On the freeway near my home is a rather somber flashing sign that updates travelers on the number of traffic deaths for the year. It is certainly sobering to see the number rise each week. At the beginning of last year the number was zero. By the end of 2015, it was 556.
The purpose of the sign isn’t to ruin your day. It’s to make you drive carefully—to wear your seatbelt, to think twice before you drive while drunk, or even more relevant recently, reconsider before you text and drive. After all, 556 people thought they would make it safely home, but they didn’t. Don’t take any foolish chances, the sign warns us as we speed down the highway.
Remembering Your Death
The traffic sign isn’t actually all that innovative, it simply borrows a page from the book of Catholic spirituality—Memento Mori, or remembrance of one’s death. Far from being merely depressing, the thought of death can be quite motivating, and that motivation can be put to good use.
You see, while most of us would rather not admit it, there is one undeniable fact we must face—sooner or later, we each will die. And yes, that includes you. I don’t know how, or when, or what the cause will be. But you will die…and so will I.
There is a long tradition of Memento Mori in Catholicism, and the saints constantly speak of the importance of meditating on the unavoidable fact of death. This exhortation is not out of a kind of macabre obsession or morbid fascination. Rather, the saints thought about death because it helped them live a better life.
Here are five benefits to reflecting on the fact that you will die.
1. Use of Time – Time is a precious resource. A moment, once possessed, can never be recaptured. Moreover, what we do with our time will last for eternity. Time is

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