The Trouble with Death

By Matthew Joyce

Dying is easy. I’ve done it lots of times.

Explaining what death is, that’s a bit more complicated.

Other than public speaking, death ranks as most people’s ultimate fear. They fear it’s potential for pain; they fear the loss of connection to their loved ones and the world they know; they fear death’s finality. But more than anything else, people fear death because they fear the unknown.

We fear death because we don’t understand it.

We Fear Unknowns

That lack of understanding comes from having little experience with it.

In other eras, death was a common event. Even in fairly recent history, mortality rates were much higher. Lives were shorter. But more than that, death was something that people had direct experience with. They killed their own food, even if it was just chickens in the yard. They saw death at home, which was where most people died and were then prepared for burial, before we began hiding them away in hospitals, hospice centers and funeral homes.

Now death is something that is handled by specialists. Be they slaughter house workers or life-saving professionals like doctors and nurses, or experts in hospice care.

I have great respect for people who serve in these roles. The assistance they provide to those who are dying and to their families can be profound, and their perspectives on death can be insightful.

But looking at death from the perspective of life is like looking at the outside world through a window. There is still a barrier separating you from the experience itself.

The Trouble with Death

No matter how many times you watch something. No matter how well someone explains something to you. You just don’t understand it in the same way you do as when you do it yourself. There is no substitute for personal experience.

And that’s precisely the trouble with death.

Virtually everyone wants to send in a substitute. “Send in my understudy. Send in the pinch hitter. Send in anyone but me,” they think.

And of course it doesn’t work that way.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore death for yourself.

I have.

And more than that, I’ve lived to tell about it.

Sort of.

Exploring Death

In the past life explorations I’ve done, I have relived dozens and dozens of deaths. So many I can’t count them.

I’ve been shot, stabbed, stoned, strangled, beaten, trampled, crucified, poisoned, killed by wild animals, and died in falls, car accidents and shipwrecks. And those were just the violent ones. I’ve also died of diseases and enjoyed easy release from sleep at a pleasant old age. In fact, I’ve had plenty of pleasant deaths. They just don’t make for as interesting storytelling.

Dying Means Changing Perspectives

The stories of my deaths have been as varied as the lifetimes that preceded the ends. But once I’ve started the death process, my transition has been remarkably similar each time.

Contrary to popular belief, in my experience, death doesn’t end in annihilation, blackness, or even forgetfulness. When I die, my sense of WHO I am in that lifetime continues on remarkably unchanged.

What changes is my perception of WHAT I am.

Throughout a lifetime, I move through life wearing a body, expressing a personality, and accumulating experiences from one moment to the next, year after year, decade after decade.

After dying I shift my sense of identity slightly. I go from thinking of myself as Matthew or whoever that personality was, to recognizing myself as the Being who lived as Matthew. I feel a bit like an actor who finishes his role as a character on a long-running show. But it’s more subtle than that because actors step out of their roles at the end of each performance, whereas I feel a sense of release from a continuous role of a lifetime.

A Sense of Release

The release itself, is an interesting thing.

No matter the circumstance that have led to my past deaths, at some point I have a feeling of release. Sometimes I’ve willed it to happen. Other times it has happened gracefully or forcefully. But no matter how it occurs, there comes a moment when I suddenly feel untethered and completely free.

If you’ve lived your whole life locked in the perspective of your physical body and your personality, the sense of release I’m talking about may be difficult to comprehend. To say it’s like a fish trying to comprehend existence beyond the ocean would be cliché.

So instead, I’ll tell you that it is like ending a lifetime in which you always wore your pants a size too small. You sucked yourself in and managed to get your pants buttoned, but they never fit quite right. You could move around, but you were always slightly limited and cramped. It’s all you know until you finally take off your pants and slip into a pair of sweatpants instead. Suddenly you’re comfortable and free. The limitations you knew previously have been miraculously lifted.

What Death Feels Like

When I die I feel free of all physical pain and suffering. My perspective is clearer than it ever was while I was alive. I feel more connected to Source energy. I still retain a sense of who I was, but now I see my life from a broader perspective.

When I die I almost always find myself thinking, “I’m free. I’m glad that’s over.” But then I also think about the people I love. The things I’ve accomplished and those I didn’t. The things I wish I had done better and those I wish could still do. But more than anything else, I feel a sense of exhilaration at returning to my natural state of being.

After dying enough times, I now think of my physical body as a time-and-space suit that makes it possible to navigate in physical reality. When I die I get to take off the bulky suit and continue my existence without it. I get to end my tour of duty and enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation.

What Death Is

Which finally brings me to what death is.

