Not in Our Time, But in God’s Time

Charlotte Miloknay for Blog
Photo: PickPic.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

 

Can a Dream Meeting Be Real?

 

Louise Michaud (Rev)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Many Ways Can a Beloved Say She is Near?

Margarett Sample - Colourful HB for blogPhoto: Unsplash.com


By Margarett Sample

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I replied, “Yes, that’s my daughter.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The brooch is a hummingbird.


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

Can Faith be Renewed After Loss?

ethel-voas-faith

At The Meaning of Forever Project, we were privileged to receive this poem among the writings of a long-dead grandmother, who found faith in a dream-vision she had of her departed son. He had died in an accident, and grief over his loss confined her to bed for four years. But a dream of her son in a new life brought her back to life, too, and eventually inspired this poem called “Faith”.

This was originally posted in January of 2016.


 

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.

Near-Death or Beyond-Life?

Brenda Solanki - NDE - March 19

If you have been following our blog, you’ve read stories from contributors who’ve had the experience of exiting their physical body at what seemed like the time of death but, then, re-entering and going on to live happy, productive lives. The experts call these “Near-Death Experiences” (NDE’s). We’ve even written posts summarizing some of the current thinking about NDE’s, and we are happy to continue receiving and posting your stories on the subject.

But, in bringing you Brenda’s story (below) it occurs that, perhaps, what contributors are describing are not “Near-Death Experiences” at all; perhaps what they are actually talking about are experiences “Beyond-Death”, or “Beyond-Physical Life.”

In that spirit (pardon the expression), we bring you Brenda’s story:

by Brenda Solanki

Have you ever wondered what happens after you die? Do you still exist and, if so, what does it feel like? To be honest, this had not been a question of any real importance to me when I was young. Then, in one short year, several life changing events happened to open my mind and heart to the reality of a greater existence.

I was pregnant with my second child when I learned that both my mother and my beloved step-father were terminally ill with different forms of cancer. Treatment and care required different hospitals and schedules in a different city from where I lived. In addition, I was looking after a busy 2 year old son while progressing through a difficult pregnancy. This left me with little time to focus on much of anything for myself let alone the philosophical question of where my parents would be when no longer here with us.

However, all of this changed ten days after the birth of my second son. I suddenly found myself in excruciating pain, hospitalized and prepped for emergency surgery. Apparently, I had a seriously damaged gall bladder, symptoms of which had been masked by the pregnancy. It had to be removed immediately.

This was a major surgery, complicated by my being only ten days post-partum and nursing my baby. Finding the correct level of anesthetic apparently proved to be a problem because I awoke during the surgery. At least that was the explanation I was later given. From my perspective it was quite a different matter: I felt as if I was drowning, desperately trying to breathe. I remember pain beyond anything I’d ever experienced and calling out, “Please help me, I can’t handle this!”

Suddenly I was out of my body. The pain was gone and I felt a sense of incredible freedom and wonder. I was in a tunnel a bit like a tornado on its side. It was whirling at tremendous speed creating a continuous huu-huu-huu-huu sound.

I was stationary within this vortex looking toward the far end where a beautiful golden light beckoned. I knew I would go towards that light but first I looked behind.

What I saw was no surprise… My beloved husband and two little sons were standing there, smiling at me. Feeling no sorrow, I said, “Goodbye, I love all of you so much but I’m going home now. You will always be loved. You will be fine.”

And with that, I shot down the tunnel into that glorious golden light.

But before I could totally grasp all I was seeing, feeling and experiencing in this beautiful place, a gentle, laughing voice said quietly, “You can’t stay, you have to go back.”

The next awareness I had was in the recovery room with tears on my cheeks. I was grief-stricken at being, once again, in my physical body.

There were many consequences from this amazing event. I was able to help my parents in their transition to the other side by sharing the beauty and knowledge that life does go on. Over the years, I would often ask myself why I was sent back. Each time there would be a new challenge, or discovery, or opportunity to serve, to learn, to grow. Most importantly, I had absolutely no fear of death. I knew that I was Soul and that I will continue in another realm when my physical body is done.

