What is the meaning of dying?

57 answers | Last updated: Nov 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What is the meaning of dying? Where is my mother now?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

This is the hardest of questions -- made especially hard since your mother isn't sitting beside you to give you an easy answer, like she probably used to do.

Both the meaning of dying -- beyond the end of life and we know it -- and where and whether a person exists after death depend on your own personal beliefs.

If you are floundering with this, consider discussing the issue and the possibilities with people you trust: friends, spiritual advisors, close family members. Also consider the old-fashioned method of going into a library or bookstore or library and immerse yourself in a title or two that just beckon to you for some reason or another.

And be prepared for surprises: Many people find that the death of someone close, particularly a parent, opens their hearts and minds to new ways of looking at the issue and to new beliefs.

Community Answers

Oj3 answered...

Death is certainly not whatever we choose to think it to be. It can only be understood in the context of the Author of Life, God. It is not about individualism, hedonism and minimalization which are all defieincies wrought for want of discipline. The answers are in the Church in which Jesus left us a sure voice on issues of faith and morals..."Upon this rock I will build my Church..." One lives within two areas of truth...faith and reason. Reason does not contain the answers to questions about life after death.

Not myself answered...

To OJ3: I am a bit taken aback at your response to the question here. Death may very well be as you suggest, understood only in the context of the Author of Life, God. Or, it may not. I am not a believer. This is appalling, I know, to people of faith. I just wrote three very long paragraphs in response to your post, and then deleted them. Suffice it to say that I think this is not the place for adamant religious responses to those who are wrestling with issues of loss and death. If you are correct, then every religion other than Christianity is wrong? You would say yes. Those of other faiths would disagree. There is no resolution in a simple statement of faith, except for the person making the statement. If one of another faith makes a different statement, that is as true for them as yours is for you. This is not a statement of relativism. It's just a fact. Perhaps this is not the appropriate forum--I don't know. What I do know is that faith is something you either have or don't. And what that faith entails is NOT the same for every person.

Caldwell answered...

I guess I don't really understand the question. Why would death - which is an event, simply part of life's process, have an intrinsic 'meaning'? It just 'is'. It is simply the end of life. Over time, having felt a great loss, you hopefully will find that you've learned some things that have great meaning to you - but I suspect that is not that the event had meaning, but rather that you found personal meaning in it. Some level of understanding, or meaning, would be what evolves from your own situation and is specific to you.

I wish you well!

Barb the cat lady answered...


Rrc answered...

I think what OJ3 was trying to get across is we have to look to the bible and prophesies for answers. Also the church. You can not deny that what was written a thousand years ago in the bible and scriptures is or already has hapened in the world.Without the help of god how could so many different scholars corectly predict what would happen in the future,where and when it would happen. When my wife died in May of this year of Alzheimer's I started reading a lot trying to find answers about afterlife and god. You would be amazed at what is in the bible alone. Let your beliefs guide you but don't overlook God's written word. rrc

Frena answered...

i'm so sorry for your loss.

i'm also sorry that some people dont have the decency to respect your grief and your question but choose to be preachy. clearly a person who would do that understands so very little about love and loss and how the heart feels.

it's good to think and feel long and deep about these issues. and i suggest you talk to others who have lost and grieved.

i have learned most about death from being with the dying and staying after their death. it's from that, and listening to others talking about experiences of being with someone before, during and after dying.

from that alone i have learned everything i now know about the nature of life and death, what happens in dying (and why) and that the spirit does indeed live on.

these are all pretty usual experiences too. about 70 percent of all americans have them but they usually keep quiet about them. when and if you feel ready, i'd suggest you even think about volunteering with hospice to be a visitor. it would answer most of your questions, which are really questions of feeling and love, not intellectual enquiry.

As you can see from [NAME REMOVED], a head full of rigid thinking doesn't get you far. but a loving and caring heart will get you to all the answers you need. blessings for your journey.

Barb the cat lady answered...

i think that Frena is some what right.i lost my mom in july of this yr. i was with her when she was in hospice. the people there are caring and loving and compassionate. i was there with mom and they were very loving and were there when i was feeling low. even her doctors were were caring. wen mom paases away the staff came in and gave me hugmand said how sorry rhey were for my lost.that meant a lot to me.npow what oj3 said about the church and God is true. faith is the answer to death, not reason. only god knows what the reason is , we shoudn't question him . my mom's spirit is always with me. she is with me inspirit and in my heart. she is with her maker. he is taking care of his child.that is what he does. reading the bible , you will find answers. god is always with you.

Donoharm answered...

Frena: Thank you for posting. That phrase, "questions of feeling and love, not intellectual enquiry" is a base for me. I lost my Mom in June 2009 and the feelings of loss are deeper today. Hospice Grievance Counselor is helping me to get a grip on these feelings and recognize and accept. I thank Hospice every day. I send you a hug through this posting. Thank you again.

Frena answered...

i'm so glad, donoharm,that you are letting Hospice help you with the grief of your loss. that is so smart and adult of you. i wish more people who freeze up with grief would do that. as far as i understand it, grief is not so much a feeling (which of course it is too) but a process, a movement, a flow and also a river which carries us on into full life again.

and yes, death is an event, inevitable for all living beings, including us. but certainly not meaningless. while it's deeply true that how we find meaning in love, loss and living on is important, death itself does have meaning anyway. it means: we all die, so living requires us to live meaningfully in -- we hope -- love, kindness, compassion and as much fun as a decent human being can stand.

so donoharm, you'll never lose the love you had with your dear Mom. as you heal from grief, i'll bet your sense of connection will grow in additional ways and your wisdom even more. and you'll have a heck of a great feel for reaching out to others hurting.

power for your journeying!

