More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Death Humor

Three friends from Thibodeaux, Louisiana were asked, “When you're in the casket at your wake, and your friends and church members are mourning over you, what would you most like them to say?”

Gaston said, “I would like them to say I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man.”

Guidry commented, “I would like them to say I was a wonderful teacher and servant of the Church who made a huge difference in people's lives.”

Boudreaux said, “I'd like them to say, 'Look, he's movin’!”

- Unknown Source

Friday, December 26, 2008

When Did Hospice Begin?

The concept of hospice began in England as a place where people could go to be comforted while dying from an illness. The origin of the word “hospice” in medieval times meant “way station for weary travelers”. The word retains its original meaning when viewed from the standpoint that we are all sojourners on this planet. Today, hospices are state-regulated and only accept patients who have less than six months to live. It is a philosophy of care that may be provided in the patient’s home or in a hospice facility. For many years people viewed death as a normal part of existence, and it was not uncommon for people to die at home. In fact, the whole process of caring for the loved one before, during and after death was something families did at home. It wasn’t until the past 50 or so years that it became common for people to die in hospitals and hospices, and for funeral homes to provide after-death care for the body.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Deceased Loved Ones Presence

Almost everyone I interviewed for this book told me that they sensed the presence of their loved ones near them during the funeral, graveside ceremony and in the days following. In one of my lunchtime drives through the cemetery, I came upon a fresh grave and felt compelled to stop.

As I sat there eating my lunch, I became aware of a presence in the back seat of my car so I started a conversation with what felt like a male energy. I nodded toward the mound of red dirt and asked him if that was where they put his body. He affirmed that it was. I asked him why he was still hanging around in the cemetery.

He replied, “Where am I supposed to go?” I told him to go to the Light, but he said he was afraid to because he hadn't lived a very good life. I told him that God loves him no matter what kind of life he lived. Then, I asked the angels to come and assist him in finding his place in the Afterlife. I heard him thank me as he was whooshed upward through the roof on the passenger side of my car.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What you might not know about embalming

Let’s talk for a minute about treatments available for the remains of a body. Some people believe that embalming or cremation is necessary or required by law, but neither is true. Embalming is done to preserve the body and make it cosmetically presentable for an open-casket viewing. If a body is being shipped via common carrier, it must be embalmed or placed into an acceptable container. Only a few states require embalming, and if cremation is chosen, embalming is not necessary. 

Embalming and mummification, (wrapping the washed corpse with cloth after application of oils and spices), began in Egypt and was the custom for religious and sanitation purposes. Egyptians believed that a soul could return to its body after a "circle of necessity" as long as the body remained in tact. The circle of necessity was a 3,000 year journey of the soul, after which it could re-inhabit the body and arise to live with the gods. Prior to the discovery of embalming, the Egyptians buried their dead in the Nile River. Ethiopians, Babylonians, Persians, Syrians, and Aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands practiced mummification of their dead. Early Jewish and Islamic customs did not allow embalming or cremation because they saw it as mutilation or desecration of the body. Muslim practices today are similar to mummification, except the body is laid to rest in the ground without a coffin, generally with the deceased’s head facing towards Mecca. There is no evidence that Early Christians practiced embalming. Embalming was used in the Dark Ages in Europe when great advances were being made in medicine and bodies were needed for scientific study and dissection purposes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Precious Memories

More than likely, each of us has a memory about the passing of a loved one. By sharing these inspiring stories we realize that after death our loved ones are still connected with us in spirit. We discover our own strength as we care for one another in difficult times. We learn more about our friends and families and bond with them in a way that perhaps couldn’t be expressed before. Certainly, if you’ve ever been with someone as they passed, you know that the experience itself can change your life.

Why not talk about these precious memories with someone today?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Do I Have Spirit Guides?

