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Understanding Death

A Research paper done 

by Tina L. Beidler: 

While trying to find some answers

 

Crash Site Memorial finished May 18,2000

After experiencing the loss of my 11-year-old daughter, due to a car accident in which she was “taken” instantly, I was overwhelmed by the need to know about what happens at the time of death, or after death. I began to read any material I could get my hands on that had to do with “Death” or “Dying”.  In our family as well as society as a whole, death is taboo; not to be discussed.  The mere mention of someone dying or already dead makes people uncomfortable.  I know that for myself it is easier to use words and phrases such as; lost, taken away, now in heaven, or she is an angel now.   I hope to share my understanding of death, learned through Bible verses, research on near death experiences, and other resources that will offer hope of healing to others 

 Different definitions of death;  

·        Webster’s Dictionary : “Extinction of life; Manner of dying; state of being dead; decease; dissolution; termination.”  It did not help me what so ever to look at this definition, for answers.  I continued to search.

·        Encyclopedia Britannica:  “Total cessation of life, processes that eventually occurs in all living organisms.  The state of death has always been obscured by mystery and superstition.  The precise definition of human death remains controversial and differs according to cultures and legal systems.   The diagnosis of death in the mammalian organism was long based on the following easily established early criteria: the absence of peripheral pulse and heartbeat, the absence of respiration, the lack of corneal reflex and the presence of a bluish colour (cyanosis) that results from a lack of oxygen in the blood.”  It continues to say, “Many belief systems have tried to distinguish between physical and spiritual being.  Despite the decomposition of the human body following death, the idea has persisted that something of the individual person continues to survive the experience of dying, This belief occurs in virtually all religions, past and present, and decisively conditions their evaluations of man and his place in the universe.” 

·        In the book Heaven, Better by  Far:  A report quoted from the London Times written by  Dr. Henry Beecher proposed three helpful medical definitions of when death occurs:

1.      The moment at which irreversible destruction of brain matter, with no possibility of regaining consciousness, is conclusively determined. 

2.      The moment at which spontaneous heartbeat cannot be restored.

3.      The electroencephalogram establishes the moment “brain death” occurs. 

·        Also outlined in Heaven, better by far is the religious point of view, death is explained as a separation from the source of life.  Scripture differentiates three types of death:

1.      Physical- the separation of the body from the soul and the spirit. 

2.      Spiritual- the separation of soul and spirit from God. 

3.      Eternal-spiritual death made permanent; “This is the second death” these are found in the book of Revelation.

One bad day of mourning, while I was crying terribly hard, I picked up my daughter’s Bible I ran my thumb along the edge and stopped at the book of Isaiah.  To be more precise, it was as if the book stopped me and fell open to:

·        Isaiah 57:1; “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.”  That was the first verse I read. (Although I had never read it in the Bible before this tragedy)

·        Matthew 5:4; “ Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

I did see it quoted on almost every sympathy card I received.  At first I could not accept these, I didn’t feel comforted at all, nor could I understand that evil would come if Rebecca didn’t die that day.  It took me a few months (at least 3) after the loss to stop being mad at God and everyone else.  Once my anger decreased a bit, I started to ponder the meaning of these verses, then I wanted to research related material.  First, I turned to the Bible and found many other scriptures.

·        Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 says, “A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better that the day of birth.  It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart”.   

·        Romans 6:23,  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. 

·        Revelation 21:4  “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  

All the concepts in the verses above claim that death is really a beginning to a new life, the gift called eternal life.  When I read these I began to wonder about Heaven.  A friend sent me a book called “Heaven, better by far”.  I read this with a sincere desire to understand more.  The book also quotes many scriptures. The book explains that even among Christians there is a widespread fear of the lonely experience of death.  Or perhaps it may be fear of the process of dying rather than fear of death itself.  There are many experiences in our lives that are within our control, but death is something that is enviable and eludes our grasp.  I had a couple of questions answered after reading this book. 

·        Is heaven a place or a state of mind?  “ Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust In God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  These are words from Jesus found in from John 14.   