Frena answered...

is this the same barb-the-cat-lady who said,"i think that Frena is some what right," just a little further up there?!

you know, barb, i don't imagine everyone agrees with everyone all the time, do you? is that even really important in a setting where caregiving and caring for each other is supposed to be the focus? not religious education. or intrusion into the spiritual being of other caregivers. but how we as humans, in all our imperfections, manage the art and struggle of caregiving.

what i commented on was a person who started quoting Biblical rules and laws at someone else's suffering instead standing by them in a supportive, human, caring fashion, like good neighbors, family and friends would do.

read again what that person said in his sermon: "It is not about individualism, hedonism and minimalization which are all deficiencies wrought for want of discipline. The answers are in the Church in which Jesus left us a sure voice on issues of faith and morals."

call me anything you like, but THAT sounds stern and know-it-all to me. and you know full well that no-one in Hospice ever said such a thing to you when you were grieving your Mom. they honored your grief, as i do also honor your grief.

you are right. This IS a place where suffering people and caregivers with issues come together, side by side, as caring hearts. it is NOT appropriate for unfeeling self-righteous people to preach over the sorrows of others.

and if you think it's self-righteous of me to say so, well, goshypopaloosa, barb, that's a shame. but that's okay.

Barb the cat lady answered...

frenda, i was my mom care giver. i KNOW THE ART AND STRUGGLE of caregiving, hospice was very caring and supportive for me. i have only good things to say about them. i am a very caring person myself,so i know all about loving and caring. i was my parents caregiver for a long time. so i know about caring. i am a believer. THAT IS MY CHOICE.with oj3 , he was not conpassionate with the person. he was expressing his beliefs ,which he is allowed to. some people have a hard time telling their feeling to others as they are going through the same .it happens. this is a place for helping others with their lose and grief. some times people get carried away when they are trying to answer these questions. i try to help and say the right thing and sometimes you don't know if you are or not. it is the person who makes that decision.

Doda answered...

What I believe about death is the end of life in this world and it is the process and the way to the eternal life either good one or unpleasant one,and when someone die his or her soul go out of the body to a place no one knows what it is or where that place until the day of judgment all souls returns back to its bodies in order to receive its fate depend on what that soul did in this life

A fellow caregiver answered...

Hi ,I'm sorry for your loss of Mother, and also your confusion as to what is death and where is she now.

She is asleep in death, and lives in the memory of God to awaken her at a later time, and be restored to her original self. If she was handicapped, she will not be ,when she returns.

In order to find the Correct answer to these questions, you Must have a Bible, and believe in Creation and not evolution. Example: If you were to purchase things of quality,say an appliance or a new car.THEY WOULD COME WITH A WARRANTY AND INSTRUCTION MANUAL. God in heaven ,our creator put us on earth with a purpose and a promise. We were to reproduce , and populate the earth. The promise is /was IF we followed his directions, we would not die but have everlasting life. The Bible is in effect an Owners Manual.It very clearly states that upon death we return to the earth , in a sleep state, awaiting the resurrection, and then the whole earth will be cleansed,those in their memorial tombs will hear their names and come out of the ground and made new.Bible says for 1000 yrs. the Devil,Satan will be thrown into an abbes,so that mankind will be able to live a life of perfection,and see what it is not to be tempted by wrong doing by Satan. Then Satan will be let loose for a short time to do his chance to corrupt man again.Mankind will have a choice and given a second chance to follow God's ways, to worship him or To be misled and go the way of Satan and die a final ,2ND death from which there is no return. Then is when Life will be eternal, on Earth . If there WAS a hell or heaven after death , would not one of those ones whom Jesus brought back to life ,(in public as an example of a few of his Miracles)Why would they not tell someone where they were? What a cruel thing ,if they were in Heaven, to be brought back to life only to die again at a later date. The dead Know nothing, pain,memory,or suffering, they are asleep.(probably where the term Rest In Peace came from. God is a spirit being, and he has enormous love for us, he does NOT kill people. Satan , and accidents, or unwise decisions,unforeseen circumstances, will take our life, But God does not "call us home". The last book of Revelations, explains what will happen to this earth and he allowed several profits to see in a vision of the mightiness. Bible also tells us that Satan is the god of this system ,therefore ,we have pain, missery, and only know badness from a lot of misled ones.

Christopher1 answered...

I don't understand how a book that has so many inconsistent and incorrect things can be used by so many in something so great as life and death. Creation is described in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 as occurring in six "days". Which is great and all but it simply didn't happen that way. Also how did the light start on day one, when the stars didn't pop up till day 4. I can go on and on with all the mistakes in the good book. The problem is people are hardwired to survive and the process of inevitable death is outside that programming. We then invent things like Religion to make the process more palatable instead of using these people to help stave it off or one day completely remove it. Rage against the dying of the light and live life to the fullest each day. Stop the arrogance and start making the world a better place.

