cover image In My Time of Dying: How I Came Face to Face with the Idea of an Afterlife

In My Time of Dying: How I Came Face to Face with the Idea of an Afterlife

Sebastian Junger. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-6680-5083-5

National Magazine Award winner Junger (Tribe) pieces together fragmented memories, accounts from his healthcare team and family, and scientific research for a mind-bending exploration of his own near-death experience. Stricken with severe abdominal pain in 2020, Junger was drifting in and out of consciousness in a hospital bed when his father, who had been dead for eight years, seemed to appear, “not so much floating as simply existing above me,” and “invit[ed] me to go with him.” After receiving treatment for a rare pancreatic aneurysm, and with a new awareness that “I was carrying my own destruction around... like a live hand grenade,” Junger sought to understand what he’d experienced through the scientific method of inquiry used by his physicist father. Investigations of quantum mechanics, death as entropy, and matter as dependent on human consciousness are interwoven with eloquent philosophical musings that cut against popular notions of death. “The idea that you will appreciate life more after almost dying is a cheap bit of wisdom” from those “who have never been near death,” Junger writes. Instead, one develops a paradoxical “appreciation of death... You will know yourself best at that moment; you will be at your most real.” It’s a riveting and resonant meditation on some of life’s biggest questions. (May)