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, September 29, 2009

Staying out of the Freezer

My aunt Kat lives with her sister, who is my mom’s twin, Dot. Kat was fast approaching the eight month since being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. In hospice care at home, she was not feeling well the day her mom’s (my grandmother, whom we call Nanny) 94th birthday came around. Nanny lives with my mom and dad about 20 minutes from Dot and Kat.

My mom and Dot had a lot of work to do in preparation for Nanny’s birthday party. Food had to be cooked, my mom’s house had to be cleaned, and decorations had to be installed before the 50-plus guests arrived. Kat was too weak to drive, so she would have to ride with Dot a few hours ahead of party time so Dot could help my mom get everything ready.

Kat wanted to stay home because she didn’t feel like joining in the festivities, but Dot wouldn’t hear of it.

“I feel so bad, I could just die,” Kat told Dot.

“You can’t die today,” Dot said. “We’ve got too much to do! If you die today, we’ll have to put your body in the freezer until tomorrow!”

Kat went to the party. Upon arriving, my mom asked her, “How are you feeling today?”

“I’m just trying to stay out of the freezer.” Both sisters laughed.

Eleven months have passed since Kat received the news that she probably had six to nine months to live. Knowing that the disease will eventually take her life, she says every day is a miracle. I agree.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update on Nanny

My grandmother (Nanny) was having horrible pain in her lower back when she was taken by ambulance to the hospital on Sunday night. The pain meds the hospital staff gave her were not helping. An MRI showed several fractures in her spine due to osteoporosis, an injury she sustained in 1976, and perhaps a recent injury. A simple movement like getting her from her wheelchair to the examining table at the doctor's office could have caused the fractures. At any rate, one vertebrae was compressed and pinching a nerve. She was supposed to have a Kyphoplasty procedure ( on Wednesday to inject some type of filling material into the damaged areas. However, her sodium and iron levels were too low, and she ended up getting two units of blood in hopes of getting her stable enough to do the procedure on Thursday.

It looked like we were losing her. I just couldn’t go on my planned vacation without seeing her, so I drove to Atlanta yesterday, spent a few hours with her, then drove to my aunt Kat’s to check on her. Back to the hospital this morning in hopes that Nanny would be able to have the procedure. Her blood levels still weren’t back to normal today but the pain, inactivity, and morphine were jeopardizing her chances for recovery. So, her doctor went ahead and did the Kyphoplasty procedure ( this morning. I waited several hours to hear how things went, but I hadn’t packed a thing for our trip to Punta Cana. I had to get back to Nashville in time to pack, catch up on some business emails, and get some rest before the taxi arrives at 4:30 in the morning.

All the way home, my mind was saturated with all the wonderful memories I have of the times I’ve spent with Nanny. Two hours into the trip, my mom still hadn’t gotten to see Nanny and we were worried when the doctor told us she was having trouble breathing and her blood pressure was low. She has fluid around her heart and lungs. Finally, Mom got to see Nanny about five o’clock this afternoon. Nanny was awake, knew where she was, what had happened, and who everyone was. The Kyphoplasty procedure went well, and she has relief from her back pain. Her vitals are still improving. Hopefully, she will be able to get her blood gases to stay in the upper nineties without the bi-pap by morning.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Update on My Aunt and Nanny

If you've kept up with my blog for a while, you may know that my aunt, Kat, is dealing with terminal lung cancer. She has already outlived the six to eight months the doctor expected she might last when she saw him last November. Kat refused to have any more chemo or radiation and has been in hospice at home where she lives with her sister, Dot (my mom's twin). A hospice nurse comes by once a week to check her progress. Or, should I say demise? No, for a while Kat stayed at a plateau and didn't get worse or better. I think she was on hold until my grandmother, whom we call Nanny, decided if she was going to live or die. It seems to me that Kat and Nanny may have a contract to leave this world together or at least near the same time.

Nanny fell and broke her arm and hip last November, but made miraculous recovery after two hip surgeries. She was about to start physical therapy and learn how to safely put weight on the still-healing leg, when she got a urinary tract infection. The doctor put her on an antibiotic called Macrobid. The drug nearly killed her when she had a cardiac reaction to it. She was on the verge of having a stroke when my mom (her live-in caregiver) called for an ambulance. After spending several days in the hospital, Nanny came home on Wednesday. However, she was again taken to the hospital last night. There is fluid around her heart and the spinal vertebrae that she injured in 1976 is deteriorating and causing significant pain every time she moves.

