Saturday, March 5, 2011


A few weeks ago after yet another visit to the doctor, I saw Clint Eastwood's latest movie ( at least his latest movie in South Africa ) Hereafter, pretty self- explanatory- it's all about kicking the eternal bucket. I was nervous about seeing this film, I guess it would be normal for any person to have reservations about seeing a movie which will remind them about their own mortality. But I have had some horrible experiences with death or  more specifically with the idea of death. I have mentioned before that I lost a good friend to cancer when I was 10 years old. I had the typical childish fear of death back then. After she died though I was no longer afraid, why I am not entirely sure. It was first time someone close to me had died and  it was almost as though once someone had taken the plunge first it wasn't so bad any more. Once the initial shock and grief of her death had waned I remember thinking how dying seemed like such a grown up thing for such a little girl to do.

In 2007 when I was very emotionally ill before my breakdown, one of the strange psychiatric developments that came about was the strong illusion that I was going to die. I had the absolute conviction that, say, this time next week I would no longer be alive and that I was definitely going to die by Tuesday or Wednesday. Once Tuesday and Wednesday had rolled round, it didn't make a difference....I was definitely going to die by Thursday or Friday. I will not ever be able to properly express how massively terrifying this was. I was living in the US....away from my family, I had no friends yet and I was to ashamed to tell the people I was living with. How exactly do you tell someone that?. I started packing my things away. I made a list of my things saying who was to get what once I was gone. I pleaded with God to save me, getting just silence in return. Once I had my breakdown however to me there was no God. In one single night all the faith that I had in my whole life, everything I believed in disappeared. It shattered me, broke my heart beyond repair and I don't think I will ever be the same.

Those where hard times but I have come a LONG way and I have faced what happened. If I look back with the knowledge that I have now and with most of my sanity once again intact, I can now see why my breakdown happened and how it happened. Why I developed that sudden obsession with death before my breakdown, I'll never know.

So you can understand why I was a little apprehensive about seeing this movie. Apprehensiveness for me normally goes hand in hand with if I am apprehensive about seeing a movie, it will most likely be the first movie I see- the same thing happened with Black Swan.

I was actually really surprised despite the fact that there are parts of this movie that are incredibly sad, the best way I can describe the mood is soothing and mellow. Really weird if you consider it's content. And there was no creepiness which was refreshing. I spoke with a friend who also saw this movie and we agreed that we both came away feeling like we had found solace. For me personally it made me feel better about death- whether that's for the short or long term I'm not exactly sure.

Afterwards, I started thinking about death practically for the first time, without the fear factor involved. Yes, I am a mortal, one day I will draw my last breath just like everybody else that is reading this (unless you have found the eternal fountain of youth ) and whether it's fair or not none of us are guaranteed to live to old age.

Probably the most difficult thing about facing my fear of death is what will happen to me after I die. I was raised in a Christan household. I actually became a born- again christian when I was 12. I was taught that if I asked Jesus for forgiveness of my sins and dedicated my life to him that I would live with him in heaven for all eternity. Then I became an unbeliever for several years and I believed that when I died the lights would go out and I would cease to exist but then to many things happened (which I won't go into right now) to once again make me believe otherwise- call me a flake.

Now my relationship with God is on the mend- that will probably take the rest of my life. But I can't say my belief in the afterlife has been strengthened. If I am going to be honest...not only do I find the  most popular Christian belief of the afterlife hard to believe.....I er, don't find it all that appealing either. Streets of gold and gems just don't do it for me and - I think I may really offend some people here- most Christians...the evangelical kind drive me nuts and the thought of spending eternity with all of them is a hugely unpleasant thought.

I am very aware ( and respectful ) that most of my readership are actually non- believers (mental illness + God = doesn't seem to go) but I am still really interested in what you believe happens to you when you die: do you believe you will go to heaven to be with God?, do you believe that "the lights will go out" and that will be it? or do you believe that something happens but you are not sure what?. I once came across I a guy that believed in God 100% but didn't believe in an afterlife. I also knew a girl who believed our energy was absorbed by the universe and we became part of the stars. I have come across so many people, of no religion that believe in reincarnation. I realise this discussion has been done a million times but I would like to have it here.

PLEASE NOTE: If someone says something you don't agree with  DO NOT go into the attack mode. That won't be allowed and I will delete your comment. Just had to mention that because I know these things can get people pretty passionate about this subject :) .

Later on I will write a post about what I think the afterlife may be, my own interpretation of what the bible says about it ( there's much more to it than freaking clouds and pearly gates ) and what I want the afterlife to be. Three very different things.

