1 Powerful Lesson: How Death Changes Your Perspective

Death changes your perspective

Do you wonder how death changes your perspective on life?

How Death Changes Your Perspective

Tuesdays with Morrie is a well-known book that has become a cultural icon on the topic of death. Through reading it, you will discover how death changes your perspective.  It’s the story of Mitch Albom – a man who was desperately chasing the American dream. But Mitch is awakened from his dreamworld when he happens upon a newscast highlighting his favorite college professor who is dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Compelled to visit his old professor one last time, Mitch experiences such a transformational encounter that he continues to visit Morrie every Tuesday until the day Morrie dies.

The conversations and experiences leading up to Morrie’s death become so impactful for Mitch that his life is forever changed. Mitch concludes that Professor Morrie’s final weeks taught him more than the combined lessons of all the Professor’s other classes.

Although my personal beliefs may not align with all the teachings of Professor Morrie regarding death, this book demonstrates how death changes my perspective from fear of death to courageously facing death. Here are a few quotes from what Professor Morrie called his final lecture. Don’t hesitate to take notes, because you too, will someday need to take the same test, the test of death.

Here are a few of his key points:

“Everyone knows they’re going to die…but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently…the culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks – we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So, we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? …the truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” (13)

If this is true, that learning how to die can help one learn how to live, then what does it mean to learn how to die? Is learning how to die the key to understanding how death changes your perspective? Morrie would say that we must begin by believing that someday our death is really going to happen. If we accept death as inevitable, then that is the first step to discover how death changes your perspective.

Personally, I hadn’t given much thought to my own mortality until a transformative day in my early twenties. That day I received the worst phone call of my life. The call came from a very close friend.

Four months before that fateful day, he had married a mutual friend and invited me to be the best man at their wedding. The night before his phone call, he and his wife had enjoyed dinner and an evening walk before heading to bed. He awoke the next morning, moved closer to her and slid his toe between the sheets. Touching her leg, he discovered she was ice cold. Desperately attempting CPR, her body’s only response was a trickle of saliva from her mouth. 

Later we had learned that she was already dead, possibly dying within an hour before he awoke. I was the second call he made that morning. His first was 9-1-1. The desperation, fear, and anguish in his voice, I will never forget. The autopsy results were frustratingly vague, “there was something wrong with her heart” – that’s all the explanation he ever received.

That experience hit my heart like a doctor slapping paddles on my chest yelling, “Clear!” Clarity, that’s exactly what struck me. When this vibrant young couple laid down for bed that night, seemingly healthy and only in their early twenties, no one knew, no one could have predicted, that it was their last night together.

The shock of this experience seared a truth in my young mind – death could come at any time. I had come face-to-face with the brevity of life. And even more pointedly, I had come to realize the unpredictable brevity of my life. His wife was 25 years old when she died; I was turning the same age in only four months. Her death awakened me to realize there was no guarantee I would live any longer than she had. It was a crucial jolt alerting me to my own mortality.

Since that day, many years ago, a series of questions continue to whirl through my mind: What if tonight was my last night? What if this year was my last year? Would anyone remember me? Would I have made any difference in the world? Am I living a life that will last when I leave? 

Realizing that tomorrow is no guarantee, one should to strive to live everyday with purpose. What Does It Mean To Have A Purpose In Your Life?


Article written by:

Kendall R. Keeler

author of Your Last 24


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