“I never knew till now. It’s not the dates that matter…it’s the dash”

Henry Altman in The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)

It can creep in as a grey fog ready to rain on your parade. It makes us shudder with fear and it can also leave us feeling sad. Death can remind us how fleeting and fragile life is, and the thought of this can make us say ‘Not today!’ However, it is not as bad as we think it is.

Research carried out across terminally ill patients and criminals on death row were most likely to have a positive outlook when it comes to their final day. Most find meaning, connection, and are filled with love during their last days.

As much as we would love to get a message from our loved ones from the great beyond to help us process what it’s like to die and if they are okay, there are a few things that we can do while we are still living to ensure that we die happy.

Get busy living

Busy, busy, busy. The chase for the next big thing and being able to secure the financial bag before we retire often causes us to miss out on the most important aspect of life. Living! A recent study revealed that we are a sleep-deprived nation with 64% of people sleeping less than seven hours a night, which costs our economy R22 billion annually. However, the most important thing is that it robs us of life itself. Not only are we able to function at our best, but it can also cause debilitating diseases such as coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and increase your chances of getting colorectal cancer by 50%.

Instead of waiting for when we have retired to start knocking things off our bucket list, you can start today. Of course, starting off with small things can make it easier to achieve the things you want to do. It also pays to not do anything at all. No, not being a couch potato or tapping away at your phone but clearing your busy schedule for a day where you can just be. Whether this is in the form of visiting family or travelling to a new place, so long as it is something you can immerse yourself in.

Take care of the things you love

Self-care is important. With so many pressures that come from within and outside of us, it is important to be kinder to yourself. As the adage goes, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. By taking care of yourself, you will be able to take care of your loved ones. Having peace of mind can also be essential, and one of the things that help us do this is knowing that our bases are covered. Be it achieving financial stability and taking out life insurance for our loved ones to ensure that they are protected financially even when you are no longer around.