Death. No one wants to talk about it and yet none of us will escape it. When it happens to someone we know, most people don’t know how to handle it. And it’s because people are uncomfortable about it and it’s so final that people fear the most. In fact, there’s only one thing that tops death on the list of things people fear most and that’s public speaking. As a comedian once noted, most people would rather be in the coffin than give the eulogy!

The death of someone you love makes you aware of the fragility of life. It wakes you up and makes you question how well you are living. After all, no one wants to die feeling like they haven’t yet lived.

You can choose how you live; you can worry about the future and what might happen to you, you can complain about how things aren’t the way you want them to be, or you can live your best life right now, in this moment. By choosing to live life to the fullest and by protecting yourself and your assets for when the inevitable happens, the fear of death will lessen.

It was only a few months ago when I lost my dear friend to a sudden heart attack at 43 years old. It happened the way we all wish to go; my friend went to bed one night and never woke up.

And it’s because I loved that I grieve. Without love and a strong connection to others, we wouldn’t experience pain when they are gone. So in my sadness and grief, I am grateful, for I know that I loved and was loved.

From my experience, I’ve learned several important lessons about death…and life that I’d like to share with you. My hope is that you will choose to live your best life and, as a leader, you will share these tips with others both in your work and your personal life.

1. Life is happening right now. Experience the present moment. People who try to bargain with death often are people who have not truly lived. They’ve just been ‘existing’ and they beg for more time in order to do what they could have been doing all along.

2. If there is love, then there will be pain when it ends. And it’s okay. It lets you know that you loved and there is nothing more joyful than love. Love anyway; it’s worth the pain.

3. Experience all of your feelings – even the ones that you consider unpleasant. Feelings aren’t really negative or bad; they just are. They are your inner messengers; they let you know you’re alive. It’s what you do with your feelings that can be bad. When you feel a strong emotion, resist the temptation to explain your feelings or rationalize them away. Just pay attention and be with them. Accept your feelings as you experience them and try to understand what they are communicating to you. Don’t hang onto them or hide from them; they will drain you if not addressed.

People have trouble talking about death because of how they feel about their own life or death, or because they cannot handle ‘negative’ feelings. When my friend died, people weren’t quite sure how to handle their own feelings and they didn’t know how to deal with mine so they avoided the subject or avoided me. But I needed to talk about it. I needed to fully experience my sad feelings and I needed to be given the space to explore how I felt about losing this person, about what this person meant to me, and about the void that now exists in my life. After any loss, people need the space to explore their new reality and you can support them by just giving them this space.

4. There are people who don’t fear death; they fear life. Your life is a gift, an opportunity for you to experience this world and to make a difference while you’re here. Learn to enjoy yourself. Take responsibility for living your life well. Don’t get comfortable with mediocrity; challenge yourself to be more, to experience more. If you don’t know how, hire a coach. You don’t need to do life alone.

5. Leave nothing left unsaid. The moment you experience the truth, share it. Tell people you love them…often. My grandmother used to say, “Never go to bed angry.” That was her secret recipe for nearly fifty years of marital bliss. If you have something to say, say it now. About six months before my friend’s death, I called and thanked this person for their love, kindness, and support over the years. This person had made a huge impact in who I’d become and I needed my friend to know how grateful I was for the part they played in my personal development. When my friend died, I was so glad I hadn’t waited to share that.

6. Create a Will. By having a Will, you clearly specify who gets what and it frees you from worry. You can relax knowing that when you’re gone, your belongings and all you’ve worked for will pass on the way you intend.

7. Create a Living Will. This lets others know how to care for you if something should happen that renders you unable to decide for yourself.

8. Protect yourself with adequate life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance. With adequate protection, you leave nothing to chance and you can relax knowing that you and your family are taken care of. It just makes sense.

9. Do what you love. On most days if you find yourself miserable when you roll out of bed in the morning, choose to do something about it. Life is too short to be unhappy for long. Identify the source of your angst and take action to change it. Choose to use up every ounce of potential that you were given. And discover, develop, and share your gifts with the world. Each one of us has a special gift. Do you know yours?

And last,
10. No regrets. Don’t approach your deathbed ‘wishing you had’ or being sorrowful for not doing things that would have brought you joy. The elderly often speak about what they would do differently: take more risks, spend more time with loved ones, worry less, stress less, laugh more, love more. If there is something you want to do, go for it. Don’t wait. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

So grab on with both hands and enjoy the ride. This is not a practice run. Do what you want to be doing. Be good to yourself. Stress less and remember that in the end, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you live today!

Author's Bio: 

Are you ready to stop struggling and start enjoying yourself? Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Personal & Career Coach and author of “101 Tips For Developing The Leader In You!” Contact her today for your free consultation. Visit Julie at, write to her at or call her directly at (484) 530-5024.