Discussing End-of-Life Choices & Afterlife Philosophy

Discussing End-of-Life Choices & Afterlife Philosophy

There’s something to giving the end-of-life process its due, as opposed to our historical attitude of pretending to ignore death or treating it as though it were a distant taboo — at least, when it comes to having a family discussion about the matter.

Here’s the issue: when should a family have this discussion — or should they even have it at all? What does it mean to sit down with your spouse and children and talk about your end-of-life options? Do you want to remain on artificial life support if the doctors determine you’re in a permanent vegetative state? Or do you want the plug pulled? If your spouse or child wishes the latter for himself or herself, can you really agree to go through with it?

Discussing Options & Feelings Before It's Too Late

Recent research shows that doctors have made many mistakes about when a person is in a permanent vegetative state. In my book What If? this matter was one of the thought experiments. What if you discovered that many patients who were thought to be in such a vegetative state were, in fact, aware of everything going on around them? New discoveries have actually demonstrated this to be true. Would you make the same decision for your loved ones that you’d make for yourself?

I believe in an afterlife and have discussed the hows and whys of that already in my book What Does That Mean? Any conversation about these topics should, of course, include your metaphysical perspective as well. Discussions about wills, estates, and related issues are fine, but they aren’t truly the heart of the matter. What’s particularly relevant, especially to your surviving loved ones, is how you feel about death.

The Last Sleep or The Final Awakening?

Walter Scott said, “Death — the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.” A recent guest on one of my radio shows, August Goforth, sees the matter as the risen. Those who have crossed over have risen up out of the physical into a higher dimensional existence. Goforth is a pseudonym, and the man behind the name is more than just a writer. He’s a licensed, practicing, and very successful psychotherapist who claims to speak to the risen every day.

Discussing End-of-Life Choices & Afterlife PhilosophyObviously, if your family’s view includes this kind of other-world orientation, then your departure will be less traumatic than if their philosophy is “From dust thou art, and to dust you will return — gone — gone forever!” (You might think of this as just another reason, pragmatically speaking, for holding steadfastly to your belief in life after death.)

We need to know what the end-of-life discussion entails before we can determine if it’s appropriate, and if it is, when. In order to make that determination, we must ask ourselves, What other subjects should be considered in such a conversation?

 Get The Latest From InnerSelf

Sharing Your Philosophy: Practical & Metaphysical Aspect

Your ideas about death are of supreme importance. Let’s assume that you’ve covered your preferences about ending life in the event you’re deemed to be in a permanent vegetative state, and you’ve fully discussed issues such as organ donations, wills, estates, and other legal matters.

Now it’s time to share your personal philosophy. What has living meant to you and why? What does your family mean to you and why? How would you like survivors to remember you? What are your regrets — relevant ones, such as failing to express your appreciation or affection as much as you could have?

This is a conversation you want to have before you’re on your deathbed and emotions are high. Talk about death before something terminates your ability to address the issues. Leave your loved ones with the comfort that comes from knowing your thoughts.

The Memories & the Love We Leave Behind

I want my family to know just how much I have enjoyed living, how much I have learned and continue to learn from life, how much love I have for them all, and just how close I’ll always be. I add the words of Norman Vincent Peale: “I believe there are two sides to the phenomenon known as death, this side where we live, and the other side where we shall continue to live. Eternity does not start with death. We are in eternity now.”

What we believe forms the grid upon which our end-of-life story is built. It’s easy to see just how important what we believe is to others, especially those we care about. After all, the only thing we can really leave them that truly matters is the memory of our love and the example we lived.

Reflection: Questions That Lead to Important Conversations

So what do you think about death and the afterlife? Have you discussed your beliefs with your loved ones? Do you think it’s time to do so? You’ll find that these conversations will add quality to your relationships and assist you in focusing on what’s truly important in life.

©2012 by Eldon Taylor. All rights reserved.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com

This article was adapted with permission from the book:

I Believe: When What You Believe Matters!
by Eldon Taylor.

I Believe: When What You Believe Matters! by Eldon Taylor.Eldon Taylor has spent over 25 years researching the power of the mind and developing scientifically proven methods to use this power to enhance the quality of your life. I Believe is a book that will not only inspire you, but will highlight the kinds of beliefs you hold that may be causing you to fail. In the process, it will provide you with the opportunity to choose, once again, the beliefs that drive your life.

Click here for more info or to order this book.

Browse through all books by this author.

About the Author

Eldon Taylor, author of the article: Beliefs & Biases: Do They Rule Our Life?

Eldon Taylor is the host of the popular radio show, Provocative Enlightenment. He is an award-winning New York Times best-selling author of over 300 books, as well as numerous audio and video programs. His most recent books include Choices and Illusions, Mind Programming, and What Does That Mean? Eldon is also the inventor of the patented InnerTalk technology and the founder and President of Progressive Awareness Research, Inc. He has been called a “master of the mind” and has appeared as an expert witness on both hypnosis and subliminal communication. More than 20 scientific studies have been conducted evaluating Eldon’s technology and approach, all demonstrating its power and efficacy. His books and audio/video materials have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have sold millions worldwide. Website: www.eldontaylor.com.

Read other articles by this author.


follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email



InnerSelf Newsletter: September 20, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The theme of the newsletter this week can be summed up as "you can do it" or more specifically "we can do it!". This is another way of saying "you/we have the power to make a change". The image of…
What Works For Me: "I Can Do It!"
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
The reason I share "what works for me" is that it may work for you as well. If not exactly the way I do it, since we are all unique, some variance of the attitude or method may very well be something…
InnerSelf Newsletter: September 6, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
We see life through the lenses of our perception. Stephen R. Covey wrote: “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” So this week, we take a look at some…
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 30, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The roads we are travelling these days are as old as the times, yet are new for us. The experiences we are having are as old as the times, yet they also are new for us. The same goes for the…
When The Truth Is So Terrible It Hurts, Take Action
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Amidst all the horrors taking place these days, I am inspired by the rays of hope that shine through. Ordinary people standing up for what is right (and against what is wrong). Baseball players,…