Can A Simple Butterfly Bring Comfort In Grief?

Photo courtesy of Pinterest


Mellie and her grandmother were best friends, and when she found out her Nanny had suffered a serious stroke, her first reaction was numbness: “I was completely devoid of feelings,” writes Mellie.

But that changed as soon as she walked into the hospital room.

“Immediately I felt scared. Scared for what she must be going through mostly, since she couldn’t communicate. I was also scared for myself. What was going to happen?” All sense of control was gone, says Mellie.

Soon the fear became anger.

“I didn’t approve of this event happening in my life. This wasn’t okay with me, I was thinking, all the while knowing deep within that I had in fact signed up for this, and there was a lesson for me hidden beneath the sadness.”

Even though Nanny could not communicate outwardly, says Mellie, something began to happen between them. Once, while in the hospital gift shop, “I saw the most beautiful butterfly kimono, and in my head Nan’s voice was telling me how beautiful it was and that I needed to buy it. I wore that kimono every time I visited her.

“Prior to Nan’s stroke, we’d had a conversation about how she would appear after she passed on and we agreed she would come back as a butterfly, because she thought they were so beautiful and had always loved them. I didn’t know at the time, but this kimono became the first of many visits I would receive from butterflies.”

“…this kimono became the first of many visits I would receive from butterflies.”

Eventually, Mellie began to feel guilt. “My nanny was my best friend, a woman that I considered to be one of m y soul mates and, yet, seeing her lying there in that bed with half of her brain function lost, I eventually began wishing for her to go.”

Still, Mellie kept up her visits. “I could feel her spirit drifting in and out of her body. Sometimes it felt like she was there and other times I felt no connection to her body at all. She was all around me, flying about like a butterfly.”

Finally, deciding she couldn’t bear the idea of her Nan not returning to the woman she’d been, Mellie decided it must be time to let her go. “I felt shameful for having these thoughts, and yet when I discussed them with my family, I found they felt very similarly.

“My Nanny passed peacefully on August 29, 2015.”

Now, Mellie began to feel th e loss. Her Nanny was gone forever. They would never again share a hug or a cup of tea and a chat. “I would never again hear her tell me she loved me.”

A few days after her death, though, Nanny got through to Mellie. A family member who also happened to be a psychic medium, contacted Mellie with a message from her: “(She) wanted me to let go, spread my wings and fly, just as she had done only days ago. She offered me her strength to make that a reality.”

The following March, Mellie tried another means to connect with Nanny. This time, though, it was to let her go. “I felt that I was holding her back in some way, tying her down to the earthly realm. Wishing that she hadn’t left was making it difficult for me to carry on, so I thought that it may be time to let that go.”

Mellie signed up for an exercise called “conscious connected breathing” in which participants use breathing techniques to bridge between their conscious and unconscious. “During the breathing, the woman assisting me began massaging my hands. As she held my hand, hers felt like my Nanny’s. It was an odd sensation, so I quickly dismissed it. When the exercise was coming to an end, I rolled over to eye-gaze with my breathing partner. The man I was paired with had blue eyes like my Nanny’s. When I gazed into them, I had a strong feeling of looking into the eyes of my Nanny.

“In that moment, I realized that she is all around me.”

“In that moment, I realized that she is all around me. Her spirit lives inside of me and every other person. The oneness of the universe really became apparent to me through my breathing experience.”

Mellie says that even after that event, her Nanny continued to communicate with her through butterflies. “Whether it be an encounter with a live butterfly, or even just my eye catching a butterfly on someone’s scarf, I knew all of these butterflies were being sent by her.

“Nanny also tuned me in to certain songs. I would be contemplating some aspect of my life and the perfect song would come on the radio to answer my question. Each time this happened, my heart knew it was a message from her.”

Little more than a year after her grandmother’s passing, Mellie was getting ready for her wedding when she consulted a medium hoping for another message from her grandmother. She was not disappointed.

“My Nanny told me that I was on the perfect path, and that every decision I had made was the perfect one. That each choice had led me to this moment.

“She also told me that, on the other side, she had created the most beautiful garden she could ever imagine, but that no garden was more beautiful than watching me bloom into the young woman I am today.”

Nothing is more comforting than being able to know her grandmother’s still there, says Mellie, and her  experiences move her to offer words of wisdom for others finding their way through grief:

“If I can offer anything to help others in their grieving process, it would be to let all of your feelings be truly expressed. There is no map for grief, and I don’t believe that grieving ever ends, it just changes form.”

“The signs from our loved ones aren’t always overt,” she says. “Sometimes they can be very subtle, but when you open yourself to this form of communication and you feel like something is a sign from someone on the other side, like it was orchestrated perfectly for this moment, don’t dismiss those feelings. They are real and will bring such comfort in the days, weeks and years following a loved one’s death.

“If I can offer anything to help others in their grieving process, it would be to let all of your feelings be truly expressed. There is no map for grief, and I don’t believe that grieving ever ends, it just changes form.

