How Could Mom’s Death be a Happy Time?

Photo by Shawn Parsons, Blossoms and Blooms

For many of us, the death of a parent is particularly difficult, because we have unresolved issues that have accumulated over the years, and that remain unresolved at the time of our parent’s passing. Below, Maggie tells us about her long estrangement from her mother and brother due to their mother’s schizophrenia. In later years, she and her mother were able to heal their rift, and her brother was able to be present in the hours before their mother passed away. This reunion–even as her mother lay dying–led Maggie to declare to the cleric who was present at the time that she felt like she’d “won the lottery.” And, as Maggie shows us here, the healing continues–even after her mother’s physical presence is gone.


By Maggie Martin

 In my family, we were all estranged from each other. I left home in Ontario, Canada, at the age of 19, unable to cope on my own with the increasing challenges of my mother’s schizophrenia. My brother Larry had left several years earlier, and my parents had already separated during my early teens because Dad couldn’t cope either.

Mom’s illness prevented her from forming close, loving and lasting relationships, and it was only in the last ten years of her life that I learned to accept her for who she was. During that time, we spent many hours together and I came to adore her. In the intervening years, however, I had only minimal contact with Mom. Larry didn’t see her during this period, so I didn’t see him either. He had relocated across the country to Calgary, Alberta.

Despite all of this, I knew I was very much loved by my mom in the best way she knew how. I believe she adored both my brother and me. Larry’s estrangement was very painful for Mom and me.

When she was in her early sixties, Mom’s schizophrenia spiralled out of control, and she was placed in a retirement home where the medical professionals could monitor and regulate her medications. It was an eight-hour return drive from where Mom lived to where I lived with my husband in Southern Ontario. I still wanted us to be in touch, so I would invite her to come and stay with us. Mom and I became very close. I truly wished my brother could know this person and not the one he had grown up with.

Amazingly, my relationship with Mom only got better and better as I became older. Every Sunday at 4:30 p.m. I would telephone her at the retirement home.  This went on for fifteen years or so.  One Sunday, Mom didn’t answer the phone.  The nurse went to investigate and found her on the floor of her room and immediately called an ambulance.  Then the nurse called me back to let me know that Mom would be admitted to hospital. Early next morning was the soonest I could drive north.  She had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scheduled first thing in the morning, so I arrived on Monday in time to go with her and hold her hand. The plan was that, after she returned to her hospital room, I would go have lunch, then return to her bedside.

“Amazingly, my relationship with Mom only got better and better as I became older.”

I had helped her settle back into bed following her MRI and was just about to leave when my cell phone rang. Even though I have a policy of not answering my phone in the midst of another conversation, I did pick it up. It was Mom’s doctor telling me I needed to immediately let her know that she was extremely ill and dying, and that I needed to phone my brother and tell him the same thing. I was shocked and confused. I knew my face would give that away, so I stumbled out of the room without saying anything to Mom.

A nurse saw me and came immediately to my side and asked, “Are you okay?”  I said, “No”.  

I was still holding my phone and staring at it. The nurse asked me what had happened. I told her what the doctor had said. I think the nurse took the phone from me, perhaps to talk with him. Finally she said, “Follow me. I’ll take you to a room behind the nurses’ station where you can make your phone calls.”

After I entered the room, I stood there staring at the phone on the wall. Then I looked around and was surprised to see a man sitting there. He asked if he could be of help. I told him I needed to make some phone calls. He came to sit next to me and I moved away. He asked if he was bothering me. I said, “Yes,” so he left the room, but not before he conveyed to me—either verbally or telepathically—that I didn’t have to worry about making those calls. Just as he was leaving, the nurse entered. She asked me who he was. When I said, “I don’t know,” she immediately went looking for him.

Soon, the nurse sought me out and told me she hadn’t been able to find the mysterious man, but that I didn’t need to make the calls because the doctor had phoned my brother and had also broken the news to Mom. So, the man in the nurse’s room had been correct. I didn’t have to worry about making those calls.

