Recently our community lost one of its oldest members. She had come to us as a patient many years ago but, as her health improved from taking the medicines, she became a child caregiver and eventually a staff member. She lived on campus with her youngest son but was also surrogate mother to many of our other boys over the years. She died unexpectedly off campus and so the family requested permission to bring her home so that they could perform the cremation in our crematorium, where most of her friends had been burned. I had no objection to it, however knew it would very likely bring back memories of the old days when death was a frequent visitor here… and I wondered what effect it would have on the children, especially those who had had to light the fire beneath their own loved ones, and others who had just barely escaped the fire themselves before the Life saving medicines came.

The cremation went well and I did not observe any negative psychological effects on the children… although there were the usual nightly sightings of a ghost around the house she had lived in and no one dared go near it for awhile. Things eventually got back to normal and the kids now run and play around her house as they did before… however, as I was returning to my room a few nights ago one of the boys asked me, “What happens to us when we die?”

I thought about it for a moment and considered giving him the same reassuring pat answer I have always given to inquisitive children. You know… the one about going to Heaven to be with God, Jesus, and all of the Angels for eternity… however, although I was tired and having said that could have gone straight to my room to retire for the night, I decide against it… because I know it to be a lie. God, Jesus, and all of the Angels belong on the same shelve as Santa Claus and his red nosed reindeer, and to dismiss his question with an answer I knew to be false would not be fair to him, or to any of the other boys who suddenly appeared out of the darkness and were now waiting for my response.

“I am not sure,” I answered, as I sat down on one of the cement benches outside of the boys dorm, “perhaps nothing at all happens to us when we die.”

“But where do we go?” one of the younger boys asked.

“Perhaps we just go back to that place where we were at before we came.” I responded. “Do you remember where you were before you were a baby?”

“No.” he responded, a bit bewildered.

“Neither do I.” I admitted, “So if we don’t remember what it was like before we were born, it must not have been all that bad, right? Because certainly we would remember it if it were bad.” They thought about it for a moment and I could tell that some of them were beginning to understand the direction I was taking them; their minds far less cluttered than children raised in religious homes. “We should not be so concerned with what happens after we die,” I continued, “all we have is this moment in time. Our bodies will die but the Life that is in us will never die and so as long as there is Life we will continue to live in the Moment, with or without our bodies, and just as we choose each day to be happy and accepting of what we have or to be sad and ungrateful with what Life has given us, we will continue always to have those choices.”

“But will we go to hell if we are bad?” one of those who had good reason to be concerned, ask.

“If there was a hell, it would have to exist in the present moment,” I responded, “for nothing can exist outside of Now. I suppose that for some, there will be sadness  at the time of death because they realize that they have not lived a very good life and that final moment of regret may seem like hell  to them. That is way I teach you to get along with each other and not do each other harm, because I don’t want you to feel bad when you get older and it is your time to die… any other questions?”

There was only silence as they assisted me to my feet and said their “good nights”.

This is a true story and although some of the words have been altered for reading purpose the message is the one I left them with. I would imagine that some of you reading this now will be upset with what I told them… but let me be honest with you. The idea that this Life we are living is only a bootcamp or training exercise for the real Life that will come after we die is bullshit. The Form we now occupy is a gift, meant to be experienced and enjoyed. We will not get another opportunity, at least not in the same form as we have now. We have collectively created the world we live in and it is our responsibility to leave it in better shape then when we first opened our eyes and realized we had been given form.

Lifeforms will continue to exist on Earth and on other galaxies, possibly for eternity. How they will remember us should be our only concern as we live from day to day. There will be no reward for having lived a good life nor punishment for living bad… the memory of who we were will be our only legacy.

Wayne Dale Matthysse

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  1. Hi Wayne,

    I am so moved and pleased with how you handled these questions with the boys about the afterlife! Your honesty and sensitivity around death will remain a gift to them, as they confront other losses in their lives. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Whose mom was this?

  2. Wayne Dale Matthysse

    Thanks Bonnie… Her name was Kumly and she was Doar’s Mother.

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