If Humans Had Expiration Dates, Would We Live Differently?

If Humans Had Expiration Dates

If you knew the exact day that you were going to die, how would you deal with that information?

I think about dying everyday, it is one of the blessings and curses of my chosen profession. Being a funeral director has added an interesting perspective to my life and overall I look at this point of view as a blessing. But like anyone else, there are times when I forget all the lessons that come with this perspective. I can easily get caught up with life’s fast pace and miss out on the purpose of why I am here. For me, that purpose is simple, love one another and enjoy life.

So, what would you do if you knew the date of your death? How would your relationships with your family and friends be affected? Would you start a bucket list? Enroll in yoga? Eat more twinkies?

Do you think it would raise your self-awareness about the value of each moment or would it lead you into depression or panic?

Here’s the good news: none of us know when this day will come and having anxiety over it doesn’t help anyone. But just because we don’t know when that day will come doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set aside time to  think about it.

I want to dare you to think about your death day.

Take a deep breath, I’m asking you to do this because I believe there are more benefits in thinking about it then you know.

Photo Courtesy of http://cubiclerefugee.tumblr.com/post/28693518364


Try this, the next time you wake up say to yourself, “This is it, my last day on earth – what should this day be like?” – I know you still have to go about your daily routine but how would that mindset change the day-to-day? If it was your last day at work or last meal with your family how would you want to walk out?

Here are the options as I see them, we can leave:

  • Thankful or full of regret
  • Happy or sad
  • Open minded or closed off
  • Mentor or captor
  • In the Present or in the Past
  • Courageous or Fearful

Our avoidance of death or even thinking about death is a unique trait to western society and it’s something I’m passionate about changing. If you look at most other cultures, death is understood and embraced as something to face and consider. We are missing great opportunities to live more fulfilling lives unless we take time to confront our own mortality and consider what legacy we want to leave behind. My encouragement to you is to stop living in fear or avoidance of dying, look at it in the eyes, know that you will meet someday and LIVE accordingly.

So, what would you do if you knew your death date?

*Neil will be speaking TOMORROW, Thursday, August 22nd in the evening at O’Connor Mortuary about what it looks like to plan out the legacy you want to leave behind. He will be joined by financial expert, Robert Trommler of Cooke Wealth Management. This is a one-of-a kind event that we don’t want you to miss.

Please join us for this free informational evening – all you have to do is show up! To learn more, click here.

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Greg Forster says:

    One starts to read your blog and thinks that they have a mindset that is totally under control on this issue. As you encourage all of us to do, if we dig just a little deeper turmoil develops. What would I do? Yes! What would I do? From visions of creating chaos in ones life to doing absolutely nothing differently in our day to day routine, “What would I REALLY DO?” poses a question that, in the end, may never be truly, completely answered. If we knew, then, we could react. My best guess is to keep it all simple, to make each day the best that it can be, both for ourselves and the others that cross our paths from both near and afar. We know the quote “time is money”,another is “time is eternal”. You have challenged us to stop and find the time to really think.
    Thank you, Greg

    • Neil O’Connor says:

      Hi Greg – Thank you for your reply! I love the time is eternal, time and space are so mysteries, we have so much yet so little. I also like your thought of keep it simple, I hope this death due date helps you keep it simple in this sometimes challenging world.

  2. Jeff Turner says:

    This idea that you dove into head first is a very interesting one. It demands a change in our perspective and causes us to contemplate our purpose. I love your simple purpose for life being, to love others and enjoy life! I am moved to reflect upon the moments of my life just after I was delivered the news that I had cancer. I was in the hospital bed and the doctor, my brother-in-law and my wife had just left the room and I was alone and reeling from the words I had just heard. The television was on and there was a Coke commercial running with girls in bikinis and guys with surfboards. I remember thinking to myself, “How meaningless!” as I considered my situation.

    My perspective on life was changed in an instant. I was 29, we had two little kids, we were supposed to be moving that day and I was to start a new job the end of the week. There was allot that I was supposed to be doing and I had been concerned to get all of the details worked out. Now, all I could do was lie in bed. I was “just along for the ride”.

    What I walked away with is the importance of relationships. I wondered if I would see my kids grow up. The business of life or “hurry sickness” that we are so easily caught up in becomes nonsensical. Creating space in life or “margin” as some call it really appeals to me. Just stopping and enjoying can be so very hard for us.

    So, Neil, if I knew it was my last day, I would tell people how much I appreciate them, I would take time to connect with those most important to me. I would want a “peaceful day”, a reflective day. A day of thankfulness and with it, just the appropriate amount of sorrow in having to say goodbye.

    I love you brother!


    • Neil O’Connor says:

      Jeff – I love you too brother! I appreciate the way you live your life, you are faithful with great passion. I see how much you care for those around you, you have been a great friend and mentor to me for 25 years, WOW! Today is the day, we have one left, lets make the most of it!

  3. Arlene Blix says:

    I try to live each day as if today IS my last so I’d not change anything. When my husband was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer several years ago it really put life, and death, in perspective. I’ve changed the way I live and am grateful to him for the lessons he taught me and others who shared our journey.

    • Neil O’Connor says:

      Hi Arlene – Thank you for your reply. Life has a way to help us change our perceptive. Living a life full of gratitude helps us stay in the moment. I hope and prayer that your husbands health has been resorted.

  4. Patricia Kolstad says:

    You and I have been through so much in the time we have spent together. And I have always said that for a young man, you have great insight, ability and depth of soul. You have shown that here! And when I look back on those days I think, “this kid taught me many things”, and I am grateful. As I have aged I have realized that each day, each moment is an opportunity to do great things, to be a mentor to someone, to love unconditionally, to let my family and my friends . . and even strangers for that matter, know that they are loved. We all have many gifts, but like many of us we tend to keep them to ourselves. Gifts were made to be given away. I know that I have made a difference in my lifelong work, that I have made a difference in someone’s life, and that I truly have no regrets. And if my time should end today, I believe that those I have in my life would know how much I truly loved them. How sweet this life of mine has been. Even in turmoil, we rise up to meet the challenges. Would I change anything – sure, but right now, I’m living my best, being my best, and enjoying each day! Thanks so much Neil, for giving us the opportunity to ponder. Moments like these can be life changing!

    • Neil O’Connor says:

      Hi Pat – Thank you for your kind words! I am grateful for all your gifts that you have given me, friendship is the #1, persistence, patience, forgiveness, loyalty, courage, passion, love of friends and family. I love to see you fight for what you believe in, you are a Tiger or should I say a cougar? Either way you are a force of love and compassion. I am grateful to be in your life! XO

  5. Neil O’Connor says:

    HI Chuck – Thank you for your reply and insights! I agree I would not want to know the day or time, I think it would cause total chaos in the world. You have been a great friend and mentor to me, I have always appreciated your peaceful calming ways.

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