Death is a topic we often avoid for obvious reasons. With death comes grief and the realization that our lives are fleeting. However, pondering death and dying as a natural part of life and talking about it with loved ones can improve our quality of life, mental health, and overall well-being.

Still, we can’t deny that thoughts of death are a difficult and complex topic, bringing with them a stream of emotions — and even death anxiety at times. With every difficulty we face, we are invited to look for the silver lining, and death is no exception.

Together, we will look at some of the ways that thinking about our own death on a daily basis can improve your self-esteem, help you banish negative thoughts, and support living a good life.

What Is Death Awareness?

Death awareness refers to the act of thinking and talking about death as a part of your own life. Death awareness has been known to decrease fears about death and increase our quality of life. 

Thinking and talking about death is a way to confront one of life’s inevitable experiences and discover the ways that a new perspective can enhance our well-being. 

1. It Motivates Us To Live Life to the Fullest 

Considering our own mortality can motivate us to live our lives to the fullest. As thoughts of death become a part of everyday life, it becomes easier to become a contributor to society, a loving family member, and a loyal friend. 

For instance, think about the intentions behind creating a bucket list. Writing a bucket list is one way to ensure that we accomplish our deepest hopes and dreams before we pass away. 

It’s the thought of human mortality that helps us ask questions like: “What do we hope to accomplish before we die?” or “What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind?” 

Reminders of death in daily life — health conditions, the loss of a friend, or even the coronavirus pandemic — encourage us all to live ours to the fullest.

When we face the reality that we only have one life to live and we want to live it well, we are more motivated to confront our fears. Our desire to achieve our goals becomes greater than our fear of failure when we understand the brevity of life. 

Thinking about death can create an urgency within us to pursue our hopes and dreams. 

2. It Makes Us Kinder

Understanding human mortality can also help us be kinder to those around us and remind us to invest deeply in our relationships with the remarkable people in our lives. 

While advancements in technology have brought countless benefits, they have also developed a faster-paced way of life that leaves us little time to slow down and create new relationships. Thinking about death has a way of reorienting our perspective and helping us refocus on the things most important in life like family and friendship. 

When we realize that both us and our loved ones will not always be here, we are reminded to silence our phones and engage face-to-face the remarkable people around us. 

Thinking about death can also motivate us to reconcile broken relationships or extend forgiveness to people we are estranged from. Since we never know how long we will have with a loved one, we should consider what it would look like to reach out to an long-lost friend or engage in conversations about forgiveness with those who have caused us pain. 

3. It Can Calm Our Fears of Death

Many of us fear death because we don’t understand it. While death is universal, it is also complex. It has a timeline of its own and is not an experience we can ever fully prepare ourselves for. As humans, we often make decisions that are motivated by our fears.

Fearing death may impact our ability or willingness to take risks. While fear creates a healthy awareness of danger at times, it can also inhibit us from experiencing everything life has to offer. If we remain motivated by our fear of death, we may miss out on certain experiences. Fearing death has also been known to prolong grief and make us angrier people. 

Thinking and talking about death has been known to lessen anxiety and fear surrounding the topic. Our fears often have more power over us and our decision making when they are left unsaid. This is because we can  easily obsess over outcomes until oue worry becomes all-consuming. Vocalizing our thoughts about death and its certainty can actually reduce our fears. 

Talking about death gives us a sense of control that we may not have had otherwise. It empowers us to take charge of the fear instead of letting it control or consume us. When we come to understand death as a part of life, we can live without dread and take risks. 

#4: It Helps Us Be More Present

Understanding death as a universal experience also produces a present-oriented way of thinking. The idea of death often creates a new appreciation for the small things in life. 

Whether we have just experienced the loss of a loved one or we are beginning to think about our own mortality, we will start to notice beauty throughout the day. We may appreciate nature more or see our friendships in a new light. Seeing life as a gift can increase the gratitude we feel for the little things. 

When we see that our tomorrows are not promised, we begin to live for today. We do the things we’d regret not doing and say what is on our minds more. Pondering death allows us to release regrets from our past and embrace the life we are living. 

5. It Makes Us More Generous 

Thinking about death can also make us more generous. When we think of generosity, we often think of giving money to a charitable organization or person in need. However, generosity refers to the ways in which we utilize all our resources. These resources are anything from our money to our time as well as lending out goods and services. 

Thinking about death helps us to consider things and people outside of us or our immediate sphere of influence. It helps us to see life as bigger than us and the world as more than a place to satisfy our desires. When we understand our mortality, we are more likely to be generous with our resources. 

As we grow a deeper appreciation for life, we understand things like money are dispensable and are not a source of fulfillment. When we understand this, we become more generous and willing to give or be aware of the needs around us. We also become more generous with our time as we value people and relationship building over workplace success and achievement. 

6. It Helps Us Live a More Authentic Life

Thinking and talking about death help us be honest with ourselves and those around us about our thoughts, feelings, and desires. It makes us look inward in an effort to determine the type of life you want and the things you want to be known for. 

Thinking about death also helps us break free from cultural molds or expectations and pave a pathway that is more representative of who we are. 

7. It Helps Us Live Healthier Lives

Studies have shown that those who think about their own mortality tend to care for their bodies better. Thinking about death can cause us to take our health more seriously, engaging in more frequent physical activity as well as clean eating. 

An awareness of death can even motivate us to schedule regularly scheduled check-ups with our doctors. 

In addition, cultivating a healthier perspective on death can be the key to overcoming existential anxiety, a concept in social psychology that relates to our fears about the meaning of life. It can also ease thanatophobia — the fear of death. 

Thinking about death has also been shown to decrease cigarette use and increase sunscreen use. Understanding that our bodies have an internal clock helps us to prioritize self care and take necessary steps to improve our overall health. 

Wrapping Up

Death awareness is the act of talking and thinking about the topic of death. We often avoid thinking about and discussing death because of the emotions that accompany the topic. Although talking or thinking about death can be difficult, it also yields for us positive outcomes that lead to a fuller life. 

Thinking about death can motivate us to live a life that most accurately represents who we are. It also causes us to reflect on the things we hope to accomplish and the legacy we desire to leave. Thinking about death can create for us a more present-focused, others-oriented life that values relationships, generosity, and our overall health. 


Could Thinking About Death Improve Your Life? | Well Doing 

How Does Fear Influence Risk Assessment and Decision-Making? | Psychology Today 

Why We Fear Death and How to Overcome It | Psychology Today 

The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors | PMC