Money and death. Sounds kind of morbid, right? But, that’s exactly what we are concerned within the financial independence community. We like to talk about the former and avoid the latter. Make no mistake, however, that all of our conversations have subtly interlaced the topic of mortality. Our time on this earth is limited.
No matter what your specific why of financial independence, we all want to find identity, purpose, and connection in whatever amount of time we have on this earth.
And we all fear death.
Maybe we shouldn’t
As a hospice doctor, I have been involved in hundreds of deaths. These experiences have radically changed my outlook on both money and death. When it comes to money, at least, I think my opinions are fairly clear.
Money is a tool. Past a certain point, having more will not make you happier. It, in essence, gives you choices and control. That’s it. There is no other magic. It will only solve one problem. Lack of funds. It will not bring you love, or meaning, or purpose. Being rich in life takes far more than overstuffed coffers.
And death is an inevitability. That most likely will come unexpectedly and often when it is not welcome. If you have built a good life, you are never going to want to leave it. You might be accepting, but far from yearning for it.
So the onus is on us to build an existence worth living every day. Death will come when it comes.
Death is often quiet
But I must leave you with one last sentiment. Something that I, with my unique life and work experience, am especially qualified to talk about. You shouldn’t fear the actual process of dying. In today’s world, death is often quiet.
Most people don’t suffer. They pass quietly in their beds with medication to treat unwanted symptoms and family members at their side. It is much more a slipping away than an abrupt ending.
And they rarely think or talk about money in those last few moments. They don’t opine that they should have worked harder or made more. There is no scowling about businesses that didn’t succeed or stock picks that never came through.
Why am I connecting money and death today in this blog post? Because we spend a lot of time worrying about both. And I think we do it for all the wrong reasons.
We obsess about how much money we have while we should be worried more about what this tool actually will do for us. What is our unique identity and purpose? What connections do we want to make with our fellow human beings?
We concentrate on end of life instead of a building an existence which is full enough to leave without regret. Everyday. What are we doing to make this life more fulfilling? What are we creating, and who are we loving?
And we worry about physically suffering when, in truth, death is often quiet. Peaceful.
Financial independence should be peaceful also.
“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.
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