December 26, 2007

The Language of the Dead


It is my belief that the soul in a human body disperses after death. That does not happen immediately, I envision; but, we become a part of the greater cosmos and step into another state of being.

I cling to this belief in the hopes that there is a larger force than us; a being or community of beings which dispense righteousness in the afterlife. Perhaps the only cure for each person's pain and suffering is to learn the consequences of one's actions while they were living.

In death, observing events which make up our existence is edification for the newly departed. As we rise figuratively or literally from our bodies, we see the world as a distant entity, and we then detach from the bonds which keep us within this dimension. Our lives are displayed from creation to the end and then beyond. We view the past, present, and the future through an extraterrestrial portal in time, yet we are unable to speak. There is no verbal expression, no spoken words in the afterlife. We just are. Whatever guides us, teaches or censures us does so with its presence.

We sense them, and court is held before we finally trespass into oblivion. We are human, and shall always be in any form. The world descends from view, and we are captivated by its disappearance, seeking out those we knew and loved for one last time. The path is clear, and we step ahead to the next scene in the Kinetoscope panorama and leave behind a single message which we implore, as only the departed are able to, that it is seen and interpreted.

Clues from those who pass on can be found in a garden long since left uncultivated with a single rose for a widowed bride. A music box playing suddenly on a mantle on a little boy’s birthday after his daddy is gone, or snow on Christmas morning for the daughter who wanted to make snow angels while wearing new, winter coat that Santa never had the chance to bring for her. We are still here, and we decide which signs are for us, and which are mere coincidence, and we deny, deny, deny, until our own inevitable trial comes. The dead are so powerful.


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30 comments:

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Wonderful post, right up my alley. I tend to agree with you and disagree but that is what makes each of us unique. It's interesting how you came back after Christmas with this post. I have been planning a series of posts along this line as well. Oh well...I guess I leave them until later :-) change my tactic so to speak. Really really good closing paragraph Mike.
I do hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
~JD

Kathy Frederick said...

My dear Mike, you are one of the few writers who can give me the chills when I read a piece. You've done it here and in your last post about magical experiences. You have such a gift. That last paragraph pushed me right over the edge. Wow. Amazing.

footiam said...

Some people believe in the existence of souls, some people don't. The other day I met someone who argued that something that exists can be shown,like your eyes, nose etc but you can't just flaunt your soul to anyone because there is really no soul. Many years ago, in a church, someone says God is like electricity. You can't see it but you can feel it. I do think a person can believe anything but then, what he or she believes doesn't have to be true. It should be enough if he or she feels comfortable and happy and does not bring about suffering to anyone including oneself.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
This piece is the final draft of something I wrote a couple of years after my best friend died in 1985 called “One from the Living.” Some of the lines were “Among these souls interred all around, I feel for them no remorse… Together, they bask there and deny us an end to our agony… Their projects begin anew; an exalted to course to explain what we know to be so tangible; a borrowed stone, a rented plot. Excuse me while I wait to exist.” And, the ultimate line, which I kept intact: “The dead are so powerful.”

The whole piece was about one thousand words long, and I distilled it to its final version which is what you read here. The feelings I had about death, the afterlife, and religion which I framed out in those early verses have changed over the years. I am no longer an angry guy in his early twenties who questions everything and listens to no one. I’ve determined that I can be spiritual, and still disagree with my church. I do believe in God and I also believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God, but I have some issues which I suppose a compassionate Lord in Heaven would permit me to have.

I’m pleased that you liked this post, and friends can disagree on any topic, but it is the respect that they have for each other which forms the bond they share, not their opinions. We will have many great discussions and debates about our views in time, and I appreciate and welcome your opinions, J.D.; but it is your work, your writing, which I have great admiration for. To me, that forms a stronger relationship among us bloggers.

