Often, the whole concept of death – particularly if it’s close – is too much for people. They put off conversations about their or their family’s death, naturally, to try and avoid a potentially traumatic conversation. But I’m really writing this in the hope that, for a few minutes of your life, you will stop to really think about what it must feel like to know – and I mean really know – that you are going to die very soon.

We all have our preconceived ideas about our ideal way to die, or when about we feel we are going to be ready for the everlasting sleep, but I think for the majority of us, we never really think about perhaps knowing, medically, that we are going to die, say, tomorrow. Personally, I think dying during sleep would be a very dignified and peaceful way to leave, but that is not that way it works. We can’t simply hope and expect it to happen.

I want to propose you a bleak, but realistic – in these times – scenario. You find yourself in a cold office, drenched in conversational depth with a doctor who is about to tell you that “You are going to die.”. And when he does, I want you to feel the very taste of the feelings that you may have if that really happened. This isn’t a sadist attempt to get you to feel depressed, but a try at opening the doors that you may not originally have wanted to open. What would you want to do at that one second where you knew, beyond anything else in the universe, that you were really going to die and there was nothing you could do to stop it? Are the ideas you may have had beforehand the same now or have they changed suddenly? You’re going to die…

I always said, myself, that I did not fear death. After all, how can you be afraid of something which cannot exist whilst you do? But I often find that ‘dying’ is an entirely different case. Dying is a process you go through whilst you are still living, and it makes it incredibly scarier and a hugely more important question to ask when, where, how and, even, why? So when told you are in this process, the initial emotion would undoubtedly be somewhat confused. At least, that would be what I would assume. But in reality, I have no true concept of how I would behave in that environment. Yet it is sad to know that so many are forced to do so.

Putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes is the closest link to empathy any human has with another. If we have experienced something, we are able to relate to similar experiences that another person may have had, and therefore find it much easier to empathise with that person’s situation. It seems the natural thing. How can we help somebody when we cannot possibly understand their circumstance? But I also think that we, as humans, jump too quickly to those results, and therefore pass off some chance to empathise, and particularly, forgive. We forget that although we may not have had similar experiences, our imagination is one of the most important aspects of humankind. We create so many new things, memorise so many old things. And this very gift can be used to imagine feeling, imagine experiences; so real that they may as well have been memories. And with those creations, we can empathise.

What I am really saying in this entire article, is that the power to truly understand another person; to understand their emotion and why they do things, lies in the only thing we really have… that is, ourselves. Our imagination and who we are – how we react or feel – is what makes us different but also what makes us the same. And if more of us knew the benefits of trusting this idea, I reckon, ambitiously – maybe – that the world may be much more peaceful than it is now.

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