Do we have to know certain things in order to die authentically happily? I am especially interested in things we don't need to know know in order to live happily, but nevertheless we do to die happily.

Given we are losing all agency, and suffering the harm of death, at that time, it makes sense if we simply need to know facts about ourselves. But isn't every question of that sort based - other than perhaps if we're in pain - on contingent facts about others etc..

I've visited people who are dying. They are often confused. Is there anything they can know which would make their dying easier, not just more comfortable.

  • 2
    Statistically, the most probable answer is "knowing that you lived a full and good life". Given the sheer amount of anecdotal evidence makes it more than anecdotal imho.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 20:05
  • seems a bit circular, but a worthwhile comment thanks @PhilipKlöcking
    – user61995
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 20:06
  • I like an implicit answer that if you accept your life before you are dying, then you have nothing to fear from gaps in your knowledge when you die
    – user61995
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 20:08
  • That's essentially called enlightenment in most walks of life which a lot of people are pursuing explicitly and consciously via lots of different ways, and today there's a post touches this topic. Confucius famously said "He who in the morning has understood this enlightenment , in the evening can die happily." It doesn't depend on how long one lives and many other factors... Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 4:46

2 Answers 2


If you don't know who you and others are and what attaches you to others, you will be sad when you leave this world. Anyone feels sad when they feel that they are going to leave this world without relatives or anything. But if you know yourself, you will know what this world really is and so you will not be sad while dying.

On the contrary, if you are waiting for a liberation that is waiting for you after death, logically that may not make you happy before death since it is not cent percent sure. But if you 'attain' it before death you will feel satisfied. This must be the reason why people gave importance to liberation even before ages.


Do we have to know certain things in order to die authentically happily?

No. Not many things; only one. And that only thing is the answer (by realisation) to the question "Who am I?"

The same question has been asked in another way -- "What is that by the knowing of which all this becomes known?"

  • I love this answer man, thanks.
    – user61995
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 18:29

"There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels." -from the opening section of The Dhammapada

"I don't know why we are here, but I'm pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves."

"Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits."

"Tell them I've had a wonderful life."


I don't think there can be a prescriptive answer. I suggest the open-ended answer: How to be ready to let go. Because:

"If you're frightened of dying and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth." -from the film Jacob's Ladder, allegedly paraphrasing Meister Eckhart, but not really

How a story finishes,can substantially but not unlimitedly, affect how the narrative is understood. We have conventions, that at that stage of a narrative we look for lessons, the moral of the story,to understand how a hero's journey has changed them. And our attention remains on loose ends, unresolved tensions or injustice, legacy and epitaph. People will experience and respond to that differently. But approaching death that isn't sudden, means taking stock of the shape of a person's life as a whole.

It is fascinating to me how these things, needing to reconcile with the new situation of concretely finite time left, and to shift mental gears to reflecting on your whole situation, are being impacted by psychedelics in palliative care. Eg

These substances are understood to act primarily through inducing greater neuroplasticity, linked with providing time when activity of the default-mode-network is suppressed, which seems to be a system linked to constructing and managing our 'social self'. The period when death is known to be coming soon, while in hospice care or recieving palliative care, is a time that can be critical to relating to your life as a whole, and making the most in whatever way, of your impacts on the world. Above all, to make peace with who you have been, and reconcile yourself with what you will leave behind. To not be stuck in old habits, is crucial to using the opportunity.

I don't recommend trying to die happy. But, to aim to die at peace. You don't need to wait for your death bed though to make peace, as the Dhammapada says. Aim for a life worth having lived; a wonderful life..

"And the earth looked at me and said "Wasn't that fun?" And I replied "I'm sorry if I hurt anyone" And without even thinking cast me into space But before she did that she wiped off my own face She said better luck next time don't worry so much Without ears I couldn't hear I could just feel the touch As I fell asleep softly at the edge of a cave But I should have gone deeper but I'm not so brave" - When I Was Done Dying, Dan Deacon

"It's just a ride." -Bill Hicks

  • by "happy" I just meant uhh with nothing to regret etc. (if you could), and I don't see why that excludes "peacefulness". I didn't really enjoy the answer, no offence
    – user61995
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 0:11
  • Well said. Having something closer to a non-dual perspective helps every day. If every day is good, your last day will be good. It perplexes me that everyone doesn't see that already. Maybe they do, and I am just an idiot... Gosh, I sure hope so!
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 10:36
  • @ScottRowe: I see that as a bit like saying 'Just don't make mistakes'. There is trial & error, self-knowledge, & learning from experience involved, in finding out how to live well. Certainly we can start trying to put our lessons into practice asap. But even Buddha had to learn what didn't work for him, & faced bad days tied to his actions in the past.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 11:42
  • @unhelpful_people_rules: Define authentic, define happy, in the context of your question, then.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 16:58
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    @unhelpful_people_rules: "He not busy being born is busy dieing."
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 6:18

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