What does "Forever" Really Mean?

Have you ever dreamed of a loved one who has died? Have you felt that, just maybe, he or she is still around in your waking life? Perhaps you’ve never mentioned it to anyone, because you don’t want to be told you’re not moving on from your loss the way you should.

Well, you might be interested to know that scientists and academics are proving that experiences like yours deserve attention and respect.

A version of this post was first published in February of 2017, in which we reported that researchers are finally beginning to catch up with what many of us already know: The love we share with those close to us doesn’t die when they do; it carries on, dare we say… forever.

When psychology student Joshua Black’s father died suddenly a number of years ago, Joshua began having dreams about him that later inspired his research into what he calls “Grief Dreams”. You can see our blog about Joshua’s personal story here. Later a PhD candidate at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Black established a Facebook page (see it here) that encourages others to share their Grief Dreams, and to use them as a way to help them through their loss.

Working toward his PhD, Black began studying the Grief Dreams of others and discovered that 75% of the 250 people who participated had dreams of departed loved ones. Further, 77% of them felt those dreams helped with their grief. But, said Black, he found that many people don’t talk about their Grief Dreams, even with friends or relatives.

“They don’t want people to tell them they aren’t grieving properly, that they aren’t over the loss,” he told the Hamilton Mountain News. “They don’t want them changing the meaning of the dream.”

Black’s Grief Dreams Facebook group is one way he provides a safe space for the bereaved to share their dreams and to feel assured that their experiences are valid. The group recognizes dreams of departed animals as well as humans.

Since our original post, Joshua Black has completed his PhD. with Grief Dreams as its main focus. He continues to publish research and spread awareness about Grief Dreams through workshops and presentations, a regular podcast, a web site, and his Facebook group. Black is now recognized as a leading researcher in this new field of study.

But he is not the only academic interested in dreams of the dead. At Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga, New York, the Palliative Care Institute has made a detailed study of the way dreams and visions of departed loved ones affect people who are dying. Led by Dr. Christopher Kerr, these researchers have identified several types of what they call ELDV’s (End-of-Life Dreams and Visions) and concluded these experiences comfort dying patients and help reduce their fear of death. You can click here to see Dr. Kerr’s TEDx Talk about his research and what inspired him to get started.

From interviews with 59 terminally-ill patients, researchers found that 88% had at least one dream or vision (as distinct from hallucinations, which would be characterized by confusion, fear and high anxiety). Ninety-nine per cent of the patients believed these experiences were real. As death approached, patients said comforting dreams of deceased loved ones—including pets—became more common.

But many of these people, too, were reluctant to share their experiences for fear of being thought mentally incompetent.

Nevertheless, say the researchers, these ELDV’s need to be accepted as a valid part of the dying process for terminally ill patients. An article on the Hospice Buffalo website quotes Pei C. Grant, PhD, Director of Research for the Palliative Care Institute:

“The study clearly indicates these dreams and visions are a profound source of potential meaning and comfort for the dying…” he says. “Participants in the study overwhelmingly indicated their dreams and visions lessened the fear of dying, gave them comfort and made the transition from life to death easier.”

Since our original post, Dr. Kerr and a group of colleagues have published results of another study that indicates ELDV’s help, not only dying patients, but their family care givers (FCG’s) as well. In an article published in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, the researchers concluded: “ELDVs’ impact extends beyond those experiencing them to bereaved loved ones. Bereaved FCG’s report that comforting ELDV’s experienced by their dying loved ones influenced their grief process…” (See an abstract of the article here.)

At The Meaning of Forever Project, we are pleased that the work of scientists and academics is moving toward something our contributors already know: That the bond of love between souls does not die with the physical body; that life continues after the human shell is finished—and that this continuation of life and love is what gives true meaning to the word “forever”.

___________

If you would like to share an experience you’ve had with a departed loved one—whether in a dream or in some other way—we would love to hear from you. Just email us at themeaningofforever@gmail.com 

Can NDE’s also Help Us Heal?

Mary Metcalfe - Nov 19 - 2

If Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) are characterized by overwhelming feelings that we are loved by some power greater than ourselves, is it possible that – besides helping us lose our fear of death – they can also help us heal from hurts and traumas?

In the story below, “Andrea” reveals how attempting suicide to escape an un-loving and abusive father resulted in an experience that set her on a path to the best love of all.


By Andrea Garrett

My birth in the early 1950s was overshadowed by physical and mental health issues my father brought home from World War II. A grenade had exploded near him on a beach in France, and it was months before he could be shipped home to Canada. Despite several surgeries for his traumatic brain injuries, he remained plagued by chronic pain. Added to this was severe psychological injury.