I have been given a deep and abiding love of life knowing that there is a purpose and that I am loved; that when this physical body reaches its end I—SOUL—will go on to new adventures. I am grateful for each day, no matter what happens.

I now have four children and a brand new granddaughter, and I am still blessed with the same wonderful husband. I found my spiritual path shortly after my experience and, every single day, I sing that beautiful HU sound I heard in the tunnel. It lets me feel—even here in this physical world—the incredible joy,  freedom and love of the other side.

I have discovered who I am… I am Soul!

How would you characterize Brenda’s experience?

You can find out more about the sound Brenda writes about at https://eckankarblog.org/sound-of-soul/


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

 

 

How to Help a Dying Loved One and Yourself Too

Joan Olinger - Helping - Feb 19

In our January 11 post, Dr. Joan Olinger summarized the work of Dr. Christopher Kerr at Hospice Buffalo, in New York, in which he chronicles the End of Life Dreams and Visions (ELDV’s) of his patients, thus adding credence to the idea that, when we finish this life, we continue in yet another one—possibly welcomed by loved ones who have gone before.

All the same, says Dr. Olinger, knowing this makes it is no less difficult to watch someone we love decline. In her latest contribution, she summarizes a few ideas about how to make the dying process easier for those who are leaving, as well as for those who will be left behind. And it all begins with loving and listening.

By Dr. Joan Olinger

Sitting with a dying loved one can make us feel helpless and uncomfortable.  It can be hard to know what to do and be very upsetting when they begin to talk with people who are invisible to us, or to tell us of visits with others we know are long dead. We might worry they’re losing their minds, having hallucinations or negatively fixating on a traumatic past. What are we to say or do?

There was a time when this type of experience would have been very upsetting for me, too—even believing, as I do, that the essential part of each of us lives on after the physical body expires.

But, putting my own experiences together with recent research into end of life dreams and visions has changed my perspective. I now realize the things dying people may say or do that I may have previously viewed as out of touch with reality—hallucinations, even—are actually integral to the dying process.

According to Dr. Christopher Kerr and his research team at Hospice Buffalo in New York, these strange happenings are probably helping our loved ones make peaceful transitions from this life to the next. Long-time palliative care specialist Barbara Morningstar supports this view in her recent book, Honoring the Mystery (mentioned in our October 14 blog).

Dr. Kerr’s research suggests that ELDV’s allow our loved ones to resolve issues and problems that may have dogged them their entire lives. They provide comfort, reassurance, guidance, awareness of lessons they have learned, and reunion with loved ones. Through these dreams and visions the dying person begins to feel safe, perhaps even look forward to being reunited with predeceased loved ones in a world very similar to the one they know now. Morningstar’s writings would seem to agree with this. And, both Morningstar and Dr. Kerr stress the importance of listening without judgement.

Dr. Kerr counsels against withdrawing when a loved one starts to describe unusual dreams or visions. Instead, he suggests that we “open the door” for them to talk by asking questions: “How did you sleep?” for example; or, “Did you have any dreams or unusual experiences?” When given a chance to talk about their dreams and visions, nearly 90 per cent of patients in Dr. Kerr’s research reported having at least one. They also said the experiences were comforting, and that they enjoyed talking about them.

But Morningstar points out that fear can be a factor, too. She witnessed this with her own husband, who was dying of cancer. At one point, he was overcome by a debilitating fear, which she could do nothing to alleviate. What she could to, though, was show him that she was there, that she loved him, and that she was listening—even if the words he was using were unlike his normal conversation.

“When fear is present in the dying or their loved ones, a companion’s love and compassionate presence is more powerful than words. In the silence alone, when love is present, profound transformations happen.”

Finally, her husband was able to work through his fear and communicate to her his final insight: That life is really about “the essence of love”.

“We make it so difficult, but it is so simple,” he told her. And she knew no more words were needed, just a long and loving embrace.

The research shows that, if you pull your chair up beside your dying loved one and just listen, you can learn a lot you didn’t know before. This happened as I sat with my own mother as she was dying. The stories she told me shortly before she lost her ability to speak coherently due to Alzheimer’s have become her legacy. 

