Living in the shadow of death is an experience that no one can fully prepare for. Despite being told that death happens to everyone, when faced with it, the experience can be difficult to cope with and understand. What happens when you come to terms with your own mortality and the mortality of your loved ones? Paul Kalanathi’s critically acclaimed memoir “When Breath Becomes Air” explores this very question. The story offers a personal and intimate insight into his battle with terminal illness and his ultimate surrender of life. In this article, we’ll be looking into the memoir and discussing the emotional journey of living in the shadow of death.
When Breath Becomes Air
When breath becomes air is a phrase which refers to the moment of death when a person takes their last breaths in life. It serves as a reminder to cherish moments, and those closest to us, as the moment of death is only ever a breath away.
The phrase also serves as the title of a best-selling memoir by Paul Kalanithi. In the memoir, Kalanithi shares his life story as a physician as he comes to terms with his terminal illness of lung cancer, and how death can result in feelings of despair yet also enlightenment and joy. Kalanithi is candid with his readers, sharing his experiences to help them understand how to cope with the fear of death.
Through his reflections, Kalanithi helped his readers to appreciate the present moment:
- Life is unpredictable: As we never know when our last breath will come, we must savor the moments we have.
- Accept death: Life can sometimes be overwhelming, but maybe death isn’t something to fear but rather to accept.
- Embrace life: Life highs and lows shouldn’t be taken for granted, and should be appreciated.
As we get older, it’s important to keep in mind the preciousness of life and that death is inevitable. This is something that “When Breath Becomes Air” exemplifies by challenging us to reflect on death and live life to the fullest. Although it undoubtedly heartbreaking, this book is incredibly inspiring and ultimately demonstrates the importance of living a meaningful, self-aware, and fulfilling life.