When I was born in 1954 to his second wife, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) had no name nor treatment. His bouts of heavy drinking, unprovoked rage and physical abuse frightened all those around him. My mother finally left him after losing a stillborn boy when I was three. I was left with my grandparents in what became a merry-go-round of staying with them and then sleeping on a couch or camp cot at my dad’s.

Well before I reached my teens, I was developing symptoms of what is now known as Complex PTSD. C-PTSD is experienced by children who grow up in an unpredictable and unstable emotional and/or physical environment. When I was 11, my father’s common-law partner committed suicide after several years of physical and psychological abuse, which I had often witnessed and been a victim of myself.

At age 12, my father took me to a gynecologist to find out if I was still a virgin. He said I was “promiscuous”. He kept me on such a tight leash that I couldn’t have been, even if I had known what the word meant. Decades later, I realized my father made that appointment because he had physically molested me but couldn’t remember what happened. I had fled from that incident in the middle of the night to my grandparents but would not tell them what had happened. I believe my grandfather told his son he needed to have me checked by someone other than our family doctor. I was humiliated to have a total stranger explore ‘down there’.

When I was 13, my father could no longer hold a job or keep an apartment. We moved into my grandparents’ one-bedroom apartment. My dad slept on a day bed in the dining room. I slept on a canvas lounge chair in the same room, which I folded and put away each morning. By this time, my dad was out drinking every day until the last bus. He’d stagger in at midnight and want a cooked meal because he’d missed dinner. He also wanted me to get him up and feed him breakfast before I went to school. But, he could almost never wake up, so I would just go to school, only to be called home to get his breakfast and be raged at for not waking him up.

I couldn’t win. By the time I was 15, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. My grades were slipping. My morning classes were Math and Physics – not my best subjects and not helped by missing classes. I couldn’t bring friends home and couldn’t join after-school team sports unless I got a note from the coach about the practice and game times so my father could set times for me to be home by “or else”. And then there was the unpredictable and frequent physical abuse. There were days at a time when I couldn’t go to school because of a black eye, swollen face, or cut lip. I lived like this 24/7 for well over two years.

His parents were terrified of his temper. Thankfully, he didn’t attack them, but there were a few shoving matches, with my grandfather threatening to call the police. The one time he did in the summer of 1969, it was to protect me. But the police stayed outside and wouldn’t come in. In my embattled mind, no one could protect me. My spirit was finally broken.

That fall of Grade 11, I took an overdose of my grandmother’s sleeping medication, which landed me in the emergency room and, subsequently, intensive care. While in the ER, I had an out of body experience. I was floating above the bed while nurses were working over me. I then saw out into the hall from the ceiling and watched my father walk out of the hospital, leaving no family to be with me that night. Next I felt myself being drawn to a wonderful, silvery light. It was a soft and caring place. There was an entity there who was ready to welcome me, but I had to make the choice to go there or go back. I wanted to go with that spirit, but I chose to go back after the entity told me there were things my soul needed to learn.

I spent a month on the psychiatric ward. I had few visitors because people weren’t supposed to know where I was. Social services made one home visit, and I came back to a bed with a mattress in my grandparents’ bedroom. There were also no more calls to leave school and no more midnight meals to make. My dad stepped up his drinking. Both he and my grandmother died less than a year later, just eight weeks apart.

I’m now 65 and learning more than I have in all the past years as a teen, adult, mother, and now grandmother. The one thing I have finally learned is to love myself, warts and all. I’m learning that to truly love others, I must first love myself. It’s taken me decades, plus cancer and heart disease, to understand this. I’ve also forgiven my father. My real father was a good, kind, smart, and funny person who became trapped without adequate treatment for his broken mind and body.

I’m now in a much better place and have opened my heart and soul to the spiritual universe that goes far beyond brick and mortar buildings and narrowly defined religiosity. As Susan Aglukark sang back in the 80s: “O Siem, we are all Family. O Siem, we’re all the same . . .”

—Andrea Garrett

November 2019


The author has changed her name to protect her identity .


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.

 

 

On Dying and Living to Tell About It

Joan's Blog on Near Death

When we share stories by contributors to The Meaning of Forever book project, love shows up as one of the abiding qualities in the variety of experiences people have with their departed loved ones. This seems to be true of near-death experiences as well, and as Dr. Joan Olinger writes, that feeling of transcendent love and the knowledge that life continues after expiration of the physical body are two lasting benefits cited by those who have died and been brought back to life.

