I suppose, having lost a total of seven friends and acquaintances in the last 5 months, it's only natural I'm asking questions like: What is death? What happens when we die?
I have read that the Bible defines life as being breath. If one has breath, one has life. In which case, if one doesn't have breath, one doesn't have life. I know there are all sorts of scientific definitions as to either one or the other, but for now, let's accept breath as the determining factor. (The brain lives a bit longer than the lungs.) (And, if you're really interested in this, get and read a copy of How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter –by Sherwin B. Nuland. A marvelous book.)
And, what happens to the 'I' when we cease breathing? Aaah, that is the question, is it not?
Many people claim to know the answer. I submit their "knowledge" is based on faith and hope, not on provable fact. Is there anything wrong with that? Probably not, as long as they recognize it for what it is, and don't try to make others believe the same way.
|Stolen from the web|
There is Heaven for the Jew/Christian/Muslim, there is reincarnation for the Buddhist, there are new planets, new/eternal marriages, there is eternal sleep, and there is—nothing. I believe the French used call sleep la petite mort—the little death, the brief loss or weakening of consciousness. I like that. Am I in a little heaven when I go through my little death? I don't know, I barely remember that I dreamed, let alone what the dream was. And the dreams I do remember are usually funny. (Today, la petite mort is a popular reference for sexual orgasm. Doncha just love how language morphs and changes?)
Personally, I would love to spend my eternity with friends and family, but I don't see how that could possibly work. They follow too many disparate religious teachings. Some of them will go to a particular heaven, some will be reincarnated, and many are secular and will go into the ground (and be food for, thereby becoming, bugs, worms, etc. Hmmm, maybe there is something to reincarnation). Period.
But, what if Schrodinger had the right idea? What if we're in a box and both alive and dead until Observed when a decision must be made. What if, when the Observer opens the box, and the decision is made, we step out into a new (to us at least) plane of existence?
The truth is, no one knows! That is a fact you can take to the bank. Death is a one-way trip we all will take, and we all will take it alone. We can hope that trip will end at the expected station; that our expectations will be met, but the truth is we don't know. We won't know until we walk through that door—alone—and see for ourselves what's on the other side.
One time, I thought I might find the answer. My Uncle Carl was dying, and he was fairly lucid. He exclaimed that his father, my grandfather, was there, in the room, next to him. I could neither see nor hear Grandpa. But Uncle Carl could, and he started talking to him. Uncle Carl would speak, and I could understand him, then he waited while (I assumed) Grandpa answered. This went on for several minutes. Finally, Uncle Carl was quiet and said Grandpa had gone away. I asked if they had a good conversation, "Oh. Yes." This was exciting. Maybe I'd get a heads up as to what went on after we die. I asked what Grandpa said. I was nearly giddy with excitement. Uncle Carl spoke, very clearly, "Well, he said, 'mxiohwyre' and then he said, 'wmouyhhj;oisdusadhfoiw' and then he said..." Obviously, the dead speak a language only the dead, and the dying, are meant to know, to understand.
My idea of Heaven? A huge library with every book ever published, and the ability to read and understand them all—and of course, all of eternity to read them, and to be with my friends and family. What I expect (not what I hope for) is--nothing. And I'm okay with that.
Yes, I know, there are those who have died and come back, Near Death Experiences. I've been there done that (where I first saw my Library/Heaven). There is the bright light, some being to greet us, and a voice of authority telling us to go back, that it's not our time. It's hypoxia. Lack of oxygen to the brain. The light is caused by lack of oxygen, the rest is caused by our cultural/religious upbringing and beliefs. As Connie Willis says in Passage, it's an SOS our brain sends out, telling us to breathe, to get oxygen.
What do you believe or think will happen when you die? Whatever it is, if it brings you peace and comfort, please continue to believe it. But please, I beg of you, do not try to force your beliefs, your mythologies, your hopes, or your fears, on others There is room in all of eternity for everyone's personal belief. And for that one person, theirs is perfect.
Rest in Peace, my friends:
Know you are loved and truly missed.