She told me about herself, her family, and their experiences with death (See earlier posts here and here.  She and I had always been very close, and so I was surprised that some of the very meaningful stories she told me had never been mentioned before. I learned things about important events in Mom’s life, how she was raised, and why some things unfolded in my life the way they did.

 So, being able to talk with the dying person about their ELDV’s can provide a profound sense of meaning, comfort, connection, and hope for the dying person—as well as their families. You can even take notes if you like. Moments like these can ease the loneliness that the dying person may be feeling.

Even though, sometimes, your silent presence may be enough, I believe the sound of your voice is important at others. While there is no scientific proof that the sense of hearing is the last to go, many believe this, and care givers in the field often counsel to treat the dying person as if they can hear and understand every word you say.

Maggie Callanan, a critical care nurse turned hospice professional and author of Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying (Bantam, 1997) told the Spokesman Review  that she has been there during the deaths of 2,000 people.

Her advice is this: “…[D]o not say anything you do not want this dying person to hear. Just don’t. Not in the room, but not even down the hall, because it appears hearing becomes acute.”

I’ve believed this for a long time. That’s why I talked with my Mom and sang to her, even when she was unconscious, just a few hours before she died (or translated). Although she was a devout Christian, I told her I’d be there to help her cross over and that my spiritual guide would be there for her, too.

We’ve mentioned the importance of not passing off strange ramblings as hallucinations, and Dr. Kerr describes major distinctions between vivid ELDV’s versus disturbing hallucinations, which can often occur as a person’s brain is dying. One of the main differences between these two phenomena relates to the effect on the individual.

Dying people tend to experience healing dreams and visions as enjoyable, comforting, uplifting, and hopeful. In addition, they can clearly describe these experiences to others. In contrast, hallucinations leave a person agitated, distraught, disoriented and unable to communicate clearly.  And it is possible for a dying person to have healing dreams and visions at one time and hallucinations at another.

The reason why it is important to differentiate between ELDV’s and hallucinations is that hallucinations may require medications (such as anti-psychotics) to ease the distress they cause. Unfortunately, if an ELDV is misunderstood as a hallucination, the antipsychotic medication may interfere with the healing effects of the ELDV.

In a New York Times interview from 2016, Dr. Kerr says, “Often when we sedate them (patients having ELDVs), we are sterilizing them from their own dying process…I have done it, and it feels horrible. They’ll say ‘You robbed me—I was with my wife.’”

To see for yourself what it can be like for a dying person to tell others about a healing dream or vision, you might wish to view Dr. Kerr’s TED talk titled “I See Dead people” on YouTube, in which Dr. Kerr plays videotapes of palliative care patients talking about their experiences. You can see that they are comfortable, engaged, coherent, and eager to share their experiences.

__

Points for Reflection:  What leads you to have an interest in the subject of death and healing at the time of death?  How might this become a legacy for your loved ones?   How does what you believe about death effect the way you live your life now?


 

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 We Choose to Stay or Go?

RuthAnn Shallert-Wygall - Jan 19

RuthAnn wrote last April about witnessing an elderly patient’s joyful leap from this life to the next and of her gratitude at having been given the opportunity to witness that woman’s departure.

But, what of RuthAnn’s own choice, as a brand new mother, to live? In the paragraphs that follow, she tells of a near-death experience four decades ago. Newly married and having recently given birth, her choice was clear—but not so easily accomplished.

Here’s how RuthAnn tells it:

“Following the home birth of my daughter Lila in 1977, I began to run a fever. Upon seeking medical help, we discovered I would need a routine post-birth surgery. The procedure took hardly any time at all but my body was unable to clear the anesthetic and, forty minutes later, I was still paralyzed. The doctors were unable to rouse me or remove my breathing machine.

“I had wakened midway through the operation and realized all my muscles were paralyzed. I was frightened and recalled that as a nurse’s aide, I had cared for a young woman who was permanently paralyzed due to a reaction to anesthetic for a routine surgery.

“Gradually, though, I began to realize I did have sensation in a few areas of my body. I could feel the breathing tube in my throat and had some feeling in my arms.