“Know that your loved ones are always with you. A piece of them lives on within you, and so you can never be truly apart from them. Like a butterfly, they have flown from their cocoon. A new story is only just beginning.”


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Can Dreams Help with Sudden Loss?

On The Meaning of Forever blog, we’ve posted many stories from people who have had comforting dreams featuring their deceased loved ones. And we’ve often referred to the research of Dr. Joshua Black, who earned his doctorate degree in psychology based on pioneering research into what he calls “grief dreams.”

On a website called nextavenue, based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, writer Kevyn Burger interviews Black and others to begin putting grief dream research into the context of the Covid 19 pandemic and the trauma of sudden loss. You can read the full article by clicking here.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us atthemeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Can Dogs go to Heavenly Rehab?

Perhaps you’ve accepted the idea that, after our loved ones (people at least) exit this life, they spend time learning and trying new things—preparing, maybe, for their next mission. Well… what if this is true for animals, too? In this story, first published on Animals are Soul, Lois relates how dreams showed her the progress of a dear departed dog who was being made ready to come back as a rambunctious golden puppy.  It is reprinted here with permission.


DREAMS OF A GOLDEN PUPPY BEING REBORN

By Lois Stanfield, Minnesota, USA

When my newly adopted, rescued Afghan Hound, Lila, came to live with my other Afghan, Pistachio, and me, I had to help her accept her newfound freedom. Eventually she graduated from being a dog who had lived in a kennel to a beloved house pet. After a while she blossomed into quite a character. She started talking all the time in the way dogs talk. She always had something to say and was quite definite about what she wanted. Ultimately, she ruled the roost.

Although each dog had a bed, one was more comfortable than the other. Being senior resident in the household, Pistachio had the softer bed. But Lila wanted that bed and would sometimes sit on top of him until he got up and left. Then she’d claim the preferred bed. She was hilarious, and the two of them made a cute little couple.

Pistachio was kind and patient with Lila, and they grew to love each other. We had a wonderful three and a half years together. Because she had never known human love before coming to my home, Lila was more comfortable bonding with me through Pistachio. He was like her little husband, and she loved me because he loved me.

Pistachio passed away when Lila was about thirteen, and she was extremely depressed at the loss of her best friend. It took some time, but gradually she bonded more and more with me. Before long it got to where we spent every evening snuggled up together on the sofa. Lila captured my heart like no other. Our time together was precious, and I loved her dearly.

Lila’s Journey

At the age of fourteen and a half, Lila developed serious health issues. The veterinarian did all she could to help her recover, but true to her nature, Lila was quite clear in letting me know what she wanted. It was her time to go. With love and gratitude for the time she had spent with me, I let her move on with her own spiritual journey.

My previous animal companions had always communicated after their death where they were, what they were doing, and what their next lifetime would be. I would get insights either in the dream state or during a spiritual exercise. But after Lila passed, I didn’t get any visits or information from her. Nothing. It was like a complete void.

After a few weeks with no inner messages, I asked for help from the Mahanta, my inner spiritual guide. Even though Lila had experienced over three years of love in my home, she’d previously endured ten years of abuse. In a spiritual exercise, I was told that Lila was being rehabilitated on the inner planes, and I could not see her.

So I let go, trusted, and moved on with my life.

Khiley

I adopted a beautiful, seven-year-old, male Afghan Hound named Khiley, who had been rescued from the same kennel situation as Lila three and a half years earlier. He lived with a dear friend of mine, Louise, who had four other Afghans.

Khiley had some emotional damage and did not get along with Louise’s other dogs. Life was miserable for all of them, as he could not adjust to the pack. He wanted a person who would be all his own—someone he could bond with and devote himself to. I was the perfect “mom” for him. He entered my life, filling the gaping hole that Lila’s departure had left.

A Dream with Lila

A few months after adopting Khiley, I began to once again wonder about Lila and had a dream with her. She’d graduated from the inner-world rehab center and was in a halfway house where she could safely and gradually reorient herself into entering a new physical life. A wonderful man served as caretaker there. Lila had all the treats and toys she wanted, and she played with other dogs. Appearing to be about two years old, she was cute, fluffy, happy, and spunky. She looked fantastic.

At the halfway house in my dream I wanted to embrace Lila, but she ran away. The caretaker winked at me and said, “I think she likes it here. She’s not ready to come back yet.” As the dream ended, I knew Lila was progressing and everything was good. I had to let go and not be concerned about her.

Many more months passed, and I bonded more and more deeply with my beloved Khiley. Then I had yet another dream with Lila. This time, she ran to play with me. I knew she was letting me know that she was getting ready to return. But when, where, and how remained a mystery.

A month later, I dreamed of a little golden puppy being born and received inner confirmation that Lila was coming back very soon. Not long after the dream, I learned that Louise was going to breed her female Afghan. In a few months, there would be a new litter of Afghan Hound puppies. I felt certain Lila would be returning in that litter.