Also, don’t let anything I do here impede what you post on your blog. This was entirely coincidental. I am planning, however, to publish more pieces like this in 2008. I guess that we think alike. Have a Happy New Year, J.D. I wish you and your family all the best. –Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
You make me blush with your compliments. You, by the way, are one of the few writers who can make me laugh out loud when I read your work. Dave Barry is one of those few who can do that for me. You have the same ability to take real-life situations and find the silliness, awkwardness, and the downright stupidity in people, and re-tell it with an authority that is just plain funny. Keep filling your Junk Drawer (what an appropriate and brilliant title for your blog) and I will keep reading. BTW, that last paragraph in this piece was tough to write. Have a Happy New Year!
-Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy,
You make me blush with your compliments. You, by the way, are one of the few writers who can make me laugh out loud when I read your work. Dave Barry is one of those few who can do that for me. You have the same ability to take real-life situations and find the silliness, awkwardness, and the downright stupidity in people, and re-tell it with an authority that is just plain funny. Keep filling your Junk Drawer (what an appropriate and brilliant title for your blog) and I will keep reading. BTW, that last paragraph in this piece was tough to write. Have a Happy New Year!
-Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Ooops, I hit the button twice, lol.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Footiam,
I believe the soul is kind of like electricity too. You can’t see it, but you can feel it. I love the last line of your comment: “It should be enough if he or she feels comfortable and happy and does not bring about suffering to anyone including oneself.” You’re a good and compassionate person, footiam, and I am lucky to have made your acquaintance. Thanks for reading and for a fine comment. Happy New Year! –Michael.

josey said...

mike, this reminds me of an elderly neighbor, janet (now nearly 90), who with her husband, used to take me to church when i was little. years later, my mom told me janet didnt believe in anything after you die...that once you die, that's it.

it really leaves me speechless.

maybe its because to me, all hope we can have in this life comes from the fact that i believe we have a spirit that embodies our physical self--not a physical body that houses a spirit. and i believe once we die, our spirit lives on in a way we will never understand until we draw our last breath.

our spirit lives on in earthly forms through our children, a memory, a good deed, a hobby passed on...and knowing that we can continue to inspire, comfort and--in a cosmic sort of way--still LOVE those left behind is all that hope is. why else would we even care about what we have done when it's our time to leave this world?

you amaze me yet again with thoughts that are so hard to put in writing. i love your second to last sentence: "...we decide which signs are for us..." i wonder if it could be that if something catches our eye or captures a memory in our heart, it wasn't coincidence. it was meant for us, to bring us hope. because again, if everything is merely coincidence, why ever have hope for good things to come or that we should leave some sort of legacy to benefit those we love?

i can hardly believe you condensed such a profound work of art into just a few short paragraphs!! i apologize for my rambling...you (and JD!) always get my gears turning and i just cant shut up! LOL.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey,
I appreciate that you consider my short piece here to be profound work. Your comment made my day. In my response to JD, I stated that this piece is based on something I wrote back in 1985 after my friend died. Since then, I’ve been able to come to terms with my religious beliefs and I understand the difference between my relationship with God and my problems with the church. I don’t believe that there is nothing after death. Certainly, there is too much going on to suggest otherwise, and we are privy to such signs and messages from beyond, but we choose to ignore, deny, and explain away many of them.

I love your comment: “our spirit lives on in earthly forms through our children, a memory, a good deed, a hobby passed on...and knowing that we can continue to inspire, comfort and--in a cosmic sort of way--still LOVE those left behind is all that hope is.” I think that you could have written this post more cogently than I did. Your words here are elegant. Thank you for your comments, Josey, they mean a lot to me. Happy New Year! -Michael.

Elaine said...

Hi Mike,

Must admit this one took me back today when I first read it. Not because of the subject matter, just wasn't expecting it following Christmas. As always a wonderfully written piece.

This may sound very odd coming from someone who works in healthcare and have witnessed many deaths. My job has always been to make the "passing" as peaceful and painfree as possible. I am a patient advocate and if that means telling family members to take their squabbles out into the hall I will do so. I could tell you horror stories of family members still going at it as "Mom or Dad" leaves this world.

