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"As One Dies, So Dies The Other"

"I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them to show them that they are but beasts. For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20 RSV)

Lessons From Life and Death

A Memory Sometimes God provides us with lessons in "real life" that make The Bible "easier" to understand, and sometimes the "point" is hammered home so even the most thick-headed of us will never forget it. In the past year, I have witnessed the deaths of two of God's living creatures, first an animal, then a human, in the same way, from the same disease, that provided a stark lesson in what is meant by Ecclesiastes 3:18-20, quoted above. I don't need any more convincing.

The first was a cat that developed breast cancer (along with one "inside" cat, we have a small collection of "stray" outside cats who come and go). The cancer wasn't discovered before it had spread to her vital organs, particularly the lungs, as evidenced by an x-ray done by the veterinarian. At the end, the tumors caused the lungs to fill with fluid, which resulted in loss of the ability to breathe until the heart stopped from lack of oxygen. Her last day of life was spent gasping for breath, until suddenly she writhed upward and to one side with a cry of pain, and then dropped back down - dead.

The second, a few months later, was a human that also developed breast cancer. It wasn't effectively treated early, because of denial, before it had spread to her vital organs, particularly the lungs. At the end, the tumors caused the lungs to fill with fluid, which resulted in loss of the ability to breathe until the heart stopped from lack of oxygen. Her last days of life were spent in a hospital; the last day gasping for breath, unconscious due to the morphine that had been given for pain relief. As I alone sat beside her bed, in her last few minutes I actually saw her pulse in the vein in the side of her neck, pounding and pounding as though she were racing a bicycle as she did when she was a teenager, but slowly decreasing in rate, until one last beat - and then death.

I continue to be "impressed" with how, not only were the course their diseases nearly identical, but so were their deaths, despite the cat just being on a mat inside my porch after being brought home from the veterinarian, while the human was in a large, modern hospital which was filled with "miraculous" technology and highly-skilled and dedicated doctors and nurses. The original tumor, the spread of the disease, and in the end, the gasping for breath and the heart stoppage - even the fearful looks in their eyes that no words of reassurance could erase, were the same. As the Scriptures above state, "all have the same breath," and "as one dies, so dies the other."

Their present state is also identical, I buried both of them, although the cat very simply in my yard beside the hedge, the human much more elaborately in a local cemetery through arrangements made with a funeral home. Again, as the Scriptures above state, "All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again."

Death is the fate that awaits all of us, human or animal, sooner or later, from one thing or another. But that's where the similarity between humans and animals ends. Why, and how? See the Fact Finder below.

Fact Finder: What does the Bible actually teach about death?
See What Happens When You Die?, Where Is Your Soul? and Resurrections


This Week's Bible Quiz

Which book of the Bible comes before:

1. Exodus?

2. Nehemiah?

3. Jeremiah?

4. Hosea?

5. Malachi?

6. John?

7. Romans?

8. Ephesians?

9. James?

10. Revelation? Jude

For the answers to this October 22 2002 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page


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