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Final Memory Flashbacks: A Quantum of Solace?

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The 2004 science fiction film “The Final Cut” talks about an era in the future where people have microchips implanted in their heads recording everything they see. After they die, a professional known as “The Cutter” downloads the video that was captured throughout their lives and edits it into a pleasant narrative that the loved ones can watch during or after the burial. Much like a futuristic version of the video clips we play in remembrance of our loved ones at memorial services today.

I remembered that film because the latest phenomenon in medical science suggests it’s possible that our brains playback our sweetest memories for 7-8 minutes after we die, in a process known as “Final Memory Flashbacks” [Full Story]. The medical experts still haven’t proved it beyond a reasonable doubt. You might ask now, “Even if it’s true what possible purpose can memories serve a dead man?” I believe God intends these memories to serve as a quantum of solace or a droplet of divine comfort for his children on their deathbeds. Here are three reasons why I believe they are.

God’s Promise to comfort Us

The Scottish Poem “Lord Randall” tells of a nobleman returning home from a hunting expedition after he was poisoned by a woman he met in the woods. The dying man asks his mother to make his bed (comfort him) so that he could rest (die). In almost every culture people regardless of their gender and age tend to go to their mothers when they need comfort. Isn’t it interesting that in Isaiah 66:13 God has promised to comfort us like a mother comforting her child? It’s probably the only time God likens himself to a mother.

So, here’s the first reason why I believe God intends final memory flashbacks to serve as a quantum of solace for his children on their deathbeds. It’s a fulfillment of God’s promise to comfort us like a mother comforts her child. In the event, you may wonder “Why do we need God to comfort us on our deathbed if we have the assurance of being with him for eternity?” the answer is simple. At the end of the poem, Lord Randall regrets trusting the woman he met in the woods. Likewise, we seek comfort on our deathbeds because when we die, we tend to regret the mistakes we made while we were alive.

On the other hand, it’s not only the dying who will find comfort through the phenomenon should it be true. Imagine the doctor telling you, “Your loved one is alright. He or she is not suffering. They’re not having pain in the last moments of life. Instead, they’re reliving the best moments in life they had with you.” – How comforting, do you think that would be to you? That would definitely be a great way to experience God’s comfort on an occasion as difficult as mourning a loved one.

A Symbol of a Peaceful Death

We often say a painless death is a peaceful death but that contradicts everything the Bible teaches us about death and the afterlife. Just because Idi Amin died in peace does it mean his soul is resting in peace? Just because Graham Staines and his sons were burnt alive does it mean they are rolling in their graves now? It’s not the way a person dies that determines whether or not they died in peace. It’s whether or not their souls are at peace after they die that determines whether or not they died in peace. So here’s the second reason why I believe God intends final memory flashbacks to serve as a quantum of solace for his children on their deathbeds.

If the phenomenon of final memory flashbacks is true, they are a symbol of a peaceful death. If God comforts his children on their deathbed, they have indeed died a peaceful death despite the way they died. Whether you were sick and died in pain like the Prophet Elisha, whether you were sawed in half like the Prophet Isaiah or you just died owing to old age like John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, God is going to comfort you in the final moments of your life by letting you relive the most memorable events of your life.

A Transition to the after Life

When USA Today sought Dr. Ajmal Zemmar’s opinion on the effect of this phenomenon on existing religious views of death, he commented, “Everyone should choose how they want to imagine the spiritual side of death for themselves.” As Christians how shall we possibly reconcile this phenomenon with our beliefs about the afterlife? In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus recorded in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 16, Jesus said, “The time came when the beggar died, and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side”

These reassuring words of Jesus indicate our friend Lazarus had a smooth transition to the afterlife. So, at the risk of sounding like a heretic, here’s how I want to imagine it. Final memory flashbacks might be an earthly reflection of the angels in the heavenly realm carrying the dead in Christ to Abraham’s side. It’s the third and the final reason why I believe God intends final memory flashbacks to serve as a quantum of solace for his children on their deathbeds.

Wrap Up

If you have watched Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece of a film “A. I – Artificial Intelligence” you will remember David, who was revived by the “Mecha” 2,000 years after his foster mother Monica and the entire human race had vanished from the earth. Although they recreate Monica, upon his request she will die again after 24 hours, and the process cannot be repeated. David however spends his happiest day with Monica, and as she falls asleep forever that night, tells David she has always loved him: The film ends with the narrator saying, “The everlasting moment he had been waiting for…David falls asleep as well and goes to that place where dreams are born.” indicating David also died.

If the phenomenon of Final Memory Flashbacks is true it’s how God makes our last moment on earth our happiest moment on earth. For us as the children of God, it’s the “…everlasting moment we have been waiting for…” The moment we will reunite with the loved ones that departed before, that moment when God will wipe away our tears. In the film, David fell asleep and went to that place where “dreams are born” – We on the other hand shall go to that place not where our dreams are born but our lifelong dream of being with the Lord will be fulfilled and God will whisper in our ears, “I have always loved you”.

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