Only later did I realize who he was: my inner and outer spiritual guide, Harold Klemp. He is the leader of my spiritual path called Eckankar, and I had seen him previously in a public venue, but never before up close. I had always thought of him as larger in stature than he appeared in person. What I did get from our “chance” meeting was that he was there to help when needed, and that all was in its rightful place, both for me and for Mom.

“What I did get from our ‘chance’ meeting was that he was there to help when needed and that all was in its rightful place, both for me and for Mom.”

However, it now became imperative for my brother to come immediately if he wanted to see Mom prior to her death.  He was able to catch the first flight out and arrived from Calgary in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, so exhausted that he lay down on a bed next to Mom’s and slept. Soon afterwards, a nondenominational chaplain came in. Mom was awake now. On one side was her much loved son Larry, and on the other side was her much loved daughter, me.

With a big smile on my face, I exclaimed to the chaplain, “I feel like I just won a million dollars! I feel like I just won the lottery!”. Mom had a broad grin on her face too! She had what she wanted most: Her two children sitting on either side of her. The estrangement was over. Mom died peacefully a few minutes later.

 Since Mom’s death, my brother and I have kept in contact. We have both realized that there never was any disagreement between us; we had simply felt overwhelmed trying to cope with the difficulties of Mom’s disease. Since then, not only have Larry and I kept in touch, but Mom and I keep in touch too.

I recently asked myself anew how Mom communicates with me now. Just as I asked this question, a beautiful female cardinal appeared right in front of me. I could reach out and touch her, she was that close. Cardinals were one of our family’s favourite birds, but it had been a long time since I had spotted one—and I had never seen one where I now live.

The sighting reminded me of an experience I’d had years ago. It was not long after my father passed away. Even though Mom and Dad chose to separate when they were in their early forties, they had never legally formalized it. Technically, they were still married when Dad died at the age of eighty-nine.  He was buried in a small community cemetery close to my home in Southern Ontario. 

During one of Mom’s vacations to my home, she had asked to visit Dad’s grave and say goodbye. So, I drove her there one beautiful, sunny afternoon. Standing at the graveside, Mom said, “I guess I’m a widow now.” That really surprised me, and I could see that, even after all those years of separation, her marriage had been very important to her.

We buried Mom beside Dad. I was by myself when the internment was over at the small community cemetery. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I watched a pair of Canada geese fly directly overhead. As a child I had been taught that Canada geese pair for life. To me this signified that Mom was safe, happy and reunited with Dad. She was, once again, with the love of her life.

“There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as I watched a pair of Canada geese fly directly overhead… To me this signified that Mom was safe, happy and reunited with Dad. She was, once again, with the love of her life.”

With the recent appearance of the female cardinal, Mom was answering my question, showing me one way that she does still communicate with me.

Just a day before I finished writing this story, I had a wonderful opportunity to be part of a monthly discussion on the book titled Stranger by the River. It is a poetic book on the secret knowledge of God, written by Paul Twitchell, the modern-day founder of Eckankar. The chapter we were studying that night was titled “Love.” A particular line caught my attention. It said: “But I say that all disagreement between friends and thee comes from impatience. If you have patience, then life will teach thee better.”

As I studied that chapter, I began to understand more about my relationship with Mom, and how and why it changed over the years. What changed was that I learned patience. I stopped arguing with her. Mom was doing the best that she could in her illness, and I was learning to accept her for who she was. During those years that we became closer, I realized I had been given the gift of a mom who was a wonderful, joyful soul. Very simply, I learned to love her as she was—and is—in my ongoing Meaning of Forever relationship with her.


You can learn more about Harold Klemp here; and, about Paul Twitchell and Stranger by the River 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.

Would Night-Time Visits Change Your Spiritual View?

Andrew sent us this story about his life-long relationship with dogs, and how his dogs have taught him that the loving connection between master and pet continues despite the separation of physical death.


By Andrew A.

Please understand that we are just a ‘normal’, everyday family who never got interested in paranormal stuff or anything weird or spiritual.

