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, April 28, 2009

View of God Creates Fear of Death

Rev. Cherise is a very special spiritual teacher and healer and one of the most spiritually evolved beings that I know. She is a medium and psychic who helped my family contact my brother-in-law after he passed. You can read about that story here, but recently Linda Woods interviewed Cherise about her concept of God. I think our Western Christian view of God is what causes us to be fearful of death. For those who see God as a harsh entity ready to punish for sin, you might be relieved by listening to this podcast about All That Is.

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

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

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.

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

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Discuss End of Life Procedures Now

My sister-in-law recently lost her father, Bob. He went in for heart surgery and came through the surgery quite well for a man in his early eighties. However, he had a difficult time coming out of the anesthesia and was unresponsive. A few months passed and the doctors discovered that Bob had lost circulation to his legs and arms and gangrene had set in.

The family was in turmoil not knowing whether to put him through another surgery to remove the dying limbs in hopes of saving him. The possibility of him coming through another surgery was very low; he would probably die due to blood loss. Their other options were: allow him to lay in bed unconscious and see if he would awaken before he passed from systemic infection or help him die by removing artificial support. He had a living will and they would have been totally within their right to remove the equipment since those were his wishes.

While the family was trying to decide what to do, Bob woke up. When told about his condition and asked if he wanted to have surgery to remove his limbs, he affirmed an absolute "No!" Let me add a note here that it is normal for a dying person to awaken or rally just before they pass. It's seems as if they come back one more time just to say goodbye.

Refusing the surgery, the doctors dismissed Bob and told the family that Bob had less than two weeks to live. Bob was moved from the hospital where he had been for about two months and taken to a hospice center closer to his home and family. My sister-in-law had been driving an hour each way to see her father at least three times per week. Moving Bob to hospice closer to home allowed her to visit him every day and stay longer each visit. By the fourth day, Bob passed in his sleep.

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 of my book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on or download the PDF on my blog).

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 before there is a crisis to contend with.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nursing Homes and Hospice Care

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. Linda Woods ( visited her friend, Irving Faust, while he was in hospice. As a result of her experience that day, she now volunteers regularly at a local hospice. Linda shares her story about assisting Irving Faust in his transition:

I was not prepared for the vision in front of me. Irving lay in his hospital bed unconscious, his breathing labored, struggling to let go. He was on oxygen and every breath was intense, difficult and uncertain. When I received Naomi’s email about Irving’s condition, I thought I would at least be able to talk to him, look into his eyes, and squeeze his hand. Not so. His angels had other plans for my visit. Plans that would definitely ease his transition, and plans that would shock me and change my life forever.

It was 11:20 a.m. when I walked into the room. His daughter Martha had flown in from Denver earlier that week and was scheduled to fly out at 2 p.m. that afternoon. We introduced ourselves and shared our memories, tears and emotions. I talked a lot about my relationship with her father, who had treated me like one of his own. He was always listening, always encouraging, always accepting. Now, here he was in the final hours of his life. After struggling with cancer for over three years and trying several holistic treatments, he had finally passed through the stages of death: fear, denial, anger, and finally and most difficult of all -- acceptance. I knew that Irving could still hear us. But how could anyone comfort him at this time? How could we possibly know what he was feeling? Was he frightened? Was he seeing into other realms? On some level, was he conscious and waiting for the moment when Naomi and Kathy would arrive?
I sat by his bed and the tears welled up again. The nurses were telling us that he would probably make his transition later that evening. I hadn’t seen many people die. As a young girl, my grandmother had passed in front of me. I stood there helpless, with my mom, not knowing what to do. This time though, I knew I wanted to help, some how, some way. Intuitively I knew that I was a healer, but had never acknowledged myself as one. Being a healer did not mean that I could cure illness. That kind of healing only came from God. Being a healer to me meant that I could direct Source energy where it needed to go, and extend love, healing and comfort to someone in their most difficult moment. I had never actually offered my healing services. Instead, I was always promoting others as being more enlightened or gifted than myself. Oh, I had practiced my healing abilities on students in my Healing Touch class and on participants in my Reiki class, but never on a person who really needed my help, and certainly never with anyone who was facing his final moments. I knew about the power of intention. Anyone could use that gift to help others. And I knew about the power of “laying on of hands”—especially to comfort a young child in distress, or an elderly person facing loneliness, or anyone who needed the warmth and closeness of human touch. These were gifts that we all are able to give, with no special training, and I wanted to give those gifts now.

