The Old Cultural Story: Death is a tragedy

I made a pretty daring statement in Part II of this discussion (scroll down to read) about the thousands of people who lost their life in Japan over the past ten days. I said that all those who died did so because, “at a level other than the conscious level, they chose to.”

I know that is hard to believe, given the Old Cultural Story humanity has believed and lived for thousands of years, and which most people still hold to be true today.

Our Old Story has it that, except in rare instances, human beings do not ever choose to die, but just the opposite; they are in a constant struggle, sometimes against overwhelming odds, to survive.

Physical life, according to our Old Story, is the highest value, and so, quite understandably, we cling to it tenaciously. And it goes further than that. The Old Story says that we are required to cling to it tenaciously. Human beings, the Old Story goes, must do everything in their power to stay alive, no matter what. It is against the Will of God not to do so, the Old Story declares, and therefore humans should not be allowed to die by their own choice.

So engrained in our social systems is this Old Story that it has even become part of civil law. Compassionate doctors, caregivers, and spouses are now being thrown in jail for assisting others in ending their lives. It doesn’t matter how much pain a person is in, it does not matter how unremitting is their suffering, God says that they are not allowed to die until GOD SAYS SO.

I have been in homes were people have earnestly prayed for God to take their dearly loved ones. “Please God,” I heard one wife say of her husband, lying near death, yet squirming in pain, for days, “please, release him, take him, let him come home to You; he is suffering so much, dear Lord.” And then she cried.

So much a part of our belief system has this Old Story become that  insurance companies will not pay benefits to the survivors of a person who has committed suicide. At least not if a person does it very fast. If a person commits suicide slowly — by smoking, for instance, and dying of lung cancer — the insurance will pay off. But if a person commits suicide in minutes rather than years, payment is denied. So it is not a question of whether a person brought on their own death, it is a question of how long they took to do it. Fast self-death is a no-no. Slow self-death is acceptable.

The Old Story also says that we should mourn the dead, not just for our loss, but for theirs. For they have lost something of great value, the Old Story goes. We also hold an idea that struggle may somehow await a person on the other side of death…and so we pray to God that they may Rest in Peace.

We say that we do not know for certain what happens after death, but our Old Story tell us that we either go to heaven or we go straight to hell, depending upon the kind of person we have been and the sort of life we have lived.

In short, the Old Story says that people die against their will; that it is something they don’t want to do, but that they have to do. And so, it is a tragic event. Certainly the death of so many in Japan after the earthquake and the tsunami is seen as a great human tragedy, and I don’t seek or wish to make light of it, or be seen as doing so. Yet…there is another way to hold this event in our reality…

The New Cultural Story: Death is a joyous experience

The New Cultural Story offered to us in Conversations with God tells us that death does not exist. Not, at least, as we define it. It is not the end of life, because life never ends, the New Story goes, but continues forever and ever, and even forever more. Hence, the date on which a person “dies” is referred to in the New Story as that person’s Continuation Day.

Moreover, the New Story tell us that the event which humans call death is an ecstatic experience, marked by a great awakening to what is Really So, a joyous reunion with every loved one we have ever known (in this lifetime or any other), and a blissful merging with the Divine.

Finally, the New Story statements that may well produce the most culture shock are its announcements that death is never and can never be imposed on anyone, but is always chosen — and, even more surprisingly, death is not final.

This is all true, the New Story says, because of Who We Are. Every Soul is an individuation of Divinity, the Story goes, and, as such, nothing can happen TO the Soul, but everything happens THROUGH the Soul. This includes death. Therefore no Soul ever dies in a way, or at a time, that is not of its own choosing. Nor does anything happen to The Divine that is against the Will of the Divine. Because the Divine is All Powerful and Ever Present Everywhere and in Everything, an event occurring against Its will is by definition functionally impossible.

Death is a holy experience, full of truth and of grace, when That Which Is So becomes fully known and not merely imagined; when all pain and suffering of any kind, physical or emotional, dissolves; when fear and uncertainty and unhappiness evaporates; and when the soft, gentle awareness of God’s eternal presence and the sweetness of God’s unconditional love pours into the Essence of Our Being, revealed there to be, and to have been all along, our Essence Itself.

Reconciling The Stories: Why people choose to die

If the New Cultural Story about death is to be believed, many questions will have to be answered. Not the least of these will have to do with the Intention of the Soul, if it is indeed choosing to depart this physical life of its own free will.

