Death and Dying

butterflyDeath, like a butterfly, comes on wings of beauty. It is a ray of light that carries you to glory. But dying…dying is a vulture that devours the body. It swoops in like a raptor, ripping you from your life. — Tricia A. Sullivan

That’s a poetic way of saying that death is not ugly or harsh. Death is quiet and full of beauty. It is the dying that can be harsh.

Dying is different than death. Dying is the affliction that causes the physical body to shut down and die. Death is the transitioning of the soul from physical life to afterlife.

You might be dying of cancer, which is painful; yet, your death, when it occurs, can be filled with joy or loneliness—whichever you choose. You can die from any number of afflictions—illness, trauma, poison, murder, accident, old age, or even nature’s tantrums. But your death can be calm, tumultuous, lonely, joyous, frightening, sad, filled with regret or hope, or any way you choose. Both death and dying are chosen by you (at least, most of the time). There are some exceptions, and an imbalance of energies (aka, karma) is usually involved; but, overall, we each choose the manner in which we die and the way in which we experience death.

It seems like such a fine distinction—between dying and death—but it is a distinction that can affect the entire experience. For instance, perhaps you wanted to experience being murdered (yeah, I know, who would choose that? Believe it or not, most of us do choose it in at least one life). So, the cause of death (the dying) is supposed to be a quick gunshot to the head; while, the death itself (the transition from life to afterlife) is supposed to be filled with joy for having taken the bullet to save someone else. However, the person who agrees to be your murderer makes the killing more painful than it needs to be; perhaps, wounding you several times before killing you. So, now your death also has fear, pain, and maybe even regret for having acted bravely instead of the joy you originally planned.

The way you die can color the whole death experience, changing it, twisting it, or (sometimes) making it even better than you planned. For instance, you may have opted to take an overdose of pills because you believed that no one cared about you. Therefore, you planned on a death filled with the same type of loneliness and depression that you had faced in life. However, the person who finds you, holds you and cries for you as you’re dying, and you realize that someone cared. This may make your death (your transition to the afterlife) more joyful and less traumatic because now you know that someone really cared about you.

Dying and death are usually planned as a unit, which enables each person to create a full experience for themself. However, plans can change, needs can vary, and other people’s choices can interfere. That means you may need to re-evaluate your original plan and try something else. And, while death escorts can step in and help, most souls prefer to just accept the experience as is (changes and all). After all, that’s what life (which includes dying and death) is all about…experiences, with all the unpredictability and fickleness that goes with them.

So, the next time you speak of dying and death, remember that they are two distinct steps in the overall experience we call life.

 

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Transitioning, again

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I’ve been tran’zing again lately, and not easy ones, either. These transitions have been quite stressful. So stressful in fact, that I’ve been waking up almost more tired than when I went to bed. Usually, I look forward to sleeping and dreaming. Primarily because my dreams normally help me solve some problem or answer some question from my day-to-day life.

I’m sure most of us can think of at least one dream that has helped us resolve some issue or some question. I’m speaking of the types of problems or questions that prey on the mind, that keep you tossing and turning until suddenly you wake up one morning just knowing exactly what you need and want to do. You may not remember the dream details that prompted your decision (and some people will claim that never dream at all), but sometime during the night you gained the insight you needed to make the best choice for you at this particular time and place in your life.

However, the “dreams” I’ve been having lately are tran’zing dreams. (Tran’zing is what I call the traveling I do between planes—the physical plane and the astral planes; primarily the transitional plane, the astral plane closest to the physical.) Tran’zing dreams aren’t really dreams, though they do occur at night while my body is sleeping. But these are actually memories – little snippets of memory from places I’ve been and things I’ve done or said while my body slept.

Tran’zing is actually a type of out-of-body experience. The energy that is you (sometimes called essence, sometimes called a soul), travels at night. But even though it leaves the physical form and goes off on its own ‘adventures’, it still remains connected to the physical body. Because of this connection, the physical mind receives input as to what the soul is doing, seeing, and saying. However, not everyone is willing to accept this input. Some will block it completely (the same way they block all dreams). Some filter it so that it becomes very dreamlike and unreal (the information their mind receives is so far outside their frame of reference, that they eliminate those parts that they can’t accept). And others (like me) remember enough to know what we’ve been up to each night.

For many people, though, playing on the transitional plane is too frightening and so they adjust the information to something acceptable. This is fine; it’s the way everyone adapts and grows. As each person grows, life after life, they will filter this information less and less, until, like me, they barely filter it all.

What does that mean? It means that most of what I do when tran’zing is often remembered by me once I awaken. It also means that any problems I encounter, any stresses that I put on myself when out of body, are felt by my body even though it is sleeping. So, while I’m home asleep, I’m also off gallivanting around, which means I sometimes wake up unrested.