We’ve talked about spirits and ghosts, but I also want to mention spirit guides? We each have two or three guides to assist us on our journey. You may hear an internal voice, sometimes called intuition, giving you a mental nudge, instruction or advice. There are many levels of guides. Some are angels; some are the evolved souls of deceased loved ones. True spirit guides are of a much higher vibration than the confused souls mentioned before. They can be in more than one place at the same time. Their purpose is to teach, guide and even rescue humans when necessary. Some stay with you all your life. Others enter to assist on certain tasks or events then leave when finished.

The most popular spirit guide for Christians is Jesus. The most common guide for Catholics is Mother Mary.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No One Wants to Die Alone

Our views of death may have changed over the years, but one thing remains certain: we all need and want genuine, unconditional love. It touches and heals our soul, strengthens our spirit and enriches our lives. Birth and death, (entrance and exit from Earth), are two events where unconditional love is especially important. If you knew you only had a few weeks to live what conditions would you want around you? Would you prefer to be at home in familiar surroundings, or in a hospital or hospice center with access to medical professionals and trained volunteers to comfort you while you wait for your departure? Would you want your pastor or a member from your church to be with you as you make your exit? I would rather have a friend or family member with me, but perhaps you would prefer to die alone.

In an article from titled "Spiritual Care at the End of Life," statistics were given from a 1997 Gallup survey, Spiritual Beliefs and the Dying Process. The survey suggested that people who are dying want contact with someone they can share their fears and concerns with. Many wanted someone to touch them or hold their hand. About half want someone to pray with them and help them find spiritual peace. Many who are dying want their spouse, children, immediate family members or close friends nearby. Even though many of the people surveyed considered themselves part of the religious community of faith, very few actually wanted a member of clergy to be with them in their last days. A person who is unable to control his bodily functions or feed himself is probably not going to find much comfort in the pastor or church member sent to “make the rounds to visit the sick and elderly”.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ceremonies for the Deceased

Just as the birth of a baby deserves a celebration, so does the death of a loved one. It is a celebration of the life he or she lived, and it allows friends of the deceased to pay their last respects and offer condolences to the family. My husband has planned his own funeral. To save money he wants to be cremated in the backyard fire pit and his ashes used to fertilize our garden. He has asked me to throw a party in his honor. Everyone should bring their own six pack of beer or a bottle of tequila, some party favors and a lot of food that I can freeze so I won’t have to cook for a while (Randy is the family chef, not me!) There will be dancing to 60s and 70s Rock-n-Roll classics, and our sons have been instructed to set off a huge display of fireworks in the cul-de-sac after dark. The media and the fire department will be notified in advance.

Most ceremonies are not as elaborate as the one Randy has planned, but I especially like the story Marsha Houser told about the celebration she attended in honor of her father-in-law’s passing:

When my husband’s father passed away, our family did not entertain grief or sorrow in a public setting. Instead we entertained guests and celebrated the life Rumsey had lived. As an alternative to a graveside service, we had dinner in the fellowship hall of the church where everyone told stories and shared memories of how much their lives had been blessed by knowing him. People were laughing, eating and enjoying the camaraderie in the midst of what some would consider a very sad event. So many times I’ve been to funerals and graveside services where I just didn’t know what to say or how to comfort the grieving family. At Rumsey’s service, we made sure everyone understood that this was a celebration of Rumsey’s LIFE, not a time for grieving his death. It was the best party the family ever had!