In my experience, death is a transition process that frees my awareness from my physical body. It’s a process by which my consciousness disconnects from the cells in my body and returns to a larger energy field in nonphysical form. Death is the start of the process of returning home.

What happens after you die is a grand adventure that is every bit as exciting as the lifetime you’ve just left behind. But that’s a topic for another article.

Something to Look Forward to

So I’ll end by saying that contrary to being something I fear, death is actually something I look forward to.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m in no hurry for it. I’ve got a lot to do and to live for yet before I’ll be ready to go. In a way, it’s a bit like Christmas morning for me. I look forward to it every year, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on all the experiences awaiting on the days between holidays.

Life is something to be enjoyed with great relish. So is death.

At least for me it is.

But, then, I also enjoy public speaking.

Next Step

Read more articles, and if you haven’t done so already:


(That’s a hint!)

10 Responses to Death

  1. forrest walters says:

    Why, from his own point of view, and apart from general humanitarian considerations, should anyone care what happens in future incarnations, since, if I understand correctly, those are different personalities?

  2. Matthew, thank you for this very informative article. I don’t remember other deaths I’ve had but having been to the afterlife so many times in retrievals, I KNOW there’s nothing to fear. For me, I’m looking forward to the day I do leave, not that I want it to happen now as I feel there’s more I need to do. But when the day comes, I’ll be ready.

    I can remember a conversation I had with Rita Warren when I was living on The New Land with Rita and we were discussing death. I said it’s probably better to go in your sleep. She said “not me. I want to be completely conscious when I leave” and I changed my mind and decided I want that too. And I believe she did when she passed a little over a year ago. I have changed so much since I first went to TMI for Gateway Voyage in 2000.

    LoveLight, Marilyn

  3. M S says:

    What a wonderful way of describing what we are – that we are more than this “time-and-body suit.” It is kind of like our “avatar” that we drive around, and need to take care of, but beyond what we see in the mirror, there is so much more, isn’t there?

    This article really hit the mark for me today. It helps me remember to look with a higher-level perspective at my life, above just the goals and chores at hand that sometimes tend to make us think that what we see is all there is.

  4. LaughingRain says:

    Great article again Matthew. well written too. I remember a few times dying but not the physical pain of it; the dramas leading up to death is intriguing to me.

    my kid remembered recently a death; as a Roman soldier she died in the desert; she remembers feeling sorry for the lions the Romans used for entertainment. today she fights for the rights of animals.

    I look forward to the adventure of the transition and I look forward to being a guide for awhile on the other side. a guide told me I could live another 45 years if I want, he said. nah, I was joking a little, you gotta be kidding! he just smirked.
    figures. funny guides always say it’s up to me.

    what gets me thinking, is visiting with your own “self.” Like Monroe did. It seems all these lives continue as individuals yet they are all me, and I them.

    great seeing my old friend Marilyn here. wave! love, alysia

  5. Matthew says:

    @ Forrest. Great question! I think that some of the other comments here have already supplied my intended reply, but let me state it anyway.

    When we consider ourselves to be separate from all else, then it is only from the perspective of altruism–an un-Self-ish concern for the welfare of others–that we should care for them, be they people alive today, in times past, or in the future. However, when you shift perspectives and consider all lives–past, present, and future–to be you then you begin care from a Self-ish perspective.

    In the case of exploring past lives, the experience of temporarily investing your awareness in and actually living another life in the same way you live the one in your physical body, gives you the experience of actually being that person. And the experience of dying and no longer being that person gives you the perspective of being someone/something beyond being physical at all.

    These experiences cause you (or me anyway) to see all lifetimes as expressions of your greater being. And thus you end up caring very deeply for all living incarnations because you conceive of them as being you, albeit in forms that appear to be separate from you in time or space.

    Hope that helps to clarify things.


  6. Matthew says:

    @ Marilyn, Mark and Alysia,

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad the article struck a chord. It sounds like you share a similar perspective about looking forward to enjoying the other side of death. Having some experience exploring there certainly helps, doesn’t it?

    It’s the fear of the unknown that gets so many people worried. That’s what is so great about meditation, astral travel, soul retrievals, and all else you can experience when you listen to Hemi-Sync or otherwise learn to shift your awareness beyond physical reality.

    But even more than the fun adventures to be had or the learning to be done in that regard, I think one of the greatest benefits of not being afraid of death is that it actually helps you to live. When you are not afraid of dying you live life more fully. You take more chances. You say yes to more opportunities. You spend more time looking around and enjoying yourself. And that is what life is really all about.