“Occasionally I could hear snatches of what the doctors were saying. One complained that he had an event to attend that evening and was not happy I was keeping him late. “This would happen tonight… one in ten thousand!” I heard him say.

“At one point, I concentrated really hard and managed to move my right arm a little, trying to signal that I was conscious, but one of the doctors dismissed it as a reflex and I was unable to repeat the movement.

“A short while later, without experiencing any sense of movement, I found myself as a point of awareness near the ceiling. I was close to the fluorescent light fixture, which buzzed harshly. I knew my body must be below on the operating table but was unable to see in that direction.

“As the buzzing continued, I became aware of a bright, loving presence. I knew it was the inner form of my spiritual teacher. In a nonverbal way that I clearly understood, my teacher posed the question: Do you want to leave this lifetime now, or do you want to remain?

“In my teenage years, I had been troubled and, at times, toyed with suicidal thoughts. But this time there was no question: I was eager to stay. Recently married, now with a new baby girl, I very much wanted to continue this current life path. I was deeply in love with my husband and we had just welcomed our new daughter into our family. The most exciting time of my life was just beginning! Emphatically, I chose to stay.

“In the meantime, my husband John was in the waiting room wondering why the operation was taking so much longer than expected. Having studied various religions, spiritual paths and meditative systems, he was highly attuned to his inner states of consciousness—and to mine. He later told me he became aware that I was out of my body and was being given a choice to stay or go.

“John surrendered the situation and all his feelings to Divine Spirit. He did not want to impose his personal wishes upon what he understood must be my choice as a spiritual being.

“Back in the OR, I focused all my attention on my physical body. Though I could not see it, I was nonetheless fully aware of what was happening in every part of it. The physical me was still completely paralyzed with the breathing tube in place. So, I braced myself and ‘jumped’ back in, pushing hard on the lungs to start them moving again.

“It required tremendous effort and, to this day, remains the most difficult thing I’ve done in this lifetime. After a couple of attempts, I began to get the hang of it and heard one doctor tell the other I was beginning to breathe on my own. The tube was removed (what a relief!) and my next memory is of waking up in a hospital room to John’s big smile. He was so glad I’d decided to stay.

“Later that day, one of the doctors explained that I had an enzyme deficiency which had caused the anesthetic to remain in my bloodstream ten times longer than normal. It paralyzed all my muscles, including the ones for breathing. Fortunately, I had been given only enough for a five-minute surgery.

“After this experience at the border of death, I gained a new appreciation for life, and for my family. I knew with certainty that Soul can exist outside the body and does not require a human form to see, hear and feel the world around it.

“And I am sure that my spiritual guide will be with me always—indeed, will be with me when the time comes to depart this body for good and move on to higher planes of reality.”


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.

 

 

Where Do We Go When We Die?

where do we go when we die

The Meaning of Forever Project’s blog posts in 2018 spoke of dreams, visions, music and more; of experiences with parents, dogs, spouses and patients; of special moments before death and after–and they reviewed some of the latest thinking, which gives yet more credence to the idea that death is not so much about an end to physical life as it is a beginning to some other kind of life.

If you  haven’t had a chance to see them all, we’ve made a summary here. Just follow the links highlighted in pink to see the full stories.

Lidia Adaman-Tremblay for Blog.

Lidia’s story illustrates how the connection between a mother and daughter continued in dreams long after the mother’s passing; and, how those dream visits helped Lidia feel loved and protected.

 



Mel Kazonoff for Blog

Mel tells a story of how he asked for signs that his departed wife was well and happy in her new existence, then allowed his inner skeptic to take over. However, a set of happenings too strange to ignore finally got through to him and brought comfort.

 



David Olinger - For Blog

Most contributors to The Meaning of Forever Project believe that love and life continue after death of the physical body—because experiences with their own dearly departed have proven it for them. Some have even died and come back to tell about what the academic world now refers to as their Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s).

But—much as many of us want to believe there is more to life than what we see before us—we aren’t all fortunate enough to be given convincing glimpses of “the other side”. In this short piece, David writes about how it feels to want to believe but how, for him, the evidence falls just-that-much too short of the mark.

