Crying about the Afterlife

Sometimes at night I cry about my own death and the afterlife. At 17, I don’t want to make wrong choices (especially about chastity). Why am I so worried about death and the afterlife?

Thanks for writing. I hope you find this reply helpful. As someone who taught high school students for 16 years full-time and three more years part-time, I appreciate that you find death scary. At age 71, I’m probably closer to death than you are.

Death is the passage into the life with God that we have always been intended to share. I hope that you have known some older people who have faced death calmly. If you haven’t had that experience, you might consider volunteering at a nursing home near you. One run by Catholic sisters might be ideal.

Developing one’s conscience and sticking to it are not easy. In a sense, you can ask about any action: Is this who I am before God? Would I have to lie to myself to find this action OK?

Every sin begins with a lie to oneself because every temptation to sin suggests that the proposed action or inaction is a shortcut to something good, that God’s ways are too difficult, take too long, etc.

God created each of us in order to share divine life with us and that includes the freedom to tell ourselves the truth consistently. Nothing good can be built upon a lie of whatever kind. I encourage you to seek help from a mental health professional.

May the Lord help you to experience the peace, joy, and freedom that are your birthright.

Ask a Franciscan


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