We were never religious in any way, but we always believed in God and that all good, kind, loving people are going to be with God in Heaven. That sums up our spirituality for the most part. We never, ever thought we would encounter the things I am going to describe here. But, having experienced them, we have greatly expanded our ideas about the afterlife and all things spiritual.

I grew up with dogs and they were my best friends all through my childhood in Ontario, Canada. In 1987, I got married, moved to Massachusetts, and two years later we had a daughter. I wanted her to grow up with a dog like I did, so we adopted a two-year-old mini poodle from a woman who fostered rescued puppies when my daughter was about three months old in 1989. We called her Fluffy.

In 2000, when Fluffy was too old to play with, my daughter wanted a younger mini poodle, and I wanted to rescue another dog, so, after a lot of fruitless phone calls, eventually I found a breeder in New Hampshire who had a young adult dog that was not up to American Kennel Club specs, so she wanted to get rid of her.

We drove over two hours to see her and fell in love with her immediately. She was seven months old, white, with longer legs than a normal mini poodle and a beautiful, curved tail that arched over her back, even though it was cropped. When she walked, her hips swayed from side to side, like a sexy model; she really was a character.

My daughter called her Angel and she turned out to be that in every way. She was incredibly intelligent, intuitive, sensitive, caring, very perceptive and responsive to human emotions. Angel could run faster than every other dog besides a greyhound, because of her long legs, and she loved teasing other, much bigger dogs to chase her in the park, and then outrunning them to exhaustion.

“My daughter called her Angel and she turned out to be that in every way.”


About six months after we got Angel, my daughter saw an ad in a local magazine saying that two mini poodle puppies were available for adoption. The foster home was very close to where we lived, so I said to my daughter we could go see them, but I didn’t want to get another dog, especially a puppy. However, when we walked into the woman’s home, I just fell in love with the little, black, bouncing bundle of energy that I saw.


She and her brother had been rescued from a terrible situation of starvation and abuse in a puppy mill. Every adult dog in the mill had been euthanized, and she and her brother were the only survivors, being only a couple of months old. I happily paid the woman her small adoption fee and we promised we would take good care of her. My daughter called her Muffin and we took her home to give her a bath (she smelled terrible!) and introduce her to Fluffy and Angel.


Fluffy was too old and deaf and blind to care, but Angel jumped off the bed and ran to us to see what we were holding as soon as we walked in. While we bathed Muffin, Angel stood and watched intently, and being almost one and a half years old, she immediately adopted Muffin as her baby. She was totally possessive and protective of her and even would let Muffin take food and chew toys out of her own mouth.


Muffin just adopted the role of the prized, spoiled baby of the home, and never lacked any self-confidence or assertiveness, even though she was much smaller than Angel. Our afternoons and evenings and weekends were filled with hikes and parks and woodland walks with the dogs, exploring anywhere and everywhere they could go.

They ran down trails, swam in streams, chased each other around baseball diamonds and fields, chased squirrels and rabbits and birds wherever they could find them, and just enjoyed every minute of life together. They were always together, no matter what. Angel found her full identity in being Muffin’s mother and protector and best friend, and Muffin just loved being the adored, spoiled baby of the family.

In October 2004, I had to euthanize Fluffy one night at about 2:00 a.m. She was almost 16 and was clearly in pain. I had never euthanized a pet, and I had no idea how difficult it was, and the aftermath of it. I was absolutely devastated when I left the animal hospital without her. Even though I knew she had had a long, wonderful life with me, I could not shake the grief and sadness. I continued with life as best I could, but I found I could not sleep at night. I was in a hyper-energetic mode and could not calm down.

“I said aloud, Fluffy I am OK, you can go, I will be fine, I have Angel and Muffin to keep me company.”

After two weeks of not sleeping, I knew I was going to be in trouble if I did not calm down and adjust to the loss. Angel obviously picked up on my heightened energy levels and never came near me for those two weeks. She would not sleep at the foot of my bed as she usually did and stayed out of my room and away from me completely. She slept with my daughter on her bed and stayed in her room.