About two weeks ago, Kat's health began taking a decline. She had been having headaches all along, but they became so bad that a stronger medication was added to the menagerie of drugs she is already taking. She got an upper respiratory infection, possibly pneumonia, but since she is in hospice, she doesn't see a doctor. The hospice nurse prescribed an antibiotic that helped some. At least she is able to sit up long enough to send me a funny or sweet email.

Despite the fact that she is on a constant and high intake of oxygen, her blood saturation level stays in the upper eighties and she feels weak most of the time. So weak that hospice offered her a walker to help her get around in the house. She doesn't want a walker. Hell, that's like admitting that she is approaching another stage of the dying process. She also refused to have a hospital bed at home, but Dot vetoed that decision. Kat is now using the motorized bed and recliner that were delivered two weeks ago. I think she likes playing with buttons and making the bed go up and down. In her condition, that's about as exciting as being on a roller coaster.

Nanny and Kat live about 20 minutes from one another. Kat still tries to make the trip once per week to see Nanny and let her know that she's still alive. They talk on the phone several times daily, and never go to bed at night until they tell one another "goodnight and I love you." So sweet. I love my family.

The twin sisters have it hard right now. Both are living with and caring for a relative who is fighting to stay alive. Dot recently retired from her day job so she could tend to her younger sister while my mom tends to Nanny. I live 250 miles away and don't get to Atlanta as often as I need and want to.

I'm supposed to leave for vacation next Friday. I'll be out of the country for a week. Kat and Nanny, please don't die while I'm gone. I'm coming down for a visit when I get back from Dominica Republic. Just hold on.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Friday, September 18, 2009

Never Too Late to Learn

Even though I've written a book on the subject, I've signed up for an online college class on dying, death, and bereavement. I've been watching my aunt and grandmother slowly slide the slippery dying slope for the past ten months. I figure I'm about to have a crash course in death and bereavement, so I might as well learn how to do it right.

Can you believe I am actually excited about taking a course about such as "grave" matter? Pun intended. This week, I got the $112 used text book in the mail. (Can you say death of a checkbook?) Since the class starts on September 28, I plan to read the first chapter before I embark on my week-long trip to the Dominica Republic this coming Friday. I emailed the instructor two weeks ago to let her know that I would not be in class the first week, but she hasn't replied. I hope she hasn't died.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spirit Guides, Deceased Loved Ones, and the Afterlife

I spoke to my Aunt Kat last Sunday. She was in good spirit and has a good mind--even though she says cancer is killing her brain cells. We were able to laugh as we chatted about dying. She and I both are able comfortable talking about the afterlife. She plans to visit me once her spirit leaves her body, which will probably be soon. Her health is failing and she is entering the latter stages of her battle with lung cancer.

She says she will give me the sign of a cameo or silhouette to let me know she is contacting me from the other side. As much as I hate to lose her in physical form, I'm actually looking forward to having her near me in spirit, and hope she will visit me often. Even though Kat still clings to her Christian views, she is open to communication from the other side. I suppose she has heard her mom (Nanny) talk about her "visitors" so many times that it is a natural and acceptable to believe.

Nanny, now age 94, had a near-death experience (NDE) when she was in her thirties. In the NDE, she communicated directly with angels who told her she had to come back to earth and finish raising her children. Until recently, Nanny rarely spoke of it with anyone but my mother and me. Probably because I have had two NDEs and totally understand and believe her. And, mom? Well, she doesn't say much one way or the other about it. I'm not sure if she sees in the spirit and doesn't admit it, or if she's just humoring me and Nanny.

As Nanny's life is coming to a close, she frequently shares that she sees and talks to her husband and son, her siblings, and her own mother from the spirit realm. In the past 10 months (since she fell, broke her hip and arm, and had two surgeries to repair the damage), she's been seeing angels and spirit guides more often than before. The messages they deliver bring encouragement that her time on earth is short and that everything on the other side is set for her arrival. Seems like an entourage is waiting for her there. It will be sad to see her leave us, but it is comforting to know that she will be reunited with loved ones when she passes through the veil. I don't think Nanny has any plans to visit me from the spirit realm. She's too excited about getting to the "other" folks!

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on