Can Death Heal A Relationship?



Often, when a loved-one dies, we refer to having “lost” them. We feel the absence of their physical person as a kind of loss. But, what if that loss from our outer life can translate into a gain for our inner life? What if our loved-one’s departure opens a door into another stage in our relationship that actually boosts our spiritual and psychological well-being? In this story, Kim tells of just such a gain.


Mom – Home in Heaven and in My Heart

By Kim Ward

My mom died in a nursing home from a heart attack and complications of Alzheimer’s Disease on October 11, 2020, at 8:45 P.M.  She had chosen that home six years earlier because she wanted to be with my severely disabled brother Scott, who already resided there.  

When Covid-19 became a significant problem at nursing homes in Ontario, Canada, my sister Shannon and I would have “window visits” with Mom, where we would stand outside and wave to her while talking on cell phones with her nurse, who stood beside her. My mom had years before lost her ability to speak as well as her ability to recognize who we were. Nevertheless, my sister and I visited her as often as we could.

On Friday, October 9, the nursing home called early in the morning to tell us that Mom had gone into a coma and we should come as quickly as we could. Now, with Mom’s death imminent, my sister and I, or my husband Steve and I, could sit by her bedside as long as we were “gowned up’’ and wearing masks and gloves.  

She lay back down, took three breaths and passed away. Steve and I just looked at each other and felt the room filled with love.

The night she died, Steve and I were there. She had not moved or been responsive in any way to anything we said or did. Then I noticed that my brother Scott, who had passed on three years before, was in the room with us. Previously, I had heard that those closest to the dying individual could come and accompany them to Heaven. I saw Scott as a little blue globe hovering near the ceiling in a corner of her room, and I knew it was him. He’d come to take Mom to Heaven.

Scott had been Mom’s favorite. He was her first born and had been medically challenged through most of his life. At birth, Scott had severely crossed eyes and had to have several surgeries to correct that problem. At age eight, he was diagnosed with severe Type One Diabetes and was so ill that he was not expected to live. Later as a young man, he developed Multiple Sclerosis. Mom had always dedicated herself to Scott and he was closest to her. So, it made sense that he would be the one to accompany her to heaven.

As soon as I saw Scott as the blue globe I said, “Mom, Scott is here. He’s waiting to take you to Heaven.” Immediately, Mom came out of her coma and sat up in bed, her eyes wide open with a huge smile on her face. Then, there was just calm. She lay back down, took three breaths and passed away. Steve and I just looked at each other and felt the room filled with love.

I was not overwhelmingly sad when Mom died because her Alzheimer’s meant that we had been saying goodbye to her for a long time. However, it took a few weeks after her death for me to forgive her for having so little time for me throughout my life. I had felt animosity towards Mom for not being there as a nurturing, protecting, loving mother. Now all that animosity is gone.

It happened this way: A friend told me that, often when people have a Near-Death experiences, they meet with a “Love Being” or a ”Being of Light” and are given a review of their lives. Well, perhaps my Mom had that experience at some point, because she seems more “enlightened” now when we meet. She comes to me often, and we communicate telepathically. She has apologized profusely for not giving me the parenting, love, and nurturing that every child needs. She knows she should have better protected me to prevent me from being repeatedly sexually abused by men.

Mom has changed since passing over, and I have changed too.

Mom has changed since passing over, and I have changed too. I have more appreciation of the various factors that kept Mom from having quality time with me. She had four children, two of whom had significant health needs; and, she had a husband who had paranoid schizophrenia, was a severe alcoholic and stayed in the basement all the time. Mom was responsible for the family finances as well as for care of our home and all of us children.

I now know that Mom had always loved me, but dealing with all she had to deal with, she simply had no time or energy for me. Now our relationship is one of all-encompassing acceptance, forgiveness and abiding love. Everything I have been through is worth the love I now feel. Death didn’t take Mom away from me. It gave her back to me.

You might ask how I am able to have this loving and healing contact with my Mom after her death. My answer would be that I know my Mom is alive in Heaven. Only her physical body has died. With an open, willing, and loving heart, I ask my Mom to come to be with me. Then she does.


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.

What Happens When We Ask for a Visit?


