Helen, a friend of mine, had lost her beloved husband after fifteen years of marriage and when we came to know each other a little better she shared her pain with me. Life between them had been so sweet, so congenial, that when he died her logic could not enable her to make sense of the event. She confessed that in a way she had lived with the illusion that it would last forever. Death had parted them and now she wanted to examine with me how she could fathom what had happened to him. There is nothing logical in life or death yet a logical mind may be prepared to believe premises which meet its prejudices and preconceptions and move deductively on from there. Helen, facing the death of her husband, was going on living her life in the same house where they had lived happily together. She knew that she found him present in so many places, evoking him again and again doing this or that, or saying this or that. For her he was still alive, though dead, and she knew only with part of herself that he was actually dead. The questions she entertained were about their possible reencounter. Daughter of a strict Protestant clergyman, she had rebelled against what he believed in and had wanted her to believe. So she was not prepared to imagine her husband in that stereotyped after death Christian world where one day she would meet him again. She wanted him very much, but as they had been before, and not at the price of turning back to her father's views which she knew she had rejected for very good reasons. She was ready to investigate other conceptions of the after death.
"Is there any hope that we may ever know what death is? Since it is a problem of knowing, we need to find the epistemological devices that w...