When I Die...


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately– my eventual death. This might have something to do with having lost quite a few friends in the last couple years. It might also have to do with some discussions that have been taking place on An Atheist and a Catholic, a blog I co-founded last month.

There’s nothing quite like faith (or lack thereof) to stimulate the important topics like death. And I don’t mean this in a morbid way. Well, maybe I do. Can death be anything but that? What I’m trying to say is…I don’t want this to be a downer post. Sometimes the contemplation of death can revive life in a way nothing else can.

Recently on the above-mentioned blog, we wrote a post discussing Our Funerals from a believing and non-believing perspective. The focus there was on how we imagine our funerals. But right now, I’m not even there. I’m back at the dying part. And I want to think about this. It’s important to not gloss over it.

When I die…I know that even if I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family, it will really be just me and God. Okay, me and God…and, I imagine, a cloud of witnesses that will include many other spiritual loved ones, known and unknown perhaps. This brings me great comfort.

But even before that…I imagine there will be a specific period of time…in which it will just be me and God. And you know what? That thought doesn’t scare me, at all. That…is a wonderful thought. It might seem strange but I’m actually looking forward to that time when everything else begins to melt away — especially things that don’t really matter all that much — and everything that does matter becomes clear. And when that time comes, the thought of my Lord being near, being the one to beckon me on to the next phase of my life, is a warm and wonderful thought.

This is one thing atheists don’t have. Forget about the reality of it, whether God is real or made up. Let’s say it’s all just hogwash, a total delusion as atheists contend, this God thing. Okay. Fine. That is a possibility, after all. Not a very likely one, I’d say. I find it actually quite reasonable to believe that this world didn’t just sort of happen randomly. But even if it all were to turn out false…there is still something beautiful about the hope of it all.

We seem made for this hope. Hope is something everyone needs to survive. It is absolutely essential that hope stays alive, even if in a very small amount. Without it, all grows dark.

I feel so grateful, so free, so humbled to be traveling through this world with faith and hope and the thought that when I die, a God who loved me into being will be on the other side, softening the blow of death, bringing me into a fuller understanding of what my life has meant, loving me into what He has in store for the next phase.

I truly believe that if we keep seeking a relationship with God while we have a chance on earth, this encounter with God that will occur as we pass from one side of the veil to the other will feel very familiar, very welcoming.

What else will it feel like? Like being bathed in love, I’m thinking. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to that…someday.

Q4U: Does thinking about death in this way make it feel less foreboding? What comforting thoughts do you have about death?

Copyright 2011 Roxane Salonen



About Author

Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website, roxanesalonen.com


  1. Roxane, I was at a funeral for a dear priest this week so this topic has been on my mind a lot and I was very moved by your column. To see the peace and joy surrounding Msgr’s funeral and rosary helped remind me again that I’m so happy for our Catholic teachings on death and dying. Not the end, but rather a glorious beginning. It’s easier to accept the grief when it’s for a friend who has lived a long and blessed life, than when we hear of the senseless passing of a young person. I am still working out the answer to your question in my own mind and heart, but thank you for raising it and making me stop and reflect.

    • Roxane B. Salonen on

      Lisa, thank you for taking time to read as well as to do the job of posting. :)I agree that our Catholic faith offers some extraordinary graces and gifts even during a time of death. We are very blessed in that! I wish you peace in processing another death in the coming days. You’ve had a lot of it this year.

    • Roxane B. Salonen on

      You’re welcome, Erin. It’s interesting that’s what you came away with. While I was writing it and thinking about it, I felt sort of an inhale/exhale and a peace of what’s to come. 🙂 Peace be with you!

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