Whenever someone dies, we often hear people say, “He’s gone too soon” or “She died unexpectedly”. With so many people considering suicide, is there a particular time when it would be considered the ‘right moment’ to die?
Websites such as www.death-clock.org and www.deathclock.com use a variety of factors such as lifestyle, weight (BMI), age and gender, date of birth, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits, to make a prediction on an individual’s life expectancy. According to these websites, I’m expected to die about 36 years from now. Is this even possible? Can we make predictions on the fate of our lives? Do we have control over the exact moment when we die? Can we even trust ourselves to know the right moment to die?
People from the ancient past used to try out a variety of options in their quest for immortality. Some of them dedicated their entire lives to search for the elusive ‘elixir of life’. On the other hand, some people believe that immortality is a concept that focuses more on spiritual living as opposed to extending the life of the physical body. In our time, though, no one expects to live forever. Yet, no one expects to die either. It always comes as a surprise even when people die after living long and fulfilled lives, well beyond the life expectancy rate.
So when is the right moment to die? Those people going through various struggles in their lives would say that committing suicide would solve all their problems. For them, that is the right moment to die. That is their justification. Those suffering debilitating illnesses can choose to die instead of living in pain. In their minds, they would believe it is the right thing to do.
But perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. Maybe it’s not about choosing the right moment to die. Possibly, it’s about being ready for the moment death comes calling. When patients are informed by their doctors that they have a few months to live, they set out to get their affairs in order, in readiness for that expected day. Though the dying patients are sad to leave their loved ones behind, their moment of death is expected. It is a moment that is not accepted but will occur nonetheless. It is this insight that we should focus on.
In a pivotal scene in the movie “The Last Samurai”, actor Tom Cruise was asked by the Emperor to describe how the Samurai leader had died. He took a pause, and then responded by saying, “I will tell you how he lived”. That’s what is important: Living.
Ask anyone how the great heroes of the past like Einstein or Galileo died and most people won’t have the answer. Ask them how these heroes lived, though, and their achievements will be listed with a degree of excitement. Death is an uncomfortable topic, filled with memories of those we have lost and the anxiety of our expected end. We must all face that day eventually.
Chief Tecumseh once said, “Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home”.
Perhaps it’s not the right moment to die that is important. Rather, it is right way we live that counts.