The Picturing Death Project Journal Entries from 1999-2003

The simple but effective structure for the Picturing Death Project, a cast glass table, four chairs, and journals, provide a structure for journal writing with 4 questions that help participants examine how we will choose to live with the knowledge that death is inevitable. Currently, the project table, chairs and journals reside at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan in Kalamazoo.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Journal Entry 676


Once upon a time, I believed in a Heaven and a Hell, that I would be good and go to the good place and live eternity peacefully and happily. I no longer believe in an afterlife later on, and my thoughts were that death was a permanent and for when the physical body shut down and the mentalities faded away. I imagined that the consciousness that was a person dissipated into the darkness and disappeared forever. This frightened me, for I did not want to disappear and fade to nothing. And then there came a time when I came to appreciate life and I decided that there was a greater whole to everything, a spiritual connection that links together life and death and everything in between. The soul of a human is too strong to fade away and when the physical body dies, the spirit lingers on. The spirit would linger on as part of the collective spirituality, not necessarily ascending to some heavenly realm, but subject to be part of the whole. What happens after that is the choice of the energy or the will of the natural cycle, whether to stay behind in corporeal form and watch over loved ones or become something more, something else, perhaps live the reincarnation cycle.


My own death came at a single moment two years ago, when I was thrown back by the force of a car crashing into mine, when my arms, and chest, and stomach burned like fire making it hard to breathe. When I felt the blood between my fingers, warm and wet, when I felt pain so deep I drowned in it, when I felt the weight of my own severed thumb against my palm. But all this was nothing, a prelude, for I experienced my death in the moment my head lulled to the side against my seat and I took in the sight of the two figures next to me lim and still as rag dolls. My death came in that moment as I screamed again and again until my throat was raw and hoarse, while the pain was too intense to reach out, while my head ached from the blood roaring in ears. As hand grabbed for me, fought to release my seat belt, I kept on crying out, their names, pleas for them to answer me. As no response ever came, that is when I felt my soul's death.


It gives me reason to reach out to others and make connections, to treasure what I have and never want for too much more, all because I know my time in the physical body is limited, that after death I have to let go of everything familiar and surrender to something unknown. So all I can as is treasure what is familiar and wait.


The only thing I can hope for after my death is that I find the peace I would never quite find in life. My fear is that I'll never find it.

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