Update on 1/19/19: My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories. I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream. Part of my memoir discusses some of my after-death communications with my father.
Love is the Link: Dr. Pamela M. Kircher has a section in her book Love is the Link about after-death communications, and she encourages others to talk about dreams or other communications with relatives as a way to comfort those who may not have had communications with deceased relatives but want this communication. Like Kircher, I don’t understand why some people receive messages from deceased relatives and others do not, but I want to tell others who have lost someone close to them to believe in the possibility and to be patient. There might be a moment in your life when you need comfort or protection in a profound way, and your loved one might come to you then. Also, telling yourself each night that you are open to communication in a dream or otherwise might open up the channels of communication.
Preparing for a Loved One’s Death: In 2008, my father was diagnosed with a large, grapefruit-sized Glioblastoma brain tumor. He opted not to have brain surgery and to live out his remaining time as coherently as possible. We joked around as we often did, watched television together, and ate a lot of Chinese food that first week. Dad didn’t take morphine because he wanted to be able to talk with me when I showed up after teaching classes. That semester was one of the hardest teaching semesters of my life. I was scheduled to teach nine different college classes at three different campuses. Luckily, I found a nursing home for dad near one of my campuses, so I saw him every evening and between classes when possible. There were many days, I ran out of class early to cry, overwhelmed by loss but also grateful that that I had experience with death and could help my dad by reminding him of what I knew from the other side. We talked about my near-death experience a few times, and he believed my stories of the light, assuring me that he had no fears about the dying process.
The Transition: When Dad was moved to hospice and the chaplain preformed the last rites, Dad could barely lift his arm, but he made his best attempt to pretend to conduct an orchestra. The chaplain seemed annoyed, but I knew Dad was trying to make the moment lighter for me. He wanted me to remember his sense of humor and how little he feared death. When I left to get some sleep, I hoped I might see him the next morning. Something about the look in his eyes told me that I might not see him alive again. I kept my phone ringer on as loud as possible, hoping to be informed if the end was near.
Around midnight I fell asleep and almost immediately had a dream where my grandparents talked with me in calming, comforting ways, hovering somewhere above the ceiling. They told me that they were with Dad and had been with him for the last two days, waiting for him. They said they would be the ones to welcome him to the other side and would take good care of him and that I had done all I could for him. I woke up feeling more peaceful than I had felt in a while and looked down at my phone. I had three missed calls from hospice, and I realized immediately what this meant. I wanted to be there at his time of passing, but I felt comforted that his parents were with him. Their presence was warm and loving in the dream as it had been in life.
First Dream: A few nights later, dad came to me in a dream with the light behind him. He said he was given only a moment where he could tell me that he understood I did all I could do within my time constraints at work. He assured me that he slept and rested most of the hours I could not be with him so that he could be alert when I showed up for visits. This relieved my guilt about how little time I had with him on some days. Dad didn’t have siblings or any family members that I knew about at the time, so there was no one else besides a few of his friends and neighbors who stopped by to be with him when I was not with him.
Life Review Differences: In Pamela Kircher’s book Love is the Link she discusses the differences between the NDEs experienced by those in traumatic situations versus those who are terminal. A life review is usually not part of the NDE for terminal patients; rather, they are comforted about the dying process and sometimes met by relatives. A few months after his death, Dad came to me in another dream and assured me that he had a lot more still to learn and that he was busy understanding his role on earth and the implications of his life. He made it evident that he would wait and watch out for me, even though he preferred to return and give this life another shot. I wondered if the life review process is more intense after death. Perhaps, in terminal patients the life review is saved for a more intensive examination after the completion of their life. During my life review, I was shown how to be more loving and open while in this life. Perhaps, given more time on the other side, I would have extensively examined my life and actions. Mainly, I saw that helping others, being kind, being connected to the light/source were important elements in returning.
The idea that dad wanted to return and live out another life puzzled me. I hadn’t given reincarnation much thought, other than remembering dreams I had of a possible past life when I was a child. In those dreams, I lived in Boston and supported several of struggling artists in my later years of life. That life set me up to encourage creativity in others. In that previous life, I felt sadness that I didn’t pursue my own art. One of the lessons in my current life seems to be how to balance supporting other creative young people while also working on my own writing.
When I moved to Boston for a travelling job teaching SAT prep courses and later for a year with my first husband, the city felt so familiar that I rarely needed to look at maps. I have other theories about why the city might have seemed familiar, but on some level it seems that reincarnation or memories of various lives are possible.
Specific Communications from the Beyond: As time has gone on, I realize there is a lot that I do not understand about after death communications with my father. On a couple of occasions, he has been right and warned me about various people, telling me that their actions will not match their words. I don’t want to go into detail about these particular situations, but maybe as time goes on I will have a better understanding of how these after death communications are meant to be used in my life. He has made it clear that others who have tried to tap into communications with him are not as clear as I am in my communications with him. I realize that I can largely trust these communications, but my rational mind does occasionally wonder if these moments are only wishful thinking. However, certain specifics make me think that the communications are more than wishful thinking.
Testing the Information: I know that I have been comforted and protected in a couple of instances by after death communications with dad. I haven’t yet tried out these communications at the race track to see if Dad can give me winning horses. During the last years of his life, dad enjoyed betting on horses and wasn’t bad at it either. I’ll let you know if I have some luck with that or not.
Recommendations: I recommend Dr. Kircher’s book, Love is the Link, especially if you are interested in the ways others have been comforted at the time of their deaths or stories of those who have received messages from loved ones after their deaths. Part II of her book focuses on her work as a hospice physician. This section includes stories of agnostics visited by Jesus, angry young people with terminal illness who experienced NDEs which helped them cope with their deaths, and many other interesting stories of people in hospice settings. Dr. Pamela Kircher has the unique perspective of having experienced a NDE as a young child and living her life informed by this moment at a very young age. I found her personal journey in Part I fascinating as well.
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