When death is seemingly imminent, what goes on in the mind?

“I have some bad news”. I listened carefully because these words were not familiar in this setting. Those that followed would set off a series of thoughts in my mind that I`ve never had before. “The left sided engine has got….” That’s all my mind could take in for a while as it came to reality that the left engine of the plane we had boarded had a problem, passengers seated on the left row remember seeing smoke coming from it. We all later felt the plane losing balance as the pilot said he was flying back to Johannesburg after only 20mins of being air borne. The shaking increased as we descended and the smoldering from the left engine continued.

The journey back was a terrifying one to all of us. I had never been so scared in my life. I went through the well-known stages of grief within 20 minutes only. This usually happens in individuals with terminal illnesses.

I know every one would like to hear the events that followed ,but what I want to share today is what went through my mind in those twenty minutes. I imagine many people think about the same when facing death. Before that trip I had many plans , just like many of us but one thing I remember is that only a few of the plans I had really counted. The financial, career, prosperity plans really don`t matter. The three things I remember thinking about are : What has my relationship with God been like?; What  have I done for the people I love most? And why have I wasted so much time running after things that don`t matter in life? A quick self-assessment showed me that I hadn’t been doing well.. As I went through the last stage of grief which is acceptance, I begged for forgiveness from God- I repented for all the sins that I had committed. I realized that God forgives those who repent of their sins (1 John 1: 9) and knew very well that Jesus forgives our sins. But then after “accepting” the imminent death , I wondered how my loved ones will take the bad news, and how life is going to be… I then begged God for another chance to live.

Since then I very much know that the many things we commonly chase on earth really don’t matter. We usually leave out the most important things in life and pursue the “perishable” and those that don`t matter. When we are facing death  what really counts is how we have lived our lives, whether God approves of them or not and how we have treated our loved ones and those we don`t know.

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You did your best given the situation

Each of us is familiar with at least one individual who is very critical of others. One common feature of being criticized by others is that the negative effect that results from it seldom lasts for long. If it does we  often find ways of dealing with it. A few exceptions exist depending on the relationship one has with the person criticizing them.

On the other hand, self criticism may have a longer lasting impact. There are many reasons why we have a tendency of being “harder” on ourselves than necessary.Some of the reasons are comparing ourselves with other people, setting unrealistic goals,  being hyper sensitive to negative evaluation and so on. The resulting emotional impact may be a hindrance to progress with future plans , may affect our career, relationships and self esteem. This unnecessary self trauma can only be avoided by acknowledging that  more often than not,you did your best given the prevailing circumstances.