Below is the trailer to Hereafter:


  1. I've had a "interesting relationship" with death and dying. I can totally understand why this movie or any book concerning death/dying would make you more anxious. My fear is more about, this great horrible feeling about those I love dying. I think you need to be really gentle and compassionate with yourself,Stephi, as obviously this is not just an emotional struggle, but a spiritual one as well. I don't know what happens to us when we die and as much as I "intellectually" think that there is a heaven, but not the traditional version, then the next day, I'll think differently. Thank you for such an honest and vulnerable post, Stephi and I'm going to check out the "Hereafter" movie. And synchronicity always comes into play. I just happened to find this website through another website about well, you'll see...If you're feeling anxious about death/dying, don't visit it. It's nothing like horrible, gory photos or stats., it's just more about the practical side of death, is such a thing is possible.

  2. Hey Stephi,
    I grew up in an orthodox family, of Jewish religion. Today, I am not as observant as my family is but nevertheless, I still somewhat believe in the idea of God.
    Its always been a long philosophical debate if man created God in order to have a supreme being in whom they can trust and feel protected by. Whatever the technicality, I am pretty spiritual and i actually enjoy exploring the role god plays in my individual life.
    I have a hard time believing life is over after death because that would render my life meaningless. I believe we accomplish today to perpetuate and be rewarded later. The form of reward varies according to religions and beliefs but the point here is that there must be a sequel. Or so i believe

  3. Hi Wendy, I don't fear death anymore- what happened to me back then was purely psychological and I was very ill. Like you I more fear the separation from the people I love. I believe that one should prepare for their death, spiritually and most importantly practically- that is why that website is very good, after you die life goes on. I'm only 27 but I have a living will- not that I have that much to leave anyone BUT that may change!

  4. Hi Diablesse, I have to admit that I don't know as much about the Jewish belief system as I should- South Africa has a massive Jewish community. The argument about Man creating God out of fear or loneliness has always been in the back of my mind- it's still an agrument that I can't seem to resolve internally.

    Even during my years as an unbeliever I couldn't completely get myself to believe that when we died that was the end, like you I believe that would make the lives of every person who ever lived meaningless.

  5. Well, I do believe in God, but not really religion, which I think just divides us. We all believe in the same God/ Higher power, so what do the technicalities matter (if Moses REALLY parted the seas etc)or if your God is called Jehova, Krishna etc.

    I think what is more important is BEING a believer, rather than labelling yourself one, and this is displayed in the way you act and treat others. My brother is a self-proclaimed atheist but is one of the kindest, gentlest souls I know, for all his faults. If people like him aren't welcome in Heaven, then I don't want to go either.

    As for the afterlife...I am not sure. It seems strange to me that when our physical bodies die, our souls would die to. However, where they go to or what they do is anyone's guess.

    I would like to think there is a Heaven, or that we meet up with our loved ones someday. That would make me really happy, although if this is true, it's probably not in a form we (or I at least) can comprehend.

    Thank you for another interesting post!

  6. Fox- I also have a problem with religion. I have realised that a lot of problems I have are actually more to do with the Church(es) than God. You and the sister are so much alike in what you believe in!.

    We have known your bro since he was little and he is a wonderful young man. Some of the best people I've met are non- believers and it always amazes me that they are good not becauses they are accountable to a god but because they genuinely believe in treating others well. It kind of makes me feel better that there is no hidden agenda.

    I think the afterlife is probably part of something bigger that we cannot comprehend.

    Thanks for the comment Foxy!!

  7. Limited answer due to migraine.

    I believe we existed before this life and will do so after. I believe there is a plan and purpose for the whole thing. I believe families can be together forever. I believe there are several degrees of glory and we will be in the one we earned in this life because that is where we will be comfortable, where we will fit. I believe there will be continued progress and work in the next life.

    I an including a link to one of our manuals to give you a little more info since I'm not up to writing more just now. Feel free to read it or ignore it, but here it is:

    Good luck. It sounds like you have a wonderful search ahead of you. I hope you find something that feel right and brings you peace.

  8. Thanks for your comment Robin, even though you may have had a migraine it was perfect. I was actually hoping that you would reply to this. I truly value everyone's comments on this post but it is so refreshing to have someone that believes in something 100%.

    I have read the link and it was fascinating. A lot of thought is given to where our soul goes when we die but not to where we came from in the first place. My mother, who is a devoted christian also believes that we go to a place of waiting after we die until Christ's return. She also believes that we will receive different rewards in heaven based on how we lived on earth. Logically, I can see how that would be fair.

