Trevor Moore

A great hero of mine, Michel de Montaigne, wrote that perhaps all the wisdom in the world ultimately teaches us one thing: not to be afraid of dying. Once you lose that fear, he said, you can get on with life.

Thankfully, I lost that fear very early in life. My father died when I was a baby and consequently, although I had no emotional connection to him, there has always been a father-shaped hole in my life. It meant I understood from an early age about someone being – in those smiley photographs on his ship, and in the anecdotes told by those who knew him – and then not being. Visiting the very spot in Teignmouth where he drowned, by then a father myself, is probably the most emotionally powerful experience in my life – because it rammed home how arbitrary is the line between life and death.

Having no fear of death means that I can put all my energy into what really matters – making the most of life and helping others to try and do the same. That sounds virtuous, but if we have that mindset it helps retain our optimism – and that can brush off on others. Wherever possible, we can turn that into practical help too.

If Covid has taught me anything, it is that I have taken the simple things in life for granted, especially carefree social interaction with others. Perhaps the pandemic is also breaking the taboo of talking about death. I want to use that to help others to lose the fear and get on with life, like the man said.