General Article Thinking about death can make you value life more

Topic Selected: Bereavement
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Go ahead and contemplate your own mortality. How does it feel? Would you be surprised to learn that it can potentially improve your mental health to think about your death more often?

The Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy once pondered if there was any meaning in life that an awareness of death didn’t undo or destroy. On the surface, this is undoubtedly true; everything and everyone we value, everything we cherish, could just vanish at any moment. As Sheldon Solomon, psychology professor at Skidmore College in New York, said, an awareness of our own death is potentially extremely distressing because it renders you aware that you are, ultimately, no more significant than food sources and animals, or as he put it: ‘lizards and potatoes’.

It is also impossible to truly know what it is like to die. So here we are, as humans, in this predicament: we have this desire to live, but we ultimately know we will die, and we don’t even know what it is like to experience what can often cause a high ...

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