As I stood there, looking at Irving, a message raced through my head, “Do the ’chakra spread’.” I had learned this gentle technique in Healing Touch Class four years before and had not used it since. It was designed specifically for people who were in transition and trying to make a decision, and it was certainly appropriate now. It involved working with the body’s energy fields above seven specific areas, (called Chakras), including the solar plexus, throat, and heart. The message that I received was fast and fleeting, but it came on strong and I paid attention. I told Martha what I had heard and she listened intently. “I’ll ask Mom,” she said and picked up her cell phone. Martha was no stranger to Healing Touch. She had practiced as a Reiki master and massage therapist for years and knew the power and gentleness of the technique that I was suggesting.

“Make sure you want me to do this,” I said, “because it’s been known to speed up the process.” Martha understood completely.

My mind began racing, “Who do you think you are? You walk in here during his final hours, and suggest something like that, when these people have been through so much. This is a family matter…and YOU are not family. How dare you come in here and suggest something like that. Another thought guided me higher and I knew that I had a genuine desire to help if I could. Naomi and Martha were more than receptive, and I could sense on some level, that Irving was receptive also.

When Naomi arrived, I could tell she was exhausted. She sat down and allowed me to help her relax with energy work while we waited for her other daughter to arrive. Kathy was on her way during her lunch hour, but running late. The moments ticked by. Finally, Martha said, “I think you need to work on Dad now.”

I walked over to Irving’s bed and spoke to him. “I know you are seeing angels, Irving. My angels are telling me to work with what’s in front of me, and YOU are in front of me now.”

I held his feet, very gently, and let the warmth of my hands soak into the fabric around his skin. At first, he seemed agitated but slowly his breathing became calmer. I remained at his feet for a while longer and then placed one of my hands on each of his knees. His breathing slowed to a steady, peaceful pace. After awhile, I raised my right hand above his body and smoothed out his energy field from his head to his feet. Opening his heart chakra was the next step, and I trusted that I could help him; trusted that I could do this, and let go of the worry, the anxiety, the thoughts of inadequacy, and the feelings of unworthiness. I just let go. I bent my fingers and placed the lower knuckles of each hand so that they faced each other. All eight fingers were pointed downward, with thumbs held straight up. I simply pulled my hands apart as I opened the energy field above his body. (My hands resembled a soft retractor pulling open the air above him). I did this motion several times slowly, deliberately, while sending an intention of love and healing. This helped Irving open his heart. He was barely breathing now. Naomi stood up and came over to us, placing one hand on his shoulder, and one hand on top of my hand, which was now stationary over his heart.
Then, in that brief, quiet moment, Irving took his last breath. All was still, but I was shaken to my core. Never did I think that Irving would pass so quickly. I thought he would make his transition later that evening—not now—not while I was working on him. Oh God! I felt so responsible for accelerating his death. Naomi, who was much calmer than I was, reassured me that it was all in Divine Order. I was meant to come to hospice on that day of all days. I was meant to be by his side to help him make a peaceful transition. The time was 12:10 pm, and Irving was on his way home.

I know now that Irving gave me the ultimate gesture of respect. He trusted me in his final moments and acknowledged me as the healer that I am. Irving’s death was an experience I will never forget and the catalyst that sent me on to begin my own healing practice. Now I am helping others in transition – no matter where they are in their lives, and I’m teaching them to be healers also, showing them how to use their hands to send love, intention and healing to others. Thank you Irving, for trusting me, in your greatest moment: going home - going back to Source.

Assisting Irving in his transition was a very valuable gift to the entire family. It alleviated his suffering and allowed his soul to pass peacefully. The family had an understanding of what Irving wanted and were able to help him transcend.

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

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Six Writer-Friends Complete Book for a Dying Author/Friend

When Elizabeth Aleshire was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack last summer, she fully expected to recover and complete her book, 101 Ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort and Support To Those Who Are Grieving. But that was not to be. A second heart attack dimmed the prospect of recovery, and Ms. Aleshire expired at the age of 59 with a third of her book unwritten.

While still in the hospital, Ms. Aleshire received daily visits from six writer-friends, all of whom had met over the years at the International Women's Writing Guild's annual “Remember the Magic” summer conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where Ms. Aleshire had taught in each of the past 25 years.

When it became clear that Ms. Aleshire would not recover, the six writer-friends offered to complete her manuscript posthumously. Permission was granted by both the author and her publisher, Sourcebooks, and the team went into “emergency mode” to write the unwritten chapters in time to meet the book's publication deadline.

