Last Updated on June 17, 2023 by Jason Harris
There was recently a discussion in a physician’s FB group I’m part of about patients seeing loved ones shortly before they die and what to make of this. The poster was agnostic. Some weighed in with their religious beliefs. Others with non-religious explanations. Some shared near-death experiences from loved ones or patients. This was my response, and is a snapshot of where I’m currently at in my own journey:
I grew up devout Mormon. Left the faith a few years ago after coming to the conclusion it isn’t what it claims to be and also after coming to believe there is profound harm being perpetrated onto many others by its leaders and theology (many women and many minority groups).
I don’t personally believe any religion has “the answer.” However, I don’t have a problem believing in a higher power. If there is an afterlife where our souls continue, that would be cool. I also am comfortable with the concept that after I die, my essence will continue as a chain of interconnected events and happenings in the universe as a part of the universe just as it has for billions of years already for me to get here.
We are all star dust.
I definitely think spirituality and religiosity are separate, though can also be connected.
After my grandfather died a few years ago, I had a vivid experience of him being on a jog with me for about a half hour. My mind’s eye could vividly see him and I vividly felt his presence jogging next to me in a younger happier form. (He spent the last 15 years of his life confined to a wheelchair and barely able to talk from a massive stroke). I also knew I was having this experience within my mind’s eye. That I wasn’t literally seeing him in the same manner as the physical world I was running in.
… I treasured and still treasure this experience and don’t think it was a hallucination at all because I wasn’t actually seeing anyone or anything there other than my physical world around me. Yet the experience felt so vivid and comforting.
Did my Grandpa pay me a visit? I don’t know. I think it would be awesome if he did. I’m also comfortable with the idea that the entire experience was a deeper manifestation of my imagination and own internal imagery and the love we had for each other and my brain’s attempt to make sense of everything and come to a resolution after his death.
That this was good. He was now free to run.
Is there an afterlife? Yes. For sure. Is this composed of anything beyond us being worm food and our memory and influence continuing to influence others after our death? I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter much to me anymore.
What matters most to me now is cherishing the present and the people in my life now. This may be my only chance to cherish and experience them as such. I come from the universe, am part of the universe, and this may be my only microsecond (in the grand scheme of things) as “Jason.” Trying to treasure and value it.
Jason Harris lived as an orthodox Mormon for forty years. He writes about his experiences leaving the Mormon Church and reconstructing a new World-View. He believes all religions and scripture are man-made, potentially helpful and harmful. He believes there is Divinity in all of them and everywhere.