It was always a practice of Holy Mother Church to remind the faithful to contemplate their deaths as a way of striving to live a good life. That practice has all but died nowadays, with sophisticated counsel never to dwell on the morbid or negative.
So secular psychology has had to resurrect the truth that contemplating one’s death is beneficial for one’s life.
A new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science had people either think about death in the abstract or in a specific, personal way and found that people who thought specifically about their own death were more likely to demonstrate concern for society.
Laura E.R. Blackie, a Ph.D. student at the University of Essex, and her advisor, Philip J. Cozzolino, recruited 90 people in a British town center. Some were asked to respond to general questions about death – such as their thoughts and feelings about death and what they think happens to them if they die. Others were asked to imagine dying in an apartment fire and then asked four questions about how they thought they would deal with the experience and how they thought their family would react.
Those who reflected on their own personal deaths were significantly more likely to care for society as measured by blood donation.
“Death is a very powerful motivation,” Blackie said. She said that when people are aware their life is limited, “That can be one of the best gifts that we have in life, motivating us to embrace life and embrace goals that are important to us.”
“In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin” Sirach 7:40