Because near death experiences are one more way to show that life continues, regardless of whether we have a physical container, The Meaning of Forever Project is also seeking stories about these experiences. Read Joan’s blog, first posted July 7, 2017, to see how NDE’s can be a source of great comfort in grief and a means for releasing fear.

By Dr. Joan Olinger

What would it be like if you knew for certain that you do not die when your physical body dies; that, Instead, you continue as yourself, with your individuality intact?

We are so fortunate to be living in an age when people can be brought back to life, even after they are clinically dead; that is, when their heart stops beating and they stop breathing. Many of these people have told of their experiences in the time between their physical deaths and their resuscitation.

When my Father passed on a few years ago, I was deeply distressed. My distress was relieved to a great extent, however, when my brother told me that Dad once had a near-death experience after a heart attack. From then on, he was not afraid to die. Knowing of this occurrence gave me great comfort. It was proof that the essential part of my father—some call this soul—continues independently of his physical existence. My brother said our dad’s story helped him lose some of his own fear of death.

Convincing Stories

In 1975, in his groundbreaking book called Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody wrote of accounts by people who had been brought back to life, and he coined the term “near-death experience” (NDE). I read Dr. Moody’s book as a young woman and became very interested in NDE’s (See my May 11, 2017, blog about why The Meaning of Forever Project is so important to me).

About 15 years after reading Dr. Moody’s first book, I met a patient in her forties who had been pronounced dead and been resuscitated. Her near-death experience transformed her life. Having not done anything artistic since Grade 8, she became an artist and a poet, and won contests for her creative work. When I asked what happened during her near-death experience, she said it was very hard to put into words. Then she said she had gone through a tunnel, met with a brilliant, loving light, and that she was “in love” the way she and I were sitting in that room. I took this to mean that she had felt totally surrounded by love.

Dr. Pim van Lommel, a Dutch cardiologist and one of today’s most prominent scientific researchers of near-death experiences, is a contributor to a book called Surviving Death by Leslie Kean. In that book, Dr. van Lommel writes: “The NDE (near-death experience) is almost always transformational, causing enhanced intuitive sensitivity, profound insights and re-evaluations of life, and a loss of a fear of death.”

“Transformational” Experiences

In his book God and the Afterlife, Dr. Jeffrey Long writes that near-death experiences often include the following: a) an awareness that the experiencer is no longer in their physical body, b) heightened senses, c) going through a tunnel, d) seeing a brilliant light,  e) intense and usually positive emotions, f) going to heaven or otherworldly realms, g) meeting with deceased relatives, friends or mystical beings, h) a review of the person’s life, i) learning special knowledge; and, j) returning to the physical body. He gathered this information scientifically through a questionnaire administered by the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (INSERT LINK), which he established.

In the process of working on The Meaning of Forever Project, I have had a chance to read many books, watch some incredible documentaries and talk with several friends who have had near-death experiences. Through this process, I too have lost my fear of death, and I take comfort in knowing that departed loved ones are just fine and enjoying their new existence.


Here are some of those books:

John Burke, Imagine Heaven. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2015)

Jeffery Long and Paul Perry. Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences (New York: Harper Collins, 2009)

Jeffery Long and Paul Perry. God and the Afterlife, (New York:  Harper Collins, 2016)

Leslie Kean. Surviving Death: A journalist investigates evidence for an afterlife, (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017)

Pim van Lommel. Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: Harper Collins, 2010)

Disclaimer: These books, and these authors, do not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of The Meaning of Forever Project.


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.

Must We Die to Visit Heaven?

 

Joan Olinger -SW on Life after DeathIn previous posts, we’ve discussed Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s), End of Life Dreams and Visions (ELDV’s) and encountering deceased loved ones in both our dreaming and waking lives. In a tiny book called ECK Wisdom on Life After Death: What Happens When We Die? spiritual writer Harold Klemp accepts all these phenomena as real and goes a step further by offering readers a way to have similar experiences without having to die or endure a medical crisis.

 Heaven is accessible to everyone, says Klemp; all we need is the tools to get there. In this post, Dr. Joan Olinger reviews his pocket-sized book.

By Dr. Joan Olinger

“Love”. This is Harold Klemp’s answer to the question, “What is stronger than death?”

”Whenever there is a strong bond of love between two people, they can meet again in their dreams or by Soul Travel,” says Klemp in ECK Wisdom on Life After Death: What Happens When We Die? 

