Looking beyond… is something I’ve done more of in the last year than I have in my whole life. As a psychiatrist I have spent many years consoling others in their difficult experiences, but nothing prepared me for my own unforeseen loss. On December 29th, 2016 my youngest sister Martha died suddenly of a ruptured brain aneurysm. There was no chance to say goodbye, no chance to tell her I love her one more time. There was death.

Time seemed to stop. Every priority changed. I asked myself how could there be life without my little sister? I couldn’t and had never imagined it.

This experience forced me to look beyond life, and to look at death. What happens after we die, what has happened to my sister, I wondered.

As a culture we don’t think much about looking beyond life. Thinking about death can bring up fear and feelings of loss. It can be like going into no-man’s land. It’s an unknown space until you are thrust into it against your will by the death of a loved one, or when facing your own mortality. If we don’t look at death, we don’t know what happens or what is next.

Facing death puts things into perspective quickly. What’s important in your life? What do you want to accomplish? What can you let go of or stop doing in order to focus on the most important people and things in your life?

What would you want to tell people that you haven’t said? What can you give your kids and your loved ones in this life?

How do you want to be remembered?