    This is going to be a looong journey back for me but I have faith:)

  9. For myself, I try to believe in things based on some kind of evidence. I don't really think there is any reason to believe in a soul, or an afterlife. People make all kinds of claims, which usually get defined in such a way as to exclude them being demonstrable. Then people claim faith (believing something without evidence) is a virtue, which I find it had to imagine.

    The claims people make about souls, god, heaven, etc, mostly seem to be wishful thinking to me. People not wanting to die. Wanting to believe that it goes on forever. Believing that the universe is fair, that somehow the karmic checkbooks will be balanced, the bad will be punished and the good will be rewarded.

    I'd like to believe that to. But I don't have any compelling reasons to do so, other than wishing that it were so. And I think it is dangerous to believe things for those reasons, because it means we are going to believe things that are not true, and then take actions that cause harm in the real world.

  10. Hey Miss Stephi!

    I guess the closest label that fits me is agnostic. I venture close to atheist at times but there is something inside me that cannot rule out a god. I believe in reincarnation but not in some mythical sense. One day all the elements that make up my body will be reformed into something else just like everything on this earth was once a part of a star. As for consciousness after we are gone--yea I can't really make my mind up on that one. Part of me believes it's insane to think once the body dies the conscious lives, then the other part of me really would like to believe in that concept. I'm not really sure if we were told all the secrets of the universe we would be able to understand it. Great post! Hope you are feeling well =)

  11. Hey DP, I was also hoping to get your perspective on this since you seem to have some very definate ideas. In todays world taking a "leap of faith" is not what I consider to be a wise thing. The biggest problem I have with believing in a higher power and the afterlife is that the evidence is so conflicted and at times airy fairy. I wish the evidence was more concrete.

    Not all christians believe just out of faith. My mother has whole- heartedly accepted the bible as fact and she has had "personal encounters" with God that has made her beileves without a doubt that God exists. To her heaven is as real as Tokyo or Cape Town.

    From what I read on your blog you seem to be a person who actually would like God to exist and it sounds like you actually want there to be an afterlife, but like you said you have never found enough evidence to compelle you to believe. Correct me if I am wrong. I think that there are a whole secrets that we may never be able to figure out because it is beyond the scope of our understanding

    Thanks for your comment!

  12. Hey Miss Running, it's always good to hear from you:)what eventually made me decide to give my faith another try again was the fact that I just couldn't rule out a god and feeling that something far bigger than our understanding could manage was going on. I agree with you that if all the secrets of the universe were revealled, we probably wouldn't be able to handle it.

    It feels almost unnatural to think that our conscious dissipates when we die- I guess it would be like going to sleep and knowing nothing more.

    I don't believe in reincarnation- I wouldn't want to live this life again and live as anybody other than me. I didn't realise though that there are different beliefs regarding reincarnation.

  13. Hi Stephi,
    Like most people, I don't particularly want to die, and if this was avoided by some type of afterlife that could be good. Depending on the afterlife in question of course - I don't want to spend eternity with Ned Flanders!

    I know what you mean about your mother, many people have personal experiences that for them validate their own beliefs. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists. The same goes for people who believe in alien abductions, out of body experiences, and various other supernatural beliefs. But I cannot replicate such experiences, and when people are questioned closely they tend to perform lots of mental gymnastics, play the "faith" card, or define things in a way that they can't really be demonstrated.

    This is highly questionable to me. The simplest answer is often the correct one, and given the choice between Jesus, Allah, aliens, zeus, ghosts etc all running around just out of view all causing mayhem, I think it is more likely that all these things simply come from people trying to make sense of the world and trying to give it a meaning that it simply doesn't have. People want comfort, and I can understand that. I do too. But believing things because they make you feel good? Seems like a bad idea to me.

  14. D.P....did you just put my mother in the same category as people who claim they have been abducted by aliens??? LOL!!!! The funny thing is she doesn't believe aliens or ghosts etc. exist, she is actually a very skeptical person...except when it comes to God.

    Anyway, it's funny that I am defending Christianity when I have serious questions about it myself. I just wanted to make it clear that to a lot of Christians their beliefs have very little to do with a leap of faith. They believe what they do because of the pure conviction that Jesus lives inside them. To me it's like they have had some type of blindfold removed and they are looking at the world with different eyes. It's hard to explain.

    I see where you are coming from... I really do, I would even go as far as to say that looking at this world today we have every reason not to believe in a god and there is evidence that we created an afterlife because our humam brains cannot accept that we won't go on forever.

    But no one really knows. You are wise to question everything and not just accept something blindly but you must agree with me that there are still a whole lot of things that we don't understand.