A prolific writer and leader of a religion called Eckankar, Klemp has penned more than 100 books, most of which include references to our fears about death and what happens afterwards. In Spiritual Wisdom he presents an overview of the meaning of life and the place of death in it. He writes: “Each person is a divine being who comes to earth with a spiritual purpose. Lifetime after lifetime, Soul grows in love and grace, ultimately to become a Co-Worker with God.”

He goes on to say every lifetime is precious, because it gives us the opportunity to grow spiritually: “Births and deaths mark the journey of Soul,” and, “Death is a doorway, a transition into the inner worlds,” he says.

These “inner worlds” can also be referred to as heaven; and, according to Klemp, each of us reaches the one that suits our individual spiritual unfoldment—whether after death, or by our own choice while physically whole.

Klemp, who counts divinity school among his many life experiences, writes that St. Paul of the Christian Bible spoke of leaving his physical body at will when he said, “I die daily”. Further, Klemp makes the connection between what he calls the “inner worlds” and St. Paul’s declaration that he knew a man who had been “caught up into the third heaven.”*

Klemp says we may be greeted by loved ones before the moment of death, and that they are there to welcome us into the heaven that is right for us. In that heaven—even though our physical bodies have ceased to operate—we continue very much alive, with similar appearance and personality, though we may be considerably younger and healthier, he says.

Klemp offers a simple exercise that he  says can take us to these heavens in our awareness while still alive in our physical bodies. He calls this “Soul Travel”, and we can use it to connect with the loved ones we’ve lost, or to let go of our own fear of death. The exercise goes like this:

“HU (pronounced like the word hue) is an ancient love song to God. Before sleep, close your eyes and place your attention very gently on the Spiritual Eye (a point between and behind the eyebrows). Sing HU, and fill yourself with love.

“This feeling of love is needed to give you the confidence to go forward into an unknown, unexplored area. One way to fill yourself with love is by calling up the warm memory of a past occasion that filled you with pure love.

“Then look inwardly for the individual who is your ideal at this time—whether it is Christ or one of the ECK Masters**. In a very gentle way, say, ‘I give you permission to take me to the place that I have earned for my greatest spiritual unfoldment.’ And then silently or out loud, continue to chant HU, God, or another holy word.

“Try to visualize yourself walking into the inner worlds and know that the individual who comes to meet you is a dear friend.”

Klemp says the purpose of this exercise is to open a conduit between ourselves and Holy Spirit; and, eventually—if we persist—we will be able to connect with our own individual heavens. In this way, he says, we can also visit with loved ones who have already passed on.

Klemp makes the connection between these types of experiences and what researchers call Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s). He tells stories of people who were clinically dead being delighted by the beauty, peacefulness, and love they found during these experiences. In these stories, each subject is met by a spiritual being with whom they felt guided, protected, and loved. Sometimes they had a chance to learn things of great importance to them, and they may have been told of their future or their mission in life.  Often, when these people returned to their physical lives, they yearned to return to that heaven but didn’t know how. Klemp offers the exercise above to help them do just that.

Small as it is at only 64 pages plus a glossary, this little book also gives advice on dealing with people who are grieving. Even if they believe their loved ones are alive and well in another type of existence, the pain of physical separation is real and often heartbreaking. Thus, talking philosophically about the nature of death does no good; likewise, it may even cause more pain if we talk about our own loses and how things eventually turned around.

Instead, Klemp suggests offering loving silence and lending a listening ear. And, he says, it helps to spiritualize ourselves when with the bereaved by allowing love to enter our own hearts unabated. We can express this love in simple words and deeds, like making meals or helping with funeral arrangements. In the end, though, only time can heal a broken heart, he says.

Two other small books authored by Klemp can serve as companions to ECK Wisdom on Life After Death. They are ECK Wisdom on Dreams, and ECK Wisdom on Soul Travel: What Is It, and How Do You Do It? 


* 2 Corinthians, 12:2

** From the glossary in ECK Wisdom on Life After Death: “ECK Masters. Spiritual Masters who can assist and protect people in their spiritual studies and travels. The ECK Masters are from a long line of God-Realized Souls who know the responsibility that goes with spiritual freedom.”

 


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.

Good Mourning

Fran Blackwell - Good Mourning - 2

Can grief and joy for the same soul exist side by side? Fran made the case for this in our previous post when she told of how she feels happy that her husband is free to pursue his next spiritual mission but that, twenty-seven years later, she continues to feel his loss in the physical world. In the poem below, she finds a way to express these simultaneous feelings, and her great love for her husband, whom she continues to feel with her despite the separation of death.

