My news feed on FB reads like a rally against Death itself. So many celebrities have died this year, and many during the end of 2016, which just seems to focus the attention on this aspect of life. Is it more than usual? Is this year an aberration?

The thing is, we have more actors in the field due to the baby boom, and simply a broadening of what is considered a celebrity. That means we may be in the uptick of deaths as this trends mirrors the baby boom era. Makes sense. Read More here.

So, what can we do about this?

Short answer: nothing.

But, we can learn from it. We can take from this an understanding of death, and from that: life.

First, we must remember, we are mortal, we all die, and we have zip to say about it, let alone any real measure of control. Okay, while that is not so positive, we need to hold a space for a lesson, a takeaway.

Secondly, we can take from this that our lives, being finite, take direction from us. Are we living the life we desire? We don’t need to ask if we are at ‘the place’ in our life we may have imagined, because that can get us comparing material or status, but we can ask if we are happy, if we are satisfied with challenges, and if we have a passion in life. These are needs, so we feel that we matter in our heart, our community, and ultimately our world.

Some people may feel that a satisfied life is one of comfort, but I feel we find our true strength, our true gifts, in the challenges we overcome. It’s easy to say “We only get the challenges we can overcome” because if we don’t we die. So if you feel that the challenges in your life are not life threatening, good, go for it! You can handle it!

The Latin phrase Momento Mori means ‘Remember we are mortal‘. It is not meant to focus our thoughts on death, something that one can easily do when we are consistently faced with the obituaries of celebrities, but to remind us to live. The complementary Latin phrase Momento Vivere means ‘Remember to live’, and I believe is the path we can focus on when we are faced with mortality in any form around us. Here are five of my thoughts on how we might want to look at mortality when we face it:

  1. We can be grateful for knowing that person, whether a family member or actor, writer, or notable;
  2. We can remember our experiences with them, or what they did to expand our minds. Perhaps they taught us something, or showed us another perspective in life. These times are ones that shape our life;
  3. We can move forward, and take on their light or cause, or passion to fulfill a dream they had that we feel connected to. This expands the timeline of passion to multiple generations so a dream never dies;
  4. We can be a better person. When someone we admire dies, we can review their impact on our life and other people, and try to emulate that in our daily life. It can be a reminder to do better, to strive harder, to become one step closer to what that person emulated for us that we want for ourself; and
  5. We can forgive. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person, and is in fact a personal decision, but the death of someone that is linked to a personal issue or negative memory can spark a desire to forgive those in our lives that we may be spending too much brain power on. Forgiveness frees us, and the dialogue of mortality can spur this movement to freedom.

If we don’t push to find our passion to live the life we truly desire we may miss out on what life can offer us. I am so taken with the thought of living your life, and recalling that we are mortal, that I am going to tattoo it on my arms: one Latin phrase for each arm. I already have four rules for living tattooed there to help me remember how I wish to live, based on The Four Agreements, explained by Don Miguel Ruiz about the Toltec’s way of living and I think this will be another great reminder.

If we don’t remember we are mortal, if we don’t live our life, we could squander our most monumental gift. I sincerely hope that you are able to realize your life’s passions, your deepest most heartfelt desire as soon as you possibly can in your life, and one way of doing that is by helping others achieve theirs.