In closing I am sure someone will lash out in anger at this post. A majority of religious zealots cannot handle blind faith being questioned. Doing so will of course crush the cycle of getting raised from an early age to believe a certain way. Don't do it please. Take a look and do research. If you truly believe in what you read awesome. But don't tell me things like the moon landing was faked, carbon dating doesn't work, and my favorite the Dinosaurs don't exist. I am sure your lost mother was loved, and her memory and DNA will live on in you and any siblings you have. Also remember that matter cannot be created or destroyed, so she is still around and perhaps we simply don't understand all the mysteries of the multiverse yet.

Barb the cat lady answered...

Christopher1, how dare you talk that way....DON'T put down something that you really don't understand. who made you? you really are making me very angery.you really could care less, how many people you are making mad. you can't change the world. it is what it is. your thinking is not any better. it is worse. IT IS NOT BLIND FAITH. it is a faith that is strong and i stronglly believe in GOD. you are very insenitive to this person losing their mother. do you still have your parents around? if you do, you are lucky. people that don't have the parents with them, it is sad for them. [i know , i lost my mom ayear ago.} both my parents are gone. believe what you want, but some day you are going to have to answer to your creator. are you prepared for that?

A fellow caregiver answered...

To: Anonymous

From: Servant in truth


Allow me to first say that God and His Word the Bible has much to do with dying and death.

It tells us how we were initially created and to grow as a family continually filling the earth by way of procreation.

If those who are truly suffering a loss were to drop their defensive mechanism and attitude and took the time to read what God has to say they may come to understand the original plan for mankind in that, he (mankind) was to live forever and not die because he was created in perfection. Satan, however, tempted and caused the first woman, Eve to betray God and later she got her husband to disobey (to sin) also, they disobeyed God's one request (command/requirement) and because they did so, they "fell from His grace" and lost perfection - God's gift for their bodily structure and function along with paradise "“ their home.

Now, since they were no longer perfect they would now feel and see the aging, ailing and dying process of the family of man. But God's true plan is to restore the earth and His creation to live forever on His planet; but again, He has a requirement (command/requirement) to follow.

By the way, God's word does not teach things such as a "soul" and that goes to heaven upon ones death or that we are being guarded or watched over by our departed loved ones "“ not taught in the Bible but taught by man through his lack of knowledge and truth along with the misguided hope "they" will enter into heaven at the end of their life.

Life"¦ The start of organic biological growth and activity with the physical means to support function(s) of the body the means of life support; air (the breath of life), blood (the bodies life force which is sacred to God) and the provisions needed to fuel the body.

Soul"¦ Really, His Word does say, when God blew into the man's nostrils the "spirit" of life or "the breath of life, he became a living "soul." The Bible also says, "the soul that is sinning, it itself will surely die."

We are all sinners because of Adam and Eve "“ Satan interrupted God's original plan but he did not stop it which is why His son came to the earth"¦ to teach about God's desire and will, to preach the truth of God's Word, to make disciples of men (mankind) and to sacrifice His life to make the everlasting life that Adam lost possible for us.

Death"¦ The end of organic biological activity, the lack of the electrical energy which are necessary for impulses to regenerate cell production that would sustain life, wear down thus the worn out soul slowly ceases to live on. God's Word says "that the living know they will die but the dead themselves know nothing at all" because there are no more activities being experienced "“ they are dead and have "returned" to the ground from which they (beginning with Adam) were taken. Adam did not go to heaven but returned to the dust of the earth (ground).

Sadly, non-believers, doubters and nay-sayers concerning God's presence today (as in the past) do consider or believe that many different gods exist not just one supreme being or they believe there are no gods but only the god of their own reasoning and logic.

Truly, does a one and only God sound impossible? His presence, his love, his desire for us to succeed has always been and it is taught in His book. What have the other gods of Eastern origin and philosophy taught us that He (God) hasn't? Let's not overlook the fact that He and His teachings were here for us long before man departed from Him and created their own gods as they roamed the ground to "satisfy" there lives or to show how to behave with another be it man, woman or child.

Recall, love you neighbor or enemy? How about the story of the "Good Samaritan" who help an enemy, a Jew who was his brother (family) in reality? How about being peaceable with all men? How about knowing how to forgive another or to care for the poor or to be a "father" to an orphan "“ there are more admonitions in God's Word but the most import one is to love your God with your whole soul (with your whole being/self), and to love God whole heartedly (with a complete [and obedient] heart).

Indeed, God and His Word have much to do when dealing with the dying or the state of the dead in death.

In these type of "Question and Answer" formats (Meaning of death)the thought of God's love and promises concerning life and death are offered to cause one to consider more than what he/she might be depending on to carry them through something as hurtful, depressing and sad as death"¦

Question: How do you think God felt when stubborn unbelieving, nay-saying men under the influence of Satan, the "god of this world" (as Christ labeled him) put Jesus to a torturous death "“ a death not by accident or of natural causes"¦ to whom did He turn to for solace? I believe what was to unfold (his plan from when Adam sinned) left no room for Him to be concerned or question the outcome because His will is what was and will take place and be done.

Although the days of miracles has past still we have Him to call out to for what we may need at that time to support us - it is called faith. Indeed, it is He we can depend on for there are no other (pagan) god(s) created and given a name by man to assist. There is no other god to give peace of mind or solace for the heart. Where is there a god before the Creator that will speak to bring peace to one's mind or to caress one's heart to ease the pain of any ill condition suffered by oneself or a loved one? Answer? There is none to help unless of course you seek the one created by man that offers false hope and promises - those things which were created by man.

