Cognitive scientist and author Guy Claxton writes in The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World (1999):
One’s attitude to death is very important in Buddhism. When we forget our mortality and the mortality of our loved ones, it is possible for our priorities to go haywire, and for us to become bamboozled into thinking that all kinds of peripheral things – wealth, status, popularity – are of the essence. Sometimes it takes an angina attack or a stroke to remind us of what we value most. In one of his books about the Yacqui Indian sage Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda reports him as saying, “When your death makes a gesture to you, an enormous weight of triviality drops away.” Though, being forgetful, it is perfectly possible for us to pick it up again!