I started thinking, OK. Lila’s coming back. What am I going to do? If I adopt her in her new puppy body, it won’t be good for Khiley. I didn’t know what to do and had to surrender the situation to Divine Spirit.

The puppies were born, and one of them, true to my dream, had gold coloring. Normally, Afghan Hounds have big litters of eight to ten puppies, but Louise’s new litter consisted of only two. She and her sister each wanted one. This meant I didn’t have to make a choice about adopting a reincarnated Lila. Louise chose the gold puppy for herself, and her sister took the other one.

Sprite

After getting to know Louise’s puppy, I realized she was, indeed, Lila. As Soul, Lila had chosen to reincarnate not with me but near me. This put her into the fabulous home of one of my dearest friends. And I would get to see her all the time.

Louise named the “Lila” puppy Sprite. She was huge at birth and soon grew fat, attaching herself to her mother and nursing on her continuously. The other puppy in the litter was small and normal. As Sprite, the Soul in this tiny new puppy body seemed to be making up for the hunger previously endured as Lila. Sprite was the fattest puppy I’d ever seen.

This golden puppy grew into the most gorgeous creature—the color of pale butter, with a black mask. Louise watches in amazement at how Sprite reacts to me. Sprite loves people but isn’t quite as enthusiastic with other visitors as she is with me. When I visit, she almost literally comes flying to me. If I sit down, she leaps into my lap. I get mauled with doggy kisses.

Louise calls me Auntie, because I’m like this puppy’s aunt. Sprite’s affection has been affirmation that she truly is Lila returned. I love her dearly in this lifetime too and am grateful to see her often. As a wonderful side benefit, Khiley got to keep his mommy completely to himself. He has become the sweetest, most loving dog I’ve ever had.

I’ve learned much from my beloved dogs in the many years they have come and gone. Most of all, they have taught me how the love between Souls, whether in an animal or a human body, is unbreakable and timeless. For me, there is no superior form of love. The love between a husband and wife, a parent and child, or a person and a pet—all are expressions of the divine love of God.

Love is love. Love is all.

—Photos by Lois Stanfield


Click on this link to the Animals are Soul blog to read “A Rescue that Changed My Life,” the prequel to Lois’s story.


“Dreams of a Golden Puppy Being Reborn” by Lois Stanfield is published with permission of Eckankar. All Rights Reserved. Copyright Eckankar, 2019, www.Eckankar.org. The story was first published in “Animals Are Soul” blog, www.AnimalsAreSoul.blog.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones–animal or human–who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, or our Meaning of Forever Website.

Can Whisper truly be a “Gift Horse?”

This story originally appeared as a guest spotlight on The Power of Pets website in July of 2016, then on The Meaning of Forever blog in July of 2017.

By Ruth Edgett

Sometimes in the world of humans and horses—if we’re lucky enough—we meet our horse of a lifetime. Ubetcha Maggie was that horse for me. I felt eternally twelve years old with her. Together we could run faster, go farther, have more adventures than either of us could ever have on our own.

Having begun life as a Thoroughbred racehorse, Maggie was 1,000 pounds of compressed energy, ready to explode at the least provocation. And she was my best friend. My road with Maggie, from timid purchaser to confident rider, had taken some bumps and curves but eight years into our relationship, Maggie and I had become a well-synchronized pair; we trusted each other absolutely. Maggie would even come to me in dreams. Once, as we were still sorting our relationship and I was learning a painful new meaning for the term “on again, off again”, Maggie appeared in a dream to say proudly, “I’m very fit!” to which I replied ruefully, “I know.”

Maggie would even come to me in dreams.

Through dreams and inner experiences, I gradually realized that Maggie’s and my story may have had its start long before we met in this life. Perhaps we had been together in previous lives, too, and this one was a chance for two souls who loved each other to be together once again. It was that kind of love that saw us through Maggie’s last days, because I had a knowing that in this life—perhaps unlike past ones—it was my job to see her out. And I did. I was there the frigid January midnight that Maggie drew her last breaths and collapsed on the floor of her stall after a valiant battle with pneumonia.

With the physical part of Maggie gone, I felt like taking a rest from horses. Responsibility for another horse, and all the commitment and expense that entailed was not something I wanted to jump right back into. Yet, friends convinced me to continue riding, and there were lots of horses who needed riders. In fact, one lived right next door.

A family had moved into the horse farm nearby only the year previously. By the time of Maggie’s death, my new neighbour—we’ll call her Alice—had bought a horse for herself but learned through painful trial and error that Whisper was not for her. In the spring following Maggie’s passage, Alice offered to let me ride Whisper occasionally.