Ponder on the Word of God and gain a knowledge of what He has planned for all who have died before us and will die after us until the day He takes back control (from Satan) all of His creation to include the family of man.

Note: Scriptural references paraphrased

Barbthecatlady answered...

sorry for your lost. i lost my mom last july.it is very hard to explain death. to me death means that the body is no longer here, but their spirit is. i believe that my mom is with her creator ,and is in no more pain.God is taking care of his children.[our moms and love ones]. they are safe and in a better place.it is verd hard when you lose someone you love. i still think about my mom all the time.you have memories of your mom ,and should cherish them. again iam so sorry for your lost. my prayers are with you. i hope this helped you some.

Wonderfulworld answered...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. I lost my mom on Dec 26 and I miss her very much. I miss her warm hugs and big smile.

I am an atheist so I don't believe my mother is in a better place or a worse place. She exists in my memory and the memories of everyone who loved her.

I see much more meaning in her life and the wonderful things she did for others than in her death.

Take care. My heart goes out to you. May you find peace in your fond memories of your mom.

Barb the cat lady answered...

I am sorry for the lost of your mom. i lost my mom a year ago in july. you have meomories of your mom and cherish them. her smile, and things she did for others. you had a good and caring mom . again i am sorry for your lose. take care.

On the journey answered...

All of us who have been through this process hope you find comfort. Your second question provides the foundation for the first question. All human beings have a spiritual intelligence that is joined with a physical form during their time in mortality. Most of us live to old age and experience various degrees of happiness and suffering. A few of us leave this life very early under seemingly unfair circumstances. Your mother completed her life in the shared experience of many before her and many after her. The spiritual intelligence of each person lives after mortal death. All of us are influenced (or not influenced) to form some concept of what happens after death. None of us really know, and all of us will eventually know. Try to be at peace with the human experience. We celebrate when a new individual joins our family; there is profound accomplishment when one leaves us. You will someday be with your mother again. You will be with all of those you love again. Trying to visualize what that is like may not do it justice. Live your life in a meaningful way, give a little more than you receive, and learn from this experience. I hope you find joy in your life.

Jonesklm answered...

I had cancer five years ago and was given a week to four weeks to live and the prospect was daunting, to say the least. I "died" three times during the recovery period and felt as if I was dying on one other time. I had no light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel experiences that we often hear about. I was here and then I was NO WHERE. Or to put it differently, I...me...myself...just no longer existed. NOTHING is not a scary place. Now, maybe there is a place we all go upon dying and I never experienced it or cannot remember it. Either way, the thing I learned about dying is that it no longer frightens me. Either we will go on or we won't but either way is okay and shouldn't frighten anyone. My "death" had meaning to me. I have an entirely different outlook on LIFE now. I used to be easily angered. I used to worry about money matters and what others thought of me. I learned that none of that is important in the overall scheme of things. It is how we treat our brothers, sisters, friends and strangers that is what is important. It is how we live our lives. What we do with what we have. Who we help along the way. When my mom died recently, she was hanging on waiting for me and my children to come to see her one last time so she could meet her new great grand daughter and see us one last time. I talked to her in the hospital over the phone when she could no longer talk and was unresponsive to anyone there. I told her that I loved her, that she had always been a great mom and that she didn't have to wait for us...it was okay to shuck the skin and move on to go to Dad if that is what she really wanted to do. She opened her eyes wide and three hours later she died. I hope this helps in some way.

Mike316br answered...

They are DEAD...there is no "God" no heaven..no hell sorry..this is it.

Thee is no soul...all religion is just Santa Clause for adults

Kristine13826 answered...

I am a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints and we believe that we pass on to one of 3 worlds after we leave this one; the Celestrial world, the Terrestrial world and the Telestrial world. There is also the Outer Darkness where Satan and his legion shall be cast . Those who are truly evil. In order to enter the Celestrial world one must repent of their sins, get baptized and receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of the Elders. But that is not all; one must follow Christ's requests to obey HIM and the Prophets and live a holy life by following and obeying the 10 commandments throughout your whole life! It is NOT enough to just say you have been baptized! It is said we will be judged according to how well we used the light given us. It is also said that in the spiritual world if you have not been baptized you may go to the spritual world temple and receive the gift of baptism by proxy. As you no longer have a body, you must needs or borrow a body from another one still living on Earth. This is the gift given by those having been endowed at the Temples as such. How you enjoy life in the spiritual world depends much on how you lived your life here and what your mind set is due to all the practice & deeds you lived here on earth. That is just what I beleive. My faith helps me to face the future. And I am very grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for the gifts I have received.

Shirleybill answered...

Death is simply the departing of the soul from the body, in which the empty body is left here on earth. The sould departs, and goes to rest in a peaceful place waiting on the time, when Jesus returns. That time is close at hand.

Hilaryc answered...

I'm Jewish, was raised strictly in the Jewish faith in accordance with the Old Testament. However, I'm an open minded person in nature which to me opens me up to a variety of religions, faiths, etc. However, I keep religion out of a lot of conversations, posts, etc. because this is what happens...everybody has a right to believe what they do, but you cannot admonish anybody for their beliefs. I have not accepted Christ as my savior, and never intend to do it. I do believe in one GOD that watches over all of us. I believe my Father is in Heaven playing poker with his friends and free of pain. This gives me comfort, and I am allowed to think that way. I am a human being and do not allow religion to dictate who I am as a person while I walk this Earth.