The book, 101 ways You Can Help: How To Offer Comfort And Support To Those Who Are Grieving, will be in bookstores by the end of April.

On Sunday, April 19, the six friends and co-authors—Kathy Barach, Marsha Browne, Zita Christian, Judy Huge, Paula Scardemalia and Anne Walradt—will tell the story of completing their friend and teacher's book as part of the International Women's Writing Guild's 57th Big Apple Conference's “Meet the Authors” Open House at the Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (near 38th Street) in New York City.

The “Meet the Authors” Open House will be followed in the afternoon by a “Meet the Agents” Open House where writers have the opportunity to briefly discuss their work with literary agents.

“Many writers have found their agents at this event,” says Hannelore Hahn, the IWWG’s Executive Director who founded the nonprofit organization in 1976. “Actually, some 4,000 books have been published by IWWG members since we started more than 30 years ago.

“But publication has never been our only goal,” she adds. “That is why we always begin our twice-yearly Big Apple Conference weekends with a memoir-writing workshop. Writing from personal experience is immensely important for both the writer as a writer and the writer as a person.”

This year’s Big Apple Conference begins on Saturday, April 18, with Lisa Dale Norton's all-day writing workshop, “The Compassionate Memoir: Using the Process of Memoir to Change the World.”

For further information, please contact Hannelore Hahn at the IWWG’s New York City office by telephone (212-737-7536) or email (

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, April 14, 2009

Why Hospice?

My aunt is in hospice care, but she is still living at home with her sister, who works a full-time job. My aunt is alone most of the day, but she has a nurse come by each week to evaluate her decline, or should I say, progress? She has terminal lung cancer and was given six to eight months to live six months ago, but she is in much the same condition now as she was six months ago when she received that diagnosis. That just goes to show that there is no way to predict the exact amount of time it will take an individual to reach their point of death and make the transition.

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.
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, April 13, 2009

Releasing Yourself from the Fear of Death

Here is a great interview with Lynn Serafinn and Glenn Smith about Releasing Yourself from the Fear of Death:

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, April 11, 2009

Hospice and Dying at Home

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.

Our views of death may have changed, 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.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Making Peace with a Deceased Loved One

It is normal to feel a push/pull when someone you love is passing—especially if they have been a strong and independent person who is suddenly weakened by illness. I wanted to avoid going to see my grandfather while he was in the latter stages of his illness. My visits sparked him so much, and he loved having me there; so I kept going as much as I could. We lived next door to my grandparents, so it was impossible not to visit them. My kids were five and eight at the time, and they were not troubled by the changes they saw in Pap, so I'd send them to visit him. They would crawl up in the bed with him and watch cartoons together. It felt like a cop-out way of dealing with the situation, but I could only take so much of watching him die.

I’m sure a lot of people feel as though they didn’t do enough physically and emotionally to care for their dying loved one, but guilt is not going to change anything. It will only steal your peace of mind. Since there really isn’t a separation in spirit, it’s never too late to make peace with your loved one or the situation that caused your guilt. If you feel like you have any unfinished business with someone who has passed, you could ask them to come to you in your dreams, or you can simply talk to them as if they were physically sitting across the room from you. I assure you they can hear you as you make amends or resolve your guilt. By doing so, you may release not only yourself, but your loved one to a greater degree of peace and rest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dealing with Guilt and Grief

No matter how much we give or do for a critically-ill loved one, it is common to feel that we have not done enough for them. Guilt can be debilitating and keep us stuck in the past. It is important for the caregiver and family members to heal their grief and let go of guilt. A dear friend of mine, Jake Matson, tells his story:

My grandmother had a stroke and was placed in a nursing home. I hated for her to be in a home and I was mad at my mom and Aunt Sue for putting her there. It was a long time before I would go to see her because I kept hoping she would get better. I guess I knew she was bad off and I didn’t want to see her that way. Finally I met my parents at the nursing home and went inside to see her. At that time my grandmother was very coherent, but she looked like she had aged 15 years since the last time I had seen her. She couldn't do anything for herself and the home provided the constant care that she required.

On the 3-hour ride home I kept trying to think of ways to talk Mom into letting me take Maw-Maw into my home (even though deep down I knew it was a bigger job than I could take on). Maw-Maw did so much for me and I felt like she deserved better. I kept thinking how horrible it must be to live in a bed in a strange place with only a TV for company. I vowed to visit her once a week.

