Memento Mori

I went for a cemetery walk today in Grove Cemetery in Dundas. Stan Nowak gave a great tour telling us about some of the residents and the stories of their lives.

It was also a great reminder that none of us gets out of here alive.

I’m still reading The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman. The chapter that I’m currently reading is called Memento Mori. It’s Latin. It means: Remember you’re going to die.

So, the cemetery walk seemed like great timing.

The problem is that most of us are afraid of dying. It’s the end. Game over. At least, as far as we know. Even if you have faith in an after life, there is some uncertainty on what it is going to look like.

A headstone in a graveyard is like cosmic sticky note saying “I was here.” Like scratching your initials on a picnic table or your desk at school.

Obviously, a headstone lasts longer.

But how long is long enough? The headstones don’t last forever. Many of the older ones have faded so the names and dates are barely legible. Lots of them aren’t.

Memento Mori.

So many of us are petrified of the inevitable. Myself, included.

But instead of avoiding thinking about our eventual deaths, it’s good to be aware that our time here is finite.

Burkeman has a great analogy for this. Life is like having a meal in a restaurant. You don’t fret that the meal is going to end. You don’t get worked up that it’s going to be over soon.

No. You enjoy the meal. You savour the food. You enjoy the company. You have a good time.

Memento Mori isn’t supposed to frighten us. It’s to remind us not to take things for granted.

© 2021 Peter Gruner

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