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The Fall




Post-Mortem Journal

Post-Mortem Journal



What is it like to die? Here’s the beginning of one account, sent back through the medium Jane Sherwood by a man named T. E. Lawrence. Better known as Lawrence of Arabia. He kept a journal after he died, and it was published as a 42-page book called Post-Mortem Journal. If you Google “Post-Mortem Journal PDF”, you’ll find a free copy. By the way, he died in a motorcycle accident, and he didn't believe in life after death.

A shattering blow, darkness rent with interludes of throbbing agony and finally merciful cessation of pain; nothingness.

Out of the void came first a mere point of self awareness, lost and found again and spreading gradually into an indefinite impression of being; a sensation of neither darkness nor light, an uneasy greyness filled with growing apprehension. Soon I should need to drag myself out of this numbing stupor, to find out where I was and what was happening in this waste of greyness. But having flickered, consciousness went out again and I slept.

There came a time when I could no longer drowse my fears away. The sense of identity grew stronger and with it came a tumult of emotions and hurried anxious thoughts. Unwillingly I had to awake to a formless world of which I seemed the only inhabitant. Yet I thought I heard voices but could distinguish no words; I felt the shadows palpitate with movement and could see no one. I was aware too, of waves of sorrow washing up around me and trying to drown my feeble consciousness.

Becoming aware of my body I found myself on my feet, surprised to find movement so light and easy, but I was afraid to venture far in any direction because of the shadowy obstacles I sensed around. I fumbled in the dimness, seeking a way out of the grief that enveloped me. Where was I? Even if I had become blind and deaf surely there must be someone around to help me? I tried calling, but there was no response. What had happened?

At first my mind was entirely occupied with my predicament and the past did not concern me, but as I wandered now one, now another vision flashed across my mental retina. A ribbon of road, boys on bicycles, my cottage, and soon these discrete memories began to coalesce into a continuous series of past experiences. Before long I was racing back along the years faster and faster, helpless to stay the record and obliged to feel as well as to remember as my past unrolled back to the earliest childhood memories. I had come to a stand while this disquieting survey held me as it checked at the unconsciousness of the infant my own consciousness flickered out. At the very moment of oblivion I gasped with relief and just had time to think: this is really the end.

It was not. After a long or short interval - how should I know? - I came to myself again, mildly surprised because I had not expected existence to continue and certainly had as yet no reason to welcome it. The dimness had lifted a little and a world of vague outlines was developing out of the mist; meadows, I thought, hedges and trees. Perhaps the blurred outlines in the distance were houses? A town perhaps, people. I did not want to meet people. For the first time I realised that I was naked but apart from this embarrassment I shrank from my kind and even preferred the empty solitude.

But in thinking of the town and what it might hold I found myself drifting towards it and thus got my first indication of the way movement here is affected by thought. I obstinately resisted this drift toward the town and turned away to explore the open country.

All this while, the light had been strengthening and the greyness lifting. Soon the dreary place could be distinguished as a gloomy November dusk and I could move freely without the fear of stumbling into shadows and finding they were substance. I came upon a convenient bank and rested.

I was not conscious of cold and forgot my nakedness. As I sat there it became possible to think more clearly and take stock of my position. All my known and familiar world was gone and if this was a nightmare I still had to abide the awakening. The startling impression that this was death became insistent, but if I had to accept that idea what became of my conviction that death ended it all? For I was certainly alive, if you could call it living, and it even appeared that my surroundings were taking on more substance and I myself more vitality. So any expectation that this was just a particularly persistent nightmare became unlikely.

I felt my body; firm flesh. How odd! I tried to speak but only a throttled ghost of a sound came forth. I arose and walked and realised afresh how light and resilient my limbs felt. So back to my bank to think afresh.

As I say, this journal goes on for 42 more pages. You can Google “Post-Mortem Journal PDF” to find it.