Death And What It Tells Us About Life

  • Post author:

One day I will die. The only unknown for me is how and where it will happen and under what circumstances. Additionally, who will be with me when it happens. The only certainty is that I know that I won’t be able to choose these things. Would it be better if I did? For some, this would be comforting, but for me personally, would bring an additional set of issues. I thought I was going to die in 2010 after a terrible accident and as I lost consciousness, I can only remember an image of my daughter then three, riding on a tricycle. After about six months of intensive care, I started to become aware of how much my life had changed and not just in a physical sense. I appeared to have lost a lot of the fear that dictated my life and the ten years since that time, have been the most adventurous of my life.

Join Dr Jenner’s Online Group Therapy –Starting March 26th 2022. Sometimes, it helps to know that others are going through similar experiences. Group therapy is designed for you to interact with others in similar circumstances and share your story with them. Join four other codependents in a series of four intensive, totally private, 90 minute sessions, facilitated by me, to learn how you can cope and recover from codependency by learning the background and effective tools and methods. Why just talk, why not learn? More info

At the moment, I am reading the excellent book by Irvin Yalom, Staring At The Sun. I am a great fan of the author generally, and his ideas on the client/therapist relationship should be standard reading for all new psychology students. In short, Irvin Yalom knows his subject and his views deserve the utmost respect.

Staring at the sun is somewhat different. It documents Yalom’s other theories on death anxiety and how a fear of death is really a fear of life and reaching the point of death without having accomplished the things that we feel we should have. We all think about death, and it is perhaps the most feared aspect of human nature. We know it will come, but we don’t know how and when. Religions and theories have been built on the basis of dealing with death and what might come after. Many people live their lives based on the fear of death, and Yalom states that most psychological issues have death anxiety at their root.

Yalom also states, quite rightly in my opinion, that we only really understand death when we have experienced it in some way. This would mean losing a loved one or having a brush with death on a personal level. He suggests this brings an “awakening” that teaches us more about life than death. He states that anyone who has encountered death will actually start to live. He uses the example of Scrooge in the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”, who is famously visited by the ghost of Christmas Future, who shows him his lonely death and how the people he terrorised dance in the streets at his demise. This instigates a change in Scrooge’s behaviour. Some have suggested that it may have been Dicken’s own fear of death that inspired the novel. In his own work in group therapy with terminally ill clients, Yalom frequently writes that the sufferers found a new lease on life once they knew about death and accepted it.

Given that Yalom’s views on an “awakening” after a brush with death can be given credence, how does it affect life? The reason the book is so interesting to me is that it mirrors that personal experience of mine, and I can categorically confirm that my life has been different since that nearly fateful day in 2010. It was May 20th and I was working on the roof of a barn that was being renovated (my weekend passion). Cutting a long story short, I fell through and landed on a concrete floor, 5 metres below (15 feet). I was heading down head first and probably certain death until I hit a spike jutting out from the wall that turned me and I fell on my right side, smashing my arm, wrist, shoulder, and ribs. I have metal plates to this day, but I am still alive, healthy and functioning well.

Even though I cannot really say that I thought about death frequently before the accident, I do believe that I had an “awakening” in the sense of Yalom’s work. After recovering, I felt more compassion, more desire to do things I had not done before, less cautious thinking and I gained more ability to stay in the moment and enjoy the present. I realised that I had been holding myself back, playing safe, planning for death. Now I plan for life.

Subscribe to Dr Jenner's Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,497 other subscribers


Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I have most of the time felt like I’m dying… if I’m honest.

    I have moments where I live. And I’m grateful for those moments. Because it seems as if I live that much more vividly in those moments, because I am aware of how occassional and fleeting they may be. In these moments, I feel both a happiness and deep sadness as I describe in my post: “symbiosis”.

    I looked at the client-therapist relationship that Irvin Yalom talks of, and I feel he has a better grasp of how it really is than many therapists today.