 

Good Mourning

(For Ed Blackwell)

By Fran Blackwell

 

Before you came: I ask

What is it that holds me, haunts me forever since

entrance into this body, into this life?

This world going round and round.

Why am I different, so different?

I know not why or where, from whence

I come. Into no mold do I fit. No clue have I found

that is not more surrendering of itself,

like a man in the moon eating cheese.

So looking I stopped,

trying to find clues to make sense

of why I am so different yet not.

Yes, sometimes I felt like a motherless child.

I lived with the pain of not knowing the whys, the wherefores,

just one foot in front of the other.

And then we met, and you held the key to my heart,

and unlocking my heart, I could unlock your heart to

all the wonders of the fulfillment of divine love.

And No; no one knew who I am,

except for you, beloved one who came and knew me.

And I recognized the sound of your heartbeat.

Yet you have now passed from this world,

leaving me to once again

find myself in the deep alone,

stewing in my own juices uncooked,

overlooked, and where I go only God knows.

As you said before you left,

God knows how much I love you.

And I know there are no others, save you and

God, who know my heart completely.

But you were up close and personal.

Here and always Now in the presence of our love.

In quiet repose each moment was right

with the worlds, being in perfect accord with all things

bright and beautiful; though, with your passing,

calling me to a strength I wish I did not have, yet am grateful I do.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to

fall apart at the seams, take a time-out

In the breakdown lane of mindless dysfunction.

But not really, not for me.

For even within the heart of my grief

I am what I am, and in this world of ordinary people

God gave me an extraordinary Soul to share life with.

And our love endures beyond the illusions of death.

For love never dies.

Yet silent tears leave this heart heavy with joy and sorrow,

to continue on and fulfill my golden contract

without you.

The emptiness of your leaving chokes me

with a thousand suns tasting like sawdust,

and I leave no shadows,

for you were my substance,

my blood and bones, my heartbeat, my breath.

But blessed I am to have traveled with you for awhile,

to have loved you forever, and never a missed moment

of love did we squander on drama, or the illusions of

life, for we knew, we knew, Love is all.

You were the only one ever on this planet

who always had my back.

What comfort contained

in this demonstration of Love!

You were the only one, as I was for you, so equal.

Not together because of need or dependency,

for we each were complete within ourselves.

Yet together just for the sacredness of Love,

in perfect balance, beyond time and space,

our love lives forever.

Yet the loneliness of my grief

is akin to drowning.

My God, this is a loneliness beyond compare, yet I bear

it all because you were here in the flesh

with me for a time.

It is not that I miss you, because you are here

in my heart; but

the tenderness in your eyes whenever you looked

and saw Me,

your touch of love and caring concern,

stay bright memories.

And yet this moment, may I say

I miss you.

© Fran Blackwell, 2019


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.

Does Grief Serve a Higher Purpose?

Fran Blackwell - Grief 2
Photo: Pixabay

In our last post, Fran spoke of a profound inner experience that came with the passing of her husband. It helped her gain a deeper understanding of the eternal nature of existence, and of her place in it.

In this post, she provides insight into her deep and lasting grief, which seems to co-exist with an unshakable faith that the essential part of Ed continues in another existence, and that the love they continue to share is as real as—and perhaps even deeper than—it was when he was with her in the human form.


Despite enduring 20 years of kidney failure, jazz drummer Ed Blackwell and his wife Fran continued to live a life filled with love and humour. There were so many close calls over that period, says Fran, that they began to call them “dress rehearsals for death.”

At one point, after an emergency during the Christmas holidays, Fran says she told Ed, “Well, you can’t go during the holidays because that would make it a time of sadness instead of celebration. Also, you can’t pass on any of the kids’ or grand-kids’ birthdays for the same reason. You can have my birthday but stay away from the dates of my church seminars,” she remembers saying.

“He looked at me and said… ‘What do I have to do, make an appointment to die?’”

It turns out that Blackwell did accommodate his wife’s request, translating from this physical life on October 7, 1992, three days before his own birthday and two weeks before her church’s spiritual New Year, October 22. This timing was especially symbolic for Fran because it is considered a period of renewal, as well as being the date for a major worldwide gathering.

“The true blessing of my experience with grief is realizing that it has been one of my greatest teachers in this lifetime,” says Fran, now age 86.

For Fran, who follows a spiritual path called Eckankar, the loving connection with her husband continues.

“I learned more about divine love with my husband’s passing than I did in all the years we shared life together. In fact, there was a moment I said to him, ‘You left too soon. Now I am really getting greater insight about love.’ He laughed and said, ‘Well, it took me leaving for you to learn these deeper aspects… Right?’”