The first time I went alone, I sat in the parking lot trying to talk myself into going inside. I hated seeing Maw-Maw in that condition. I walked in and she was so happy to see me. She complained about the food the home served, so I went to McDonald’s and got her a kid’s meal with a malt. She kept raving about how good the chicken nuggets and malt tasted. Since she only had the use of one hand, she couldn't eat like a normal person. It was very sad to watch her struggle to get the food to her face, only to have it fall out of her mouth. When it was time for me to go, she begged me to stay, “Please don't go, please stay longer!” she pleaded. I promised I would return the next week. On the way home I felt sad and vowed to go back the next week. I was mad at myself. I should have given her more of my time. Why did I wait until she was dying to spend time with her?

Over the next few months it got easier for me to see her. The visits were more upbeat. I went alone most of the time because I didn't want my kids to remember their great-grandmother this way. Maw-Maw was rebellious. She hated the food, she hated living there, and she fought with the nurses and aids. She asked me many times to get her out of there. She was more like a child wanting attention, and that didn't make it easy on me; I hated for her to be there too.

Mom and Aunt Sue hired a personal aid/babysitter. Why they hired a black lady to sit with an old New Orleans gal, I’ll never know. It reminded me of the movie “Driving Miss Daisy”. Every week Maw-Maw told me she was going to fire her. She treated her so badly, but Shea wouldn’t stand for Maw-Maw’s foolishness. She’d threaten to quit at least once a week. Shea must have really needed the money to stay with her. Truth is, Maw-Maw lived many more years because Shea saved her life more than once. Shea would stay seven or eight hours a day and Maw-Maw liked having her there, even though she would never tell her so. The aids at the home got used to Shea being there and they didn't do much for her after that. When I came to visit I would let Shea take a break. She deserved it! She was a saint!

Shea would have a wheelchair ready and I would push Maw-Maw up the hall and back, and sometimes I would take her outside. Maw-Maw lived for the day when someone came to visit her. Every week she would ask, “What did you bring me?” I brought flowers for her room every week, and we tried to decorate her room for every holiday. I always brought her something to eat and snacks for her to have later. I put up a bird feeder outside her window and she quickly came to expect that I would fill it during each visit. We laughed and told jokes. Once, I pushed her in a wheel chair down to a water fountain. I brought a fishing pole. We sat there and fished together and told fishing stories. I tried to make her laugh. If she was in pain I'd grab a nurse and ask if she could have a pain pill. If they told me she just had one, I would ask them to give her something else and let her think it was a pain pill. Maw-Maw would feel so much better then, not knowing she’d only had sugar water.

I would call my mom on my way to the nursing home and ask how Maw-Maw was doing. Mom would say, “Oh, she has good days and bad days, but the good days are less and less, and she is getting worse!” Mom even told me that I shouldn’t visit her anymore. Still, I was full of hope and optimism—thinking she was going to get well and get out of there. After all, she had conquered every illness known to man. I thought she was Superwoman. She defeated cancer more than once in her last 15 years. She lost her hair twice from chemo and grew it back. She had pneumonia several times. She broke her hip and still went dancing around. She had cornea transplants twice in 20 years. Even after her stroke I'd bet she could still drive a car with one foot and one hand if someone would have strapped her in! In reality, though, she was dying, and most of the good days she had was when I was with her. Even though her bodily functions were deteriorating, her mind was as strong as ever.

As time passed, Maw-Maw learned to tolerate living in the home, but we always talked about her getting well and getting out of there. I usually arrived around lunch time and always brought her food. She was diabetic, and I always got fussed at by Mom and Aunt Sue for bringing her food she wasn't supposed to eat. In reality she didn't eat enough to send her sugar level soaring. She loved the vanilla malts but never finished a whole one. I would stuff her closet full of snacks and Coke and things she liked. No one else visited enough to know that all she took was a bite or two. I encouraged my sisters to visit and bring her something; ANYTHING to brighten her day. One day I was running behind schedule and was wondering what to bring. I figured I would be there just after dinner, so I stopped at a liquor store to get the fixings for a martini. When I arrived she said in an ugly tone of voice, “Where were you today?” She quickly changed her tone, “What did you bring me? What's in the bag?”—trying to grab the bag from me with her one good arm. I told her I was going to make Martini's. She said, “Oh, Jake. I don't know if I should drink alcohol with all the medication I'm on.” I replied, “Just a little sip won’t hurt.” I set the bag of goodies to the side, having second thoughts. We talked for a minute or two and then she said, “Boy, are you going to fix us a drink or not?” I took a small Styrofoam coffee cup and made a Martini, poured half into another cup, then added an olive to each. She was so excited! She took a sip, spilling most of it on her clothes. She took another sip, spilling even more. Determined to get to the olive, she spilled even more. She couldn't have had much more than an ounce when all of a sudden she came to life with a sudden burst of energy and giddiness. She started telling dirty jokes, laughing and cutting up. She said, “Oh, Lord. If I pass now, I am going to smell like a drunk, and the nurses are going to think I been drinking all night. Don't tell Shea or Sue Ellen or we might get in trouble.” I didn't have to say a thing, within an hour she had everyone in the nursing home laughing. Maw-Maw had her wheelchair comic sit-up debut!
Even though I was nervous about Mom’s and Aunt Sue's reaction, I laughed for most of the 3 hour ride home. I called Dad to give him a heads up on what I had done. He laughed and thought it was great. I never heard from Mom or Aunt Sue, but a week or so later Shea wanted to know why we had a party without her. Everyone had heard about it. Time and time again, even at the funeral, many of our family and friends told me how she and the nursing home staff talked about that one visit.