Image from Wikipedia: “European Robin”


John in Stoke-on-Trent, England, recently retired from his career in palliative and end-of-life care. He would sit overnight with people in their own homes. “Many times I was there at the very end,” he writes.

Often during his vigils, John would have something with him to read. “This particular night I was reading about dream visitations from loved ones. The book suggested that, before you go to sleep, you should ask your loved one to come and visit you in your dream.

“When I got home from my night sit and went to bed, I asked my Mum or Dad to come to me if they could.” John says what followed was a “stark and vivid dream:”

“My wife and I were in a street next to where we actually live in real life. My wife said, ‘Look, there’s your Mum.’ I turned and saw her coming out of a house. I ran over to her and we hugged, then she said, ‘I love you.’ My wife then came and hugged my Mum, and I said, ‘Come back to the house,’ but she said no, that she had lots to do. Then she was gone.”

John says he bolted awake, deeply affected by the dream. “I was so happy because I knew my Mum had answered my plea. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.”

John’s Dad didn’t come in a dream, but he made himself known in a meaningful way all the same.

“This particular afternoon, I was lying on the bed listening to my iPod,” writes John. “It had several hundred songs and I had set them to play randomly. My mind drifted to thoughts of my dad and a song that had meant a lot to both of us from the time I was very young: I Left My Heart in San Francisco sung by Tony Bennett. Aloud I said, ‘Do you remember our song, Dad?’ The song that was playing came to an end, and the next one to come on was Tony Bennett singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

“I was so happy because I knew my Mum had answered my plea. I have no doubt whatsoever about that.”

John and his wife Janette have had experiences that add credence to folklore that the departed can sometimes communicate with those left behind through physical objects such as coins or feathers. One day, as they drove to a local shopping area, he and Janette were having a conversation about the possibility that angels can leave coins. There were very few cars around as they parked and exited their vehicle.

“Janette got out of the passenger side and saw several coins on the ground, which amazed us, as we had just been having that particular conversation. She picked them all up and we went into the shop. When we came back out a few minutes later, no additional cars had arrived but there were more coins by her passenger door.”

Another day, he and Janette found two ten-pence coins. “I can’t remember now where we found them, but I know it was a place you wouldn’t normally find coins,” John writes. “I’m not sure why, but I asked Janette what years were stamped on the coins. She said one was from 1992 and the other 2008. My Mum passed away in 1992 and my mother-in-law in 2008.”

On the morning of a memorial for Janette’s mother, she and John reminisced about her as he drove Janette to work at a local shop. “It was early and there were no customers, so she was on her own filling the shelves and feeling sad, thinking of her Mum. Suddenly, a small white feather came floating down right in front of her face,” says John, who believes this was a symbol of love from mother to daughter.

And this was not the only experience with a white feather. A couple of nights before his daughter’s wedding in the summer of 2017, John stopped by his office with some paperwork. Then he got back into his car for the drive home. “It was a warm night, so I had both windows open in the front. As I drove, I thought about the wedding and how lovely it was going to be. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small white feather come through the passenger window and fall very slowly until it settled on the passenger seat.” He took this as assurance that someone else agreed.

A few years ago Zoe, a friend of John’s daughter Claire, died of breast cancer. Soon after, his daughter came for a visit, and they talked about the sad loss. “I said to Claire that every woman should check herself for cancer. The words had hardly left my lips when directly in my eyeline a wicker heart that hung on a ribbon from a hook on the living room door fell to the floor. I went to the heart, expecting the ribbon to be broken, but everything was intact.” This left them considering whether this sudden call for their attention was confirmation from Zoe that Claire should heed her father’s advice.

“Eventually, I started to ask him to come and visit us. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t.”

But John and his family’s experiences with the dearly departed have not been exclusively with humans. There was the beloved cat Dexter, who died during surgery for a tumor. “That was nine in the morning,” says John. “We were all very upset. About noon that same day, my daughter and I were talking about Dexter and feeling very sad. Suddenly I heard a funny noise and asked Claire if she could hear it, too. That was when we realized it was white noise coming from the radio. It had turned itself on. There was no talking or music, just static. We knew this was Dexter letting us know he was OK. The radio had never done that before and has not done it since.”

