Life Stages: Old Age, Dying, And Death

Death is perceived as natural and an inevitable part of life. We may not be sure about the outcomes of our lives, but one thing we are confident of is that we are all going to die. Although funerals help the living by giving them a chance to understand the finality of death, it does not guarantee the assurance of someone being in a better place. In this multi-paragraph essay, I will outline several thoughts based on cultural, psychological, and religious beliefs that will aid individuals in reflecting on their mortality.

Growing old is a privilege many do not experience because of circumstances such as an untimely death. As we grow old, we tend to slow down our productivity, become stagnant and explore life less vigorously. According to Erickson, integrity and sorrow are often seen in the latter stages of human development (Orenstein & Lewis, 2021). Integrity is the ability to take pride in one’s accomplishments and hence the ability to prepare for death in a calm and worry-free manner. Discouragement is experienced by older persons who dwell on what they might, could, or should not have been and who thus face death with a sense of dread, regret, and sadness.

Death might be viewed as either spiritual or physical. In the physical aspect, a person’s demise might take a long time, even in the middle of a life-threatening medical condition. If the patient receives excellent care, this may be a peaceful moment when the body is ready to let go of life (Health direct, 2021). Every individual is different; thus, this is not a universal rule. Psychologically, the heart stops beating, and the person eventually ceases to breathe. His brain immediately quits working, and his skin cools down (Renz et al., 2017). An individual has expired at this point and is hence declared dead. Spiritually, there are different ways to think of life after death based on individual beliefs. These include but are not limited to reincarnation, resurrection, immortality and obsolete. The locations our souls rest are further classified into heaven, hell, purgatory, sleep and a state of unconsciousness.

Reincarnation is the process through which an individual undergoes a second birth after physical death (McClelland, 2018). It might be the mind, awareness, or even the soul, but it could also be another. Individuals who believe in reincarnation affirm rebirth. Reincarnation is a doctrine that can be found in theology as well as in philosophy. It asserts that after a person’s physical death, their spirit or soul will return to the physical world to take on a new body of a different species, shape, or nature, depending on how morally excellent they were in their previous life (McClelland, 2018). The idea of reincarnation is closely linked to karma. In every action, there is an equal and opposite response. When a person dies, they are reincarnated because they wish to enjoy a body that cannot deliver eternal happiness or calm. Every human eventually grows unhappy and seeks higher levels of bliss through spiritual experience after numerous incarnations. When there is nothing left for a person to want, they will never be born again. A person is believed to have achieved freedom after breaking free from the endless cycle of birth and reincarnation.

In the Religious aspect of Christianity, individuals believe that the earth is just a temporary world, but heaven is the ultimate goal of our lives. Walker (2018 Phil. 1:21) says, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. Therefore, when we die, we either go into a deep state of unconscious existence and wait until the second coming of Christ, or we go to purgatory. Purgatory is a state where our souls undergo purification from worldly sins before we can go to heaven to be with the maker. “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the lord” (Walker, 2018 2 Cor. 5:8). Death is referred to metaphorically as sleep; hence when we die, our physical body is what remains, but our souls go immediately to heaven. Our physical body is what is buried; therefore, it returns to dust.

According to Islam, when an individual nears death, two angels of death are sent to pick up his soul. During that state, Islam believed that if you were a dutiful Muslim, then your tongue would be able to declare Allah as your God and Prophet Mohammed as his last and final messenger (Ahaddour, Broeckaert, & Branden, 2018). If you were in the wrong, your language would not be able to express those words. During this period, the angel of death takes your body and ascends towards the heavens. When the body is prepared for burial, the soul is taken back to the body for questioning. The body shall remain in the tomb till the Day of Judgment, Yawm al-din. All individuals will be resurrected on that day and brought before Allah to answer for their earthly deeds, on which they will be judged (Ahaddour, Broeckaert, & Branden, 2018). The term “resurrection of the body” refers to this idea. Jannah, or Paradise, is reserved for those who have done better than harm. Islam describes Jannah (also known as the Garden of Eternal Bliss) as an eternal paradise and a sanctuary of tranquilly. There will be no disease, agony, or sorrow in the hereafter, which Muslims call Jannah (BBC, 2022). Those who have done more wrong than right will be sent to Jahannam or Hell, according to their level of good actions. This is where bodily and spiritual pain is felt.

In conclusion, people view death differently; hence there is no particular formula for viewing death. Additionally, it is an integral part of life and is considered the final stage of an individual’s life span. People usually align themselves with the concepts that make sense to them; thus, what happens when we die is deeply rooted in the specific beliefs and ideologies different individuals conform to.

References

BBC. (2022). What does Islam teach about life after death? – Life after death – GCSE religious studies revision – BBC bitesize. BBC Bitesize.

Health Direct. (2021). The physical process of dying.

McClelland, N. C. (2018). Encyclopedia of reincarnation and karma (3rd ed.). North Carolina: McFarland.

Walker, G. A. (2018). Modern Literal Version Bible. Modern Literal Version Bible Official Site.

Orenstein, G. A., & Lewis, L. (2021). Eriksons stages of psychosocial development – StatPearls – NCBI bookshelf. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Renz, M., Reichmuth, O., Bueche, D., Traichel, B., Mao, M. S., Cerny, T., & Strasser, F. (2017). Fear, pain, denial, and spiritual experiences in dying processes. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative MedicineĀ®, 35(3), 478-491.