She was an entirely different type of horse than Maggie. Where Maggie was sleek and elegant, Whisper was big-boned and solid; where Maggie was excitable and explosive, Whisper was sensible and moved with deliberation; where riding Maggie felt a like floating, I could feel every jarring step Whisper took. Still, my first time on Whisper’s back felt right. It seemed as though she was asking, “How can I work with you to make our ride a good one?” Eventually, my friends began to comment on how well Whisper and I got along. I would respond, “She’s not Maggie, but she’s a good horse.”

As she said this, I could feel a kind of silent pull from Whisper, as though she was pleading, “Please be my person…”

One day, as I was grooming Whisper after a ride, Alice and I fell into a conversation. She loved Whisper very much but knew she would never feel confident enough to ride her again. Also, she felt Whisper was too fine a horse to be left standing in the pasture for the rest of her life. Although it hurt to give her up, she knew Whisper needed another owner. Alice said she’d talked it over with her husband and, “We’d almost be willing to give her to you,” she said. “A case of beer and a Toonie would probably do it.”

As she said this, I could feel a kind of silent pull from Whisper, as though she was pleading, “Please be my person…”

Still, I told Alice, “It’s too soon since Maggie. I need time.”

Soon after that conversation, I had a dream. I was in a pasture with all of Alice’s horses and someone was handing out treats, which the horses were taking turns to accept. I was standing beside Whisper, but Maggie was there, too. When it came time for Maggie to take her treat, she stepped forward like the others. But, instead of eating the gift she was given, she brought it to me. I remember thinking inside the dream, “How beautiful that she’s giving me this treat. It’s because she loves me.”

As I awoke, I knew what it meant: Maggie was giving me the “gift” of Whisper, and it was a gift of love.

As I awoke, I knew what it meant: Maggie was giving me the “gift” of Whisper, and it was a gift of love. Soon after that, I delivered a case of beer and a two-dollar coin to Alice in exchange for Whisper’s bill of sale. That was eight years ago. Whisper is not Maggie, but I do not want her to be. Whisper is Whisper and what a wonderful partner she is. Together we run faster, go farther, and have more adventures than either of us could ever have on our own. I know, now, that I have been truly blessed with my second “horse of a lifetime”—and I know that Maggie approves.


Note from the author: It’s now been 11 years since Whisper came into my life. I am continually grateful for her companionship, and for the gift of love that Maggie gave us both.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones (either human or animal) who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Clouds, Coins and Dreams…

Connections from the Other Side?

Lorie’s grandparents were very dear to her. Even though her grandfather died in 1977 and her grandmother in 1998, she is convinced they have remained involved in her life.

The first proof comes from a nightmare in which a bomb had gone off and Lorie was caught in a hysterical crowd. She was trying to find her family by running toward the source of the explosion.

“I had to know they were okay,” she writes, but, “I was in a panic and going the wrong way.”

The feeling of that huge struggle woke Lorie with a start, and as her eyes shot open she could see the silhouette of a male figure by her bed.

“I closed my eyes and said, Grandpa, if this is you, please go. You are scaring me more.”

“I closed my eyes and said, Grandpa, if this is you, please go. You are scaring me more.” When she opened her eyes again, the figure was gone. “I know with all my heart that it was my grandfather, she writes. “(He) had come to comfort me through a horrible nightmare.”

But that’s not where her grandfather’s comfort ends. “I am quite sure it was my grandfather who saved my life, as well as my parents’ lives when our garage was torched by an arsonist,” continues Lorie.

She awoke in the early morning dark to a crackling sound, which she first mistook for her cat scratching at the screen on her bedroom window. Annoyed by its persistence—particularly because she’d left the screen open for the cat to come in on its own—Lorie got up and looked out. Flames shot up in front of her face. Quickly, she grabbed the dog and ran to wake her parents. By the time her disbelieving father opened the front door to find fire framing the doorway, it was already too late to call 911 because the telephone line had been burned through.

Lorie, her parents, and the dog managed to escape the house just as the lawnmower and barbecue exploded in the garage. Because the family car was also in the garage with a three-quarters-full tank of gas, houses on either side of theirs were evacuated. The fire was so intense that firefighters even broke her waterbed to help quell the flames.

Later, investigators allowed Lorie and her family back into the house to find a few important items. “I surveyed my room,” recalls Lorie. “It was a charred mess.” But, there in the corner closest to the window was an old photo of her grandfather’s last Christmas with the family. “Everything that was with this photo was burned beyond recognition,” says Lorie. Yet this irreplaceable image survived.

Meanwhile, the cat had escaped to a field across the road, where he remained—visited and fed daily by Lorie—until the family home was rebuilt. Because the cat had obviously been scared off by the flames, it could not have been him making the noises that woke Lorie the night of the fire. The sound could only have come from one source, she reasoned, and her grandfather’s unscathed photo was the sign she needed to tell her that.

“My grandfather saved our lives early that morning.”

But, even this was not the end of her grandfather’s influence. It seems he continued to make his presence known, mostly through randomly-placed coins. She recalls one incident many years after the house fire, when she worked in a group home for boys in crisis.

