A friend flagged this article up on FaceBook. John Hatcher, the writer of this piece, has written a number of thought-provoking books, which I have mentioned on this blog, for example the sequence entitled Close Connections. This made it inevitable that I’d read his thoughts on death, and I wasn’t disappointed. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.
What happens when you get a death sentence? Whether you have a religion or not, what do you do next?
Certainly Baha’is, even while affirming their fundamental belief in the continuity of the essential self, must, like everyone else, come to terms with death as an unexpected and uninvited interruption of their attempt at systematic development—but few religions other than the Baha’i Faith offer a consolation that is both life-affirming, positive, and totally rational.
I am not concerned here with those who wonder “Why must I die”? I think we have pretty well established that we are all going to die, that nobody leaves this life alive, at least not with a functioning body (though our cars will probably still be running if they were manufactured in Japan). That question usually comes on the heels of discovering that we must prematurely replace a major appliance, a car transmission, or important organs.
This is usually when the proverbial “Why Me?” question most often arises, when we feel that we have no important responsibility for the ills we are made to endure.
This question is obviously most poignant when it involves terminal illness, and that’s where my Baha’i friend Leland enters the discussion. Leland, like my father, is in the process of really coming to understand the art of dying. Leland discovered a while back that his recent problem with trying to get his breath is the result of his having an advanced stage of mesothelioma, a form of cancer resulting from past exposure to asbestos. Leland recently asked to have a conversation with my wife Lucia and me to discuss his discovery that he is suddenly on death row with probably about nine months to live.
Now Leland is, for the most part, an ordinary guy. His father was Mexican and his mother was African American, and Leland has done everything from working in a Ford factory to owning a hardware store to helping his stepson set up a fish farm. But in addition to all that, Leland is also one of the more thoroughly studious Baha’is I know, extremely well-versed in everything the Baha’i teachings have to say about death and dying. Yet he felt that a frank, no-holds-barred, sit-down talk with us might help him examine the art of dying, especially as that art relates to the Baha’i writings about the afterlife.