Meditation on impermanence and death is a profoundly helpful practice when done properly, without a “poor me” mentality. Looking directly at the impermanence and fragility of life can save us from arrogance, the numbing effects of an attitude of entitlement, and from greed, all of which depend on holding onto the notion that we are immortal and that our ”stuff” is permanent.

If we are accustomed to living a "good life" of relative privilege, we can tend to be ashamed that we're afraid of epidemics, terrorism, and climate change. This unfortunate combination of feelings makes it difficult to develop a good course of action.

Whether it is we ourselves or someone we love who receives a diagnosis of terminal illness –– the news stops us in our tracks. In that gap, our mind stops. After that, our mind may run in different directions––fear, grief, or shock set in . . . .

Healthy grief also bestows on us a tender heart of compassion for all beings, because our loss makes us vividly aware of their (and our own) fragility. There is another mental process that is also mistakenly labeled as grief. This kind of grief, however, hardens our hearts and makes us bitter. This is not true grief, and it is not healthy. When we experience such "bitter grief" we suffer unnecessarily.