Keala answered...

Aloha: As a wise Kahu(shepherd/Pastor), once stated, We mourn we scream against the finality of death because we know it is not the way things should be.It all goes back to the Garden of Eden. Or as St. Paul wrote, for now we see as through a mirror darkly, but then we shall know as we are now known. Is it not interesting that of all the religions of the world. Only one, has a founder with no tomb, and only one gives an eternal after life, as a gift not something that has to be worked for. Aloha nui loa, Iesu Carolyn Sue KeAla WaiOla Brenneman BSN RN PSU '76'

Sue armentrout answered...

Never knew there were so many theologians out there. You are born; you die; that's it. What matters is whether you filled up your only life or whether you frittered it away. Whatever God there is will care for you in death as in life. "Meaning" is a construct we put upon things and events. Death means whatever you want it to mean. Celestial spheres? Hogwash.

Rude man answered...

Death is nature's way of telling you to slow down.

Jeanib3 answered...

Let me say first and foremost (and most importantly for me), I believe and am a Christian. I have been all my life long. As a consequence, I do not fear death (now, pain is another matter, let's qualify). If I am right in what I believe, as a Christian, then when the end does come (as it does for everyone, regardless of WHAT they believe or do not believe), then I will have lived a life of service to others, love and compassion to those who have needed it, and devotion to the precepts of my faith, and it certainly is my understanding and fervent prayer that I will go to join God and be again in the presence of all the loved ones who have gone before. I have not been "enslaved" by faith, or blinded by it, or forced into behaviors I didn't really want to do out of fear or desire to appear "good" in the eyes of the world. I don't attend church in an attempt to be marked present and thereby win my way to heaven. I go to be a part of the body and work of Christ in the world, as He instructed.

Because I have been a believer, I have had the strength of faith to carry me through troubled times, the warmth of fellow believers to comfort me in times of uncertainty, grief and loss, and the excitement of celebration along with other believers in times of great joy. When, as often has happened, I had questions about specifics such as loss, death, suffering, "senseless" cruelty and all the rest, I have known that God never did say I didn't have the right to ask questions or that He would punish me for asking those questions. Rather, I know that, even when I do not see the answers, that God does. I have learned that "No" or "Not now" are as valid an answer to prayer as "Yes" and so it doesn't make me bitter to not "get what I pray for." Despite the assertions of some who have an immature or incomplete understanding of the uses and workings of prayer, Christianity is not witchcraft; you can't coerce God into doing what you want by repeating words in some ritualized formula or making bargains for what you want.

So, if I am right in my beliefs, then at the end there will be peace and joy beyond all imagining and even perhaps understanding of what it's all about. If I'm wrong, and those who state with such conviction that there is no God, no heaven, nothing after this life but an eternal void, are right...well then, I won't know that, will I? I will have had a life blessed by being surrounded, sustained, protected, and comforted by the Greatest Love, and I will close my eyes for the last time in the expectation of opening them again to all that I believe (there's that word again) will be there for me.

And all those who so assiduously and endlessly deny what I believe - they don't get to say "Nah-nah-nah" because they don't KNOW, either.

There's a little bumper sticker I saw once..."If you're living your life as if there is no God...you'd better be right." That about sums it up.

Roselee answered...

I have been present during a few loved ones passing on from end stage cancer. in one of them the person said that he saw a light and he wanted to see that light again. then he passed. during the second death the person was reaching for something/ or someone and begin to take off the oxygen. neither of these people were particularly religious and they suffered terribly before it was over but at the end they had seen something that gave them a sense of peace and they were ready to stio fighting and go on. i still cannot understand why they had to suffer so but i guess there are things i will never understand.

Barb the cat lady answered...

Jeanib3, amen. you have said it like it is.we will be with our love ones some day. people who don't know GOD, should get to know him and see what he does for them in their lives.my faith as a christian has also gotten me through a lot of rough times. fellowships have been there for me. i have made some wonderful friends,who are there for me. YES there is a God. prayer is important. God will answer prayer in his time, not ours.wait for his answer, and in time he wil let you know.

Keepitsimple answered...

WOW . . . there are many hurting, angry, and resentful people trying to deal with grief and life. For those who like to quote Jesus, here are a couple that have provided a working model for many people of many faiths, all paraphrased: Worry about nothing. Only the Father knows when the end will come. Live your life with love for one another, and worry for nothing. The two greatest commandments: Love your God with all your heart, your soul, and your might. AND, love your neighbors as you love yourself. ABOVE THESE ARE NO OTHERS ! I am saddened when I see good people reduce the joy of living and grieving to name calling and judgmentalism. Did not Jesus also say, let he who has no sin cast the first stone? Let each one of us share our hearts and compassion for those who have lost a loved one. Let the truth that is their memory warm their hearts. Though even our memories may not always hold the truth. What our memories do hold are the reservoirs of the love and sadness that grew from our relationships. After all, isn't that the true meaning of life -- be in relationship with all those around you, treating them with respect and the love you wish to receive. Love, compassion, and respect are the same no matter what religion or philosophy you follow. Lead with your heart, and let each person you meet see the love that lives there. peace, prayers, and blessings to all

A fellow caregiver answered...

