A dear friend of mine is in hospice care with advanced Alzheimer's Disease. The decline has been shockingly rapid, and I don't fully understand why, although I think it's probably for the best for his family and friends that it's happening the way it is instead of being much more drawn out.
Anyway, I posted something to Facebook last night about my friend, and another friend of mine, Tom, who recently met the unfortunate victim of this terrible disease at my house, made a comment about his hopes for the afterlife, and I replied with my less sanguine thoughts about what any real afterlife would likely consist of.
Here is what he and I wrote:
Me: Sitting at the bedside of a good friend who seems, for reasons I don't fully understand, to be virtually comatose and close to death from cerebral hypoxia associated with an advanced stage of Alzheimer's. What an awful, cruel disease Alzheimer's is!
Tom: Terrible, terrible. While I have no faith in the Gods that write books, I do hope that there is some sort of "veil" we pass through after death where we get some sort of explanation what life, in general, and our life, in particular, was all about.
It's not that I think a life between just birth and death is meaningless. It is just that I think a reason and meaning for having been alive is due us. In Hamlet, the Bard talks about "defeated joy."
Me: Tom, if we die and that's the end of our personal existence and consciousness, it won't matter to us whether we find out why we were here or not. But if we go on to inhabit forever and ever some conscious afterlife, as much as I, like you, would love to believe that we would learn the answers to all our pressing questions and reap huge benefits from this, I'm more inclined to think that posthumously everlasting life could eternally make the trials and tribulations of this ephemeral lifetime seem like a joyous picnic by comparison.
In other words, if so much inequality, injustice, and suffering can dominate this life, what's to stop this from occurring on a far more iniquitous and torturous scale in any life to come? A supremely loving, just, and merciful God? What God is that? One of the "Gods that write books"? Any God that created and sustains THIS unholy vale of earthly tears?
What do you think about Tom's and my comments, and what do you think happens to us after we die, and why do you think it?