When I’m tran’zing, I’m helping other people cross between planes. Some of these people are dying, so I escort them from the physical plane and their dead or dying bodies to the astral planes where they can decide what it is they want to do next. Sometimes, I escort a soul from the astral planes to the physical. It might be they have a new body waiting for them, or it can also be that they have wandered where they don’t belong. (It’s not unusual to encounter ‘accidental travelers’ — people who have through the use of drugs, fever, or other non-intentional means — have ended up in the transitional section of the astral plane.)

Other times, I transition myself or others to the astral planes where we work on emotional lessons that we can’t do while in the physical world. It might be that someone chose to resolve an issue through violence, but they now realize how foolish that was. So, with my help they cross to the astral levels and we recreate the situation and they try to find other resolutions. This can take one night, or many, but each time I bring them across, I create the situation, I supply the participants, and we play out the scene until they feel they understand the full consequences and ramifications of every choice and every possible resolution.

All of these come through to me while my body is resting, and these super-emotionally charged activities drain me, so when I awaken in the mornings I feel as if I’ve had no sleep. But despite the stress, despite the tiredness that comes from all these midnight wanderings, I relish the opportunities to help all of these people. I relish the opportunity to transition ‘home’ and visit with my astral family.

In fact, as crazy as it sounds, I look forward to the day when I can transition and stay there. Then I can help people all the time, and not just during my sleep periods.

 

 

Accepting death

psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2Death is a part of life, no matter how much we shy away from it.

the girl in pink

I’ve recently been asked by multiple people how I stay so positive while going through something so difficult and challenging. If I’m being completely honest, the answer is quite simple- accepting that death may come a little sooner than you had once anticipated.

I know death is a difficult subject. The majority of people have a hard time accepting the death of a loved one or dear friend, let alone their own death. It is too often seen as the worst possible outcome.

Perhaps if it was seen in a more positive light those who suffer/suffered from a physical illness could live a happier and more fulfilling life.

I’m not saying it’s an easy pill to swallow. It’s not like I woke up one morning and decided that I was okay with my life ending at such a young age. It took a few months, and much thought but I…

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Escorting the Dead

 ellisnelson

AN INTERVIEW WITH TA SULLIVANpsychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

One of my favorite movies is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring Rex Harrison (1947). In it, the ghost of a sea captain comes back for Lucy when she’s ready to pass. I always loved that he came back for her when it was time. Many of us will have heard stories about people getting close to death who see their loved ones, or sometimes angels. Beautiful, satisfying stories. But what if they’re not stories? What if that’s precisely what happens for many of us?

I recently finished “Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp” by TA Sullivan. It’s a fascinating read about her experience as a death escort for the recently departed. As a child she was sensitive, but it wasn’t until she had her own near-death experience (NDE) that her life took a turn and she started to train as a guide for the dead.

Please welcome author and photographer, TA Sullivan. Thank you for agreeing to talk about what is a difficult subject for many.

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Psychopomp vs. Grim Reaper

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What’s the difference between a grim reaper and a psychopomp (other than the fact that psychopomp sounds much cooler; while grim reaper has become a Halloween and horror story cliche and an overused media trope)?

Both are spiritual entities that assist the soul to cross over to the afterlife; so, what really makes them different?

grim reapers:

  • actually take lives
  • are considered the personification of death or demons
  • escort souls to the afterlife, but are primarily associated with the underworld
  • are identified with Halloween and horror stories, so present themselves as frightening figures or demons
  • bring fear, regret, and despair to those they interact with

So, in brief, grim reapers are the personification of death and demons. They represents all the fears of the unknown that people still harbor about death, dying, and the afterlife.

psychopomps:

  • wait until the person has died
  • act as guides and escorts between planes
  • are identified with angels and demigods
  • can present themselves as friends or relatives of the dying person
  • bring comfort, solace, and hope to the dying

Briefly, psychopomps are angel-like beings. They represent all the hope, love, and spiritual comfort that people expect and hope for when they die.

A grim reaper is a much more grisly being than a psychopomp. In fact, the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse (Death) is depicted as a grim reaper. You can’t get much more grisly than that. Whereas Psychopomps, when depicted in human form, are usually shown as angels—gentle, kind, and with an ethereal glow about them. This is just one of the fundamental differences between a psychopomp and a grim reaper.

Reapers are, as their countenance depicts, there to reap your soul. However, they are not there to ease the soul’s hurt or turmoil during the transition. If anything, they may deliberately make the crossing as traumatic as possible. This is because it is their job to fulfill every fear that the transitioning soul has regarding death and dying.

However, when psychopomps come, they counter the soul’s fear and try to ease the trauma. Psychopomps attempt to show the soul that death is just a new beginning and not a fearsome or pain-filled event.