As I said in Part II of this series, I have had many grieving people say to me, “You mean that my wife (husband, mother, father, child, etc.) actually chose to leave me? What are you saying to me? What does that tell me about how happy they were with me?”

If we are not careful we will inadvertently turn the New Story into an occasion for actual anger. Indeed, we all have known people who, even while immersed in the Old Cultural Story, were angry with a loved one for dying.

The two Stories reconcile when we fully understand and embrace the truth that is told by both stories: that the dying never really leave us, but are with us always. At our very thought of them, their Essence flies to us at the speed of light, hovering all around us, and indeed, permeating our body. We can feel them with us and within us.

And while many people say that it not nearly as comforting as their warm hand in ours and their body to embrace, we find, alas, a different comfort, far greater than the physical, in the melding of Essence which duplicates what occurs between us and God at the moment of our own death. There can be a bliss in this merging that matches the wonder and the joy of physical touch; for when Souls touch, bodies likewise experience ecstasy. I have known this in my own life when I have been touched by God, and sometime by even the thought of another. Others have known it as well, and written of it in poem and song.

Yet if the Soul of our dearly beloved was so happy with us, why, indeed, did it leave? That still remains the burning question. The answer is that it did not leave, but chooses now to stay with us in a new form, a form through which it can show us more love, and experience more oneness and happiness with us, than any expression of life in the physical could possibly have allowed.

When a Soul departs the body, it does so because it has completed its journey in this particular expression of life. It has experienced what it came here to experience, and it is now ready for what we would call, in earthly terms, its ultimate reward; its grandest prize; its greatest experience: the opportunity to love its Beloveds so fully that it literally becomes us in an eternal union of life’s Essence. The Soul of our dearly departed has become one with us, body and soul. And there is no greater heaven than that.

Imagine being able to permeate the body of one’s Beloved, to become One at a sub-molecular level, even as Souls which are in heaven do at will. And so it shall be, when your loved one dies, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

There is more, so much more, for me to tell you on this and on many things. All of it, part of The New Cultural Story. All of it, astonishing and true. And all of it of such power that it can change humanity’s experience of itself, and the world’s expression of life, forever.

Do not fail to return here. Bring others to this place. Let us all have a conversation.

Be love, my beloveds.




Baaska 21st March 2011 11:49 am

Great one Neal

I have read that in higher dimensions, one decides when to drop the body, as Buddha did.

At 85 I am ready, but am hanging around and keeping the body healthy because I want a front seat at this ascension trip.

Besides, my wife says that if I die on her, she will kill me and she will. She's Italian.


Bob 21st March 2011 7:17 pm

Neal, that is so beautifully written! And so very true!

Baaska, your comment is so funny and full of loving Heart energy! I work and hope for the day that all of humanity can rise to that level!

Wonderful! :smitten:


amber 21st March 2011 7:42 pm

Thank you for being willing to address such a touchy subject!! I'm one of those who truly believes that we do choose not only where and when and to whom we will arrive on this Planet, but that we also choose how and when we will leave!! I really believe that we do come in for a purpose and when that purpose is complete we will also choose to leave!! As you said death is not the end of our existence, only our Earthly body ceases to exist!! Many of us have encounters with those who have passed on as Sylvia Browne will also confirm!! I personally have many interactions with my deceased step-father and it always makes me grateful that he's no longer in pain on this physical plane but is with me and my mom in the Heavenly realms..Love and light to you and to all as we try to comprehend all that we are going through..

Judi J 22nd March 2011 7:31 am

Wonderful article Neale. We are all energy, in my humble opinion, no matter if we are in human form or not. I do hold to the belief that there are lessons in the leaving. Especially when in groups such as the events in Japan recently as well as other such events in the world. Could it be that groups decide to leave during such events to call global attention to something, awaken vast groups of people, and call for inner awakening of the masses in this dramatic way? Could it be that they, as an energy group, prior to their life here on earth, made a collective decision to cause this awareness? Then, did they not do a great service to human kind on many levels? They draw focus on issues that need to be addressed and in their departure leave the remainder of us to see that which needs change. In my opinion it has been thus throughout history. Such brave and courageous souls.


Keep updated with Spirit Library

Author Information

Neale Donald Walsch

Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. With an early interest in religion and a deeply felt connection to spirituality, Neale spent the majority of his life thriving professionally, yet searching for spiritual meaning before beginning his now famous conversation with God.


Neale Donald Walsch Archives