Health & Spirit

Our many views of death might offer glimpses at what waits

By Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

We are in the midst of a rabbi/reader dialogue on what we think dying is like. Thank you for your spiritually sensitive thoughts about the mystery of human finitude that awaits us all and frames our faith and our futures.


-- From G:

I want to share the belief of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe about death. They believe death is "moving on to the next camp." They recognize that life has changed but not ended.

When my mother died two years ago, she died at night in her sleep (as did my grandfather, her father), but I was able to spend an afternoon with her holding her hand. She was not conscience, but I think it may have eased her transition toward death.

-- Marc Gellman:


I have been told that more people die from 2 to 4 in the morning than any other time. This may be because their love for family and friends holds them back until they are alone and can let go in the silence of the night.

-- And along the lines of "moving to the next camp," this came in from J, Ph.D.:

Dying is like birth. When the fetus thinks that its existence is over-- fluid gone -- squeezed to death -- it pops into another sphere of existence of which it had no prior knowledge. This new existence is infinitely more complex and beautiful than the intra-uterine life. The fetus never lost its life.



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