But this connection did not stop Fran’s grief, despite admonishments from others that she should move past her emotions, secure in the knowledge Blackwell was doing just fine in his new existence.

All the same, Fran was undeterred. “I knew I would honour this grieving process however it manifested moment by moment in my life.”

Then a friend told her that a spiritual teacher once said, “Tears wash the eyes so we can see the Grace of God.”

So, “I would weep when so moved and know, beyond any judgement of others, that I was being true to my heart.”

Something else Fran learned “is that two opposite feelings seemed to occupy my heart at the same time: Joy and sorrow. Joy that he was no longer suffering and that, as Soul, he was on his journey home to God; sorrow that he was no longer here with me and I could no longer hold him or touch him.”

“I also found that grief would come as waves. At the beginning they would come often, crashing on the shores of my heart. When they hit, the pain in that moment was almost unbearable. It would be hard to breathe. Yet, when they receded, they would leave large deposits of divine love. And, though my heart would be broken into millions of pieces, the deposits of love would serve as the mending glue, and when all the pieces of my heart were glued back together, my heart grew bigger and bigger.”

A month after Blackwell passed away, Fran was driving to New Jersey from her home in Connecticut. It was on this journey that her feelings about grief were confirmed.

“It was after a winter ice storm and everything was frozen, even the blades of grass. The sun began to set in rich, glorious pinks and oranges and purples. But what was truly spectacular was that the colours of the setting sun were reflected in the ice, so that the trees, the blades of grass, were on fire with the sunset. It was like driving through the blazing artwork of the Creator!”

Fran said inwardly to her spiritual master, “Just look at this! Is this not amazing?”

And at that moment, she says, “Another wave of grief crashed into my heart. And, as I was trying to catch my breath from that, I had an inner vision in which my master pulled aside a veil to reveal a pulsating portal. He told me we were going on a ‘journey of the heart’.

“With that, he showed me all my lifetimes in progression, one by one: When I had grieved at the loss of love, when I had rejoiced in the presence of love—And I realized they were all the same. All were gifts to teach me that all blends into one and the same, that this is the eternal nature of Soul: To learn through all the celebrations of life; and, no matter what comes, to go on living and giving, to be joyous, to be as glorious as the sunset the Creator was sharing with me.”

“Yes,” concludes Fran, “all is fleeting in its own time and place, but life is for living through the ups and downs, the grief and the heartache. Love is the only reason life prevails.”butterfly 1


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.

 

 

How Much Love is Too Much?

Fran Blackwell - Blackwell's Translation - Ed pic
Photo courtesy of Fran Blackwell

Having watched her husband suffer for 20 years with end-stage renal failure and dialysis, Fran asked him one day if he was afraid of dying.

“No…” he said thoughtfully, “I’m just wondering why it’s taking so long.”

Edward Joseph Blackwell was a celebrated jazz drummer who played and toured with such musical luminaries as Ray Charles, Ellis Marsalis, Ornette Coleman and Thealonis Monk to name a few. Known throughout his career as a musical innovator and, later, artist-in-residence at Wesleyan University, Blackwell loved to play—even as his health continued to fail.

But Fran and Ed had long since let go their fear of death. They had come to view life as a continuum through which everlasting souls progress, taking on deeper love and wisdom as they go. To them, death of the physical body was simply a translation from one state of being to another. All the same, there could be no discounting the deep bond of love that 34 years of marriage, of weathering both the good and the bad in this world, had fostered between them.

“In the last year of his life, on top of everything else he was dealing with, he developed carpal tunnel syndrome (a painful nerve compression in the wrists),” recalls Fran. “Whenever he picked up the drumsticks and played, pain would radiate up his arms. But he played anyway and no one could tell.”

“I knew, though,” says Fran, “and my heart ached.”

So great was her love that Fran begged her inner spiritual guide to let her to take on the pain. Her reasons were partly for Blackwell and partly for her:

“If he could no longer play his drums, there would be no reason for him to stay on this planet. So I asked my inner master to please allow me to take on the carpal tunnel. I did not need my hands and arms to fulfill my mission. Yet, days went by and he was still in pain, and my hands were fine, and he played and endured the pain, never losing the beat.”

When the time finally came for Blackwell to leave the physical world, he was surrounded by friends and family, and Fran was given a profound spiritual experience in which her inner master invited her along as he escorted her husband into his next life. Fran recalls that, as she returned to the present, her guide paused to tell her something.