Then, there was Billy, the rescue cat the family had taken in five years earlier. “He had been very poorly but we nursed him back to health. We loved him deeply. Sadly, one of our neighbours poisoned him with antifreeze and he passed away.”

John says that sometime later, things began to happen in bed at night, where Billy had made a habit of sleeping. One night John and his wife felt something walking over their feet and thought it must  be Billy.
“Eventually, I started to ask him to come and visit us. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn’t.”

At one point, though, John went to hospital for a hip replacement. On his first night home, the wound from surgery was giving him a lot of pain. “I asked Billy to come to me, then went to sleep and awoke sometime later. My wife was asleep and I just lay there not thinking about anything in particular. Then, all of a sudden, I felt a thud on the bed and my wound started to pulsate for about thirty seconds. Then it began to itch ferociously for the same amount of time. I began to realize that I was being given a healing by my beloved cat.”

John and Janette have felt Billy on their bed many times since he passed away. One night, John had gone to bed and left his wife and daughter watching television downstairs. There were lights turned on, both in the kitchen and the living room, which are separated by a glass paneled door. Suddenly, Janette became aware of the huge figure of a cat filling the glass in the doorway. “It had a large body and tail and a huge head,” says John. Janette told Claire what she was seeing, so Claire walked toward the door and the cat began to get smaller, “as if it were deflating.” By the time Claire had reached the door, the apparition had disappeared.

The following night, John went to work at one of the local hospitals and, before beginning his duties, began a conversation with a switchboard operator he hadn’t met before. “I told her about the cat figure in the door and that Billy visits us regularly.” John was surprised when she told him she was a psychic medium. “She told me that, in her opinion, that visit was Billy showing us his power—which made sense to me.”

“We wonder if Billy is always with us, or if he whizzes down from heaven, or if he knows in advance I’m going to ask him to come. It blows our minds, really.”

John has often felt Billy’s weight on the bed after asking him to visit, and they’ve talked about it as a family. “We wonder if Billy is always with us, or if he whizzes down from heaven, or if he knows in advance I’m going to ask him to come. It blows our minds, really.”

A couple of years ago, Janette was diagnosed with heart failure. One day, prior to a medical appointment, she and John arrived at the hospital and parked the car. “As we walked along the path, a robin landed in front of us, and it was looking at us. We continued walking and it seemed to be following us. It landed, again, in front of us and looked up at us. Then it flew onto a nearby branch. I went up and said hello. It had no fear at all. There were other people around, but it was definitely focusing on us.

“I said to Janette, somebody is with us. We are both great believers in that.”


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.

Greetings from The Other Side–or Just Coincidences?

This story was originally published on our December 16, 2018, blog. We thought you might like to see it again here–with an update at the end.


Bonnie, a retired Registered Nurse, describes herself as “steeped in Western science,” so it’s with a healthy dose of self-doubt that she recounts the following experiences.

Last August, she helped nurse her dear friend Jennifer through the late stages of an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Bonnie sensed that her friend would soon die, but she and her husband had a long-standing annual commitment to host another couple at their summer cottage in Northern Ontario.

Like Bonnie, Jennifer was a practical, matter-of-fact person; so, when Bonnie explained she would be absent for a few days, Jennifer understood. And, when Bonnie asked her friend for a favour in case she died before they were able to speak again, Jennifer agreed. Despite her own skepticism, Bonnie asked that Jennifer pass along greetings in the afterlife to some departed loved ones: Jean, a friend and mother of Bonnie’s God-children, who died more than 20 years ago; then, Bonnie’s parents, and the parents of her husband.

Just to make sure, Jennifer ticked off the names on her fingers before Bonnie left: “Jean, Don and Jean, Phyllis and Andy. Right?”

“Right,” said Bonnie.

While at the cottage, Bonnie would sit at a small desk in the kitchen to keep in touch with Jenifer’s family through phone calls and text messages. One night, she awakened suddenly and went to the kitchen thinking a cup of hot milk might help put her back to sleep. There, she found the light above the desk illuminated. This was strange, because Bonnie and her husband Kenn are sticklers for turning off lights that are not in use. Before returning to bed, Bonnie made sure to switch it off. The following morning Kenn, who’d been first in the kitchen, asked Bonnie why that light was still on when he got up. Bonnie said, “I think Jennifer was here last night! Twice!” Jennifer died later that day.

