Death, Dying, and Dear God….

I wrote in my last post about death. The basic concept that people cling to silly religious beliefs because the thought of DEATH, of not knowing what happens when we die, is so damn frightening that people will believe just about anything. Anything to assuage those fears of suddenly becoming NOTHING.

This week, death came to visit our family. Mr. Death was downright unfriendly. On Friday, he tried to drag my brother-in-law into his murky realm of unknown, during a routine back surgery. I don’t think back surgery is ever really routine, but as far as it CAN be routine, this one was. It was a shock to go to the hospital, and discover that this father of five, three older children with babies of their own, and two young children with my sister, was teetering on the brink of death. A vein was torn, he began to bleed out, and it required two vascular surgeons four hours to bring him back from the brink of death. We heard “He might die” more than once. He might die.

And as we all faced his mortality, and in tandem, our own, I saw the look on all the faces of our family. The unknown. The “what the hell happens now?” My sister could think of nothing but her “poor man,” never once thinking of what I did: she would be left to raise two young children, one special needs and one high maintenance, alone. That speaks, of course, for her own courage and compassion.

But she would be alone. My BIL’s father lost a son last year, in a horrifying motorcycle accident. To lose another this way seemed beyond cruel.

My BIL’s three grown children lost their own mother when they were very, very young. To lose their father now…. Unthinkable. Terrifying.

It’s no wonder people want to know.

And so, I composed this little letter to God. I do not write this saying that I believe in a “God,” especially the Mormon God, but I don’t really know there ISN’T a higher power either. For some people, this is heresy. For others, it’s just mind boggling. You have to know, you can’t possibly NOT know.

Well, actually, yeah, you can, because no one actually KNOWS. They just THINK they know.

“I know this church is true….”

Because, my mommy and daddy told me so?

Because I prayed about it, and it felt right?

Because if I close my eyes and don’t think about it real hard, I can “feel” the spirit?

One time I went to an Assemblies of God church, and during a song, when everyone was waving their arms and praising Jesus, and this one really strange lady did the whole speaking in tongues thingie, I felt something crawl up my spine and I could have sworn it was the spirit. Later, I’m wondering if it was a bug or spider. Because, see, there I was in that crowd, and we were all a group, singing and praising Jesus, and it just felt so RIGHT. So together. So peaceful and honest and forthright.

Of course, when I was alone later, and my pasta pie turned out good, I didn’t yell out “Praise Jesus,” because it just didn’t feel the same. And yet, why was it different? If God was with me at the church, why did he not follow me down to my little house to eat some good food? Or at least hang out for a while and let me get to know him?

The truth, of course, was that you can pretty much convince yourself of anything when you are in a crowd of people saying the same thing. I mean, at a Motley Crue concert, just about everybody thinks they are the coolest band ever, except those of us who aren’t tone deaf. Sorry, MC, but you just don’t do it for me.

Religion thrives on masses of people getting together to proclaim truth.

Despite the claims of many that religion is deeply personal, it is anything BUT personal. Those who believe things that cannot be proven seek constant validation. If you do not validate their beliefs, they often condemn you. Sometimes they hurt you. And they even kill you, because they MUST do so if you question their belief.

Because they KNOW, and you are wrong.

Back to my little letter to God:

Dear God, if all of these churches are true, and they all claim to be the ONLY true thing, how should I know? How WILL I know?

Joseph Smith supposedly heard from God himself that all of these churches were abominations. He should join none of them. Yet a true timeline shows he did JUST that, joining the roles of another church, just after talking with the Big Man. That alone speaks volumes about the real Joseph Smith.

The truth is, none of us will ever know what happens when we die, because the dead aren’t talking.

I’m just glad my BIL is still here with us speaking, even if he’s bearing his testimony. Love can cross those boundaries of religion, no matter what people will tell you.

I will always be me. It won’t change the way I feel about my family. If you need the comfort to sleep at night, more power to you. Just don’t start flying planes into buildings…. Please.

RIP, Aunt Doris, who died early the next morning, the day after Paul was saved.

My mother says she “crossed the veil.”

I say she was old, and her body gave out. And somewhere out there, her positive energy is floating around now, spreading good will to those who deserve it.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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12 Responses to Death, Dying, and Dear God….