 



Lori and the Toilet

In this story, Lori tells how her Mom’s sense of humour plays an important part in letting Lori know that the love between mother and daughter continues long after the mother’s physical passing.

 



Ruth Ann S-W - 1 - for blog

In this story, the writer gives us another perspective on the concept of Soul as an eternal being. This viewpoint asserts that we are not primarily physical beings who have Souls; rather, we are Souls who have physical bodies. And, not only that, says RuthAnn in this story: When death is inevitable, Souls will sometimes leave their bodies behind before the final physical processes have finished.

 



Joan Olinger - Dr. Mary Neal

For those of us who haven’t had our own experiences to assure us life continues after death of the physical body, Dr. Joan Olinger has found another book that might help. In 7 Lessons from Heaven: How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-filled Life, Dr. Mary Neal writes about her own near-death experience and how it has allowed her to take more joy in the life she has right now—despite the fact it prophesied the death of her son. She even takes things a step further by providing exercises she hopes will help readers find that same joy.

Dr. Joan Olinger, who thoroughly enjoyed the book, summarizes parts of it below.

 



Patti McCulloch - Pampas

If humans can happily leave their bodies behind when they no longer function, what about dogs?

It took a while for Patti to realize it, but her dog answered that question with a resounding “yes” one sad day in 1998. The message came in the form of a light rising from the box that contained her beloved Pomeranian’s ashes.

 



Janine G Smith - For Blog - 1

Janine has long followed a spiritual path called ECKANKAR, which teaches the eternal nature of Soul, and the study of dreams to connect with this higher part of ourselves. So, she was not particularly surprised when the recently-deceased mother of a friend from her junior high school days visited in a dream with an important message. What did surprise her was the immediate acceptance of that message by the woman’s family.

Here’s how Janine tells the story:

 



David Minton - For Blog.

In his story below,  David provides another perspective on what is left of us when we leave this earthly life, and what remains–both here and in the worlds beyond.

 



Kathi Murphy

Can music be a way for the departed to show their continuing love?

Kathi believes so. In the story below, she tells of times when she heard special music that assured her  both her parents were there in times of need.

 



Ben Burchert - FB story adapted for Blog

Sometimes we receive assurance that our loved-ones live on after they have left their physical bodies; perhaps, in a dream or an encounter with a symbol that we know is meant just for us. Other times, if we are open, we can be given reassurance before we even learn they are gone. That is what happened to Ben one late summer day in 1985.

 



Joan Olinger - Morningstar Review

If we accept that we can have visits from our dear ones after they’ve left this world—and if these visits bring us comfort—how can we give similar comfort to them before they leave?

In a new book, Honoring the Mystery: Uplifting Insights from the Language, Visions and Dreams of the Dying, Barbara Morningstar examines the world of the dying from the perspective of a professional involved in hospice care for more than 20 years—and from the place of a woman bereaved.

 



Randi Warner - For Blog

For those of us who believe it’s possible, catching some sign that our departed loved one is well and happy in a new existence brings us great comfort. Some of us are also able to discern a guiding hand in things that happen before death which make the transition easier to bear. Randi is one of those people fortunate enough to have experienced both: her grandmother’s call from “the other side”, and a soothing message from a mysterious visitor before her passing.

Randi tells her story:

 



Kathi Murphy - Molson

In a recent blog, Kathi told us how the timely playing of favourite family music selections helped comfort her after both her mother and father had passed away. In this story, Kathi tells how a dream with her beloved dog Molson told her he, too, was well and happy in his new life.

 



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

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.

 

where do we go when we die


 


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

What Makes a “Good Death”?

joan olinger - a good death - kerr

If you recall our November 4, 2018, post about Maria’s mother asking her to stand aside to make visible “a lot of people” who had come to welcome her into the next life, you may be pleased to know that both Maria’s and her mother’s experiences are corroborated by scientific research. In the post below, Dr. Joan Olinger brings together the highlights of these studies so that, like her, we can ponder this question:

What is “a good death” for you or a loved one?