“We had our good days and we had our challenging days,” writes Lorie. “On this particular day, it was a non-stop challenge.”

The boys weren’t getting along. They refused to listen to staff or try to solve their own issues, she recalls. She remembers how the stairways between floors were well travelled daily—especially during a crisis like the one on this day. She writes about descending the stairs feeling exasperated, thinking, “What more can happen today?” when something shiny caught her eye.

“I bent over to find a quarter… It was a sign that my grandfather was around. I would survive the day.”

“I bent over to find a quarter. I was amazed this quarter was still there despite numerous people using the stairs. It was unheard of in a home occupied by so many people.”

Lorie knew of the saying that, if you find a coin, an angel is looking out for you. Over the years, Lorie had noticed quarters turning up in strange places, and she’d begun a habit of checking the dates of the ones she found. She checked this one, and—sure enough—it read 1977, the year her grandfather passed away. That made her smile. “It was a sign that my grandfather was around. I would survive the day.”

But Lorie’s experiences with coins and strange sightings don’t end with her grandfather. Her grandmother had always taught her to search the sky for shapes and pictures in the clouds.

“She had me convinced, when I was young, that there really was a man in the moon and he was smiling down at us every night.”

But, one sad day in June of 1998, Lorie got a phone call telling her that her grandmother had passed away peacefully in her retirement home after spending an afternoon out with Lorie’s parents. The next day, she made herself busy doing errands in preparation for the funeral.

“As I was driving to the store, I noticed a cloud that looked like an angel. I smiled to myself, thinking Grandma was letting me know she was okay,” remembers Lorie. “By the time I arrived at the grocery store, the cloud had changed… I saw that it looked like a dog chasing a ball. My grandmother knew how much I loved my dogs and how heartbreaking it was for me to say goodbye to them when their time had come to leave. She always stated that they were off to Dog Heaven.”

Again, Lorie smiled to herself: “My grandmother was showing me, through the clouds, that she was okay and my dog Paddy was okay, too.”

With all this to think about, Lorie didn’t notice a woman nearing with a pay-as-you-go grocery cart. “Do you need this?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Lorie and gave her a quarter in exchange.

She hurried through her shopping and returned the cart to its proper place, where she retrieved the quarter someone else had inserted as a deposit.

“I noticed the date on it.”

Sure enough, it read 1977; a sign her grandfather was with her.

“I received the messages loud and clear from my grandmother: That she was fine; that Paddy, my dog, was fine—and from my grandfather that he was fine, too. I just smiled.”

A few days later, Lorie’s parents were discussing what age to put on her grandmother’s gravestone. This was difficult because, “She would always say a lady never tells her age,” writes Lorie. “She lived by that so much so that she once ripped up and disposed of her birth certificate.

“My mother was saying that Grandma must have been at least ninety-five. My father refused to believe she was that old because she always acted much younger. He said she must be no older than ninety-one. I let them know that Grandma was ninety-three.

“I reached inside the mailbox… I was in possession of 93 cents! …Grandma just wanted me to know I was correct. She died at ninety-three years of age.”

“The both asked how I knew.”

Lorie explained that, while she briefly lived with her grandmother, the older woman let slip the year she was born while telling stories about what life was like in her younger days.

“When I returned home, I reached inside the mailbox for mail. Instead I felt coins. Confused, I took them out and looked around. Who had been playing around in my mailbox? I shrugged it off and went inside.”

Once Lorie put the groceries away, she decided to count the change that had come from the mailbox. “I was in possession of 93 cents! I called my neighbour to ask if she had seen children around my place. She replied she had not and had been at home all day.”

This was Lorie’s confirmation. “Grandma just wanted me to know I was correct. She died at ninety-three years of age.”


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us atthemeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Might We Find Meaning at the End of Life?

            

Since January, 2017, The Meaning of Forever Project has been following the work of Dr. Christopher Kerr and his team of researchers at Hospice Buffalo, where they have been carefully observing patients in order to answer this question: Are the dreams and visions of people who are dying actually meaningful?

In a new book, Death is but a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End, Dr. Kerr reports his findings—and, as Joan Olinger tells us in this review, the short answer to the question is, “Yes.”


By Joan Olinger

Through a decade of research and caring for patients, Hospice Physician Dr. Christopher Kerr has found that end-of-life dreams and visions (ELDV’s) serve an important function for the dying by promoting spiritual and psychological healing and growth, thus providing positive resolution at the end of life.

Dr. Kerr writes on page 216 of his new book:

It is at the hour of death that people are able to free themselves from old fears and find their way back to a renewed sense of self. This is the whole self with which we lose touch over the years of accumulated stressors, expectations, mishaps, and negative emotions, but it is also the self that resurfaces in full force at end of life. During the profound resolution that is enabled by the dying process, patients reconnect with those they have loved and lost, mourned but not forgotten.