My thoughts on death and dying are shaped from experience and from the teachings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Like Josie I believe our spirit lives on...we can be remembered for our good deeds and there are those who will only be known for their bad. I've witnessed beautiful deaths surrounded by loving family members and I've witnessed the opposite.

And I rambled way too much here, sorry.

Happy New Year Mike, wishing you and yours all the best in 2008.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,
You’re not the only one who was stunned that I printed such a melancholic piece right after such a joyous holiday, but my timing in life has never been perfect. This is the final version of an essay I began back in 1985, and I finally think I had the intellectual vocabulary to complete it. Also, the experiences in my life added to the overall thematic elements, such as signs from those who have gone before us.

Like you, I’ve seen many people die before my eyes. When I was a police officer, I watched a lot more people than I care to remember die as a result of violence, accidents, and drug abuse. I’m not talking about showing up after they were already gone and filling out a report; I was there when they expired, and it was painful to watch. I try to tell young men and women who ask me what to expect when they join the academy that it is a rough job, and there is no way to explain the grief involved in watching a newborn infant gasping for air, and then dying in a mother’s arms while the mother innocently asks “Is my baby going to be okay?”

I’ve matured some since I wrote these words twenty two years ago. I have more traditional Catholic beliefs as was taught when I was young, but I am able to separate my distrust of the church from my spirituality. Your job as a nurse is a tough one, and I can relate as I have a sister who is a nurse. Also, I met and dealt with many doctors and nurses in emergency rooms as a cop. It takes a special kind of person to do what you do and I admire you for that. I am grateful for your visits to my blog, Elaine. I wish you and your family a Happy New year. Enjoy, be happy, and be healthy. –Michael.

Jack Payne said...

Gosh, man, you sure hit a chord with this one. After a cataclysmic car wreck in 1966 which put me in a month-long coma, I turned out to be one of the few people I've ever known who actually went through the "out of body" experience you so frequently hear about.

It's been more than 40 years now since all the doctors involved were able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But, this piece brings forth vivid flashbacks of the whole affair.

Thanks. (I guess.)

Lisa McGlaun said...

Very nice. My favorite is the last sentence...The dead are so powerful. In more ways that we wish to contemplate, I imagine.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jack,
Sorry to hear about your car accident. I hope you are completely recovered with no long-term maladies. As far as your out of body experience is concerned, it's frightening to me that I may actually be on to something with this post if it brings you vivid flashbacks. It's tough for me to think that this little blog may have that kind of insight. Thanks for sharing, Jack. Have a Happy New Year! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you liked this piece. It's very personal and reflective and by far my most spiritual piece. Have a Happy New Year! -Michael.

Kimchihead said...

Very well said, Mike. I lost two really great buddies last year, so this discussion really hit a chord with me.

Happy 2008. Talk to you soon!

AntiBarbie said...

Very interesting post. Most atheists tend to believe that there is nothing after death but I am not among them. Our body has it's own energy and energy disperses but never dies. So in that way I feel that it's only logical that we are still around in some form.

Digital Polaroids said...

Hello Mr Grudge, thanks for the visit and HAPYY 2008!
By the way is it possible that a scarry speech popped out from your blog? I almost died!

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Mike very interesting post as usual, just stopped by to wish you and yours a Happy New Year and all the best for 2008, looking forward to some more great posts in 2008.

Mike French said...

Hiya Mike

Love the style of your writing, very poetic. Lulls you into the prose and sweeps you around the ideas and then gently puts you back down again.

Nice one.

Personally I'm a Christian, but from reading your comments to this post, I can quite see how you would have issues with the Church, sometimes Christians can be wonderful together at others total idiots!

Anyway Happy New Year Mike, look forward to 08 here on Mr Grudge!

Elaine said...

