meet, people will keep a happy memory of my last words to them (or in general, keep me in mind as someone who always leaves with a positive attitude!).

Christine Zavala
Christine Zavala

My husband passed away 2 1/2 months ago unexpectedly. I never even got to say goodbye or that last one more, 'I love you'. He knew that when he left he would be in a better place with all his loved ones who had passed before him. I feel for you and my love and prayers are with his family and you. I know you're not religious but I pray that God will give his family and friends strength to make it through this hard time. Your words were well written.

Jenny Campbell
Jenny Campbell

I had the same thing this week! We had a local guy who was 28 firefighter die in a fire. It was hard being faced with reality that any day could be our day. When I told my sister about it she said "that's exactly why I jumped out of a plane last week". Living everyday without regret, judgement or fear. It's a good reminder to be good to each other and not waste time on petty stuff.

NathanTompkins
NathanTompkins

I've known people to die in accidents, illnesses, overdoses, suicides, and murder....it's part of life...especially when life is obvious at a young age that it's not all about puppies and sunshine.


Most recently, my ex wife suddenly lost her dad.  Not sure what happened, he collapsed apparently...and didn't recover.  Of course, now there is an 8 year old girl who is heartbroken....


I don't normally do this....but I'm going to spam you as this kinda goes along with the death bit.  My grampa was the youngest of 13....he had to watch all his siblings and many friends go....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ubEAWldxUc

AmyVirklerTuron
AmyVirklerTuron

This post really touched my heart today! My son has attempted suicide three times in the past year. It has been the worst experience that I have ever gone through in my whole life. It brings me to tears just thinking of those moments of my life. For someone to give up their own life leaves an even bigger hole to those left behind. Your words have spoken truth today. Thank you for all that you write. You have taught us all so very much.

ElizabethJones1
ElizabethJones1

I am truly sorry that you lost someone you cared about.

I have no fear of death. I simply hope I do not suffer.

I am often reminded of a quote from Captain Hook in J. M Barrie's Peter Pan: "Death is but the next great adventure"  It is something completely unknown, and therefore, I look forward to it as much as any new experience. 

Lou Stewart
Lou Stewart

You don't need permission to speak "Truth".....perhaps just one person will be nourished by the effort. Just do what you feel guided to do without worrying about how anyone feels about it. Fact is: Death is the only guarantee....."Speak to the Spirit of Life". Know that you are supported.

minuterice
minuterice

breathe in when you're outside hiking or even in your yard. that beautiful natural smell comes from a balance of life and death. The landscape is green and colorful because something died to leave it in a better way. Death is as much for the living as it is necessary for the body. 

Stephanie Marshall Hicks
Stephanie Marshall Hicks

I am sorry for your loss of your friend. What a tremendous tribute to him and all your loved ones who have passed. Just love this perspective: "In the end, the story of who we were is all we will have. It is all anyone will have." Live, enjoy life and be who you are meant to be!

Tara Albrecht Roddick
Tara Albrecht Roddick

My Mom passed away just last week from a brain aneruysm. She was only 58. You never know.

ladyfawkes69
ladyfawkes69

Like many here, I've had times when it seems like *everyone* around me was dying and it really upset me and made me wonder, but since then, I've realised that the best revenge against death is living well.  I strive to do that each day and on the days I don't manage, I just start all over again. It is the only way to honour them.

I am so sorry you have lost someone. Hugs.

Deni
Deni

Thanks for making me think about this! :-P  :-D

I am going to be 62 in a month, and this is something I never ever think about, because I have learned to accept my own mortality, and I am not afraid. In fact, I still have that same Hope I die before I get old mentality, although my daughter tells m it's too late, ha ha. I know that being in a wheel chair will not work for me. My secret is that I plan to never grow up, just like Peter Pan. When I was a child I made that commitment, and I have held onto it throughout my tumultuous adult hood, and now I am living it. I even go to Burning Man!

One secret is to learn to be present in the moment you are in. It's really the only thing that is true. Your past and your future are just stories, this moment is real. Embrace it, even if it is boredom. 

Vesna Filipovic
Vesna Filipovic

that is the reason to live every single day as the last one. That's the reason to make the most of every day, every moment and enjoy as much as possible in all little things/people that makes as happy. :)

liahonagirl
liahonagirl

As one who lives daily with the knowledge that my time is likely going to be shortened by quite a lot, I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Don't waste a single breath doing something that doesn't matter. Live life to the fullest, because you never know when your turn to die will come.
And thanks, Dan . . . thanks for using YOUR valuable moments of life to write this blog and to motivate others to live (and love!) more fully!

JenTeale
JenTeale

@chirper - Seriously?  That's not what I got from this post at all.


JenTeale
JenTeale

@barefootmama0709  

I'm so very sorry.  Hugs to you and know that others care even though they may not know you.