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This week, I’m going to talk about a subject most of us try to avoid: death.

Now before everyone starts groaning, allow me to explain. There were two fascinating stories in the news this past week involving death that you may have heard about.

First, there was the man in Luxor, Egypt pronounced dead at the hospital after suffering a heart attack. Keeping with Islamic tradition, the family brought the body home from the hospital and began preparing it for the funeral, when the man suddenly woke up.

His mother fainted… then they all celebrated.

And in England, there is a tragic yet inspiring story emerging in book form (and soon to be made into a movie) about a now-deceased mother who, upon learning she was dying from cancer, decided to dictate a list of things she wanted to happen after she took her last breath.

The lengthy list included items for her husband and children to do like travel to the pyramids, swim in the Red Sea, and a bunch of other thrilling activities. The family has already accomplished a number of these tasks and is determined to do them all. Beautiful.

I bring both of these death experiences up today because, if you consider them together, they actually say a lot about life and our perspective on it.

On one side, you have a man who has been granted the ultimate second chance at life, a chance to live again, to love again, even to correct things he may not have gotten right previously; an amazing opportunity.

On the other hand, you have a woman knowing that her life will soon be over using her remaining days to ensure that her family will live their lives to the fullest after she’s gone.

You see, both stories–fascinating and poignant as they are in their own ways–are relevant to all of us in that they are actually not about death at all. They are about life, for all of its wonder and opportunity.

We sometimes get in a rut where we feel our lives are not going anywhere and our problems are consuming us. But it really comes down to how we choose to look at life.

And I did say choose because no matter what we’re going through we can choose to focus on the negative or the positive, one obvious example is that brother, J.R. Martinez, from Dancing with the Stars who was disfigured while serving in Iraq. Look at how he’s moved on with his life, enjoying every day, focusing on the positive, living his dream.

So we should recognize, just like the Egyptian man who came back to life, that we have the opportunity from this day forward to pursue the life we really want, to change ourselves, to impact our world.

And if we can lay out all of the things we truly wish to do, see and accomplish on this earth today, then we have a shot at actually enjoying them with our loved ones, an opportunity that the English mother didn’t fully get.

The real point being that we should not have to come face to face with death before we recognize how precious and valuable our lives truly are and once we recognize this value, we’ll have little time to focus on death since our days will be so full of living.

Or as the great American writer, Mark Twain, once said:

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. One who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”

Until next time, this is Stephanie in love and hope.

Death Be Not Proud  was originally published on blackamericaweb.com