Nope, it's not what you think it is.
The end-of-life and death experiences are spiritual journeys, not religious ones.
To paint the experience in a religious light, aka “you will never die!,” you diminish the sanctity and magic of the event and may cause the dying to suffer greatly; not believing they’ve measured up to the strict standards of the religion.
I’ve been a registered nurse for thirty-eight years, with a concentration on hospice for the last eighteen. I began my nursing career in a magnificent facility: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. Next I had successive responsibilities, first at a tough inner-city emergency room, then at a community hospital, then as an intensive care unit float nurse in a major city hospital, and I also taught nursing a few years. Finally, I became a Hospice and Home Care nurse in the a community and lived on a small horse farm as I raised my family.
Working with the dying, I became tired of the narrow choice in books about the subject, mostly best-selling books with strong religious overtones. I was inspired to write my memoir after complaining one last time that the public deserved to read about the real end of life experience, without all the veneers of guilt, shame, redemption and repentance. (As I write this, I’m reminded of the forty-five year old man with slight development disabilities who kept failing the tests for admittance to the priesthood. Sadly, he had had an anxiety-laden death because he didn’t think God wanted him.)
My nonreligious memoir about dying will anger some people and others will begin praying for my soul. So be it.
I was raised to be a daily communicant Roman Catholic, by a Puerto Rican mother and an Old World Italian father. I know the Latin Mass verbatim and when I travel around the world, the first thing I do is go to visit the neighborhood religious edifices. I love the scent of incense, the sound of the prayers from the altar to the minarets. As I I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve eaten in small cafes where the locals eat. In Turkey, I learned that Jesus and his twin brother Thomas had lived in a Buddhist temple for fourteen years. Thomas left early, but Jesus stayed. As I read the great books, I began to realize that Jesus says the same thing as Buddha. When man began translating his deeds and words decades after he died, there was great journalistic license taken to “modernize” these texts. The translations certainly are a reflection of the times—patriarchy, feuding kings, wars, violence and the oppression of females and the suppression of sex as an evil are ideas that run throughout the great books. The contradictions call for violence and hypocrisy is evident in the various versions.
If you are still with me, you know this.
This is why I wrote my memoir, so readers can witness the real lives at their end, in the stories of the people I have cared for. When all vanity is stripped away, the body is weak and preparing to shut down. But the spirit! Ahh, the love, the quieting of the mind that can take place—that is when we are most alive.
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