Great things can happen at the time of death, or just before! I believe, however, that this isn’t the way most of us feel when faced with the departure of a loved one. Instead, we often focus on the decline of that person’s physical body. We see our loved one shrink and curl into a fetal position. We watch with great apprehension as very normal aspects of everyday life—like breathing—change from automatic and easy to labored and difficult.

Of more importance, however, is that while our loved one’s body is in the process of shutting down, their psychological, existential, and spiritual needs are still being attended to in a totally normal process that is inherent in the process of death itself.

Here, you might wonder what in the world I’m talking about. I’m referring to what is being revealed about the natural process of dying in some very exciting research by Dr. Christopher Kerr, Chief Executive Officer, at Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowga, New York. Dr. Kerr and his team have been studying end-of-life dreams and visions (ELDV’s), also known as pre-death experiences.  In these experiences, people who are dying often have highly meaningful, inherently therapeutic, and comforting dreams or visions that allow them to lose their fear of death.

In turn, these dreams and visions help transform the process of dying into a peaceful acceptance of the transition to what lies beyond. They often have dreams or visions in which they are greeted by deceased family, friends, pets, and religious figures. These pre-death experiences can be profoundly meaningful for both the dying and their families.

Recently, I saw my friend Maria transformed after her dying mother saw a large group of loved ones who were already dead come to visit. Lying in her bed, Maria’s mother was so delighted by their welcoming visit that she clapped her hands in glee. Previously agitated and afraid, she was now at peace. She died a few hours later. Just witnessing this transformed Maria, too, and gave her a renewed appreciation for life. (See the full story here.)

Research bears out Maria’s experience: Often, those who know of their loved-ones’ profound pre-death experiences are better able to accept their passing.

Visions Through the Ages

ELDV’s have been reported throughout the ages, across different nations, different cultures, and different religious backgrounds. Some examples of these can be found in The Bible, and in the writings of Plato and Shakespeare. Until the Dr. Kerr’s research, however, these dreams and visions have not been scientifically studied from the dying person’s perspective.

Typically, the previous research into pre-death experiences has been from the viewpoint of nurses or family members. One example is a 2004 study in which nurses indicated that patients who had pre-death visions or dreams were more likely to have peaceful deaths.

In Dr. Kerr’s research, dying persons were asked every day prior to their death to describe any dreams or visions, and they were asked if they found their experiences comforting or distressing. Interestingly, almost 90% reported at least one dream or vision, and nearly 100% described these pre-death dreams or visions (ELDV’s) as distinctly different from normal dreams. They described them as “more real than real”.

The research participants felt as though they were awake in these very vivid and profound experiences. Most were with predeceased family, friends, pets, or religious figures. Two-thirds involved travelling or preparation for travel. Most of the dying people enjoyed talking about their experiences and said they derived great comfort from them—particularly if they involved predeceased loved ones.

Dr. Kerr’s research found that, as dying people come close to the time of death, the frequency of the ELDV’s with predeceased loved ones increased dramatically. Since dying people report that the most comforting experiences are those with deceased loved ones, they found more and more comfort as death approached. Only 15% of dying patients reported distressing dreams or visions. Even here, however, the distressing dreams served to help resolve painful or traumatic experiences from the past.

Dreams with a Purpose

Although the timing of these experiences varies from months to hours before patients pass on, there seems to be a psychological or existential purpose behind the dreams about predeceased loved ones.  Typically, the predeceased are those who have been the most loving. As one illustration, Dr. Kerr tells of a man who lost his arm playing on a train track when he was a boy. Most of his siblings were highly supportive and loving afterwards, but one teased him mercilessly. This person’s end-of-life experience turned out to be with the siblings who had given him love throughout his life. The one who had treated him badly was not there.

Dr. Kerr says these types of pre-death dreams or visions can serve to help heal old pains and losses. He describes one such instance in his TEDx Talk, I See Dead People,”  in which he describes the experiences of a woman named Mary.  She was observed rocking, cuddling, and loving an unseen infant, whom she called Danny. No one knew who “Danny” was. When Mary’s sister arrived the next day, she explained that Danny was Mary’s first child and had been stillborn.

