Death Has a Valuable Lesson to Teach You

Gregg Williams, MFT
2 min readNov 11, 2022
Photo: Berend Verheijen, Unsplash

Last Sunday, I was with my 99 year old father-in-law, who is in hospice at his house. His breathing became labored, and I thought “This could be it; he could die today.” Death could be here at any moment. Then a thought jumped into my head: “I could die today.” The day suddenly had an immediacy that hadn’t been there a moment before.

I’m sure that every religion expresses a similar sentiment. In the Christian Bible, Isaiah 40:6–7 says:

All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it.

In Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius says, “You could leave life right now.”

Both these quotes cause many people to be anxious about dying. But Aurelius’s quote gives humanity a tremendous gift because it guides you toward a better life. The full quote is:

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.

Death gives life meaning. Without it, there is nothing special about one day; after all, you have an infinite number of them. Aurelius’s quote spells it out: every day is special because you will have only so many of them (and perhaps fewer than you think). Paying attention every day to what you do and say and think — and then acting on it —will give happiness and meaning to each day you have.



Gregg Williams, MFT

Retired therapist. Married 27 years. Loves board games, serious movies. Very curious about many things. Over 13,600 people are following my articles.