It's been two years since I lost my mom to Lung Cancer. My loss still affects me each and every day. Some days are easier than others. I am now getting to the point of being able to remember the good times and funny stories that relate to mom. My sister, on the other hand, still focuses on the negative aspect of mom's death. She won't work and she keeps bringing up issues that are tearing her apart. I just don't have answers for her. It hurts me to see her struggle with serious question what we just can't answer. Like tonight, my sister has had me in tears tormenting me over mom's death.

Barb the cat lady answered...

keepitsimple i agree. people should have love for one another. God is the most important person in my life. he is the only one who know us.i have good memories of my mom that i will cherish for ever. hav compassion for those who have lost a love one. they are grieving and need compassion for them. GOD bless you. this is good advise. thank you.

Barb the cat lady answered...

a. caregiver. sorry for your lost. i lost my mom last July , so i know that it is hard for you, cause i still have days that i miss her so much. you will have good and bad days. she was your mom ,and she will always be with you in spirit,and in your heart. cherish the good times . everyone has differant ways of grieving and sometimes it is hard to let go . i will pray for you.

Blessings answered...

Dear Anonymous,

You have asked the question every soul on this earth has asked since time began, yet no one truly has the answer because there isn't a one of us who can prove, without a shadow of doubt, the answer. Many will profess to know, and in their hearts and minds they want their beliefs to be true, as you have seen from the multitude of replies and strength of statements. However, IMHO, the only thing I know without question, is your mother lives on in your heart and soul and in the eyes and minds of all those who knew her. You will see her shining back at you through treasured memories and physical similarities. It is from these cherished remembrances she will live on. Beyond that, the rest is conjecture and each person's individual perception of their beliefs, which are as varied as the number of souls on this planet. We all wish we had the authoritative answer because that might make our lives easier, but, in reality, not a single soul, even those with the strongest, most vehement statements, can, in actuality, know anymore than the next person stating what they feel in their minds and hearts. We all search for that peace of understanding and want to have the security of knowing our time on this planet has not been for naught and if we live a good life, we will be rewarded with a joyous after-life. However, when it boils right down to it, we each must find the answer that gives us the most peace until it is our time to leave and find the definitive truth.

I am extremely scientific in my approach to life, yet having said that, and because of that, I have also studied many faiths in the hopes of discovering the decisive answer myself. I don't believe in one religion because they are all flawed by the hands of man and have man's trappings attributed to their individual "laws", which again translates to the fact, man's hands are not perfect nor are they omnipotent. Without a doubt, I believe there is a higher power than ourselves. This universe didn't just go "bang" and crash into existence, because there had to be something creating the "bang", so somewhere in the infinite scheme of things, there is an ultimate creator. IMHO, neither science nor religion have evolved enough to know all the facts or truths. Someday, we will be shown the meaning of dying and the meaning of life and where all those who have gone on before have gone. Because ain't none of us getting out of this alive. However, until that day, we all continue to search and find our own individual peace.

Having cared for 5 immediate family members during death, as well as years as a nurse, I have observed and been part of their dying and learned much. In my heart, and through the study of science and faiths, I have found peace with life"¦"¦..and death. It is not my place to expound on my feelings nor try to beat you into submission so you will think one way or another; it is your universal freedom, through asking questions, researching and deciding for yourself the validity of opinions offered by others that you will find your own answers and pathway. I will say, however, every religion I have studied, all the science I have researched, all the people I have been with during the dying process, the one thread that flows through it all is, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you and to thine own self be true".

So where is your mother? All I know for sure, is her physical body is no longer present, but her spirit lives on in many of those still here and if you quietly listen, I know she will continue speaking to you. Through your listening, may you find the meaning of dying. Love, hugs and peace.

Roselee answered...

to blessings, everything you wrote makes a lot of sense. i agee with you. i would like to add that every living thing dies from some cause. in the case of illness a loved one is present for the dying process and watching, hoping praying that the person will somehow not die. could it be that because death is inevitable for all of us we should try to change our thinking of death as some horrible thing to fear and get a different perspective on death? we want to be with them but we dont want to die. is that what the grief is really about?

Caring community answered...

Thank you everyone for sharing your responses on this topic of death and dying. In posting an answer, please remember to keep the Caring.com Community Code of Conduct in mind -- including avoiding personal attacks against those of a different faith or belief system than yours. Differences of opinion are welcome, as long as they're presented respectfully. Your cooperation will help to make sure that Caring.com remains a safe and supportive place for all caregivers across a diversity of perspectives and faiths. Please stay focused on responding to the question, rather than focusing your response on disputing the answers of others. If you have any questions about our site policies, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Thank you!

Dontbesilly answered...

No one knows what happens after we die. Some of us are lucky enough to be with loved ones who seem to see people who have died earlier. Some dying people say things to indicate they are going to die soon. Others appear to see something as they look off into the distance. Recently Steve Jobs' last words have been hugely comforting (Google Steve Jobs last words) and the many comments from others who've had the same experience added to the awesome event. There's a book written by two hospice nurses that has been extremely helpful to many people. It is: Final Gifts by Callanan and Kelley. We can't know what happens but we can search for insights. Another book, Dying Well by Ira Byock M.D. has ways of helping us say goodbye and focuses on the reality of the end of the life of someone we love. Neither book espouses a particular faith community.

Kristine13826 answered...