The image of a house with many rooms leads me to believe it is an actual place, not just a state of being for our souls.    Our physical body may be changed into a spiritual body,  but  that body needs to  reside somewhere.

  ·        What is it like for our daughter in Heaven now?  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” this comes from 1 Corinthians 2:9.  

It is trying to tell us that we can only imagine with our mortal minds, what is there we cannot fathom.  In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

I must state that my daughter was a child as well as a good Christian, therefore I have no doubts that she is in Heaven. 

 ·        Philippians 4:20-21 tells us “But our citizenship is in heaven, And we eagerly await a Savior for there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” 

This is the promise of where all believers will go, and what we will look like; I personally find it easy to make the choice to believe.  The other choice is to believe that I have lost my precious daughter forever.  

 Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD is a renowned expert on Death and Dying.   She describes dying with the Cocoon & the Butterfly metaphor.   In her book “A letter to a child with cancer” AKA “The Dougy Letter” she explains; when we have done all the work we were sent to earth to do we are allowed to shed our body- which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly.  When the time is right we can let go of it and we will be free of pain, free of fears and worries, free as a very beautiful butterfly, returning home to God.  This to me is a great comfort.  I am not saying that I do not miss my daughter, I am only saying I can now picture her happy and still very beautiful.  Dr. Ross has published many books on the subject, I have read most of them!  I am inspired by her research on

·        Near Death Experiences (NDE).  Dr. Ross documents literally thousands of these NDE’s.  Our physical body is only a transport for our soul.  In her book, On death and dying, Dr Ross explains that there is a common theme to all of the NDE’s she has studied.  Throughout the 25,000 cases, regardless of culture, religion, ethnic background, or geographical location, all of the people having the NDE reported similar events.  The main theme was the encountering of a being full of unconditional love, there were only small differences in the descriptions detailed by the survivors of NDE’s, these were due to the individual belief factor.  Because of the different religions, some survivors would see Jesus while others would see their spiritual symbol.  Almost all reported seeing a loved one who had preceded the individual by death.  For now, this is as close as I have gotten to know what is beyond this life.  All of the reports on this subject that I have found are very moving, in a positive direction.   If you find this interesting as I did, I would encourage you to check out the personal accounts for yourself at www.near-death.com. 

My family certainly never imagined we would face a loss of this kind head on, especially with one of our children at such a young age.  My family was completely unprepared to deal with it.  Perhaps we thought if we never talked about it, it would never happen to us.  Some people treat us as if we are contagious, meaning if they talk to us about our loss it might happen to them.   After many hours reading books, reports, and actual survivor accounts on the Internet, I have discovered many truths that have to some extent, put me at ease.  To me, home means a place of love, understanding and security.  From all of the scriptures and other readings, I have concluded that my daughter is at “Home” in heaven.  She will remain there and will be waiting for everyone in my family upon our individual arrivals.  There are many more related Bible verses and interesting facts to be found on the Intranet, and if you are interested the search is worth it.   The more research I find to read, be it in an old document or a new release, an illustration is becoming clear that outlines a common theme; bringing to light a concept I have never known.  I can honestly say my family and I will never “get over the loss” but with the comfort of knowledge maybe life can be tolerable until our own death.  I hope that through this paper I have clearly expressed my new understanding of death with others who have lost loved ones.  If this paper encourages or points the direction to search deeper for answers, that will bring at least one family inner peace; than I have accomplished my goal.                     

Guardian Angel Ryan

.-

Guardian and Comforter of Mothers who mourn

Copyright 1998 AngelicArtistry 

(A Note today,  June 19, 2000:  As I read over this research paper that I wrote a year ago, I realize that I have not stopped searching which has lead to other, DEEPER beliefs. I encourage all of you to keep searching until you find Inner Peace again.  I have made a list of books I have read that could be useful.  There are so many Good Grief Support Sites.  I have only begun to scratch the surface!  May God Lead you on a Journey to Love and Inner Peace~ Tina)