Death, Religion, and Faith

What do you think will happen after you die? Do you believe your soul will float out of your body and go up to heaven, or maybe descend to hell? Or do you think you will become a ghost that goes around haunting people for sport? Or do you think your soul will be reincarnated? Or do you think you will stop existing completely once your body gives out?

Everyone has different theories about life after death. The truth of the matter is, everyone is heading there, no matter what age, or gender, or race. That is one thing all of us, absolutely all of us, have in common. Death is a path awaiting every single living person.

I have a complicated relationship with death. When I was a little girl, the one sure way to get me crying was telling me the world was about to end, causing me to die. I guess any other kid would have found that scary, but to me it was terrifying. The thought wouldn’t let me sleep at night. When I first heard my grandma discussing the Apocalypse book in the Bible, I had to be consoled for a long time before I calmed down.

I was raised Catholic, but then my brother slowly convinced my mom and me to visit his Evangelical church and we sort of embraced this new religion. We drifted away from the church after my mom got baptized, but in that short time I remember being really focused on reading my Bible. I prayed a lot, mostly when I had troubles. When I was in my early teens, I returned to the same church and my faith was reinstated. I felt like I belonged there, really belonged. I joined the choir, I joined the youth club, I was there the majority of the week, and I loved it. I thought of death when the Apocalypse was mentioned and I was completely cool with it. Whenever someone from the church died, I learned to pray for them and rejoice in the full certainty that they were going to heaven. Death, for the good people of the church, was the beginning of the rest of their existence. They would be with God; they would be eternally happy.

A great deal of issues happened that completely tore me apart from that church. By the end of it all, I felt betrayed, hurt, dejected, ashamed, neglected, insecure, and incredibly lonely. Thinking about every member of that church made me want to crawl out of my skin. The way they hurt me destroyed the foundation where I’d built my faith. I was lost and afraid and I didn’t know left from right for a long time.

It was then that my fear of death resurfaced. Without my faith, I wasn’t sure God even existed. I didn’t know what would be of me after I died. I didn’t want to know because I expected the worst. It was recently when I had great anxiety contemplating death and my existence. The thought kept hitting me, that when I died, I would forget everything I had ever lived. I would cease to exist, and since I believed I didn’t have a soul, then when my body shut down, so would everything else in me. I had a lot of breakdowns thinking about death. It made my life feel worthless, thinking that it would just end and nothing would be remembered by me. Maybe those around me would remember me, but I wouldn’t remember them, and that was unbearable.

Then, it finally hit me. With my faith, I had peace. My spiritual life has been a huge part of me, and without it I have felt myself slipping. I decided that I would attempt to fix that. I would research about Christianity and other religions, read my Bible, pray to God once again, and slowly find my faith again. I didn’t want to join a church or even join a club or integrate myself in discussions. I didn’t want to be a part of any set religion. I wanted this journey to be about me and God, and rediscovering my personal beliefs. Ever since that day, just a few weeks ago, I’ve been alright with death. I’m sure part of that has to do with my search of faith, but another part has to do with acceptance.

I’ve finally accepted that death is inevitable, and as much as I want to, I can’t run from it. Even if I had the choice to live on this earth forever, I wouldn’t choose immortality. I think death will be peaceful. I think about the joy parents have when they bring a new life to earth. Death would not exist without life. They coincide. You can’t have one without the other. How can we celebrate life but dwell on death?

I’m still not entirely sure what will be of me when I die. Death is not something that keeps me up at night anymore. Life, on the other hand, definitely does.


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