I'm currently in the process of doing a book review for Elephant Journal (http://www.elephantjournal.com) on Buddhist teacher Andrew Holecek's new book called "The Power and the Pain- Transforming Spiritual Hardship Into Joy."
A few years ago, I took a seven week course on death and dying taught by Holecek that profoundly impacted my life and transformed my paradigm. An acute awareness of impermanence has followed me since taking that class during which we visited mortuaries, viewed embalming instruments and crematoriums, and attended an anatomy lab with six corpses, both male and female, dissected in different ways to show distinct parts of the human body. This view of the ephemeral nature of life, rather than creating despondency or morbidity in my mindset, has allowed me to greater appreciate fleeting beauty, to forgive more easily, and to love more unconditionally.
In Holecek's new book, he discusses the obstacles and difficulties that accompany the spiritual path. While I was reading this morning on my couch with a cup of steaming green tea, I learned that 250,000 people die everyday. Struck by the immensity of this figure, I texted a friend to inform him of this fact. He texted back, "And I could be one of them." As obvious as that seems, his observation hit me in the heart and made that number personal- when I was just reading it in a book, those 250,000 people who are going to die today seemed somehow removed from me. Realizing that any one of the multitude of people I know and love could be part of that equation reminded me of the uncertainty of life and how precious this human existence is.