Thinking about death every day

A new smart app helps with that but do we need to do it

Photo by Hannah Wernecke on Unsplash

When I see announcements about people who have died in their eighties, it makes me a bit nervous since I am 82. But why do I even worry about it? Like the guy who told the doctor, “My arm hurts when I do this” to which the physician responds, “Then don’t do that.”

Thinking about this began when I saw an ad on Instagram for WeCroak©, an app that purports to send daily quotes so one can consider dying.

Today it is Emily Dickinson, “Dying is a wild night and a new road.”

Did that make you better?

Many years ago when one of my dear friends died suddenly in his sixties, I sat down with a counselor to talk about a new awareness of my mortality. In her wise way, she asked “What do you fear about dying?” As I tried to respond, I remembered my father’s comment when he had a heart attack at a very young age. “I am not afraid of dying but I hate the thought of how my death will make my family feel.”

So, that’s it in the proverbial nutshell.

I watch a lot of detective series on my various TV streaming sources and so I see quite a few, probably too many (fictional) murders. Because of the suddenness and the violence, every single time, grieving persons ask, “Did she suffer?,” “Was he afraid?” or some other impossible question.

On the spot, law enforcement or funeral personnel are taken aback, usually offering words of comfort rather than trying to respond. Answers would be sheer speculation anyway. Maybe the instant stopping of heartbeat or a morphine-induced dreamless sleep comes at our end.

Violent ends such as auto accidents may include longer dying but often there is a blessed unconsciousness. As for an airplane crash, I always remember the comment John D. MacDonald made when he had to fly from his boat slip in Fort Lauderdale to Chicago for heart surgery. He said, “The airlines may kill you but they won’t hurt you.”

When I read this essay back, it sounds a bit macabre. However, if you talked to the young(!) developers of WeCroak© they might say just the opposite. While I am not sure how long I am going to be able to take popup notifications telling me “Remember you are dying,” they do have a useful thing going.

The trick is to use it for engaging life with more awareness. That way, people, places and things will come into much sharper focus. If nothing else, you can end up more loving. And isn’t that what life is all about