What Dr. Kerr describes here is the connection patients make with loved ones who have predeceased them. It is these loved ones who now come in dreams or visions to welcome the dying person into what lies beyond death of the physical body.

He describes how, in dreams and visions, long-lost loved ones come to love, comfort, and welcome the dying individual to what lies beyond death.

Dr. Kerr’s new book contains one beautiful love story after another. With love and compassion, he describes each unique person; their characteristics, history, and the events that occur in their dreams or visions at the end of their life. He describes how, in dreams and visions, long-lost loved ones come to love, comfort, and welcome the dying individual to what lies beyond death. These may be a predeceased spouse, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or friends, he says. Or the greeter may be another who has been a further source of unconditional love during the dying person’s life.  

For dying children who have not yet lost a relative or friend to death, a much beloved pet may be the one to shower them with love in their dreams or visions, says Kerr. As with adults, children feel comforted, loved, and know they won’t be alone as they transition from this world to what lies ahead.  They, too, feel an acceptance of their death and be at peace, he says.  

According to Dr. Kerr’s research, most people at the bedside of the dying patient will also feel comforted by the positive dreams and visions their loved ones are experiencing. He says they find it a relief to know their loved one will not be alone after they die, but instead will be in the company of others who love them dearly.   

But not all end-of-life dreams and visions are initially positive, notes Dr. Kerr. Some patients, who have had especially difficult lives, go through a period of disturbing and challenging dreams before coming to wholeness, forgiveness (of self or others), and receptivity to giving and receiving unconditional love. But, concludes Dr. Kerr, they do get there in their own unique ways.

But not all end-of-life dreams and visions are initially positive, notes Dr. Kerr.

Historically, we, as a society have not valued the end of life experiences of our loved ones. All the same, these dreams and visions have been described by patients as being vivid, different from other dreams they have had, and “more real than real.” As such, they have often been misunderstood as hallucinations, the adverse effects of drugs used in treatment, or the effects of an underlying medical condition, such as a dying brain. Thus, dying patients have been afraid to tell of their end of life experiences because they have thought that, either they were losing their minds, or that other people might think they were.

In the past, when doctors were told about these end of life experiences, they tried to medicate them away. That is why Dr. Kerr’s new book and his research published in medical journals are so important.   Validating and valuing these end of life experiences opens the door for a dying person to reach a new wholeness, comfort, peace and acceptance of death. Their fear of death is, then, gone.

An upcoming documentary, called Death is But a Dream, is to be released by Dr. Kerr later in 2020. It will allow you to see for yourself the positive effects of these end of life experiences on the dying patient and their families. It may very well change the way you look at death.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website. Further resources, including Dr. Kerr’s book, are listed on our “Resources” page https://meaningofforever.wordpress.com/resources/further-reading/

Did John Text Emily from The Other Side?

When a loved-one leaves this life before we–or they–are ready, it can cause a lot of anxiety for those left behind: What has become of the person for whom we still hold all this love ? Are they alright in the place where they’ve gone–if, indeed, they’ve gone anywhere at all? How can we know?

Sometimes, as the story below demonstrates, all it takes is a little trust and a willingness to pay attention to even the strangest things…


By Janine Gwendoline Smith

John and Emily had accomplished 46 years of marriage. In today’s disposable society, that is quite an accomplishment; to consider the needs and well being of another as important as your own, all the while weathering life’s capricious vicissitudes.

Both John and Emily were immigrants and English was not their first language. But they shared a sense of adventure and flexibility as they made their way in a new country and then raised a beautiful daughter together. John and Emily shared many interests, had lively discussions on varied topics, and were always able to laugh together.

They even managed to navigate the tricky waters of diverging ideologies when Emily at long last found a spiritual path that answered the deeply urgent questions burning in her heart. John, on the other hand, was a natural skeptic, perhaps out of self-protection or to ward of disappointment.

Nonetheless, Emily would often assure John with her convictions of the eternal nature of Soul, reincarnation and life after death, the presence of spiritual guides, and the profound love that is showered upon us all. Still he dismissed the lot of it, often with a wave of his hand and his favourite comment, “Bah!”

Emily would often assure John with her convictions of the eternal nature of Soul. Still he dismissed the lot of it, often with a wave of his hand…”Bah!”

The last few years had seen John in a progressively declining state of health. Emily did all she could to encourage him, uplift him, and give him a positive outlook. There were ups and downs but still John managed to come out on the other side of the bouts, and life would resume some sort of balance once again.

Then a malicious flu struck them both. Emily was very sick and John was having trouble breathing. Despite her own illness, Emily desperately wanted to take John to the hospital. He adamantly refused, yet his condition worsened.

Finally, in the early hours of Sunday morning, John collapsed, and the strenuous attempts of both Emily and the paramedics could not revive him. John was gone! A flurry of activity brought the necessary first responders, and the official business of death began.

Sunday evening I received a call from Emily letting me know of John’s passing. She was exhausted and in shock but her foremost worry was for John on the other side. She knew I shared her spiritual understanding and was hoping John would be open to the help and guidance that would be available at his transition from this life.

