Thinking About Death On A Bright Summer Day

You can hold tightly to life, but in the end you have no control at all.

Jacqueline Dooley
Grief Book Club
Published in
8 min readJun 14, 2024

--

Painting by Christopher Robin — Used with permission

“Our universe was created by unknowable forces, has no implicit reason to exist, and seems to violate its own basic laws. In such a world, what couldn’t happen?” — Sebastian Junger

I just finished reading In My Time of Dying: How I Came Face to Face with the Idea of an Afterlife, by Sebastian Junger. In June 2020, Junger nearly died from a ruptured aneurysm in his pancreatic artery.

He bled out into his abdomen, coming so close to death that some inexplicable things happened — like a visit from his (deceased) father and a black vortex opening up beneath him. At one point he heard a doctor say he was the sickest person in the hospital.

I purchased the book because I saw Junger give an interview about his experience on The Daily Show and I am fascinated with tales of near-death experiences. This isn’t a simple case of morbid curiosity. Seven years ago, my 15-year-old daughter died. I’ve been wondering where she went ever since.

I think someone like Junger — someone who was so close to death that he had a conversation with his dead father while staring briefly into the abyss — might have some answers for me. He has seen, albeit briefly, what might…

--

--

Jacqueline Dooley
Grief Book Club

Essayist, content writer, bereaved parent. Bylines: Human Parts, GEN, Marker, OneZero, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Pulse, HuffPost, Longreads, Modern Loss