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Surviving Death

“We Are Healed Of A Suffering Only By Experiencing It To The Full.” ― Marcel Proust

When death strikes those left behind, how do we cope?

Yes, We know that no one ultimately survives death, but death is not just about one person. It affects many people. It affects the person dying, their partners, children, friends, neighbours and works colleagues.

For those on this journey towards the end of their life and for those being left behind, this transition is an important one. Dying can become one of two things: a sheltered and peaceful transition at the end of life or a storm of destruction ripping through many lives. The difference will be up to you! The storm is coming so it is wise to be ready.

It is worth understanding that death is not easy. Emotions are tumultuous and things go wrong so that there is an opportunity to get it right. Here are the 5 things that most people get wrong when surviving death.

Surviving Death: Getting the Timing Wrong

No one can be sure about the day that death will arrive. Death can sometimes arrive at the most inopportune times- from on the way to work on a motorcycle, being struck by lightning or following a massive cardiac event.

Tomorrow may seem secure, but it is not, so if anything needs to be put right and in place, now is a perfect time. Once you are “ready to die”, then it is easier to get on with life knowing that your affairs are in order. Do not put it off, tomorrow may not come.

There is always a sense of regret or guilt, after the death of a loved one. Grief is a powerful emotion, that makes us analyse every moment of time spent with our loved one, we consider every ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’. We all have regrets and things we would do differently. Acting upon the regrets we have now, may help feelings of guilt in the future.


Surviving Death: Getting Health Expectations Wrong.

Unless death arrives suddenly and unexpectedly, towards the ends of our lives, there will be a transition from being healthy to being unwell. While this transition may seem obvious, there are many people, who suffer from an incurable disease, who are disappointed by their deteriorating health.

Expecting to be perfectly healthy up until the point of death is unrealistic. Part of the planning for death and helping those left behind with surviving death is to anticipate that things are going to get worse. To fight and protest this is a waste of valuable time that can be spent living. It is far more useful to anticipate the things that can go wrong, have a game plan for when they go wrong and to keep doing the best you can, as every step of the journey allows.

If you can accept that this as part of the journey, you will be able to roll with the punches. Have a thick book ready for doctors waiting rooms, enjoy the non-medical, feel-good days and make the time for many non-health-related opportunities. To make peace with your failing health is surviving death, or you risk being in constant conflict with your body as it lets you down day after day.

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surviving death feather

Surviving Death: Getting the Destination Wrong.

Many people think that the destination after death is either the grave or the crematorium where they are to be reduced to ashes. This is true for the physical body- as it needs to be disposed of, but this is not the end of our story.

There is compelling evidence to suggest that we are more than just physical creatures, but also spiritual beings. Many people believe that our spirits live on and after death, we are destined for a spiritual encounter-

How are you positioned for this? Do you have a passport to spiritual happiness?


Surviving Death: Getting Feelings Wrong

Poor health is very stressful for all those involved. It has the opportunity to destroy even long-term relationships and friendships. Emotions can quickly get out of control when there are a seemingly endless amount of unsolvable problems, frustrations, financial burdens, fear and loss.
The secret to surviving the storm of emotion is to recognise that death is a significant emotional event. If this can be accepted, you will be able to recognise the emotional landmines and triggers and avoid as many of them as possible. This is a normal part of dying, everyone is on an emotional short fuse. Defuse the situation. There is not harm in getting help when emotions are running high and are at a risk of being out of control.


Surviving Death: Getting Legal Matters Wrong.

When you die, things may be okay for you, but life gets a little harder those left behind if you have not prepared and done your homework!

Surviving death will be difficult for those around you. Preparation is key to making this transition easier. It is crucial to have a valid, up-to-date will drawn-up by a lawyer. Additionally, an Enduring Power of attorney is crucial to ensure that important decisions are made, and your best interests are kept in mind. Such documents should include notes about “Not for resuscitation”, an “advanced directive” and relevant comments about organ donation.

surviving death friends
surviving death photo album

Surviving Death

We All Have a Fear Of Dying

When it comes to surviving death, we are no professionals. We get to do it our way and in our own time. It is impossible to defeat death, but we can overcome it. The pathway to surviving death is to surrender to it on the day it arrives. Death and grief is a personal experience. It happens differently for everyone. Other than the five mentioned above, there are many more things that can go wrong during the journey towards death. Many things will happen that need to be considered in the dying process. At Dying to Understand we know this and are ready to help you with surviving death. Please share your comments and stories so that together we can do dying better or Consider becoming a member and have access to an exclusive community Following the death of a loved one, there is a period of intense grief, mourning and loss. This is the nature of bereavement. The Loss we feel is often is immeasurable, but so is the love left behind. If you are dealing with the loss of someone close, and are unsure how to move forward, read our guide on bereavement. We are trying to make life and death matters easier. We would love to have feedback and know what you fear about death, how you manage your fear of death and if possible let us know how we can help. Please contact us at

More Information and Resources

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Our Resources

Don’t let dying be a plane crash disaster. Talking about dying has never killed anyone! If you or someone you know has an incurable illness, it is recommended to have discussions about the fear of dying early.

Looking for more information on the fear of dying? Stickman is an everyday guy who is here to help confront the issues of death and dying.

Dying To Understand is a not-for-profit Charity. Click Below for our Green Page Directory for more Death and Dying Resources.

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When it comes to dying, we can never be too prepared. Death has a way of being permanent and anything left undone remains undone. There is a lot to do, but don’t get overwhelmed. Make a list of things that need to be done or organised, and use our tool to help make sure you’ve got it all covered.

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When it comes to death and dying, expressing your views via legally supported documentation is essential. Usually, these legal documents take the form of testaments and wills, a power of attorney, estate planning and other matters your lawyer may consider. Whatever you do, try to avoid doing it yourself as it won’t survive if the vultures come, as they do, after death. Money spent on good legal documents and advice turns out to be cheap in comparison to drawn-out court cases when someone contests a will.

Financial planning for death hand of coins


Stay in control even when you are not. When your health is fading, and death is nearer, medical care will undoubtedly increase and your wishes associated with this care are important.

Important things to consider to support the dying process are advanced directives, resuscitation instructions and, most importantly, exploring the benefits of palliative care. It’s important, for living and for dying, to be informed.

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Estate Planning & Financial Matters

Even though you cannot take it with you when you die, you do want to ensure that your assets are protected. Seeking financial advice about estate planning before dying is essential. Why pay unnecessary tax and fees if you can avoid it. Seeking professional help to ensure your estate and other assets are safe and directed where you want, is of utmost importance for both you and your family or friends.

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Funerals and Cremations

After death comes the funeral or the farewell. Most people think of funerals or cremations negatively. They are not bad, they are events that play an essential function in society and are an important part in the dying process in that they honour the life lived, deal with grief and, most importantly, dispose of the deceased body. 

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Man giving a helping hand

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