Neither option is wrong or right. In fact, both options are needed so that every soul can have a wide range of experiences. Some people embrace death and the act of dying because they’ve had nothing but positive experiences. So, perhaps they need a less-positive experience to understand and develop compassion for those who are more fearful of dying. Just as those who are ‘deathly’ afraid of dying may need several positive experiences before they begin to understand that the experience of dying isn’t always something to fear. It is simply another part of life. A moving beyond this reality by the spiritual part of you.

The real key to dying (besides not doing it), is to understand that the choice of guide (grim reaper or psychopomp) is up to you. You get to decide what type of death experience you will have. So, if you want something traumatic and eventful because you feel the need to learn some spiritual lesson, then (by all means) let the grim reaper be your escort. However, if what you want is something more tranquil and a little less gruesome, then call on that psychopomp. Either one will come when you ‘call.’ And either one will give you whatever type of experience you desire. Therefore, only you can decide whether your experience of death requires a grim reaper or a psychopomp.

So, which will it be?

Immortal Death

Choices Cover 03I watched an episode of Through the Wormhole the other night. It was about different types of scientists who were (desperately) working toward finding a way to make people immortal. Some biologists were busy studying creatures that had lifespans that lasted hundreds of years; while other bio-specialists were busy mucking around with DNA and genomes in an attempt to ensure that all future children would be ‘perfect’ (and who defines what is perfect?). Still other scientists were busy seeking a way to create a non-biological or only partial biological body that could house our brains/souls so that we would never have to worry about sickness or death again.

Yet, no one ever explained why this is so important. Why would someone want to live forever? Are most people so afraid of dying that they would prefer becoming some sort of robot? Unfortunately, whenever I think of a world full of immortal people, I become very frightened. To me, it would be a curse to have to live for hundreds of years. People rarely change. They form opinions, habits, preconceptions, and ideologies and seldom do they allow these ingrained mindsets to shift. So, do you really want to see what happens to the world when someone like Hitler (or Trump), who is afraid of everyone and everything, lives forever?

And if that thought doesn’t scare you, how about all the overcrowding and lack of natural resources that would occur when people stop dying? Talk about a dystopian world. Nothing but blighted cities, with polluted air too foul to breathe, no viable drinking water, and food…yeah, let’s all take our protein pill.

Rather than wasting our time and resources on trying to make people immortal, I think we would do better as a species to spend some time trying to help planet Earth cope with the load of humans she already carries. I also think we should spend more time recognizing and coping with the fact that death is real. It’s not going away and it’s not something to be feared. Death isn’t the end of everything. It isn’t a permanent ‘dirt nap’ or a ‘deep dark hole of nothingness.’ It is simply the end of one physical existence and the continuation of life. Your sentience, the awareness that comprises your true being isn’t limited by the container you call your body. That is simply a conveyance, a method of operating and participating in the physical world.

Just because one body fails doesn’t mean your life is over. Your life as Sam or Jessica is over, yes, but you pick another life, another set of parents, another body, and you start again. Now, you can try out some other options. Maybe as Sam/Jessica you didn’t like the way things worked out in terms of your romantic life. Okay, now as Joe/Abby you can try some different options and see if those romances work out the way you want them to.

But the best part is that when you pick up this new body, you also lose many of the old preconceptions and prejudices that you had. It’s a whole new fresh start. Talk about a science lab. Physical life is just one big classroom where you can study biology, sociology, psychology, mathematics, physics, zoology and every other type of science there is. And if science isn’t your thing, then you can focus on music, art, drama, or medicine.

So, instead of trying to be immortal, maybe we should think about what we want to do next. After all, death is just another step in that long road we call life. It’s nothing to be afraid of, I know…I’ve been to the other side, and I’ve come back. It’s different, but different doesn’t have to be scary.  Psychopomp 3D - DLS - 8pxls - 2

Sorry…no kooky cats

I got lost in the wilds of YouTube the other day. It’s a crazy place out there. Lots of strangeness, craziness, and things that should be none-of-your-bizness but people put it out there for the world at large to see, anyway.

When I finally wandered back to my own little corner of the world, hours (nearly a whole day) had passed. And yet nothing had been accomplished (although, I did admire several hilarious cat videos). It’s amazing how such small bits of no-purpose videos can suck you in.

At first, I was glad to simply escape with my life and my sanity. But after a little thought (very little, actually), I decided that maybe I should throw some of my own hey-look-I’m-on-YouTube-too videos out there. Unfortunately, without any crazy cats or other cute animals (well…except for my husband, who is adorable and fluffy) I didn’t know what I could share.

Then my BFF reminded me that I have books. Books that I’m actually trying to encourage people to buy. “…but what has that got to do with crazy old lady or kooky cat videos?” I asked her. Oddly enough, it seems that you can create videos even if all you have is words. Isn’t that something? Who would have thought it?

So, here it is…my own attempt at a YouTube video (I promise, next time I’ll find a crazy old lady or a kooky cat ; )