Elizabeth Greenwood writes:
Faking your death—both as a concept and as an act people attempt with surprising frequency — first occurred to me over dinner with a friend at a cheap Vietnamese restaurant. I had just enrolled in a graduate program, and had taken out a brand new batch of student loans to heap upon a hefty debt from college.
As I bitched about the financial mess I’d gotten myself into, and how I feared I might never get out of it, I fantasized about finding a sun-bleached country with a rickety government and no extradition policy and just slipping through the cracks, disappearing without a trace.
“Or you could fake your own death,” my friend offered.
That conversation sent me on a years-long quest tracking down people who have faked their own deaths and interviewing experts in the art of disappearance. Along the way, I picked up a few Dos and Don’ts.
Don’t subscribe to conventional wisdom: The biggest challenge of faking your death is that teensy problem of your body. So fake a drowning, right? Wrong ... In most drownings, the body is recovered. According to Rambam, hiking is the way to go. “People disappear hiking all the time, legitimately. That’s a great way to disappear.”
Don’t Google yourself: Bad enough he tried it by water, but the temptation was too much for Patrick McDermott, Australian singer Olivia Newton-John’s longtime boyfriend, who faked his death on a fishing trip in 2005 shortly after the couple had broken up. Having recently filed for bankruptcy, he chartered a boat and allegedly fell overboard at night. A group of private investigators hired by Dateline NBC located McDermott when they noticed a centralized cluster of IP addresses originating near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, all clicking onto a site dedicated to tracing his whereabouts.
Don’t assume a fake identity: There’s no law on the books called “faking your own death.” If you don’t file a police report or death certificate, making it look like you are deceased violates no law except perhaps that of good taste. Promoting the idea that you have met an untimely end when in fact you are lazing beachside, paying for your daiquiris with a suitcase full of cash, is perfectly legal.
Do ask yourself: Can you bear to hold your own death certificate in your hands?: ...Most successful death fraud is carried out with high quality authentic documents ... But actually handling a piece of paper declaring me dead and a police report detailing my fatal car accident proved to be a more somber affair.
Do you have problems you would like to escape? Rather than fake your own death, the Bible suggest that you go ahead and die ... to self! The call of Christian discipleship came when Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
Have you died in Christ, or are you putting on an elaborate ruse? Consider the following diagnostic questions:
- Rather than facing your core spiritual issues, do you refuse to “go there”?
- Do you attend church for what you can get rather than what you can give?
- Do you fellowship with believers but avoid being vulnerable or transparent with them?
- Do you boast more about what you have done for Christ, than what Christ has done for you?
- Are you one person at church but a different person when no one is watching?
- Do you insist that things have to be done your way or it's the highway?
The conventional wisdom is that church is a place where we pretend everything is great in our life. In order to appear to be spiritual, we hide our problems and struggles from other believers. Rather than, "confess our faults to one another," as James exhorted us to do, we hide behind masks, afraid of what others would think of us if they knew the truth. Instead of dying to pride and pretense, we fake our death!
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).