Friday, April 14, 2017

What Is Your Afterlife?




As Easter approaches and I'm reminded of the hope carried by Christ's resurrection, I couldn't help but be equally occupied by thoughts on death. I've had loved ones die, friends and acquaintances living with terminal illness, and all this with my own changing and aging body reminding me constantly of my own mortality. 

What happens to us when we die? Certainly the answer depends on your own belief system. Beyond that, I've also realized that much of our answer is shaped by our age and life experiences. The young, highly-Catholic version of me believed we either go to heaven or hell, and of course the comfort of the idea of purgatory in case we are not quite worthy of heaven and yet absolutely not deserving of hell either. 

But as I aged and preferred to see a God that is more forgiving and definitely not simplistic, I've settled in a belief that the afterlife shouldn't be that scary as long as you know you've lived a life of meaning, of mostly kindness and certainly Love. I now choose to believe that perfection has never been the objective, but rather growth and spiritual evolution. As Paul Kalanithi eloquently put it, "You can't ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving". (When Breath Becomes Air)

Recently, I heard something utterly beautiful and comforting from the Netflix hit show Grace and Frankie. I know you're probably thinking it's a strange source of wisdom, let alone beliefs on the afterlife, but I'm sure you'd appreciate it too—


"The afterlife is how you're remembered by the living."

It erases the idea of a non-forgiving, simplistic deity, while at the same time puts emphasis on how we ultimately live our lives and touch the lives of others. It's not focused on perfection or the idea that flaws or mistakes permanently stain and define us, or lead us to eternal damnation. Instead, it makes us view our lives wholistically and puts in perspective the value we've added to this earth and others' lives. 

Are we loving enough to be remembered that way?

Are we generous to others that we shall be remembered as nurturing, selfless and kind? 

Are we forgiving so that others think of us as one with an open and humble heart? 

Have we been patient, gentle and wise with our tone and words so that people we leave behind remember us with joy and as a source of comfort? 

Do you make enough space in your heart for others such that they make space for you as well in their hearts and will remember you when you die?

The answer either brings you peace or disquiet. But each moment you have left is currency you can use wisely. Each moment is a reminder that this life we have is not meant to be lived selfishly; that our life is defined by the connections we forge and the positive difference we make in those we meet in our journey. We are irrefutably connected and so the salvation we offer others is as much our own. 

As the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Christ, may we also reflect on how each moment offers us hope to resurrect ourselves into a life worth remembering and celebrating. 









2 comments:

  1. "The afterlife is how you're remembered by the living."
    Wow. Simply amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's the most beautiful and comforting answer I've ever come across, Pia. xoxo

    ReplyDelete

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