  7. Irene Blanck says:

    Hi Matthew

    You’re spot on here with much of what you say. As you know in the voluntary work that I do I talk to, and visit, people who are in the final stages of their lives. And I find that most families do not want to discuss death. No one mentions the dreaded D word to the person dying for fear of upsetting them. And most don’t want to face the fact that their loved one will soon be passing over. Of course to the person dying that’s all they can think about – its like this white elephant sitting in the room that everyone ignores.

    I am currently visiting a friend (S) who is dying and getting her and her family to bring the D word out! Once encouraged its amazing how freely we can talk. Not only about dying but what happens after death. Most of what I know is from personal experience as well as my reading on Near Death Experiences. And once I share what I know I can sense the feelings of relief and peace that S begins to experience. With S and her family we are now all sitting around (when I visit) and talking about her death and everyone shares how they feel openly. Its truly amazing to see the acceptance that goes with the “free’ing up” of emotions. Tears flow, arguments sometimes ensue, scepticism comes out as well, but at least they are talking about death openly.

    I will share this article with S’s family. So thank you.


  8. NATALYA says:

    Hi Matthew,
    I enjoyed your article about death….I was pleased to hear someone besides me talking about it….most people don’t want to discuss it…..even I don’t say as much as I think….because knowing that there is no death I am very unsentimental about it….which ordinary thinkers too easily misinterpret at unfeeling….it’s just that I see death as a normal part of life…..we have our life lesson plan & if we don’t get it we get to repeat it as many times as we like….. kind of like not passing a grade in school & doing it over again…..there is no
    dishonor or judgement in that… can repeat it as often as you like….but for me that’s way too boring!…..I want to get it & move on to the next level of understanding. One of the most exciting things I learned recently……is that as a quantum being……in the new energy…..all that has been in my experience I now have access to…..simply by giving permission & stating my
    intent to have it brought into current experience….I can have access to the talents & wisdom of ‘prior’ experience… a sense there is no ‘past lives’….. because the experience of time as linear is only a 3D perspective…..but the record in our DNA is quantum…..& as we choose to live in a more quantum way……we have access to broader aspects of our own beingness…..that’s really mind-blowing!……because it’s understanding that is beyond the mind…. it shatters all kinds of limitations…..or beliefs in limitations….it makes death a totally passe` topic!…..Yet since so many people are not at this level of understanding …..addressing death in an article is still important….& I’m glad you did….I sent it on to people in my circle that need to hear this. I was reminded of my own past life regressions…..I viewed them from a position of
    hovering above the scene…….watching with a sense of detachment……like a story unfolding with no sense of tragedy……regardless of the method of ending… just doesn’t matter…’s simply a transition….this also releases judgement about the others involved in the death…..especially if it was violent…..since we still think of that as bad….the truth is it just doesn’t matter… because there is no death! My own near death experience….where I realized I had a choice of going or staying……made the fact of death being a no-thing real for me in this life experience… I have no questions or doubts on this topic….but other people do….so thank you for a well written piece……I will save it & pass it on to others as needed…. It reminds me of the value of those regressions & why others might find value in them even now…..I hadn’t thought to recommend them for a long time…..I forget that other people don’t even believe they’ve had other life-times!…I guess I live in the world, but am not of the world much these days!


  9. Matthew says:

    @ Natalya Thanks for sharing your thoughts on death. Yours is a wonderful perspective that is so freeing. I also want to thank you for sharing your thoughts on our abilities to access the wisdom of all our lives from within this one.

    I was told something similar by my guides in 2006. Since then it has been much easier for me to slip into other lives, either to converse with them in my astral state or to live their lives, seeing things through their eyes for a time. I don’t necessarily walk around with immediate knowledge or memories regarding the details of their lives, but their wisdom comes to me from time to time as I need it in my daily life. It’s very handy without impinging upon my sense of self-identity based upon my lifetime as Matthew.

    What I didn’t write about in my article was that in revisiting my various deaths I was actually working on breaking the connections between those lives and my current one. Not severing them completely, but specifically visiting each one in order to revisit the dominant life issue from that life time that represented a pattern that was still being expressed in this one. By bringing my awareness to their expressions of the pattern I found it much easier to overcome the expression of the pattern in this life time. (I left positive patterns in place, but broke the connections to less desirable ones.)

    Using a technique a friend showed me, in effect, I did in about 90 minutes what typical psychotherapy might take years and normal past life regression could take many sessions. It’s a very intense method because everything is first person and as stone-cold, razor sharp real as this life. One side effect of the process is that you’re left with zero question about death being a mere transition. Of course, I had considerable experience exploring past lives and past deaths before as well, which made things easier.

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