The death of Kobe Bryant hit most of us like a ton of bricks, especially those of us who remember when he first started playing. He hit the NBA like a force of nature, and basically took over. Gradually, we took him for granted, like we do everything else. He just WAS, like the grass, or our two-party political system, or yard sales. Then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t.

Were we shocked that HE died? Or, were we shocked because we were forced to remember that WE will die?

It is normal to be shocked when someone dies suddenly and tragically. However, death itself should never shock us. Death is the only thing we can absolutely count on – 100% of the time.

So, what can we do in response to the absolute certainty of this crazy, final thing? This thing that has no reservation, no appointment, but simply drops in on us whenever and however it pleases? How can we prepare for something we don’t want, can’t fully anticipate, and can barely allow ourselves to think about?

  1. Allow yourself to think about it. I don’t mean think about it in terms of understanding it, or being happy about it. I mean, allow your thoughts to drift towards the natural culmination of a well-lived life. It might be easier to think of the seasons, which fade one into the next, never to return in quite the same way again. Try to think about death without scary fantasies, fear, or judgment. Try to meditate on it with as little emotional reaction as possible. This is a good general practice for keeping the mind calm and rational.
  2. Plan for it. Planning for death does not have to be a gut-wrenching ordeal. Nor does it have to happen in one sitting. Talk to your kids about how they are beneficiaries on your accounts. Ask them (if they’re old enough) if they know what that means. Make sure, if you’re married, that you know where to find all the accounts related to your life together. It is better to do your bills and budget together. But, at the very least you should know how to get all the information you need in case of an emergency. To not prepare your spouse for your demise is unloving. Purchase a term life insurance policy as you build up your savings and retirement accounts. Get a living trust and think about how you’d like to handle end of life decisions.
  3. Use it. Yes, use death as a motivation to live life full-out. Don’t settle. Don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop growing. Don’t waste time with toxic people. Don’t self-medicate with mindless entertainment Play hard. Try new things. Go for it. No regrets!

While death will never be a fun, light-hearted topic, it does not have to be a source of crippling fear either. Use the thought of death as a tool to make life better. Use it to inspire yourself to get off the couch and go for your fondest dreams.

If you knew exactly how many years, months, days, hours, and minutes you had left, what would you be doing differently right now? What things would you go for? What things or people would you let go of? How would you spend your time differently?

Answering those questions is the meaning of life – and also the meaning of death.


Raven B. Kushner is a mortgage loan officer based in Los Angeles County, serving all of California. For more information, or to be pre-approved, please contact her at (626) 538-7818 or

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