In her final months Maw-Maw lost her volume. She still had presence of mind but she spoke very softly. She was not her feisty self anymore; not much on conversation. Every answer she gave was either “yes” or “no” without further reply. She slept a lot and didn’t want to get out of bed. She seemed to have aged 10 years in only a few weeks. It was getting harder and harder for me to see her this way—an old lady confined to a bed. I skipped a week and didn’t go to visit her. Before she would have fussed at me, but by this time she barely noticed. I skipped another week, maybe more. I couldn't make myself go to see her in that condition and I knew she didn't have much time left. More than once I prayed for God to let her go. I could see no reason why He would want her to live like that. There was no point.

The last time my two sisters visited Maw-Maw, she didn't open her eyes even once, but they felt like she knew they were there. My little sister thought it was time to pray. She took out Maw-Maw's favorite prayer, took her hands, and began to pray. Maw-Maw responded with tears from her closed eyes. Did she know these where her last days? Was she sad to be leaving or happy to be going? They all continued to pray through their tears. My sisters prayed well that day. Maw-Maw left us later that night.
I am glad I wasn't there when she died; yet sometimes I wish I had been. For a while after that I would get mad at myself. Why didn't I spend more time with her before she got sick? Why did I let all of those years slip away?

That must have been difficult for Jake, but what special memories he has of his dear grandmother. He was such a blessing to her.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Loving families during crisis

I am amazed at the love families are able to show one another during a crisis. My mother, grandmother and aunts cared diligently for my grandfather and my uncle during long-term illnesses. While it was never easy, it seemed that everyone inherited a special grace or strength to get them through it. Yet it is normal, not only for the critically ill patient, but also for those caring for them, to wish that the suffering would hurry up and end.

Yet, as Tammy Roth discovered, there is a time to be born and a time to die:

About ten years ago, both my grandparents (aged 66 and 67 years) died of cancer only a few months apart. They were kept at home during their demise and we had hospice come in several times a week. Mom and I stayed around the clock, caring for them. Our family never talked about what was happening. We believed that both of them would get well. Papa’s last moments were horrible as he gasped for breath. Everything inside him left and he looked hollow. The experience didn’t change my view of death, but Grandma changed when Papa died. She had been a strong, independent woman who bossed him around, but once he died she began to glorify him. As she began to decline, no meds were given to try to restore her life. Instead we kept her comfortable until she passed on her own.

Grandma’s body began shutting down but she continued to cling to life from March, (when she became bedridden), until June, (when she passed). She had no quality of life. She lost from 130 to 70 pounds. In her delirious state she talked to her mom on the Other Side and mentioned seeing the Light. Family members told her it was okay to go, but she still hung on to life for some reason. Getting “the call” was a relief. I felt guilty for wanting her to pass earlier. Mom and I went to a counselor who told us that those feelings are normal. I wondered why Grandma held on for so long. Then it occurred to me that if a soul’s time of arrival on the Earth is planned according to the stars and planetary alignment, then so must be a soul’s departure.

After Papa and Grandma passed, my mother became depressed. About eight years afterward, Mom opened to new spiritual concepts, started taking medication and began to pull out of it.