I am a CNA and also MHTA and a HHA and have been for well over 20 years.I have seen people die hard and seen them die easy.What I was trying to say above is that I think if you have a faith it helps with death. You can be scientific and be extremely educated but it doesn't matter. What matters in the very end is what you BELIEVE. I have taken care of supreme court judges and arch bishops of the catholic church and even a NASA space chief and engineer and a country western music singer's mother throughout the years. Faith and belief often determine how afraid of death you will be.It doesn't matter how much money you have, how much clout you have, how much education you have. But what matters is what someone else said above. It matters more how we treat each other. How much love is in our hearts for the other guy. It's again, what you believe about life and death that will get you there.

A fellow caregiver answered...

the meaning of dying is , 1,to cease to live- approaching death. 2. to cease to function.-to associate with death. 3. given.. uttered ,manifected just before death. dying words. 4. drawing close, ending. your mom is with her creator, who he is taking very good care of her. she is one of his children. i am sorry for your lost. i hope this helps you.

Queenbee10 answered...

Dying is transition. No one knows for certain what happens to a being when it leaves this world. Dying is the name we give to that transformation. Everything that ever exists transforms. It changes. Einstein said "energy is never lost--it is merely transformed" Science knows that this is true. Humans are made up of flesh, blood, but ultimately we also are energy.

We know the body decays--becomes like soil and actually provides nutrients for other living things. But a person is not just their body. They are their smiles, their laughter, their emotions and thoughts--their stubborness or defiance, etc. what happens to all of that "life force?"

I think it is transformed. We transform for all eternity. Even as humans--we are eggs--and our world is an ovary--then we LEAVE (no doubt freaking out all the other eggs) we combine with a sperm if we are lucky and transform to a certain plane (this world) or we die as an unfertilized egg and go to another plane... But then we are a baby in a womb--that is our new world. Eventually we LEAVE--when we have matured or grown as much as we can--we go just like we did as an egg.

When we leave we never go back into the womb--no doubt the body and all the cells are freaked out by this transformation--another world (the body) now is left. Then we come into this world.

We experience all kinds of things and grow in body and mind and spirit. When we have learned our life lessons here or all that can be learned on this plane--it is time to LEAVE.

Every time we leave, we are the all of those wonderous beings but we do not remember them--few people cry because the miss the company of other oocytes (unfertilized eggs in the ovaries), or lament because they miss being in the womb--when we transform we become like a "new creature" and we now are in a new place with new attachments and new experiences. We continue to grow--when we have learned all we can or experienced enough to transform--we LEAVE again.

And that is what has happened to your mom. She has left this world but she is in another. NO doubt she is transformed. No doubt she is experiencing and learning new things and has a new life. So what about YOU? You have the blessed time here that you had and you have the next plane to look forward to.

Will she be your mom then? I doubt it--but I also know that as you transform you will not miss that--you will begin a new journey with new sensations, new senses and even a new state of being. Maybe you will be like a light or like an awareness or like a ....who knows?

But I also think that whereever you go--there will be another transformation after a time and another and another-- until you reach a certain state of perfection. or at least that is my take on all of this.

What I do know and believe is that your mom has gone on--she did not stop with her finite body anymore than she stopped as an oocyte (even though to the eggs she was gone forever) or she stopped as a baby (even though to the surrounding cells she was gone forever) and she has stopped as a human (because on this plane she is gone from you) But she is not done--not by a long shot. She goes ON--and so will you.

Roselee answered...

i understand in think all you are saying about transformation and coming from an egg, a womb and everything but when greif is new and fresh all you really want to do or hear is your departed love being with you again. and you are trying to stop hurting and aching so bad.

Dontbesilly answered...

Roselee has a very good point. And with all due respect queenbee, you can't know what happens after death any more than any of the rest of us. I've been talking about the ideas in the book Dying Well, mainly the four most important things which are: "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you." Reading these answers shows me that these things are being spoken in ways that can be best understood by those dying and those who will be left here for now. Such love there is in all these words and the actions they describe! For the person who asked the question on this page in the first place, I wonder if you "children" could sit in the same room with your mother and have the discussion you want her to be included in just among yourselves and see what happens. It would seem that it would be fairly easy when one of you kids asks a question that only your mother knows the answer to, you could ask her. I would imagine there could be laughter and sadness expressed and that you could communicate with such love even without trying or having an agenda or script. I hope so for you kids and for her.

Ounbbl answered...

Death of man is a biological necessity. If this world has no death of man or any biological beings, it would be worse than any kind of 'hell'.

The matter of concern is how each of us die and what meaning we have of our life. Do we find the Creator? If we don't believe in him, and believe that all evolved from nothing and from monkeys and from swamp chemicals, then, logically, our life would be with no meaning; we shouldn't be thinking about what meaning a death has, or should be wondering about how, when, and why we die.

When we have come to believe in and to know in the loving God who created us, death is just a step beyond which we are coming ho be with Him as all the loved ones shall gather. There is no other hope we want have to face death. It's not our wishful thinking; it is from the loving God.

A minor comment:

the original question 'What is the meaning of dying' is inaccurate. It should be phrased as 'What is the meaning of death' as the readers all took it in.

'dying' is a process and an experience, quite different than 'death' - the fact of being death or the absence/loss of life.

A fellow caregiver answered...

ounbbi, God our creator is the only one who knows what will happen to us. it s just a step beyond being with our creator and our love ones. only it comes from hiim, not our wishful thinking. after all he did create us all.

Wonderfulworld answered...

