The mystery of death

By Tom Quiner

“Tom, you’d better get up here.”

My wife called me upstairs. Her mom, my mother-in-law, was on her deathbed. Mom had lived with us for nearly fifteen years since my father-in-law died.

She had been in steady decline for a couple of years. Bedridden, her Catholic faith was rock solid. We had collectively planned for her to die at home.

On this early Saturday morning in May earlier this year, we knew the end was near. I went upstairs to look at Mom a last time. Her breathing was slow. Her eyes had been closed for five days.

Suddenly, they opened.

She didn’t see us. She didn’t see anything in this world.

I asked Karen, my wife, why her eyes opened. “She sees the angels coming for her.” Fifteen minutes later, she simply stopped breathing.

I reflect on Mom’s passing from this life to the next because of something I just read. Ten years earlier, Sister Lucy of Fatima died. She was the last surviving Fatima visionary, having been preceded in death by¬†Jacinta and Francisco.

I ran across Sister Lucy (or Lucia’s) last words. Shortly before her death, her eyes opened and she saw something. Mother Celina was present to hear Sister Lucy’s last words:

“For the Holy Father! … Our Lady, Our Lady,
Holy Angels, Heart of Jesus, Heart of Jesus!
We are going, we are going.”

“Where?” asked Mother Celina

“To Heaven…”

“With whom?” asked Mother Celina

“With Our Lord … Our Lady … and the little Shepherds.”

I suspect my mother-in-law saw the very same sight. You see, the mystery of death is really all about the mystery of life, the life that awaits us when our eyes are truly opened.



  1. leftfooter on October 14, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you.

  2. atimetoshare on October 14, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    This same thing happened to my mom when she passed. At first a kind of look of terror, but then peace.

  3. Diane Klopfenstein on October 14, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Beautiful reflection! I was there for both of my parents passing, and Kraig was there for his. I was not able to absorb all that was going on with my dad, but when it came to my mom I can tell you every last detail of her passing. She had been in a coma for three days and she also opened her eyes. But in her case, she focused on one of my brothers then to me and back to my brother. I whispered yes, we will watch out for him. Her eyes went out of focus again and she closed them. After that there was a light in the room but at the time I was not aware of. It was a couple of years ago when reading my cousin’s husband’s reflection on her death, it all came to me! We were both fortunate to have beautiful passings of her parents. Death is passing to a new life. Your mother-in-law saw that too.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • quinersdiner on October 14, 2015 at 5:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. parrillaturi on October 14, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    y mother-in-law, was n her deathbed also. We read her favorite Psalm, 103, when all of a sudden, she opened her eyes, looked around as if looking for someone, smiled, and went home to be with the Lord. It was an amazing experience. Blessings.

    • quinersdiner on October 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      These stories always amaze me. Thanks for sharing.

  5. odimartino on October 14, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    A friend of mine from church told me a story about her mom’s passing. She said that as her mom lay on her death bed, she said she couldn’t wait to get to heaven, because she wanted to get down and scrub floors for Jesus. What a servant’s heart! Thank you for sharing.

    • quinersdiner on October 15, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Thank-you for sharing.