Just to make sure, Jennifer ticked off the names on her fingers before Bonnie left: “Jean, Don and Jean, Phyllis and Andy. Right?”

Three weeks afterward, Bonnie and Kenn settled into their usual seats at a concert hall looking forward to another performance by the philharmonic orchestra. They’d made a nodding acquaintance with the couple normally seated next to them but, on this occasion, those seats were occupied by someone else. The woman looked oddly familiar.

“I have an extraordinary memory for names and faces,” recalls Bonnie, “but I just couldn’t pull this one together.”

They spoke for a while, trying to place each other. Then, finally, Bonnie turned to her seat neighbor and asked, “Are you Dorothy, Jean’s friend?”

“Yes,” replied the woman. “I am.”

The last time Bonnie had seen Dorothy was at her friend Jean’s funeral two decades before. This was a coincidence too extraordinary for even a skeptic to ignore.

“Okay, Jennifer,” thought Bonnie. “First one off the list.”

Bonnie has a ring and a pair of earrings set with diamonds from jewelry left by her mother, who was also named Jean, and her mother-in-law, Phyllis. She was wearing them—plus a cameo from Phyllis that she’d put on for the first time—one evening in late fall after an early snow. She and Kenn had a date to meet their son for dinner but they had errands to run first, including a stop at the community mail box.

Finally seated at the dinner table, Bonnie realized one of her earrings was missing. Immediately, they searched under the table, then husband and son retraced their steps to the car and searched there but came up empty handed. Strangely, Bonnie felt no distress. She knew the earring would turn up. As she and Kenn drove home after dinner, they made a stop at the mailbox once again. There, he shone the headlights from various angles while Bonnie searched in the snow for the missing earring.

“Just as I was about to give up, what do I see sitting on top of the snow but my earring!” says Bonnie. “So I said, Thank you, Phyllis.”

Number two off the list.

“It’s like Jennifer is taking her time saying hello to these people,” says Bonnie with a smile in her voice. “And they are saying hello back to me.”

The stories move into early December now, and this one has Bonnie and Kenn getting ready to attend a funeral home visitation for Cameron, the middle-aged son of long-time friends, who died very suddenly. They’ve come to the point of picking a tie to go with the jacket Kenn plans to wear. Bonnie looks on as Kenn brings out his collection. A tie neither of them has seen before catches her eye. It has just the right colours.

When they turn it over to read the label, they realize it comes from a shop in Bermuda, where Bonnie’s parents often vacationed. Kenn must have acquired the tie after his father-in-law’s death, but neither of them recalls seeing it in the 17 years since. Perhaps this is a hello from Don at a time when reassurance from “the other side” means a lot.

So, keeping score to this stage: Bonnie has now received signals from Jean, her beloved friend who passed away many years ago; from Phyllis, her mother-in-law; and, from Don and Jean, Bonnie’s parents.

A week later, after having attended Cameron’s funeral earlier in the day, Bonnie is out with friends where she relates her stories about Jean and Phyllis. As she returns home, despite their habit of not keeping lights on unnecessarily, she notices Kenn has left a light on in the hallway. She turns it off and goes to bed, leaving the house in darkness. The next morning when she comes downstairs, the Christmas Village scene in the family room is illuminated.

The message from these lights? “It takes a village to look after a family,” says Bonnie, thinking of Cameron, his grieving parents, his young widow and his two very wee children.

Having retired from nursing, Bonnie now has time to pursue another passion, which is writing. With one book published, she’s been working lately on her second. But, given the upheaval of the past few months, she hasn’t been particularly motivated or inspired.

“It takes a village to look after a family,” says Bonnie, thinking of Cameron, his grieving parents, his young widow and his two very wee children.

For two days recently, though, all that changed. Bonnie wonders if it has something to do with a necklace she was wearing—because for those two days, Bonnie wrote freely. Normally, she doesn’t wear jewelry around the house, but she felt the urge to this one time. The necklace had been a gift from her mother.

“I had two exhilarating writing days. I was just over the moon ecstatic,” she says. “I wonder if it had something to do with her…

“As I’m saying this, it just sounds absurd to me,” says Bonnie, “but I’ve learned to trust in my experience.”