Whenever we have family gatherings, the photo of Papa and Grandma falls off the mantle. It’s like they want us to know they are still here with us. I have dreams of Grandma; mostly about her being sick. It was such a horrible ordeal. Sometimes she gives me guidance and I sense her presence when I’m doing healing work. She was a hairdresser. I am now in a spiritual healing practice in a building that is shared by tenants who are hairdressers. Grandma likes hanging out here. In fact, today, before this interview, I drew an angel card that said, “Grace”. That was Grandma’s name. She wanted me to know she was aware that I was going to talk about her.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Memories are forever!

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. It certainly did for Joanie Manogue as she tells in her story:

My parents passed 45 days apart. Mom had emphysema and Dad had lung cancer. Mom never wanted to grow up, and since Dad was such a strong caretaker, she didn’t have to. She enjoyed having someone wait on her. When we found out that Mom had only a year to live, we didn’t tell Dad at first because we didn’t want to upset him.

I think it was a mistake not to be honest with him and allow him time to process with us. When he went in for a routine exam and the doctors found a spot on his lungs he became very concerned, not for himself so much as for Mom. He had taken care of her all her life and he knew that she couldn’t make it on her own. We didn’t know how much Dad had been doing for her until he started chemo and could no longer care for her. His two treatments were very hard on him. He told me that he didn’t want to have any more and I said, “Then don’t.” I told him it was his choice and that he should decide what he wanted to do. I felt he needed to know that Mom didn’t have all that much longer, so I told him. He was actually relieved to know that the burden of caring for her would not be passed on to the rest of us!

Mom was in denial about her own illness as well as the condition Dad was in. Their 50th wedding anniversary was coming up and we knew that one or the other of them would not be around to celebrate it, so we offered them an early celebration. Soon afterward Dad was taken into hospice care where he went into a coma. He was in a coma and hadn’t eaten in days. After a few days he rallied, sat up in bed, ate a meal and watched the Titans game with Mom by his side. He went back into a coma after the game, and we knew the end was near. We called Mom in so she could tell him goodbye. Ten minutes after mom told him goodbye, he departed peacefully. As I watched Dad’s spirit leave his body I was not frightened. It was like watching him get out of a car. The body was just a vehicle he had been riding in. His spirit seemed to be hovering in the room as if he were checking to make sure we were all going to be okay.

Mom rallied for the funeral—entertaining friends and family she hadn’t seen in years. It was endearing to hear people tell how much Dad had meant to them and share their stories and memories with us. After the burial Mom went home, crawled into bed and started fading in and out of consciousness. Over the next 45 days, (when she was coherent), she told us how much she missed Dad and wanted to go to him. She frequently wanted to know which family members were in town and who else was in the house. Sometimes she conversed with her deceased mother as if she was in the room with her. One week prior to Mom’s death, hospice staff began making visits to her home. The decision was made to remove all medical treatment. Her breathing became deep and normal even without her oxygen supply. A few days later her spirit left her body peacefully and without a struggle. When Mom left, she didn’t hover or look back. She was on her way to find Dad.

The gifts of my parents’ passing gave me were many. I no longer have a fear of death. I find that all other fear-based ideas no longer make sense to me. When my teenage daughter was learning to drive, I didn’t worry about her. I knew that she would be fine, no matter what happened. I’ve gotten to know my parents better since their death than when they were alive. I am comforted in knowing that they are out of their limited bodies. I am now able to sit in silence with people and know them by feeling their energy rather than having to use words. I enjoy the comfort of silence.

Dad’s spirit is with me still, and he lets me know it by bringing me the smell of cigarette smoke. I carry on daily conversations with him. I’ll ask questions aloud and he will answer in my head. Mom, however, didn’t visit for three years after her death, and then it was only after I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could reconcile the unfinished business left between us. The same year my daughter graduated from high school I began to dream of Mom. In one dream she told me to give the silver heart-shaped key ring to my daughter for her graduation. I didn’t know what key ring she was talking about and it bothered me for days. I opened the closet and saw a box of Mom’s things that I had not gone through. Out of curiosity, I took the box from the shelf and looked through it. I came across a small cardboard jeweler’s box and inside it was a silver heart-shaped key ring exactly like the one Mom had shown me in the dream. Needless to say, I wrapped the gift and gave it to my daughter for her graduation.

Looking back, I don’t know why we buried our parents in the ground. It seems so silly to have a gravesite to tend to. The loved one is not there waiting for us to come and talk with them. The body is like a vacant house—the occupant has moved out and the place is empty!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What about 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.

Hopefully the material presented here will give you insight about interaction with your guides and departed loved ones, and help you appreciate those voices you’ve been hearing. See, you’re NOT crazy after all!