Stopped by to wish you and your family a Happpy New Year and all the best in 2008.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kimchihead,
I'm sorry to hear about the friends you lost this year. I hope you are able to deal with their passing; but I will say a prayer for you and your bussies. Thank you so much for being a loyal reader of my blog. I think you are a very talented story teller, and I look forward to much more of your writing in 2008. In spite of you recent loss, I still wish you a Happy New Year. -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Antibarbie, I know that you are an atheist and I called myself one for a very long time. I feel that you may be a bit like me because you know that being religious and being spititual can be very different things. Your logic in seeing that we are energy, and therefore should remain intact in some form after detah is the point of this piece. I wrote this back in the days after my friend died and I very much called myself an atheist. Nowadays, I've come full circle and I realized that I do believe in God and Jesus Christ, but it was my mistrust of the Church which guided me away from God. I am not a fervent believer, nor am I a regular church goer, but my faith is trickling back; and, my hostility for others in authority over my religious faith is tempered by the love I have for my wife and children. Thank you so much for being a loyal reader of my blog. I appreciate you coming here and adding to the discussion. Yours is an opinion I welcome and respect, and I look forward to more of your writing in 2008. Have a Happy New Year! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Digital Polaroids, Thanks so much for stopping by! I welcome you back again and again. Have a Happy New Year! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,
I am so glad you have joined the readers of Mr. Grudge. Please know that I am enthralled by your blog. Thank you for your New Year's greetings, and may you and your family have a Happy and Healthy New Year! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike, My good blogging friend. I too am a believer in God and Jesus Christ. I've mentioned in my responses to others in this commenting section that this piece was written back in the days following the death of my best friend when I still called myself an atheist. I have problems with the Catholic Church; but I'm coming to terms with them, and I have matured and expereinced more in life. Our parish priest, a Monsignor, has been helpful in allowing me to let go of my anger and accept the spiritual side of myself. He's helped in more ways than he knows. I want to thank you very much for being a loyal reader of this blog, and for your helpful comments and for your wonderful stories. I look forward to reading more of your writing in 2008, and I wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year! Cheers, mate! -Michael.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine,
I want to thank you so much for being a loyal reader of mine. Your health advice is so valuable, and I consider you an educator as well as a health care provider. I want to wish you and your family a very healthy and happy New Year! -Michael.

Peter said...

Hi! I read your article with great interest. Having given much thought to it and taking into consideration that most of my life is now spent, I have replied with my take on things.

Yes, it goes off on a tangent a bit but thats how things turned out.

It is not meant to insult or look down on anyone else's beliefs.

My belief is that humans, religious or not, hope their souls disperse to a better place after death. There wanting for something better after decades of toil drives them to believe that somehow they will be rewarded for this hardship.

As children we were rewarded for being good. This thought process continues until death.

Are we expecting too much by expecting to be rewarded after death?

We will only find out after death, if the beliefs and hopes we cling too, ring true.

I believe we shouldn’t wait until death comes to see if we are rewarded for being a good person. The rewards are already here, if one cares to live a righteous life.

No one can give a 100% guarantee that there will be life after death. But it certainly sounds wonderful.

The perplexing thought here is, why do humans believe that they out of all the other living creatures here on earth, will be earmarked for special attention after death.

We are all, just another organism living in a petri dish called Earth. No more important than any other creature. Why should all non-human creatures not share what we crave for?

The dead are a powerful reminder to us all that one-day we will be just like them.

So we should make the most of it before our time comes. To live a decent life with few regrets is reward enough.

Take Care
Peter

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Peter, I welcome thoughtful responses such as yours. I agree with much of what you have written. We humans are chauvinistic when it comes to souls. I think all living things live on in some form after death as we are all energy and energy does not vanish. It may disperse and change form, but is does not go away. This is not a very Catholic way of thinking, and I am a Catholic. Still, I think the soul is formed out of self awareness. The animals such as humans, apes, etc, which are aware that they exist (I think, therefore I am) can have a vivid soul which can relate to the afterlife in an interactive manner. This too is somewhat chauvinistic; but since dogs or apes can't type or host blogs, my opinion will do for now. I want you to never feel uncomfortable posting a comment here, Peter. Though we've recently found each other's blogs, I find you to be a thoughtful and intelligent person. I invite your insightful additions to this blog. Thank you. -Mike.