There was a bittersweet recognition that all she had told him while he was alive would become evident once he left his mortal coil. Still, she was so very anxious to know that he was OK on the other side of the veil. I reassured her as best I could.


Then, Monday afternoon I received a text on my cell phone from Emily: “I’m on my way.”

I was confused. Had we made some plan that I’d inadvertently forgotten? I tried to reach Emily by phone but had no luck. So, I called her daughter to find out if she knew her mom’s whereabouts and if her mom was in fact coming to see me.

I explained the text to Emily’s daughter. Her first comment was that her mother never used texting to communicate. Then she inquired about the number from which the text message had been sent. When I related it to her, and the fact that the message had Emily’s name attached to it, she was astounded.

Monday afternoon, I received a text from Emily: “I’m on my way.”

“That phone was destroyed a long time ago and we haven’t had that number for ages,” she said.

Now we were both astounded but, quickly, we reached the same conclusion: The message had come from John, who knew I was close with both his wife and daughter and as such would not just dismiss the text as some mistaken communication. Somehow, he had managed to reach across the final frontier and let his wife know he was OK and off now to begin a wonderful spiritual adventure.

A huge sigh of relief came from Emily when I told her the story and relayed John’s message. She bid her partner “Happy Trails,” knowing he was well and had finally realized the truth. She will miss him but is beginning a new chapter of her own, enjoying the spiritual freedom her husband, at long last, now shares.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us atthemeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Can Aunt Rama be Far, but Near at the Same Time?


By Manisha Sharma

This story is about my Aunt Rama (my mom’s elder sister), who lived close to our house in Delhi, India, and who left us forever in the first week of July 2016 after a brief hospitalization. She was very dear to us, a very loving and selfless soul to whom my mom and I were quite attached.

Aunt Rama had been hospitalized off and on for the last few years due to an ongoing illness, but we always expected her to get well and come back home. This time, however, she did not come back. Her death came as a terrible shock to me, my mom and her own family. This was compounded by the fact we had not been permitted to visit her in hospital, as she was in the ICU (intensive care unit).

Afterwards, thoughts of her never seemed to leave us, even for a moment. The very mention of her name or sight of her photograph brought tears to our eyes.

Afterwards, thoughts of her never seemed to leave us, even for a moment. The very mention of her name or sight of her photograph brought tears to our eyes. It was difficult to believe that she was no longer with us. But a few days after she passed away, I saw her in my dreams in a blue saree (the traditional dress of Indian women, which is made from a six-metre-long piece of fabric). Even though she had died of illness, she looked quite radiant and healthy in my dream and was sitting next to me. I recognized her and the dream ended.

The blue saree seemed familiar but I could not recollect where I had seen it. Again a few days later, while I was meditating and had almost fallen asleep, I saw her standing close in that same saree, smiling. I wanted to call to her and speak with her but I could not move. Just as in the dream, she looked radiant and happy. For some moments I felt as if I had really been with her, and it felt very peaceful. This vision lasted a few seconds until I was wide awake.

It would take some time for me to understand the meaning of this happening and of my dream before that.

A few days later, I was surfing through Facebook and found a photograph of my Aunt Rama in that same blue saree. In the photo she was with her son (my cousin) with whom I am very close. She was smiling with that same sweet radiance I had seen and felt in my dreams. Then I remembered taking that photograph myself a few years earlier during a visit to her home.

As years passed, I stopped missing her so much, and her memories remained as a beautiful thought of someone far but near.

As years passed, I stopped missing her so much, and her memories remained as a beautiful thought of someone far but near. I stopped seeing her in my dreams or thinking of her so often. I feel that the dream and later vision were a message that my Aunt Rama is well and happy, that we should not worry about her and only remember her smiling and happy face. These experiences have helped me recover from the shock of her passing away so suddenly and have helped me to accept the reality of her sudden death

Last week, however, after almost four years, I saw her once again in my dreams in that same blue saree. I got up wondering what message she was trying to give me this time. I immediately called her family and spoke to my cousin, who told me that my uncle (her dear husband), who feels unhappy without her presence, was not keeping well and had undergone a minor surgery the day before. A few years before her death, my aunt and uncle had celebrated their 50th marriage anniversary. I feel her being in my dream was a message that she remembers her family and wants us to be there with them, especially with her husband.

Seeing Aunt Rama in my dream again after four years makes me believe that those whom we love never go away, though they may not be physically present.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us atthemeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

Is there Life Beyond the Curtain?


By Marlene Chapelle

My mom and I were never really close.  We were always at odds with each other.  She was that way with my sister as well.  My two brothers had children and she would go to their houses for visits.  I had to trick her into finally coming to visit with my three children for a birthday.  I did not want her to die without resolving this difficult situation.

