chantal stone photography: the blog

April 13, 2006

On Death…

Filed under: News — chantal @ 11:25 am
I was reading an article in USAToday about six bodies that were found in a home in Pennsylvania. One body had a visible head wound, blood and bone fragments were found throughout the house, some of the bodies were wrapped in sheets, one wrapped in a blanket secured with a phone cord.

I started thinking about the fragility of life.

What kind of person does this to an entire family…to anyone? A five year old was included among the dead.

The image of the person found wrapped in a blanket, tied with the phone cord stands out in my mind. I imagine this person being struck over the head, then strangled with the same phone cord used to secure the blanket around the limp, lifeless body. I can almost feel this person struggle with the last breaths of life, the pain, the anxiety, the panic he or she must have felt. Then suddenly, nothing. Everything stops, the panic, the pain, the suffering, the struggle. Those final moments of the person’s life, was this person worried what was happening to the other family members? Was s/he already aware that others had been killed? The fear this person must have felt is overwhelming for me to comprehend…for any of us to comprehend.

Christianity teaches us to not fear death. In fact, if you go to a truly Christian funeral, many are called “Home-going” celebrations…where the soul of the departed is reunited with the Savior in heaven. It’s a pleasant and comforting thought.

Most religions/faiths have a belief of the after-life, the idea that ones soul passes on to another state of consciousness. But it’s the exact moment of death that interests me most. The moment where awareness suddenly ends. I imagine it like falling asleep…one moment you are awake, thinking, breathing, seeing, feeling…then…nothing. Nothing?

This “nothingness” makes me wonder is there something to it? Are we aware at the moment of death of the nothingness? Is death like what we’ve seen on television with the tunnel, the bright light, the familiar figures of loved ones long-lost?

If there is life after death, do we suddenly pass onto that life, aware of our “human” death or do we just start anew, unaware from where we came? I think about reincarnation, which is an interesting idea for me. As a Christian, I know I’m not supposed to believe it, but I’m not like most Christians. Nothing in this life is clearly black and white, so why would the next life be any different? If our souls are reincarnated to the next life, I wonder if it is a sudden event, or if there is a “waiting period” where the soul contemplates the mistakes made in the past, where one can thoughtfully contemplate the steps needed in the next life to reach the inevitable Nirvana.

I think as humans, we fear the idea of there not being life after death. This life is often so full of struggle, strife and turmoil, the idea of there being something better afterwards is comforting for many. The idea of rewards in heaven, of riches and virgins and peace and harmony, of oneness with God, and everlasting love. It’s romantic and inspiriting.

I have a more universal theory on death and life thereafter. I like to think that there is life after death. The thought that such a richly contemplative life can simply end in an instant doesn’t sit well with me. I need the deeper meaning. A person’s religion or faith does not matter much to me, I believe that there is one Ultimate Truth that we as Humans must learn. I believe that there are constant lessons in our lives and signs all around that lead to this One Truth. And if we don’t quite it get it the first time around, we, our souls, are sent back again and again until we get it right.

I believe after death, once we’ve learned to recognize the signs in a way that is adequate to the Creator, all of the answers to our questions, the ultimate Truth, is revealed.

Maybe it sounds elementary, but it’s what makes the most sense to me, and I find comfort in it. And I think that when faced with my final moment of life, I won’t be afraid.

This article first appeared on Blogcritics on April 14, 2006.
If you enjoyed the article please check out the interesting and provocative

discussion that followed on Blogcritics.


  1. Chantal,

    I’m a hard-core agnostic, and my father was a total atheist. He died in 1998 of emphaszyma (sp.) and fought it for years and won because he was the most stubborn human being ever to put foot on the planet.

    But in the end, as always, it won. He lingered for 9 very hard days in the hospital, and not only was I there the entire time, I was with him at the end.

    He never turned to God, but late one night, just when I thought the morphine drip had let him slip into a deep sleep for good, he opened his eyes and called for me.

    I was frantic because we had stopped all medical procedures, so I had to force a nurse to clean out his mouth and nose.

    But he took my hand, looked at me, and said with complete clarity. “Mark, I’m not afraid. I fought the good fight.”

    When he knew it was time to do, he died peacefully and willingly, proud of himself.

    Did he somehow find God? I wish I knew, but he never mentioned it. He was at peace and that’s all I care about. I’ve never been able to find Him and I’ve looked everywhere. In fact, the novel I’m working on is called “God Never Answers.”

    I guess the point of all this is that it doesn’t matter what the end is–it’s the journey that all important.

    Thoreau once wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I think that’s the saddest thought I’ve ever heard. Our task in life is to keep our song alive.

    Emerson was a little less morbid:

    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”

    “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

    “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

    “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

    Emerson was an optimist…but these aren’t bad rules by which to live your life…and if you succeed, then does your death really matter?

    Good grief, I’m taking this entire comment and posting it on my blog!


    Comment by MSchannon — April 19, 2006 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  2. Mark, what you wrote gave me chills. I’ve always loved Emerson, and those quotes are TRULY words to live by.

    Good grief, I’m taking this entire comment and posting it on my blog!

    No kidding–not only should you put in your own blog, you should post on BC as well.

    Thank you for sharing this with me, and thanks for commenting!–>

    Comment by chantal stone — April 19, 2006 @ 11:11 am | Reply

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