Death and the Death Penalty

I’m reading a book about an innocent guy who was executed by the state after spending nine years on death row. The story was supposed to show the horrors of death row as well as the immorality of the death penalty, but it made me think beyond moral issues to the whole death thing.

When Jeff died, people told me that he was in a better place, that God needed him more than I did, that he at been taken home.

So, according to all these comments, death is a good thing, right? Then how can death be a punishment? Of course, people justify the dichotomy by talk of heaven vs. hell, but when someone dies, no one brings up the possibility that the deceased might not be in a better place.

Although, to my way of thinking, if God created an evil person (ie: if the person was born evil rather than being created through torment and abuse) then it’s not exactly fair for that person to be consigned to hell. (I’m only being a trifle facetious here because it is a real conundrum.)

Sometimes death is a good thing, especially when the person has suffered longer than is humane, for no other reason than death puts them out of their misery. My take on that has always been that the poor benighted folks shouldn’t have suffered in the first place. And there are other ways of relieving suffering besides death if we but knew them, such as . . .  oh, I don’t know . . . finding a cure, perhaps.

Also, if there is life after death, then killing a killer doesn’t actually remove that person. It just puts them in a different place. (That better place so many people assured me exists?) It seems to me if people are really bent on vengeance, it would be better to keep the evildoer alive as long as possible.

I truly don’t know what the answer is, and it’s not one I have to decide. Other people decide such things as retribution and punishment.

Luckily, I am in the last phase of the book where all those who conspired to put the innocent guy on death row get their comeuppance. And then I’ll be done and will be able to stop thinking about all this.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator