death is the touchstone of our attitude to life. people who are afraid of death are afraid of life. it is impossible not to be afraid of life w/ all its complexity and dangers if one is afraid of death. this means that to solve the problem of death is not a luxury. if we are afraid of deah we will never be prepared to take ultimate risks; we will spend our life in a cowardly, careful and timid manner. it is only if we can face death, make sense of it, determine its place and our place in regard to it, that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fullness of our ability. too often we wait until the end of our life to face death, whereas we would have lived quite differently if only we had faced death @ the outset.
most of the time we live as though we were writing a draft for the life which we will live later. we live, not in a definitive way, but provisionally, as though preparing for the day when we really will begin to live. we are like people who write a rough draft w/ the intention of making a fair copy later. but the final version never gets written.
death comes before we have had the time or even generated the desire to make a definitive formulation.
the injunction 'be mindful of death' is not a call to live w/ a sense of terror in the constant awareness that death is to overtake us. it means rather, 'be aware of the fact that what you are saying now, doing now, hearing, enduring or receiving now may be the last
event or experience of your present life.' in which case it must be a crowning, not a defeat; a summit, not a trough. if only we realized whenever confronted w/ a person that this might be the last moment either of his life or of ours, we would be much more intense, much more attentive to the words we speak and the things we do.
only awareness of death will give life this immediacy and depth, will bring life to life, will make it so intense that its totality is summed up in the present moment. all life is @ every moment an ultimate act.
(from metropolitan anthony of sourozh, "on death"