On Dying

For many years, I have felt a certainty that I will continue beyond physical death.

95% of the time, this comforts me, and I rely on it in times of thoughts of death.

Sometimes, though, my mind decides to play devil’s advocate, and I think about the alternative.

The pleasant reality is that I have come to appreciate both possibilities.

It seems there are two, given my …current circumstances.

1. I die, and there is life after death, and the REAL adventure begins!

2. I die, and that’s it. I finally have some peace and quiet, and never again will anything pain or suffer me again.

The pondering of #1 is like winning the lottery, but better. More like an eternal lucid dream… awareness after death…eternal

awareness…never dying…

The pondering of #2 is peace….eternal peace. After all of life’s pains, annoyances, fears, frustrations, worries, suffering, and

grief….never again. Never a single other suffering. FOREVER peace.

Both of these sound pretty spectacular to me.

Unfortunately, a third thought has popped up.

No, it’s not Hell.
No. I’m not much of a hell ponderer.

I go back several years to a quote that stuck in my mind…. a quote that has niggled my mind and gently troubled me for years.

Only recently has it really meant so much to me.

John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the

sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s

death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for


Queerly, it isn’t an intellectual draw.

It’s something stranger and deeper. It’s in my bones, my blood, my cells, if you will.

Read this again. I mean it very, very strongly.

How can you know your brother is going to hell, and not care? How can you think ANYONE is going to hell, and not care? Is

it not like going to hell yourself?

How can you ascend to heaven, knowing your brethren are descending to hell?

I could not.

And I ponder it, in those dark times when I think about the rotting, the dead, the worms eating me… (no, I didn’t just make that

up…I got it from my Baptist Minister grandfather..of all places…yet at what point in life he said it, I do not know. Perhaps it was

when he was dying, young, from uremic poisoning and looked into my still then idealistic and religious father’s eyes with a look

my father would later claim as saying, “This has all been bullshit.”)

Why is it dark? Because I think, selfishly, oh, the relief from life’s miseries, if instead of afterlife, we really die, worms eating us,

as the athiest proclaims,what a wonderful, pleasant relief….

but no.

John Donne still haunts me.

Damn you, John Donne.

I think about that tiny, tiny, tiny little possibility….that possibility that maybe we really DO rot in the ground, worms eating us, as

Grandpa Lunsford said, and I think, no…you cannot relax, and finally achieve relief.

There are others you are interweaved with, entwined with, who are suffering…those who you leave behind…who continue to live

and breath and breed and suffer and die and yearn…and it goes on and on and on and on and on…forever and ever and

ever…and how can you relax and have any kind of relief knowing you are entertwined with these…souls…and that they will

continue striving on and suffering?

How could I possibly believe, Pappy Lunsford, that at the end, suffering and in pain and dying, that we are really just primates,

and it was all for naught, and the worms eat us?

How you must have felt when you you passed over and found out differently.



  1. Remember this, beloved—that Revelation speaks of a time when there is no more death or sadness, and He shall wipe every tear from our eyes. I do not know how this will be accomplished; my “little pea brain” (as my friend from North Carolina puts it) is not big enough to get itself around it. But that is a promise, and a big one. We know that those who go to Hell have decided against G-D and His salvation offered to us through Jesus’ blood, the payment for sin. We all choose which way we go. Now, if you are saying that we should get busy, and at least be sure our lost family and friends at least HEAR, and understand what they are giving up, then amen! But G-D is in control, and He knows what He is doing. I think that your dear grandpa was surprised because “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of men” what G-D has for us–and it will always be a surprise. And just on the off chance that things are otherwise—some people are counting on their own works to get into Heaven, and perhaps he didn’t make it. You don’t know, coz we are still here on this side of the great Divide.
    love you lotses! –janey

  2. a further thought—“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses, because we have testified of GOD that He raised up Christ whom He did not raise up–if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.” I Corinthians 15:13-19.
    So says the Apostle Paul. But in the very next breath, he says:
    “But now Christ IS risen from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. THEN comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to GOD the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. I Cor 15:21-24, emphases mine.

    I think part of the problem is that we live on this side of the great divide, and there is no test we can devise that can prove or disprove any of this. The scientific method is woefully inadequate here. As one of my favorite philosophers, Surak of Vulcan, said, “Logic is a wonderful thing, but there are some things it is no good for.” Because G-D is “unfalsifiable” as my bio prof put it, we are free to choose. It is always our own choice. No one can force us. But some day, Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of GOD the Father. Either now, with joy, or then, at the Judgment, through clenched teeth. It is our choice, and no one can choose for us. Each one must make up his or her own mind.

    You know all this; but sometimes in the midst of the day-to-day nonsense and the crises of life we forget. i’ve done it myself on occasion. G-D bless you exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think!
    All my love—janey

  3. Wow… try not to worry too much. There’s no hurry. 🙂

  4. There is an alternative to the worms and oblivion, Kafleen. It would be a blessing to the land if you plan to have your ashes spread over the green earth, to nourish the beauty that will come after, to bless all you leave behind who will see it. Then you will not be lost to each other…

    • That’s a lovely idea, elainet, but I have already made other arrangements for my physical self…I chose to put the pink dot on my driver’s license, and thank you for the opportunity to remind everyone:

      Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.

      As for what is left over, I hope it will be made to good humanitarian/scientific use.

      • Bless you for that, Kafleen.

  5. WA state Driver’s License is set up slightly differently, but i’m also an organ donor.

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