  1. worm says:

    I’m glad he made it too…
    I still don’t understand the equation of two vascular surgeons being the hand of God, but I’m glad he made it.
    Your sister’s devotion to him was the bravest behavior I have ever experienced.

    But, still…I failed to see God’s hand in it…


  2. lost no more says:

    Have enjoyed reading your blog for quite some time. I was like many who write back to you – struggling to get rid of those “ties that bind” and choke, emotionally hurt. BUT, finally, I’ve done it. I’ve been given the joy of sharing all the time I can with my children, grandchildren and most wonderful husband. My children taught me to challenge THE (HA) church – they taught me – bless their hilarious soles! Now I share with them how I feel with the diagnosis I have been giving – No expiration date on the “C” I have but I know it is hanging on pretty tight but my family and Dr. are hanging in there a little stronger. I know when I die that I will be free of a lot of things and able to do and see a whole new way of life – ride the wind ?, walk in the ocean? chase blown flower seeds, feel no pain, and anything else I want. No guilt in my life – freedom will be fun – no fear, my friends, no fear. Keeping writing and I’ll keep reading.


  3. lost no more says:

    Okay, it is souls – I know, I know – Perhaps I’ll need soles to walk all over my new world!



    Dear Natalie: sorry to hear about Doris ..will see you tomrrow at the funeral ….Glad your BIL is up and hoepfully getting ‘ better…the only way I know whats going on with your family is reading you web page….

    Black mail you?? really! If I were to do that…. what do you have that I would want??? (smile)


  5. Worm says:

    Cuz steve, her new body guard might take exception to blackmail


  6. Emes says:

    Thank you for your well written piece. Many of us unfortunately have read horror stories about the funeral business. Regrettably there are companies selling cremation urns online which are not much more reputable. While they spend lavish amounts of money on web sites dripping with sympathy – many of these companies are nothing more than a site that drop ships product. Beware of sellers that do not have a physical address or the names of the principals of the company on the site – what are they hiding from? I had an issue with a company called Perfect Memorials ( ) and there was no one from the company that would talk to me. While I could call to order an urn – I could not speak to an owner or manager over the phone – they insisted that we only communicate via email. An evasive tactic if I ever saw one! Perfect Memorials is really a company that invested heavily in the web – but puts very little into the human contact part of the funeral/memorial industry. I would be careful of and others like them.


  7. Worm says:

    Ekes…are they owned by the Mormons? Or are you just venting about bad business practices? You lost me at cremation.


  8. nrg-1 says:

    I’m just glad he made it


  9. Debra says:

    Religion is confirmation bias at its finest and its most annoying.
    One “sheep” says “baaah” and another sheep looks at him–not wanting to leave him alone to be ridiculed and will pipe up: “baaah, baaaaaaah”…then the other sheep look at each other and say “they must know something we don’t and they say “baaaaah, baaaaah , baaaaaaaah”. Before long, everyone is in agreement and “it” becomes fact because everyone has talked each other into whatever crazy thing it is they are bleeting about. This process must be repeated often when all the sheep are together (think Fast and Testimony meeting) as a means to reinforce what is actually unprovable.
    Now as you have said, there is no proof there is not a God. In fact, I hope there is one and that he has a great sense of humor. He’d have to or he would not have created humans.


  10. Cara says:

    Just wanted to say that I found your blog by hopping around and really like it. Love your writing. Wish I could find a way to “convert” my blog. That last time I wrote anything I liked was around the time we left the church last year. I don’t know what to write anymore that would be real. Hmmm, maybe my Mom was right when she said Heavenly Father didn’t like my blog. 🙂


  11. Natalie says:

    Hey Cara, welcome!!

    Just blog your life, and you’ll be AMAZED at how freaking hilarious it is.


  12. Molly says:

    Hello! I enjoyed reading your post. It put me in mind of a piece I read recently called “The Instant” by Merih Turkdogan. It’s about the last second on earth of an ordinary man, and the journeys he goes through and characters he meets in that last moment of his life. It presents themes of living life to the fullest while we’re here on Earth and connecting with our true self. It’s really great and the tone is superb! Here’s the link – I highly recommend it.


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