And, even though the skeptic “steeped in Western science” still questions whether her experiences were real, Bonnie looks forward to hearing from the one remaining loved one on the list she gave to Jennifer.

“It might take some time for the ones we love to get in touch,” says Bonnie, “but they will when the time is right.”


Postscript

In preparation for re-posting Bonnie’s story, we reached out to ask whether she’s heard from her father-in-law Andy yet. Here’s her reply:

“That fall, in early December we went to a play…and the young male lead had Andy’s mannerisms, frame, and hairstyling from his youth. That was as close as we got though. At the time, we both commented on the remarkable similarity.”

What do you think? Was that Andy dropping in to finish off Bonnie’s list of greetings from the afterlife, or was it just one more coincidence to round off a remarkable streak of coincidences?


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.

The Spiritual or The Scientific: Which Approach Appeals to You?

In this blog, which first appeared on The Meaning of Forever on June 9, 2017, we present two ways of exploring the concept of life after death. One depends on scientific method, while the other is strictly spiritual. Which one appeals to you?


If we accept the quote in the image above as true, it’s not a stretch to believe that a loved-one who has passed into that next “stage of experience” continues to love those left behind and may, possibly, try to let them know.

Contributors to The Meaning of Forever Project have experienced just that: feelings of love from the person, or animal, who has died. They have been visited in dreams, in visions, through sounds, the appearance of articles that hold special meaning, and in many other ways. Some have had near-death experiences that, by showing how life continues after death, help them deal with the loss of those close to them.

In our previous post, a dream experience allowed a grieving mother to hold her daughter once again. Another contributor wrote of feeling both ecstasy and grief at the time of her mother’s passing; one described how her much-loved dog returned to her in a new body; yet another described how sounds and discovery of small articles demonstrated that her grandparents and her mother continued to be with her long after their physical bodies were gone.

The common thread in all these experiences is love, a love that lives beyond time and space, beyond the physical bodies of those who share it.

Harold Klemp writes that soul is the essential, animating part of every individual, that this essence within each of us can never die, and that its defining nature is love.

“…Soul, knowing of its divine nature, sees beyond the ends of eternity and knows It can never be extinguished like a candle’s flame.”

Harold klemp – spiritual wisdom on life after death

“…Soul, knowing of its divine nature, sees beyond the ends of eternity and knows It can never be extinguished like a candle’s flame,” he writes in Spiritual Wisdom on Life After Death.

In her book Surviving Death, journalist Leslie Kean applied objectivity and scientific method to her research into the possibility of an afterlife. Here’s what she says in her introduction:

“While exploring the evidence for an afterlife, I witnessed some unbelievable things that are not supposed to be possible in our material world. Yet they were unavoidably and undeniably real…I came to realize that there are still aspects of Nature that are neither understood nor accepted, even though their reality has profound implications for understanding the true breadth of the human psyche and its possible continuity after death.”

Kean documents what she calls “after death  communications” (ADCs) in the form of “dream visits”, moving forms or apparitions, effects on electrical items, lights, voices, sounds and smells. She says these ADCs sometimes come as a shock because they are often unasked for and may occur for people who would never consider such things possible. Kean acknowledges that many people—including herself—are uncomfortable talking about these phenomena.

“Because they come and go quickly, and are rarely documented, ADCs are not evidential in a strict sense. Yet, these experiences can be the most potentially life-changing link to belief in survival for their recipients, because the messages can be so profoundly personal and specific,” writes Kean.

You can find both Kean’s and Klemp’s books listed on the Resources Page of The Meaning of Forever website.

So, perhaps that the dream you had—or the fleeting image you saw, the sound of a voice long gone from this earth, or the feeling your dear one was there beside you—was not just your mind playing tricks on you. It may be that it was your loved one saying in a manner meant specially for you, “I’m fine in my new life, and I love you as I always have.”

At The Meaning of Forever Project, we value and honour any experience you may have had with a departed loved one that has made you feel loved and helped you move forward in your grief. If you would like to share that experience with us, please do at themeaningofforever@gmail.com

See our website, Facebook page and previous blog posts to find out more about The Meaning of Forever book project.

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/