Infidel asked this in his post yesterday. It reminded me of a question which Madison and Julianna asked over the weekend. They wanted to know – What happens when someone dies?
Perhaps they wanted to know:
Is there a Heaven and Hell?
They’re both in Catholic school — catechism's a daily thing. In their short lives, their much loved Great Grandma died. Just last summer their beloved Grandpa Bob stepped off the world.
Possibly they were inquiring as to what physically happens to a body when a person cuts out on sentience. Morgues? Funeral homes? Crematoriums? Did they want to know what happens the absolute minute you croak or was the question more about long range post-Earth careers?
What’d I reply? The pain stops. Yup, I didn’t go in for the stardusted, cloud occupying, harp playing angels or the mysterious, long, deep blue-lit tunnels explanations. Afterwards I felt I’d been kind of harsh but, what happens at death, as far as we can empirically know, is the cessation of suffering and struggle.
My Catholic father never spun palliating haloes-and-harps stories for me – he provided a range of different theories and let me think it out for myself. For this and so much more, I love him madly.
* Spirits refuse to…em…give up the ghost and we come back to haunt our friends and fam?
* Do our essential beings, our souls, live on as free form floating, sentient entities?
* Death’s, mebbe, just an illusion?
A post at The Independent asked the same question and found folks describing two varieties of what happens at bucket kicking time.
I was getting an angiogram done, wide awake watching the screen and talking to the doctor. Alarms started to go off and everyone became panicked. My world became soft and foggy and everything faded to black. Next thing I remember was opening my eyes and hearing a Dr say "we got him back". It was really a peaceful feeling more than anything.
and the mystical:What’s known? When our bods are in the process of dying we’re not getting enough of that yummy oxygen stuff. The brain gets wicked stressed out and shoots a mega load of pain offing endorphins into our corporeal hard drives.
I do remember a little bit of the ambulance ride, but not from my own body. It was seriously the strangest thing I have ever experienced. It could have been a dream, but I saw my own unconscious body, completely flatlined, in the ambulance. I remember the EMT who was in the ambulance with me (whom I did not see before I passed out) had mint green hair and I couldn't remember his name, but I asked for him when I regained consciousness about three days later.
Wendy Wright, a neurologist at Emory University, had this to say about death visions:
When these chemicals are released, these different type of phenomena can occur: a person might see a light, or experience a sense of peace or calming. Feel that they’re surrounded by loved ones...”(source)A lot of deep shit to think about. What I can know and feel reassured by is that, on death, pain and struggle end. I’m good with not knowing if there’s a sequel.
My friend Infidel also noted:
If you're like most people, you have at least one family member or close friend you care about, who does not meet your religion's criteria for getting into Heaven. If you did actually go to Heaven after your death, would you be able to be happy there knowing that someone you cared about was suffering eternal torment in Hell?Yeah brother, tell it. Also, all cats go to heaven. Dammit.