As he had requested, Rumsey’s body was cremated and his ashes were buried by a tree in the yard near a bench where his wife, Marlene, could sit and reflect when she missed him. To help our kids understand that Papa was still nearby, we told them that anytime they missed him they could go outside, look up at the sky, find the brightest star and know that he was near.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How can you tell if death is about to occur for a critically ill patient? According to there are common signs that may indicate that death is actively approaching. These include:
  • Major changes in respiratory health, buildup of fluid in the lungs, congestion, longer periods of apnea, and abnormal breathing patterns such as cycles of slow then fast breathing. 
  • Subject states that he or she is going to die soon.
  • Difficulties swallowing liquids or the resistance of all food and drink. 
  • Marked changes in personality, acting wildly, severe agitation or hallucinations. 
  • Increased difficulty waking subject from sleeping, the inability to arouse them at all, or a coma-like state. 
  • Subject is unresponsive or cannot speak. 
  • Subject does not move for long periods of time.
  • The extremities -- hands, feet, arms and legs -- feel very cold to touch. Subject may say that they are numb or cannot feel at all. 
  • Mottling of the arms, legs, hands and feet -- giving a blue or purple splotchy appearance to the skin. 
  • Decrease in urination with urine darkening in color or changing colors. 
  • Urinary or bowel incontinence. 
  • A continued drop in blood pressure to 20 to 30 points below normal range or a systolic pressure below 70 with a diastolic below 50 points.
  • Loss of hearing, feeling, smell, taste or sight at the final stage. 
It is important to provide a warm and relaxing atmosphere and be supportive during the time of transition. It is believed that the dying can sense people in the room and hear them speaking. Find comforting words to help alleviate fear or anxiety. Avoid crying or grieving while in the room with the dying person. Take turns with friends and family staying with the dying person so they do not have to be alone. Be assured that whatever happens is a normal part of the process and see yourself as being a blessing as you offer your time and love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Talk about Death with Your Family

It is not easy to address issues of death and dying with your family members, but the time of crisis is not the best time to discuss end of life procedures. It is a blessing to know in advance what your loved one wants and the only way to find out is to ask while they are able to tell you. It may be one of the best and most meaningful conversations you ever have. Plan a family meeting and make it a fun and intimate event. It would be an excellent time to sign your Advanced Directive or Living Will (see Appendix A). If you are unsure about what you want or if you need more information about available procedures please talk with a doctor or healthcare provider.

Monday, December 8, 2008

When did the practice of embalming begin?

In the United States, Modern embalming started during the Civil War when President Lincoln directed the Quartermaster Corps to use embalming when returning bodies to their home towns for proper burial. Dr. Thomas Holmes, captain in the Army Medical Corps, embalmed over 4,000 soldiers and officers during the war. Realizing the commercial potential, Holmes resigned his commission and began offering embalming to the public for $100. However, the practice did not become common until the turn of the century. It was then that a person, who would undertake to manage all funeral details and provide funeral merchandise, became known as an "undertaker." Funeral services became a business that attracted representatives from embalming fluid companies. These representatives would travel the country selling embalming fluids (mostly formaldehyde) and teaching about the use of their product. 

Embalming gave ample time to arrange and prepare for the funeral and has therefore remained an acceptable and desirable method of post-mortem treatment in the United States and Canada. Embalming forms the foundation for funeral service business; but according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it offers no public health benefit. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires embalmers to wear a respirator and full-body covering while embalming; however, the release of contaminated blood and highly toxic chemicals used in the process are not regulated by any governmental agency and are commonly dumped into our sewer systems. Hawaii and Ontario forbid embalming if the person died of certain contagious diseases. Embalming is an expensive and physically invasive process in which special devices are implanted, and chemicals and dyes are used to give a restful appearance. While it prevents the body from returning to its natural elements quickly and naturally, it does not postpone decomposition indefinitely. Refrigeration will effectively maintain a body while awaiting a public funeral service or private home viewing by family members and close friends. While not all funeral homes have refrigeration facilities, most hospitals do. Many funeral directors will not allow public viewing of a body without embalming and cosmetic restoration because they consider seeing "a beautiful memory picture," as it's called in the trade, a necessary part of the grieving process. Yet, many people consider viewing a dead body a negative experience. According to the personal opinion of author, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book, Questions and Answers on Death and Dying, it may give the illusion that the deceased is only asleep which may actually prolong the stage of denial.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Why Hospice Care?

Hospice care is not about fighting death or prolonging life with drugs, surgical procedures or technology. It's about making the patient as peaceful and comfortable as possible emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically while preparing for transition. Hospice care supports the whole person—body, soul and spirit—and educates the family and loved ones about the process of illness and the final stages of death. There is a difference between cure and healing. Cure means that the disease no longer exists. Healing, however, can mean a healing of relationships, or self-worth issues. Hospice is not a place to find a cure, but there are many opportunities there to find healing, peace of mind, and enhanced self-esteem amidst isolation, loneliness, and other issues. Hospice gives the patient a chance to talk about the things that have been on their minds. Some people on their death bed discover that they did indeed have a meaningful life and a definite purpose for living.