Mary had been so grief-stricken by the loss that, throughout her life, she never spoke of it. Now, in a pre-death vision, Mary had regained the lost baby and was giving it all the love and care that she hadn’t been able to give earlier in her life. Dr. Kerr notes that dreams and visions are often about regaining what was lost, including the love of a predeceased one, and regaining a sense of wonder and meaning about life.

War-Time Trauma Healed

Dr. Kerr offers another story about a dying man named Mack. As a 17-year-old, he had joined up to fight in World War II. During the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944, Mack helped ferry the soldiers from the off-shore boats to the invasion beaches. On each return trip, he would bring the dead and dying soldiers back to the ships. He felt responsible for these men, and long afterward he was concerned about what he might have done to help save more soldiers.

Mack never spoke about this horrific event after the war. But as he neared death, he couldn’t sleep because of terrible nightmares in which he relived those experiences. Mack began to talk about these nightmares. He then experienced comforting dreams and was transformed, being able to sleep peacefully.

In one of Mack’s dreams, he was able to relive the day he was discharged from the military, which he said was the happiest day of his life. Mack also had a dream that one of the soldiers he hadn’t been able to save on the beaches came to talk with him. This man told him the soldiers would soon be coming to get him, and he was rescued by the soldiers he had not been able to save. Mack died peacefully two days later.

Dr. Kerr points out that it is completely normal that, as we approach our own deaths, we begin to reflect on the meaningful experiences of our lives, on our own mortality, and who we might meet “beyond the veil.” He says that most dreams and visions bring reassurance and a knowingness we’ll be okay after death.

Just as it is built into a tadpole to become a frog, and a caterpillar to become a butterfly so, too, it is built into us that, through the dying process, we are intrinsically healed, loved, comforted, and welcomed into the life beyond death. Personally, I can’t image a death that would be better. When the time comes, I will welcome this as “a good death”.

Points for Reflection

If you like, you can ponder what would characterize “a good death” for you, or for a loved one. What would it be like?  Who would you or your loved one want to be reunited with? What lifelong issues would you or your loved-one like closure and healing for? Such may very well be the themes of dreams or visions that you or your loved-one encounter in the intrinsically meaningful and inherently healing process of death.

Isn’t that amazing?

Further Investigation

Here are links and references if you would like to investigate further the world of End-of-Life Dreams and Visions:

Kerr, C.W., Donnelly, J.P., Wright, S.T., Kusczczak, S.M., Banas, A., Grant, P., Luczkiewicz, D.L. “End-of-Life Dreams and Visions: A Longitudinal Study of Hospice Patients’ Experiences” JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE Volume 17 No. 3, 2014.

Badgery, E. “Vivid Dreams Comfort the Dying” Scientific American November 1 2014 found at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/vivid-dreams-comfort-the-dying/

Bullkeley, K. “Pre-Death Dreams: Their Psychological and Spiritual Value” Huffington Post Feb 8, 2017 found at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-bullkeley-phd/predeath-dreams-their-value_b_9153778.html

Petrow, S. “At the end of her life, my mother started seeing ghosts, and it freaked me out” The Washington Post July 22 2017 found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/at-the-end-of-her-life-my-mother-started-seeing-ghosts-and-it-freaked-me-out/2017/07/21/af8a7c40-56b5-11e7-a204-ad706461fa4f_story.html?utm_term=.566e877452f0

Kerr, C. “I See Dead People: Dreams and Visions of the Dying” Tedx Talk November 2015 found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbnBe-vXGQM

Kerr. C. “Dreams and Visions of the Dying” June 2018 found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3eM6Der7Jw





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 Love Overcome Skepticism?

Bonnie Lendrum

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, the 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.

Three weeks afterward, Bonnie and Kenn settled into their usual seats at a concert hall in Hamilton 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. One evening in late fall after an early snow, she was wearing them—plus a cameo from Phyllis that she’d put on for the first time. She and Kenn had a date to meet their son for dinner in Hamilton 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.

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.

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.”


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.