The moment we are born, we are thrown into a precarious existence in a dangerous world; almost anything can end our earthly existence: accidents, diseases, disasters, or violence. No matter how carefully we avoid death and prolong life, sooner or later, we will all die. Such is the vulnerability and mortality of human existence. Yet beneath this everyday banality lies a significant challenge—how we relate to our own mortality will affect how well we live and die. Self-awareness of our own demise can be our biggest threat or our greatest challenge, depending on the basic stance we take toward this inevitable reality. We can either limit our lives through death denial or fulfill our lives through death acceptance.

When our primary motivation is to deny death ...

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