Ep 122 – Death

Listener Essay

Posted October 29th, 2014

Nick shares a listener essay about his love for Halloween and it’s connection to the most tragic moments in his life.  Glenn and Chelsea join him for a panel discussion.

  • Mellie

    I feel like a podcast stalker, but I didn’t want to wait to tell you all what a truly fantastic episode this is – thank you so much.

    • Randy_Snyder

      Mellie, we welcome podcast stalkers. 😉

  • Lane

    This was a great podcast, I’m getting tired of listening to, hearing about, and thinking about mormonism. These kinds existential questions that are outside of and frankly bigger and more interesting than mormonism are the things I enjoy now that I too have experienced the death of my old mormon self. Halloween has also always been my favorite holiday, and I’m still laughing at that lullaby, fantastic!

  • bodona

    Oh, Infants…I tune in to laugh, not feel. But, damn if this episode didn’t bring me to my emotional knees. I’m a member of the “sad fraternity/sorority” reserved for those who’ve had young members of their immediate family die unexpectedly. When I was 21, my 18 year old sister was killed in a car accident on her way to lunch.

    One of the hardest parts of leaving The LDS Church for me was loosing her all over again. Once the story of priesthood authority and sealing power fell apart, I had to go through the grieving process all over again. I don’t think I ever fully went through it the first time. I used my faith as a shortcut, and never accepted her death as a true believer.

    This was a powerful episode, and convinced me to go see Book of Life with my kids. Their great-grandma is nearing the end of an amazing, full life. The movie sounds like it will provide a good background for the imminent conversations about death and an afterlife.

    Well done, people. Excellent work. My 5-star rating has been added to iTunes.

    • Nick

      Welcome to our club, I guess, and I am very sorry to hear about your sister. You’ve summed up very well something I couldn’t quite seem to articulate – it wasnt just like grieving all over again, it WAS grieving all over again. The only way my wife and I can ever make sense of it is our newly-found mantra: shit happens, and sometimes it happens to you. Oddly, this concept gives us the most comfort in the long run. No rhyme nor reason, but just part of life that leaves us changed, missing our loved ones but grateful for our time with them all the same.

      • bodona

        We take a similar approach and reminder ourselves that life is messy and painful, and sometimes it’s messy and painful for us.

        One of the unforeseen benefits of leaving for me was that I no longer see life as a series of tests and/or rewards. I’m don’t spend my energy trying to figure out “Why is God punishing me?” or “What a great blessing I’ve been given!”.

        Life is full of luck, both good and bad. I never realized how much mental effort I put into trying to contextualize all of it until I stopped believing in the supernatural.

        In keeping with current trends in Utah interior design, I’m considering putting put your mantra up in big vinyl letters on our kitchen wall.

  • JH

    This was a deeply moving podcast. Nick, your essay is really well-written and might be worth submitting for publication to a creative non-fiction journal if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

    When I left Mormonism, I too began to have panic attacks when thinking about my own mortality. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.

    Thanks for a great podcast!

  • Kim

    Loved this discussion. Here is an example of the rush through grief in mormon culture. Just a week after my dad died (and only two days post his funeral) I was talking with my mom on the phone and she apologized for crying saying, “I don’t know why I am still crying.” Crazy. As if a few days was enough time to “get over” the death of your life partner. I’m glad Bodona mentioned in their comment that leaving mormonism is like having to grieve again (and in some cases actually grieve) the loss of loved ones who died in the past. That’s how it was for me. Julia Sweeney talks about that in her Letting Go of God brilliant act.

  • Great podcast like always. And Nick, this was probably my favorite listener essay I have heard thus far. Not only was it moving, and funny all in one. But the production of it was very nicely done as well. Swell job!

  • Homsar

    I loved this episode. Great job.

  • Nik Rasheta

    This was a fantastic episode and I was very moved by the essay from Nick. Is there any chance we could get a written form of of the essay? I would love to save that for personal reading whenever I need a deep insight into the topic of death. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability Nick!

    • Nick

      I did ad-lib just a bit of the essay, but I have something very close to the final version. I’d be happy to share if you want.

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  • Chanelle Jkc

    Super late to this episode, so this comment is just for me and the internet void…

    What a moving essay, and discussion. Both of my parents died when I was a teenager after separate back-to-back battles with cancer. As wrenching as it was to watch them die as a young believer, it was ten times more wrenching to re-grieve the loss when I left Mormonism in my 30s, including my belief in an afterlife. I think losing faith in an afterlife just magnifies the death of your loved one, adding to it the sorrow of eventually, permanently losing every other loved one you’ve ever had. Therefore, when Glen was surprised that leaving Mormonism could be more painful than a child dying, it didn’t surprise me at all. Leaving Mormonism—with all its perfectly wrapped up and delivered stories on the meaning of life and death—was definitely more painful than losing my parents when I was a teen. It is what held me in the church for so long when my instincts were telling me that the Mormon narrative couldn’t be true. In fact, it wasn’t until I watched the PBS Frontline on the Mormons, and heard a heart-stopping Harold Bloom insight, that I was able to finally begin to accept what I already intuitively knew; that my parents are just gone, and I will never actually see them again.

    “What is the essence of religion? Sigmund Freud said it was the longing for the father. Others have called it the desire for the mother or for transcendence. I fear deeply that all these are idealizations, and I offer the rather melancholy suggestion that they would all vanish from us if we did not know that we must die. Religion rises inevitably from our apprehension of our own death. To give meaning to meaninglessness is the endless quest of all religion. When death becomes the center of our consciousness, then religion authentically begins.

    Of all religions that I know, the one that most vehemently and persuasively defies and denies the reality of death is the original Mormonism of the prophet, seer and revelator Joseph Smith.” – Harold Bloom