As I write this, the house is quiet. My wife and her good friend are attending a funeral. Their long-time mutual friend and fellow artist, who I never met, died suddenly at 62, leaving a husband in chronic ill health.

I first became aware that death - for anyone - is never far away when a sixth grade playground chum committed suicide. I had been aware that old people died - but "old" had seemed very remote to my twelve year old self. Instantly death became very real - something that could, and did, happen to anyone.

Having reached my sixties, death is becoming a more and more familiar companion - it is no longer something that happens to grandparents or parents - it is now something that often happens to peers. A surprising number of my friends have also lost children to various calamities.

How to cope with loss and grief... How to cope with the fear of our own mortality...

Here are the pillars that support me as I confront the specter of death. For me, these affirmations proclaim the joy and purpose of life. May they also serve you well.

1. Life is what I make of it. Whether I have hours or decades remaining, I can choose to focus on living a happy and compassionate life - unencumbered by fears of future dangers, including death.

2. Once someone has "passed on," they are no longer suffering. Whether or not I believe that they are now "in a better place," I can be sure that they are no longer suffering. While, I certainly feel compassion for the grief and loss of the departed one's family and friends, my sympathy is for the living, not the dead.

3. Whenever I die, my life will be complete and a finished work. If I believe that the purpose of my life is preordained by a higher power, it is logical to believe that my life is also preordained to fulfill that purpose - however much time I am on this earth. However, if I believe that I have free-will, the only demand upon my earthly time is that I do my best - whatever the result.

4. I choose to overcome my instinctive fear of the unknown. All humans naturally fear the unknown. I will fight that fear every day - and I will win. In winning my battle with fear, I win my freedom and my happiness.

5. I am one with Spirit - Spirit is my strength. Whatever the details of my beliefs, and however I choose to commune with my Higher Power, it is my rock and my Pillar of Life.

Author's Bio: 

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Jonathan Lockwood Huie is an author of self-awareness books, and has been dubbed "The Philosopher of Happiness" by those closest to him, in recognition of his on-going commitment to seeing Joy in all of life.

** Today is your day to dance lightly with life. It really is. - jonathan lockwood huie **