Muffin did not seem bothered by anything, and slept right next to me under the blankets, cuddled against my torso, as usual.

One night I was walking Muffin and Angel in a park, trying to figure out where all this extra energy was coming from and why I could not calm down and get to sleep. I suddenly had the thought that, what if I was not feeling my deep emotions for Fluffy, but rather, what if I was actually feeling Fluffy’s spiritual and emotional energy towards me and for me?

I decided to try release it, and I said aloud, “Fluffy I am OK, you can go, I will be fine, I have Angel and Muffin to keep me company. We had a great time together, but now please go to the Light and be happy, and I will see you when I get to heaven. Don’t worry about me. Go to the Light and be happy.” As soon as I said that, I palpably felt a presence of energy lift off me and leave, and my emotions and energy calmed down. That night Angel came back on my bed as usual, and I was able to sleep again.


Angel and Muffin both had heart murmurs, and my vet told me often that Angel was much worse than Muffin. But there was not much we could do about it. I moved to California for a job in June 2014 with the two dogs, and Angel started to collapse while walking outside. In November, she stopped eating, and five days later, she passed away while lying next to me on my bed. She was just over 15.

I took her body to the  vet and they had her cremated. Muffin and I missed her terribly. I thought Muffin was going to die of depression. She was just totally lost without Angel. She stopped eating for about a week, and it took a lot to get her interested in life again. Eventually she adjusted, but she really was never the same little happy-go-lucky dog ever again.

“I was very confused at first, but I simply had to deduce that Angel had returned to sleep on my bed with me as she usually did.”


Shortly after Angel passed away, I was sleeping deeply one night, but my sleep was disturbed, as I was woken up by a tangible pressure on my legs. That was where Angel used to sleep, at the bottom of my bed, and I often felt her pressing against my legs. In my half-awake state, I assumed she was lying on my legs, and told her to move, as I often had done. Nothing changed. I then remembered that she had just passed away, so I assumed that Muffin must have uncharacteristically gone to the bottom of the bed and was lying on my legs.

I roused myself to move Muffin off my legs, but then I saw Muffin sleeping peacefully right next to me. I was very confused at first, but I simply had to deduce that Angel had returned to sleep on my bed with me as she usually did. I accepted her presence there, moved my legs to make space for her and went back to sleep. This happened a few times afterwards, and then it stopped.


I came back to Toronto to care for my parents in 2016 and I brought Muffin with me. She was then 15-and-a-half. Before I left California, I asked my vet to fill out whatever paperwork Muffin needed to enter Canada, and to give her whatever shots she needed. I had never given her anything but the Rabies vaccine, but that day, in addition to the Rabies, the vet squirted another vaccine up her nose.

That night, Muffin had her first seizure and started to go blind. (Over the next few years, her right eye shrank away and totally disappeared). I thought she was dying. After that, she had a seizure about every two weeks, although some days she had multiple seizures. I gave her some herbal and vitamin supplements and eventually, over several months, the seizures tapered off and stopped.

But I am convinced that Muffin would see Angel every time she had a seizure. After each seizure she would howl and cry incessantly, and run around frantically for hours on end, looking for something. This could last for four or five hours. I would have to take her walking outside or she would go crazy inside. Often this was at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. She would totally ignore me (which was extremely unusual for her) and her food and everything else, other than what she was looking for but could not find, and I have to assume it was Angel.

Eventually she would exhaust herself, fall asleep and then wake up the next day, back to normal, until the next seizure happened. Eventually, when she was almost 19-and-a-half, I recognized that she had very little quality of life; she was deaf, blind, sad, lonely, incontinent, she started having seizures again, and was having trouble standing and walking, so I decided I had to euthanize her. A very, very sad day for me.


I cannot wait to be with my dogs again in heaven, along with all the other wonderful animals I have met on earth.


Note to Readers: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the Animals are Soul blog. You can find it 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 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/