What Happens When We Die?

What Happens When We Die

I am in the middle of watching the Netflix show Midnight Mass (season 1). My husband put on this drama series and I was watching it in the background while doing other things around the house. But episode 4 - "Book IV: Lamentations" had my full attention. The scene where Erin, a character is processing her unexpected miscarriage, with Riley, her childhood love. The two share their perspectives on what happens when we die.

Riley, whose faith was taken away when he had a drunk-driving accident that killed a young woman, is a newfound atheist. I was moved by Riley's view of what happens when we die. His pespective was filled with hope, magic and demonstrated the beauty of life and was deeply spiritual.

I have linked the clip (you can see the series directly on Netflix), the delivery of the monologue by the actor Zack Gilford on its own is worth watching. And I have shared the script below, more so that I can revisit again and again:

When I die…

My body stops functioning.

Shut down. All at once, or gradually, my breathing stops, my heart stops beating.

Clinical death.

And a bit later, like, five whole minutes later…

My brain cells start dying.

But in the meantime, in between…

Maybe my brain releases a flood of DMT.

It’s the psychedelic drug released when we dream, so…

I dream.

I dream bigger than I have ever dreamed before, because it’s all of it. Just the last dump of DMT all at once.

And my neurons are firing and I’m seeing this firework display of memories and imagination.

And I am just… tripping.

I mean, really tripping balls because my mind’s rifling through the memories.

You know, long and short-term, and the dreams mix with the memories, and…

It’s a curtain call.

The dream to end all dreams.

One last great dream as my mind empties the fuckin’ missile silos and then…

I stop.

My brain activity ceases and there is nothing left of me.

No pain.

No memory, no awareness that I ever was, no…

That I ever hurt someone.

[voice breaking] That I ever killed someone.

Everything is as it was before me.

And the electricity disperses from my brain till it’s just dead tissue.



And all of the other little things that make me up, they…

The microbes and bacterium and the billion other little things that live on my eyelashes and in my hair and in my mouth and on my skin and in my gut and everywhere else, they just keep on living.

And eating.


And I’m serving a purpose.

I’m feeding life.

And I’m broken apart, and all the littlest pieces of me are just recycled, and I’m billions of other places.

And my atoms are in plants and bugs and animals, and I am like the stars that are in the sky.

There one moment and then just scattered across the goddamn cosmos.