As an atheist I don't believe there is a directed (supernatural) purpose to life but I see meaning or purpose in what we make of our own lives.

I find meaning in the innocent face of a newborn child, in a beautiful song, a perfect sunset, puppies playing and the sweet scent of Lavender (my late mom's favorite).

Things that give my life meaning make me smile, bring me peace or cause me to remember a loved one long passed. I find meaning in sharing the joys of life with others. Nothing compares to the thrill of having done something that changed someone else's life for the better.

I see meaning everywhere, everyday.

A fellow caregiver answered...

GOD is our creator. he will know when we will leave this earth. he created us. he knows us better than any one . when it is our time, he wil let us know.we will be with him and our love ones when he is ready for us. .

Danitysteacher answered...

Its quite obvious...the meaning of death is life. If death never came we wouldn't appreciate life. The meaning of life is harder...seeing as we have many religions, many laws, many borders, etc. The only way to find out the actual meaning of death, is to find out what YOU live for. Death is NOT inevitable, it is very beatable. Would you believe that if everyone in the wide world knew and loved you, then you'd never die. Didn't think so, thanks for killing the world. Point, Life is, death isn't. Your mom loved you..if she was alive she still would...in spirit she still does. All the people that helped her love you didn't change their opinions because she died. What did change was there ability to see how much stronger you are for keeping you head up.

A fellow caregiver answered...

It doesn't depend on what we THINK. What is real is not based on our beliefs. We need to do everything possible to have some assurance that there is a life after this life. The consequences of not doing that are enormous.

Dontbesilly answered...

Dear Anonymous Caregiver:

Have you had any luck finding that assurance? I've always believed but after losing a loved one ten years ago I have been searching for that (with doubt in my heart). I still believe but when it gets personal all bets are off, you know? Thanks.

A fellow caregiver answered...

To dontbesilly; I do feel your pain. Losing a loved one is extremely difficult. I can assure you on the basis of the Bible that God cares about you and your loss. . The Gospel of John has many promises in it and, if you haven't done so, a conscientious reading of that book can be most helpful.
Someone once said, God always answers prayer. He can say "yes"; He can say "no'; He can say "not at this time" or, he can say, "I'll explain this later."

Kristine13826 answered...

Here is another way to put it; Deepak Chopra says we are not human beings having a spiritual experience rather we are spirits having a human experience! Put in that context your mother simply went back to her true form ; a spirit and rejoined the spirit world. One day all the rest of us will join her! :-)))

Dontbesilly answered...

I have read the book of John. I especially like John 14 - In my Father's house are many mansions, or rooms. I go to prepare a place for you. And then in Luke when the thief asks Jesus to remember him - Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom - and Jesus tells him - Today you will be with me in paradise. I love these words, and I count on them even though the death I spoke of shocked me so that I lost my faith. We can't know what's coming, what happens when we die, so it has to be enough that I know something does - that we all know something does.

'zahc' answered...

03/15/12 I have paused to read most of these posts,and have found much religious bickering, and sabre-rattling, which only seemed to further anger subequent posters. Somehow, all of it just made me heart weary. A few of the posters mentioned that the deceased should be kept on file, as in a sort of memory collection that could only but be sellective, arbitrary, and, as time passes, subject to preferrencial mistakes. When I was very young, for a while, everyone I knew was still alive; I had not as yet been touched by death. The passing of my grandparents, while I was still young, seemed, somehow surreal, and just looking at their old photographs did I find but tennuous connection; mostly, they looked spooky, as if--somehow--the smiling vissages were truncated, and like stage scenery, but that the camera had somehow taken from them their souls. My father died in 1998; together, with his physicians, my mom and were able to keep him home for 5+years, only three of which could even remotely be called quality; instead, the house was transformed into a giant 'sick-room', fillled with life-sustaining medical equipment. He did not die with 'dignity', but fought it to the last, being afraid of it. When my mother died in 2008, I was able to visit her in the nursing facillity scant hours before she died; when I saw her, she did not even look llike my mother, but in a semi-coma, seemed to settle when I spoke into her ear. Suddenly, her eyes opened as wide they could, and she was looking through and beyond me with utmost concentration. When I at last again spoke i her ear, I told her that I loved her; that she and my father were better parents than I could have ever hoped for, or deserved. Then I told her to take the love with her, to always take the love with her, for I secretly believe that its the love that goes on and on. I also said that to my father, and while he was still conscious, he wordlessly mouthed," I love you". I still miss them for the sound of their breathing in the house at night; I miss them for their strong arms that held me, and made everything 'alright'; I miss their kisses and embraces. Especially when the days are long and without purpose, and the nights are cold and bereft of comfort. Now that I am 58, and very ill, I sometimes think of my own mortality. I cling to hopes, as there are no facts. But, if the cessation of life leads to an endless, blackened void, as some unending sleep, to me, then, it would seem that the most important thing is Life, and what we try to make of it. Letting go of endless rancor, or of unfocused rage, envy or false desire, to become more human in our massed Humanity, to love, forgive, and to seek peace. In a way, THAT is the legacy we can leave ourselves. Thank you. 'Zahc'

A fellow caregiver answered...

the meaning of death is simply the absence of life,or the absence of the intelectual soul that provided the potential engery required to keep the organism in motion. there is no tangible scientific or religion evidence that can be used to factually conclude that the soul of a person has a subsequent ethereal existance outside the body.