Many times when someone with a neurological or psychiatric disorder dies, they experience a moment of clarity; a return to “normalcy.” They have some mental restoration and even retrieve some long lost memories. This phenomenon is known as Terminal Lucidity and it is fascinating to say the least.
Some people who experience terminal lucidity have it happen quickly; in a matter of hours before death. Others may have it happen over the course of a week or so. Either way, it is very interesting to observe. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be trapped in a lifetime of mental illness, only to return to “normal” just before you die. What’s the point? It’s a bit of a reprieve from the prison of the mind, but it is short-lived and ultimately forgotten. The person who experiences it has a brief time where they can contemplate their situation, only to die soon after. Again, what’s the point? It’s not a long-term solution to a death sentence.
The loved ones of the soon-to-be-dead may not get to experience a reunion of sorts when the condemned get their minds back. They may not get that “closure” so many clamor for. The person dying may not even know what to do with this sudden restoration of brain function. They may die before sharing what has been given back to them.
There is another form of terminal lucidity that does offer some hope and some “closure.” There is an instance where clarity before death is both beneficial and pleasing to the senses where the effects can be felt for a long time to come. It’s all a matter of faith.
Faith. What is it? In religion, it is said to be everything. It is hope. It is strength. It is what keeps us longing for more and what leads us down the path of religious entanglement. When one loses faith, it is said to be akin to death. Having lost it myself, I can attest to this assertion.
When you lean on the crutch of religion, allowing it to prop you up as you stumble along the path of life, faith seems to make sense. Faith in the unseen gives you a sense of purpose and belonging. But when the promises fade away and fizzle out, you are left with a lot of regret, doubt and hurt. Faith is a promise that never comes to fruition. Faith is a lot of talk and no action. Faith is something that is said to be the most important thing in our lives, only to be exposed as another false promise.
When our faith dies, so does our identity. I was once a proud and eager Christian. I was ready to do the “Lord’s work” for the kingdom to come. When none of the promises were kept and the stories never transformed into anything other than stories, I was left feeling hurt, betrayed and lied to. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. As my faith began to die, my eyes were slowly opening to a new life I had awaiting me. A life without false promises. A life without an invisible dictator governing my every move. A life where my happiness trumped blind obedience. A life where I was in control of my own destiny. A life that mattered.
As my faith was in its final moments of life, a light was switched on. I was given my moment of clarity; my terminal lucidity. My mind that was abused, manipulated and twisted into conformity was once again restored to its proper state. I was able to think clearly after a lifetime of thinking whatever it was I was told to think. I was able to separate fact from fiction. Promises from reality. The real world from a book. My faith was dying and my mind and eyes were opened.
Although physical death is what awaits people who experience terminal lucidity, there is a spiritual death just as powerful where we benefit from being given back our mental acuity. When one experiences terminal lucidity, they soon die. When one experiences a spiritual terminal lucidity, their life is now free to begin. That’s certainly an instance where death is most welcome. There’s no need to look forward to an afterlife when the life you are living here and now is all you ever dreamed it could be.