Death and Sleep

ChelseaDeath3 Comments

Jimmy Akin has an interesting post on the concept of “soul sleep” – addressing the question of whether the soul is alert after death or if death is more like sleep. Check it out.
It kinda reminds me of something I read recently in Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ book As I Lay Dying about what went through his mind after having a very near death experience:

To be dying – I knew about that. That we are born toward dying, that opinion was divided as to whether or not I was near that final point – I knew about that. But to die, the thing itself, that I was trying to understand. I am returned to “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

As a boy in my attic bedroom I could at times see the moon through the dormer window. Again and again, I determined to keep my eyes on the moon and so stay awake in order to experience the actual moment when I went to sleep. I wanted to know, to witness, the event of passage from the state of being awake to the state of being asleep. But of course I never succeeded in this quest. There was the experience of being awake, and then of being sleepy and heading into sleep; there were dreams that I knew were dreamed while sleeping, and then the experience of waking up and looking back on the undoubted fact that I had been asleep. Sleepiness was experienced as a thing within me moving toward sleep and, at the same time, a thing outside me that overtook and overcame me. This, I thought, was surpassingly strange. When did I, from within me, go to sleep? When did it, from outside me, overtake me? Where am I, or am I at all, when I am sleeping? Of course there was nothing original in my childhood ponderings. Anthropology offers many accounts of cultures that weave wondrous tales about the mystery of sleep. But on my hospital bed I saw again, in my mind’s eye, the moon through the attic’s dormer window and wondered more deeply about the moment of going to sleep, the moment of dying.

Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks about these things. What about you? Do you think about death or dying very often? It sounds morbid, but keeping the end in mind does help us keep this life in perspective and prepare ourselves for the one that is to come.

3 Comments on “Death and Sleep”

  1. I think about it often. I, myself, am not much afraid of dying. I am terrified, however, of the thought of my children dying. Especially if it were to be an apocalyptic end. I shudder to think about anything ever happening to them, even if I knew they would be in a better place. As silly as it sounds, I’ve been thinking about it more since it’s 2012!!! Damn Mayans! 🙂

  2. Chelsea, this is an interesting post. You and Fr. Richard and both deeper thinkers than me. I don’t dwell on death or dying, but think about both occasionally.

    My mom is 89 years old. I have been involved with her medical care and sometimes she brings up the fact that she won’t be around much longer. This gives me pause and makes me very aware that every time I see or talk to her may be the my last earthly encounter with her. With that in mind I always tell her that I love her before saying goodbye and afterward I thank God for her and say a prayer for her. – Probably the same routine that I should follow with everyone I interact with.

    Keep up the good work.

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