Many people in nursing homes and hospice care are without the loving presence and spiritual support of friends or family. There is a great need for compassionate volunteers, but not everyone is up to the task of assisting people in their transition. It takes a special person to walk in, meet someone for the first time, talk intimately with them, and hold their hand, all the while knowing they may not be around the next time they come to visit. Yet, this blessed gift of friendship is crucial in helping a soul leave peacefully.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Losing the Will to Live

You've probably heard of people losing their will to live, but I wonder how much a person's will actually has upon whether he or she lives or dies.

When my friend's grandfather passed, my friend's grandmother was in pretty good health. When her soul mate died, she lost her will to live, and she passed within one year of his death.

When my uncle was in hospice, he stayed in his body for nearly a year after the doctors thought he should have died. He had no quality of life. He would rally and then fall back over and over as his body continued to decline. Finally, he went into a coma and was passed. I believe the reason his body did not die sooner was because my family was praying and pulling for him to get well. It seemed to me that their collective energy had just enough power to impact his will to live.

When my grandmother fell, I felt strongly that her soul was intending to reach the other side before losing another child through death. If you've been following this blog, you know that my aunt has terminal lung cancer. My grandmother pulled through her hip surgery and is recovering at home, but she will never be able to walk again. Being totally dependent upon another person was something she never wanted. She has been active all her life, and this is quite an adjustment for her.

Have you seen someone die because he or she lost the will to live?
Have you seen someone live against all odds because he or she had a strong will to live?
Do you believe prayer or another person's will can influence the continuation or ending of someone whose life is hanging in the balance?

I'd like your feedback. Please share your insight or experience with us by leaving a comment on this blog. Look for the "comment" feature below this post.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Legacy of the Chosen One by Ray Brennan and Masomeh Fritz

Today, I am sharing my interview that I conducted with the authors of a book about a walk-out named Laila. The Legacy of the Chosen One is not for everyone, but more people are probably experiencing or know someone who is or has experienced the phenomenon of soul exchange, walk-ins, and walk-outs than they realize. I wrote about my own experience in my book More Than Meets the Eye

Click here to listen part one...

When the soul that incarnated in this body walked out in 1999, I had no clue what had happened or why I suddenly felt so different or why my life changed so drastically starting the very next day. Within a month, everything in my life had changed and it was tragic at the time—much better than ever at this point, but nevertheless very painful then. It was almost like dealing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder because the first soul left a lot of things undone. She was on the verge of destroying the body because she was so ready to leave for the Spirit World, but it was not time. My walking in was a rescue mission to keep the first soul from harming the body so we could maintain our agreement that we had arranged before this body was created. I had to heal her broken relationships and resolve the karma she had left before I could get on with my own mission.

I felt detached from those I knew and loved most. My friends and family kept saying how much I had changed. I knew I had because I thought and acted differently, and felt a different energy around me. I needed an explanation, but I found very few books or information on the topic. I found some information online by coincidence (if you believe in such a thing) that helped me find peace about the situation, once I accepted what had happened.

Now, there is a book that truly explains the process. The Legacy of the Chosen One by Ray Brennan and Masomeh Fritz is available to help people understand why NDEs and soul exchanges are becoming more common. Those who are thinking of suicide may want to explore this alternative and non-destructive way of leaving the planet.

Click here to listen to part 2...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Walk-in Experience 1999

One night in December, during an emotionally heated argument with my husband, (we had never before expressed anger toward one another), I fell to the floor unconscious. I was out of body and could not respond to my husband or my daughter as they attempted to rouse me. I could hear them speak, but I couldn’t talk or will my body to move. I felt paralyzed. I knew that something spiritual was taking place. 

