Life Before Death! Death! The Grim Reaper. The Big Dipper. The Black Dog. Call it what you will, there is something pretty final about death. It takes your breath away, quite literally. It maybe, almost probably definitely, will happen to all of us, soon, one day. What then should we expect? Blackness? Doom? Nothingness? Extreme Boredom? Or, maybe, on the bright side there will be something more. When I mean more, I don't mean to be frivolous. I'm not interested, for instance, in what will the neighbours be like, or, whether or not we can expect a free bus pass for all. No. The things that interest me are immortality, eternity, change, transform and growth. Will it happen? Where will it end? FEAR? Yes, certainly. I have fear. I believe Woody Allen got it just about right when he said, "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." This is, if I am honest, how I feel. I also embrace W.C. Fields' comment on his tombstone, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." I've never been to Philadelphia, but it sounds an awful lot more friendly to me than, Death! At least you can get a return ticket if you go to Philadelphia. Yes, I think if we are all really honest, we all get a little scared of, Death! But there is another type of fear which we don?t think of. An improbable fear, maybe, but it can?t be ruled out. The type of fear I refer to is, the fear of God. Not our fear of God, but God?s fear of us. Maybe God is scared to see us too. As Winston Churchill once said, "I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter." ON THE PLUS SIDE Death is a dead certainty. If you have been born, at all, in any way, no matter how small or how little you did it, you?ve let yourself in for, Death! Maybe there is a glimmer of hope in the old grim reaper, yet. Maybe death is not all bad. "On the plus side," wrote Woody Allen, "death is one of the few things that can be done as easily as lying down." This is absolutely true, death is relatively easy to do. You don?t even need to practise. Another benefit: Johnny Carson got it right when he said, "For three days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off." This, too, is absolutely true. When you die you are your own person. Your time is your own. "Death is nature?s way of telling you to slow down," as the old saying goes. In eternity you can find time to relax. In eternity, who cares if your watch stops? IS THERE AN AFTERLIFE? Is there an afterlife, and, if so, can we buy shares in real estate over there? That?s a bit too cynical for me. I do think though, like the Egyptian Kings used to, it is good to be a little bit prepared. By that I don?t mean we should take with us a can opener and a night-light. Rather, we should, mentally, prepare ourselves. A razor and a screwdriver won't really be realistic. There is no way you could get them through eternal customs. But, hope and positive expectation, maybe we could take these along with us. And if there is an afterlife, what of reincarnation? There is so much confusion about reincarnation. Do we return as an inanimate object, such as a pillow or a toothbrush? Maybe we came back as an insect or a horse? Perhaps if we are a member of Greenpeace, we could come back as a protected species? There is confusion. I remember once asking a monk if he liked reincarnation. He replied, "it goes well with strawberries." A DEAD END? Life: so many questions, so little time. Death!: so many questions, so much time. To ask questions of death may lead to a dead end, but it is, nonetheless, a noble pursuit. To not ask questions would imply that we are ashamed to learn. The best preparation for tomorrow is today. Perhaps, then, the best preparation for death is life. To die without ever having really lived, that really is a deathly thought. Maybe we should follow the words of Mark Twain, who said, "Let us endeavour so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." Life is death's solution. To live each day as a single life in its own right is perhaps the best way to live, and the best way to die. If we change the way we perceive ourselves, then, maybe also we will change the way we perceive death. It was Kant, the German philosopher who said, "We see things not as they are, but as we are." If we change, death changes too. And, maybe, when all is said and done, all that death really is, is transformation and change.