“I know that when you asked to take on your husband’s pain, you did so out of great love, but he needed this last challenge,” she remembers the master saying. “He didn’t let the pain stop him; he gave all he had and more. This gave him the opportunity to realize that love can overcome pain.”

Then, gently, he explained that if Fran had taken that away, Blackwell would not have been able to graduate to the spiritual level due to him. Because Fran was not permitted to interfere, he told her, Blackwell was able to move on.

“He has earned a place in one of the high worlds of God,” Fran’s master assured her. “This soul has returned home.”

Looking back on that day, Fran is struck by another insight: “What a loving and gentle way for me to learn how deeply significant is the Spiritual Law of Non-Interference.*”


* The Spiritual Law of Non-Interference is said to be a universal law that forbids one person from interfering in the personal affairs of another without their permission, either intentionally or through ignorance. To learn more, try an internet search for “law of non-interference”.


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.

 

Not in Our Time, But in God’s Time

Charlotte Miloknay for Blog
Photo: PickPic.com

 

Sometimes the comfort from a departed loved one comes in a powerful experience that cannot be missed–as with Louiseand Margarett, in dreams and other signs that they were attuned to perceive. But what about those of us who don’t immediately see the comfort we’ve asked for? Charlotte writes of an experience like that:

My brother Mervin translated (died) of Melanoma on September 6, 2002, at the age of 64. I had been with him at the hospital almost constantly for the last three weeks of his life. It was difficult to leave him each evening, but he had the company of his children, who would come and stay through the night.

Mervin and I had always been close, and I loved him very much, so it was particularly difficult to watch him slowly dying in such pain. All I could do was hold his hand, with his children gathered around him, waiting for him to leave us. When he did, it was devastating for everyone.

A few weeks after he translated, my husband and I took a day trip to Niagara Falls. On the way there I was thinking about Mervin. I really missed him and I felt I needed to know if he was all right and happy. I looked up to the sky and asked God to show me a rainbow as a sign that he was okay. There is often a rainbow in the mist over the Falls. I kept looking for one but didn’t see anything. Eventually, I forgot about it.

My brothers’s sixty-fifth birthday was coming up on November 3 and, in his memory, his family was planning a memorial and fundraiser for the hospital where he had been a patient. I had mixed emotions about attending, because I was still missing him very much and really didn’t feel like celebrating. I did go, but it was a very sad evening for me.

At the event, his daughter was selling fundraising tickets. When it was over, she told me she had some left over. They had Mervin’s picture on them, so she sked if I would like to have a few for a souvenir. I accepted the tickets and immediately put them away in my purse without looking at them.

The next morning, I remembered I’d put them in my purse and decided to take a better look… Well, there was my sign from God: right next to the photo of my beloved brother was a picture of a mountain with a rainbow.

This was my signal that Mervin was doing just fine in his new life. God does everything at the right time.


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 a Dream Meeting Be Real?

 

Louise Michaud (Rev)

In this post from May, 2017, a grieving mother explains how she received a beautiful dream gift from her daughter.


“Being a medium, I understand why we come here and when it’s our time to leave, but it doesn’t make grieving any easier,” says Rev. Louise Michaud, who writes about the passing of her daughter Chantal at the age of 29.

Louise is an ordained spiritualist minister, a medium and spiritual counselor among other things. So, when her daughter left the physical world a week following a heart transplant, Louise knew the moment it happened.

Even though she was driving through the rainy night, still a long distance from the hospital where Chantal lay, “I felt my daughter’s soul leave her body,” recounts Louise. “As an intuitive, I knew she had passed, but as a mother I hoped I was wrong.”

Alas, Louise was not wrong. But she says that, since Chantal’s physical death, her daughter has continued to communicate with her. One night she heard Chantal very clearly tell her, “Mom, you have to write my story to help families that have lost a child.”

So, Louise did. And she says she did it with Chantal’s help. The result is A Daughter’s Journey: A Spirit from Heaven, which was published in October, 2014.

In spite of even this close communication, says Louise, “I believe that what we miss the most about our loved ones is the physical part of their being; not being able to see, feel or hear them again in human form. Yes, we have memories, pictures, videos; but, not having them by our side can be devastating…”

That is why one of her most precious communications with Chantal was in a dream:

“I was having one of my moments missing my daughter and crying. I spoke to her and told her how much I missed her, and that what I missed most was holding her, hugging and kissing her.

“That night I had a dream that answered my prayers. It was a vivid dream, so real I could never forget it. I know Chantal and I were actually together.

