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Death the Companion: Seneca’s Advice for Moving On, Letting Go and Checking Out

Seneca teaches that a life well-lived should reckon with death. And we must learn to be energized by growth, change, and transformation—rather than flee it.

Death is watching over us all—friend or foe?

You are afraid to die, but come now: how is this life of yours anything but death?

Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter LXXVII:18

Death. Some of us hide from it, some of us glorify it. Some of us deny it and avoid it by name.

But the task is to learn to recognize the “little deaths” that happen hour by hour, day by day, and to learn not to insulate ourselves from their emotional impact on our lives.

After all, if we’re not energized by the growth, change, and transformation that our relationships, minds, world and work inevitably face, that is its own kind of death.

Seneca’s lesson is that a life well-lived must constantly reckon with death. Not in dwelling on its distant inevitability—but instead, by finding and celebrating the moment-to-moment gift that its companionship offers.

Featured art is a Flemish engraving. The original source is unknown.