Why Thinking About Death is Actually Good for You

Why Thinking About Death is Actually Good for You

It seems that most people generally fall into one of these two categories when it comes to thinking about death;

1. Total Avoidance: Death freaks you out, you don’t like how it makes you feel so you choose not to think about it (because that’s going to help). Some people cope with their fear of death by dieting, working out, and worrying about their body. Others are fearful of taking risks or doing potentially dangerous things, even basic sports. People can live their lives in bubbles from a fear of dying when they are arguably, in far more danger of never living.

2. Comfortable & Curious: As much as is possible, you’ve come to terms with the fact that you’ll die. Perhaps you’ve seen a parent die and instead of fear there is a certain sense of peace and acceptance you feel when death comes up and you aren’t afraid to talk to others about it or ask about their stories.

I’ve seen both people, they’re very easy to tell apart. When someone asks me where I work they tend to either respond with silence (afraid of death) or they share with me a story of someone close to them who isn’t doing well or who has died (facing a need to accept or already have accepted death).

There is something about seeing death in the day-to-day that I’ve been told puts you in danger of being jaded or insensitive but it hasn’t had that effect as of yet. I’ve found that it has helped me accept the frequency, and understand some level of the magnitude on which death occurs. It has also made me see with so much clarity the freedom of living in the light of knowing you will die vs. the paralysis that can come with living in constant fear of death.

Here are a few death-related things that might surprise you:

Thinking about death promotes healthy and pro-social behaviors at least according to this article. Just walking by a cemetery can cause you to think and create positive changes in your life – pretty cool right?

– There is an app for EVERYTHING and there is one that will tell you how much time you have left on this earth. iDie calculates your life expectancy from your birthdate and shows you how much time you’ve probably got left. In other words, it doesn’t allow you to forget that you’re dying and what’s the point in forgetting?

Thinking about death could make you funnier – this may sound crass but I’ve noticed that the deeper the pain the easier the laugh. Our mortuary is filled with some of the funniest people I know, these same people are also some of the most dedicated, compassionate and deeply sensitive people you could ever meet. It’s a matter of balance like all things, but when you work at a mortuary you are entitled to have a few laughs (in my opinion).

Thinking about death can make you value life more – this article talks about a study that found people who wrote about their own mortality or other death related topics reported lower levels of depression, increased self-esteem and higher motivation.

– Way more people talk about death than you think – this is my own conjecture but I’m fairly certain it’s true. In our love of people, of life, of moments we realize they don’t last forever and as we think about endings we think about death. People think it sounds macabre to say but if we were all just honest, we’d find we weren’t as alone in our thoughts and I think the world, would honestly, be a better place.

So that ought to sum it up; you should think about death more. Not much more perhaps, but give it your attention when you’ve got the time and energy to do so. Maybe even walk by that cemetery for some value-adding, life-changing vibes.

If you’re intrigued by this idea, I’ve got an interesting challenge for you. Have a go at writing your own obituary, see what you say about yourself, your life, your family – I think it will be a more positive experience then you think (at least I hope so).

Death is a profound and thought-provoking subject that can, if given enough thought, change your life.

|| what do you think?

– Do you think about death?

– Is it uncomfortable or a welcome topic?

– Have you noticed any positive changes from thinking about it?

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. Anne says:

    I wonder what makes the difference in people in that they either can or can’t deal with death and talk about death. It must stem from family influence and something that occurred early on in life.
    Losing my parents very early plus other relatives made dealing with and talking about death ok. Losing my husband, up close and personal, was a different story. I still am comfortable with the subject, but now it was far more painful.
    Now, when friends or family are dealing with cancer, I get a gut wrenching fear for them that I don’t want to convey, while they still have their hope. And let’s face it, lots of cancer does not end in death like happened to us.
    So yes, it is ok to be light-hearted when we can. If it is too close, it might not be appropriate unless the party concerned is light-hearted over it first. Just my two cents.
    Good blog. What was the article that inspired you? I missed that part.

    • Anne, I don’t think there’s anything light-hearted about grief – at all. I just want to make it clear that this blog isn’t saying that thinking about grief or someone that died can make you more positive/humorous – it’s thinking about your own mortality that specifically triggers these deeper thoughts and perspectives that challenge our previous world-views. You’ve experienced a tremendous amount of death in your life, all of which I know has brought you into deeper compassion and understanding for others – death is a teacher to us all.

      You can see the articles I tagged in the orange, underlined links – I hope you have a chance to look at some of them and get a better feel for the focus.


  2. Michael Thomas says:

    I guess its no secret now that I love toy have fun here. Especially when it comes to those mortuary “What the heck just happened?” moments. Thanks for writing about a subject that has been eating at me for a while, the fact that laughing about death should not be avoided, rather explored.

    • Michael Thomas says:

      And I swear I read the whole thing. That part was just the “Yes! Finally!” section for me hahaha

      • haha! I trust you and I’m so glad that that struck you as something so true. I know how fun it is to have a thought you’ve felt stated by someone else. I’m so glad there was some of that in this blog for you!


  3. Carrie Bayer says:

    What a great perspective, Molly! This is one of my favorite blogs so far- thought provoking, light-hearted & diverse. I also get the 2 different reactions from people once they learn what I do. Me ex-husband & his family used to call me The Butcher because of their death phobia. I have lost friends because of their death phobia. But I am still hopeful that they are able to let go of their fear sooner than later, even though I will not ever see that transformation in them. The majority of people, however, are shocked at learning I’m a mortician. They say “But you’re a girl” or “You’re not creepy enough”. I explain that I’m breaking the mortician stereotype, one conversation at a time, one family at a time. We usually end up talking for a long time & in them I do see the transformation from fear to acceptance, even to comfort sometimes! Then there was a third type of reaction I once received… this guy thought it was all about the creep/gore/chemical factor & tried to take the conversation to a demented level. I got out of that discussion ASAP & left the room quickly! All in all, I find mostly positivity in my conversations & revelation of my profession. Changing the world! XOXOX Carrie

    • That’s so awesome Carrie! I’m convinced you find that positivity from others because of HOW you present yourself and what you do. You are so accessible, safe and open. You love to connect, share, teach and tell your story – your passion is one of the first things I noticed about you and it’s wonderful.

      It’s incredible how much death (in life) can separate us from others. People let it kill relationships and special bonds prematurely when, if they just learned to accept, they could live and live so much richer because of friends like you.

      Love your perspective, as always,


  4. Lori says:

    What an interesting post! I have noticed that once people know what I do for a living, I have suddenly become the “expert” in their eyes. I have certain friends that when we get together, the conversation gravitates towards death. They want me to take away the mystery that mortuaries have held for them.
    My mom will call and ask questions….”your aunt wants to know…..”
    I think even those who say “I don’t want to think about it” DO want and need to think about it. It is important to have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations. It is so helpful as we prepare for the loss of loved ones and walk through the grief journey.

    • I agree with you Lori, I think most people, deep down perhaps, really do need to talk about death in some capacity. Whether it’s processing the death of a loved one or venting concerns about their own, there is tremendous power in speaking our thoughts and having someone hear them.
      In our culture, however, we are so terrified of not “fitting in” that taboo topics exist and, sadly, death is one of them. You talk about dying, ew, you’re weird. ; )

      Thank you for sharing!


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