“She gave me the most wonderful gift a mother could ever hope for: She allowed me to hold her, hug her and kiss her. It was so real, so emotional, and it gave me such comfort. I woke up sobbing but at peace.

“Chantal’s life had great meaning. She had a reason and a purpose to come here, and I know in my heart she was able to accomplish what she came to do. She taught me to be more loving, more caring, and more compassionate toward others. These wonderful qualities we should all possess, to help us to learn and grow spiritually.

“Chantal is always in my thoughts, and I get great comfort knowing she is around me, guiding me. My love for her grows stronger every day.”

You can find out more about Louise and her book here http://messagefromspirits.com/adaughtersjourney/.

If you would like to share your comforting experience with a departed loved one, please get in touch with The Meaning of Forever Project  at meaningofforever@gmail.com

How Many Ways Can a Beloved Say She is Near?

Margarett Sample - Colourful HB for blogPhoto: Unsplash.com


By Margarett Sample

My daughter Jenny Joy died before she was born.  Losing her has been the greatest sorrow of my life.

In the days following her delivery my arms literally ached from emptiness. I learned this is common among women who have lost a baby.

But no one was able to tell me of other bereaved mothers giving up sleeping on their sides because they could hear inconsolable baby cries every time they pressed an ear to the pillow. I began to sleep on my back. At some point, though, the crying sounds stopped, and I could sleep on my side again.

I was fortunate in subsequent years to have two healthy and wonderful sons. Once in a while, when he was very young, my first son would tell me he’d played with “the girl with the blue hair” in his crib. I figured it must be his sister visiting.

I had different food cravings with each pregnancy. With my second son it was cheesecake, with my first son it was spicy Italian pasta, with Jenny it was sardines. By the time the boys were two and four years old, I had become a lacto-vegetarian, eating some dairy but no fish, poultry or meat.

When the opportunity arose to travel to Greece to perform a play I’d co-created just before I’d gotten pregnant with Jenny, I was very excited, though a bit concerned about travelling as a vegetarian. This was the early 1990’s, and vegetarian food was not widely available in restaurants.

As I pondered how to stick with my new diet while abroad, I was struck by a sudden and overwhelming craving for sardines. I decided to try eating some, both to assuage the craving and to see if I could actually eat and digest fish. I enjoyed the sardines. So, on the flight to Athens, when my pre-ordered “vegetarian” meal turned out to be vegetables and fish, I laughed and quietly thanked Jenny for the preparation.

I felt her with me throughout the trip. One night a new traveling friend, who didn’t know about my daughter, asked who the little girl was who’d been standing beside me on a verandah. He had seen her with me when he’d come out of his room, but when he turned back after locking his door, he no longer saw her. He said she looked like me.

Later that year, there was a wedding in my family, and I was buying dress shoes for my boys because they were the ring-bearers and needed appropriate footwear to go with their black tails. I spent some time lingering over a display of little girls’ black patent leather shoes, thinking about my Jenny Joy and how she would have been getting a pair if she were alive.

A few weeks later, I went to see a well-known psychic about various things going on in my life. Near the end of the reading he said, “I see a little girl around you, does this make sense?”

I replied, “Yes, that’s my daughter.”

He said, “It’s so interesting … usually when children come to me they are barefoot, but she is very proudly showing me her shiny black patent leather shoes.”

When the boys were three and five years old, we got a pet bunny, which they had begged for and adored. When Runabout Max died within a year, we buried her in the backyard, with much ceremony and many tears.  That night I had a dream in which a little girl of about six was playing in our yard with Runabout Max. When I told the boys and their dad, we were all sure that it was Jenny, who now had a pet bunny to take care of.

Early on, I began to associate hummingbirds with Jenny Joy. They would appear and I would smile, feeling her presence. Not that I thought the hummingbird was her, but I had a deep knowing that she was sending this traditional symbol of Joy to remind me that her spirit is always with me.

Over the years, hummingbirds have appeared to me in the most amazing ways. On many occasions, one has flown in and hovered for a while in front of my face, sometimes cheeping to me, sometimes just silently connecting. A magnificent Giant Hummingbird got up close and personal with me during a trip to Peru, and that same afternoon I found a delicate silver and enamel cloissoné hummingbird pendant that I now wear on a chain.

I recently turned sixty. On my birthday, a friend who knows I love to sing gave me a brooch. She said, “There were two I liked, and I really wanted to give you the sparkly treble clef, but I just had to get you this one. It was like I had no real choice.”

As I opened the box, I burst into tears, because in my heart I clearly heard, “Happy Birthday, Mum.”

The brooch is a hummingbird.


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.