Many, many years passed.  She was seventy-one when, one day, she phoned to say she was losing weight and couldn’t keep any food down.  She said that her doctor suggested she go to the emergency ward of her local hospital.  I went that night to keep her company.  I did not know that she would live for only three more weeks.

The first week the doctors did testing.  She was fully conscious that first week.  My sister, two brothers and I visited each day.  By week two, she was in and out of consciousness.  The doctors finally told us she had pancreatic cancer and was dying.  My brothers stopped coming to visit because they wanted to remember her as she had been and not the gaunt woman she had become in the hospital. 

If she had not been so cold and distant with me, I would not have become the person I am so proud to be today.

From week two onwards my sister and I would visit our mom each day.  She was mostly unconscious now, but while attending to her that second week, I realized something: If she had not been so cold and distant with me, I would not have become the person I am so proud to be today.  I knew the adversity had made me strong.  And as I sat by her bed one afternoon, she woke up. This gave me the chance to tell her she was the best mom I could ever have had.  She said she did not know I felt that way. 

Days passed and by week three, my mom’s organs began shutting down.  She was now completely unconscious and on pain medication.  By the end of that week, both my sister and I sat at her bedside every evening.  One night a relative came to visit.  It was almost closing time for visitors when my sister said that he needed to say good night and let our mom sleep. 

The relative left quickly and my sister told me that our mom was about to pass on.  When I asked how she knew, she said Mom’s breathing had changed and was slowing down.  It was now time for us to begin preparing spiritually for our mother’s death. We sang the word HU, an ancient name for God, and I closed my eyes to see what was happening inwardly. 

I saw my mom and me standing beside a semi-transparent curtain.  In the distance through the curtain, I could see her relatives and friends.  My dad, who had died five years earlier, was also there.  I told my mom she could go through the curtain and be with him, but she did not move.  She was afraid. 

Her deep love had overpowered her fer and taken her through the curtain.

Then I saw her old dog, Perky.  I pointed to him on the other side of the curtain and, right then and there, she made a beeline for her beloved dog.  Her deep love had overpowered her fear and taken her through the curtain.  As she moved towards Perky, she became younger and younger.  Then the relatives, my dad, Perky and my mom turned, walked into the distance and disappeared.

I came out of that experience so excited.  There was life beyond death! I had proof now.  My mom did not die; only her physical body died. I now knew that her essence, Soul, lives on in the inner worlds, just like my dad, Perky and the relatives who were there to greet her.  I told my sister what I saw, and she told me what she heard at the moment of our mother’s death:  a whooshing sound that came out of Mom’s body, then zoomed upward and away. 

Now we both had our proof that there is life beyond death.


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.

What is Heaven Like?

In this repeat of a post from February of 2017, Suzie derives much comfort from a dream of her deceased father and brother, and she concludes that Heaven is very much an individual experience.


By Suzie Kurz

When my father died of a heart attack, even if I wanted to go home to the Philippines, I couldn’t.

I sorrowed painfully, remembering how my father worked all his life, striving so hard on our farm with a primitive single plow, pulled by a carabao (water buffalo) day in and day out, to ensure that all his eight children finished university in order for them to have a better life and make a difference in this world. I remembered how he taught us to respect resources and how he strove to save every penny for our education.

But Fred, my husband, and I had just started building our dream home in Toronto. It was to be a passive solar house, and we were the contractors for the first time. We were new to this venture and needed to be together to make all the decisions regarding the construction.

A few weeks after my father passed away, while asleep, I had an experience in another world. I found myself on a beautiful coconut plantation. Tied between two coconut tree trunks was a hammock where my father was lying comfortably and swinging gently with the breeze. Surprised and elated I ran to him with tears rolling down my cheeks.

He said, “Oh, you are here! I’m fine. Don’t cry.”

I said, “I am so sorry I couldn’t come home to be with the family at your funeral.”I hugged him.

He said“Look around, see my beautiful coconut plantation.”

When my father was still living in this physical world, he started planting coconuts but he only managed to plant a few trees before he departed.

Suddenly, I heard a chugging sound of a tractor, I turned and there was my brother Carlos, who had passed away two years earlier. I ran to him. Seated high on his tractor wearing a wide brimmed straw hat and looking down at me with a winsome smile said, “See, I told you, I will join papa to do farming one day, and here we are!”

The scene slowly faded away and I woke up. But that experience was so real, I cried with joy. It remains vivid to this day, nearly 40 years later. I always knew that life continues after the physical body dies. This experience with my father and my brother proved that.

I believe a person brings his or her state of consciousness into the new world that they move into. Our aspirations are recorded in our transcendental selves and therefore are taken anywhere we go.

I am truly grateful for this experience.

© SUZY KURZ, 2017


The Meaning of Forever Project continues to accept stories of comforting experiences with loved ones who have passed on, and of near-death experiences that have helped to show the continuation of life beyond the physical body. You can email your story to us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com and you can find more about our project on our Facebook page, and our Meaning of Forever Website.