When I regained consciousness, I felt really strange. I didn’t feel like I was the same person. I was physically drained and weak, but I had courage and a resolve that I didn’t have before. That night, I slept in my son’s old room, calm and in control of my emotions. I got up at six o’clock the next morning, packed my bags and walked out on a 21-year marriage. 

As I went through the divorce and attempted to get on my feet financially, I felt like I was walking through a fog. I felt disconnected to everyone and everything. I tried to pray, but found that I could no longer intercede with the fervor and intensity that I had before. I had a difficult time trying to form words and make sentences because I couldn’t think straight. I thought it was just the stress and trauma of all I was going through. Maybe my nerves were shot, but why then, did I feel such a strength and deep knowing that everything was happening exactly as it was supposed to? 

I felt like I was being carried along by a current more powerful than my own strength. I just didn’t feel like my old self and my own family seemed like strangers to me. I remember wondering if I had died and came back as someone else! What I didn’t know until almost five years later, was that a new soul HAD walked into my body that night and took charge. This experience is called a “walk-in” or soul exchange. I had never heard of such a thing until I heard a lady sharing her walk-in experience. As she was talking, my body jerked and shuddered, and I felt a sense of "knowing" hit solid in my gut. The light bulb when on, and I knew that was what had happened to me. 

Later, I tried to talk myself out of believing something so weird, but I couldn’t help but ponder the probability that I might be living as a walk-in soul. I certainly didn’t mention it to anyone who could have me committed to a mental institution! It sounds strange, I know. I didn’t understand the phenomenon at first either, but if you think about it, the concept makes sense. One soul is ready to leave a healthy adult body for whatever reason, and another soul is ready to enter the earth plane. The new soul may begin its spiritual growth and planetary mission immediately without having to go through the infant and childhood stages of development.

Sometimes, the new soul is simply another part of the hologram of the original soul that vibrates at a higher frequency and has a more intense mission. The new soul will have to make adjustments to being in a body, and deal with the first soul’s old issues, as well as heal its wounds and resolve its karma. That is no easy task, but it is still much better than wasting a body through suicide! 

Had this experience not made such a huge and sudden impact on me, I wouldn’t have believed it was possible. Many aspects of my personality, interests, career and relationships changed drastically. For example, I was a musician who practiced as much as five hours a day before the episode. Afterward, I rarely touched the piano. Within one year I had completely changed my spiritual beliefs, divorced my first husband, married my present husband, started a new job that led me to begin my writing career. I have very few childhood memories, and the memories I do have are like watching myself on video or seeing myself in a photo, rather than as the one doing the action. These are common indications that a walk-in has occurred.

I interviewed Ray Brennan and Masomeh Fritz, the authors of a book about walk-ins titled The Legacy of the Chosen One. Ray and Masomeh are well-known in the field of metaphysical spirituality, with decades of experience between them. They also have a wealth of experience providing metaphysical workshops and lectures. Ray has been instructing for 27 years.

I would like to share this interview with you in tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do you believe in the Afterlife?

There is growing acceptance of the concept that life continues after death. In the book, Hello from Heaven, Bill and Judy Guggenheim state that as many as 67 percent of bereaved individuals report experiencing after death communications from their loved ones.

Do you believe in an afterlife? Comment below this post and give us your answer. Feel free to say why you do or do not believe in it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Five Generation Family

How many kids know their great-grandparent's name? 

Not many, but even fewer know the name of their great-great-grandparent. 

My seven-year-old grandson lives in Tennessee. Whenever he has a break from school, he calls his great-grandmother in Atlanta to come and pick him up so he can spend time with her, my dad, and my grandmother, who lives with them. That means Sidney not only knows about his great-great-grandmother, he personally knows her and enjoys her company.

We are blessed to have all five generations represented at Thanksgiving this year. Especially, after the matriarch (we call her Nanny) fell and broke her hip and arm and had surgery this first part of November.

There are five generations represented in this photo of my family. This was taken at my daughter's wedding in 2007.

On the upper row, from left to right: my mom, me, my daughter.
On the lower row: my grandson (my son's boy) and Nanny, my grandmother (my mom's mother).