Death saves. Let me explain what I mean.
That’s what happened to Ebenezer Scrooge. Remember him, from Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol?”
He used to be a mean-spirited, isolated, and self centered possessive old man.
Until he met his “ghost of the future.” A preview of his future yet to come appeared before him.
He saw his future corpse neglected. His belongings being pawned. Even his bedsheets sold. And his neighborhood dismissing his death so lightly.
When the “ghost of the future” escorted Scrooge to view his future grave, something happened to him.
At that precise moment, Scrooge underwent a transformation. A bright awakening.
In the next scenes was a totally new, kind, and compassionate human being.
I’ve witnessed in my psychotherapy practice how much clients are impacted when they’re also escorted to the same view.
“Please tell your Dad, I’m sorry,” a prodigal wife told her eldest daughter in the course of dying from cancer.
Over a decade before her cancer and eventual death, she was living in another country with another man.
It seems a most effective therapy away from distraction, despair, and disillusionment to be reminded of one’s mortality.
And … the important goal of finishing well.
As St. Augustine once said, “It is only in the face of death that a man’s self is born.”
Psychotherapist Dr. Irvin Yalom puts it this way: “Although the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death saves us.”
A lot of us awaits to experience existential shock therapy before we truly awaken.
This kind of therapeutic awakening, by the way, is relevant to both young and old.
Especially nowadays, during this global pandemic crisis of the Coronavirus
The end of life may do come unexpectedly and anytime.
And the only way to make sure we will finish well when death comes is to live well right now.