image About: Dying and death


All of us must face it someday. It is usually one of the hardest and most devastating life events we face when it happens to someone we know and love. Yet, strangely, it is a subject we rarely discuss with others and often not until it is usually too late. Such is the paradoxical nature of dying.

The great cosmic cycle of life and death

Everything in the universe from the smallest of atomic particles through to the largest of galaxies follow their own cycle of life, death and rebirth. For hydro-carbon life forms on Earth, the cycle of life and death also applies.

Such scientific observations are proven and make sense. Yet no matter how many things we see die, no matter how many people we see killed in movies, news or in real-life, our own mortality, our own death is difficult to face.

Maybe this is why many of the most famous of scientists expressed positive views towards the concepts of faith, of religion and metaphysical concepts such as life after death approaching their own death. While it is easy to reject such notions of an afterlife when healthy and full of life, it would take an extraordinarily confident mind to remain objective and rational during the actual process of dying.

Historically a generally awful experience

When you consider that all of us will face death, that unlike our birth it is an event which we must ultimately face alone, it is extraordinary then that the process of dying remains for most of us an awful experienced handled by our various societies in a clinical, degrading and often cruel manner.

If we do not die through some accident, through some random act of violence, through some terminal disease or physical defect then we our death is more likely to occur on a single plastic lined bed, wearing a smock, in a ward along with other dying people, in the company of the unending buzz of neon lights.

How did we come to this indignity? How did we allow our society to finally rationalize the process of dying to endless batteries of tests and “experimental” techniques until we lose all our hair, our self respect and any final ounce of happiness?

Here a clear distinction needs to be made. There are many people when faced with an aggressive usually fatal disease are prepared to do anything to stay alive. Such people are to be commended for their drive to stay alive and to fight until the end. Then, there is another large body of people, who if they had the chance to think about the process of life and dying would probably choose to maximize quality of life until it is no longer possible and seek to die with dignity.

While the majority, they have become the sad and neglected in a case of moral treatment and sustainment of life well beyond the point of quality, well beyond the bounds of dignity, because technology allows it and because many people who claim the moral authority over our lives dictate we cannot consider the question of dying with dignity by their religion or our society.

The same people who deny us the right to die with dignity just so happen to be the same people who have ended many millions of lives over centuries in the name of their religions through terrible circumstances, from torture to burning at the stake.

So we suffer. Many of us suffer because a few refuse to allow us to properly prepare for our deaths and steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that dying with dignity is far from a sin, but a right. That there is no greater evil in the universe than individuals who claim moral authority over our lives and deny us the right if we choose, to pass peacefully and not as a shell and fragment of humanity.

The process of dying

All of this distracts us from the one thing we should talk about, even if we do not know the time, nor circumstance of our death, that is preparing for the best possible “death”.

For the vast majority of people who discover they will die with a certain time period, usually from some kind of disease or incurable defect, the news is greeted as a curse. This is particularly so for people suffering from the group of diseases known as “cancer”.

In many respects quick deaths suddenly appear to be a blessing while slow deaths, particularly those involved in the inhuman and cruel process of endless tests and sanitized hospital rooms seem like hell.

But dying and the process of dying need not be greeted as a curse, but an opportunity to put our affairs in order and to seek to calm our mind of regrets of our busy lives.

It is a matter of life that as we live in communities, there will be those we have hurt, those we have abused, those who have hurt and abused us, and those human beings for which powerful emotions of love and hate exist.

It cannot be overstated that how we live affects how we live in the afterlife. What we learn, comes with us, just as what we have failed to learn, what we have failed to resolve also comes with us. If we leave our bodies carrying too much baggage, too many negative emotions and unresolved issues then we risk become immersed in our own woes and pain and in a sense the creation of our own personal hell.

Knowing you are going to defiantly die therefore gives many of us a chance to set our affairs right. To seek out and resolve regrets. To try and leave a positive impression. To try and reduce our baggage.

Sadly, when we are distracted with endless tests and false hopes, we often do not pay attention to the importance of getting our personal affairs of the soul in order. This is one of the greatest tragedies of our modern world, that we have not only robbed ourselves of the right to die with dignity, but we also have robber ourselves of the focus of preparing our soul and leaving without a great burden of regrets.

One last fear and control

If it is not enough to distract us from dying properly, many still have to face the internal fears of an uncertain future in the afterlife.

If I have killed someone, am I going to hell? What of the regrets of my life, how can I find peace? Again, in a supremely perverse way, the same people that have killed millions, the same people who deny us the right to die with dignity on moral and religious grounds are happy to frighten us with the fear of hell if we do not convert and seek their sacraments of forgiveness of sins.

And so in one final act of bastardry, many people who die and are dying are condemned for nothing other than power and profit. The seed of fear of the afterlife, when at this very time those who are dying should be supported and reinforced of the joy of their right to a happy and peaceful afterlife, regardless of their religion or faith.

For every human being that has ever lived, is living or will ever live has the immutable right to citizenship and entry to One Heaven. That no priest, nor pope, nor organized religion has any right to interpose itself and say otherwise.

This is the promise of the new covenant, the final testament of the universe, of God to humanity.

It is hope then that in the years to come, we may find a better understanding of dying and of a process of dignity, of cleansing ourselves of regrets and leaving this world smiling rather than in terrible pain and anguish.