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 curiosity...so 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: