Do You Know About End-of-Life Experiences?

veilbetweenworldsSeeing loved ones, angels, or other guides to the afterlife is a common occurrence for those who are dying. However, many living (and healthy) people find the concept ludicrous, frightening, or just plain fanciful. Yet, ask any hospice worker or doctor and you will find that they have hundreds of stories showing just how often this occurs.

Is it simply a daydream, nightmare, or hallucination induced by the dying mind or the drugs? Not according to most doctors and nurses.

As a psychopomp who escorts the dead to the afterlife, I’ve often been the stand-in for some loved one that the dead and dying expect to see–a loved one who has already moved on to another life or who is otherwise ‘unavailable’ to make an appearance. psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

You can read more about end-of-life experiences and people’s reactions to them, here:

Near Death, Seeing Dead People May Be Neither Rare Nor Eerie

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Bring Dying Into the Light

psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2We need to stop being so afraid of death and dying that we can’t even talk to each other about it. Tip-toeing around the subject will not make it go away. It is part of the cycle of life.

To hear more about why we need to rethink the way we handle discussions with those facing imminent death and those left behind, watch this video:

Shared Death Experiences

psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2A friend (Thank you, Ellis) shared an article with me about shared death experiences. These are events in which people are contacted by someone they know (friend, relative, business partner, etc.) at the friend’s or loved one’s moment of death.

The article gives several anecdotal examples of this phenomena interspersed with opinions from different ‘experts’ expressing both pros and cons as to the authenticity of such experiences. The article is (to me, anyway) extremely fascinating and reaffirming.

You see, I’ve been on both sides these types of experiences. As a psychopomp, I’ve been the one who has helped the dead visit their still living friends and family in order to say a last goodbye. And, I’ve been the one who was visited. In fact, as an adult, I’ve had a number of people visit me as they die. But three of them stand out.

One of the most outstanding of the three visits was the Halloween night my mother-in-law came to call.

My mother-in-law was one of the most caring and accepting people, and my spouse and I loved visiting with her. When she became ill, the whole family gathered at the hospital dreading the worst, but hoping for the best. After several days, she seemed to be getting better, and Dale and I headed back home to get some rest, change clothes, and check in with our pets before returning. We were at home for only a few hours, when the dog began acting oddly. He was lying by our feet as we sat at the kitchen table, but he kept raising his head to stare at the foyer. He’d put is head down; then a few moments later, he’d stare at the foyer. This went on for a minute or two, and after peering at the door and seeing nothing, I finally got up and went into the foyer.

I immediately felt chilled, and being late fall, I presumed the door was open. I pushed at the door, but it was firmly closed. I shrugged and was about to return to the kitchen, when I saw her. My mother-in-law stood on the other side of the foyer from me. She smiled and opened her arms as if to hug me. I took a step closer to her, while trying to find enough voice to call my spouse to come. The dog stood staring at the apparition, his head cocked to one side. When my husband joined me, his mother mouthed, “I love you,” and then she was gone.

Soon afterward, the phone rang and we knew it was the hospital calling to tell us that my spouse’s mom had died.

That experience opened my eyes, my mind, and my soul to the recognition that life is more than just what we see in front of us.

The other two visits that I find extremely memorable were from a dear friend and my sister-in-law. Both of these visits came during points in my life when I needed encouragement and support. While both of these visits provided that, they also gave me comfort, peace, and the determination to continue my goal, which was to publish the story of my near-death experience.

My friend was one of the few people who knew of my near-death experience. She was one of the few people who also knew of the other paranormal experiences I had had through the years. We had a shared love of paranormal, philosophy, and science, so always spent hours in long, thought-provoking discussions. When she was diagnosed with cancer, our discussions took on more somber tones. I shared with her all my beliefs of a continued existence based on everything I had experienced and read, and she clung to that like a drowning victim clings to a life ring.

When she called and said the cancer was in remission, we both celebrated. Our lives went on, our heartfelt discussions continued, and everything was as it should be.

Months after her remission diagnosis, I was surprised to look up from my computer to find her standing in the doorway to my sunroom. I had been staring at my computer screen debating the wisdom of writing about my NDE. I hadn’t heard the door bell, nor had I heard her come in. Yet, there she was, all smiles and as radiant as a new bride. Her brown eyes were shining and happy, and she said, “Do it, Trish. Write about it; all of it. ‘Cuz you were right. It is beautiful over here.”

I was so dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to say. Then she said, “Tell my sister, I’m sorry.” I nodded, and she whispered, “I love you, friend.” Then she held up her hand, palm toward me, and a moment later she disappeared.

My experience with my sister-in-law was similar, except all the more shocking because I didn’t know she was ill. She had injured herself in a fall, so was in the hospital. I had completed my story regarding my NDE, but was having second thoughts about actually publishing it. I had just turned off the computer and was turning to leave my home office, when I felt a chill. A moment later my sister-in-law shimmered into view. (And yes, it was a definite shimmer. Very much like a heat curtain that sometimes appears above a very hot road.). She didn’t so much speak to me, as she smiled, and then nodded. A sort of peace fell over me and I just knew that publishing the book was the right thing to do. As that thought flowed through me, her smile grew bigger, and she mouthed the word, “Yes.” She, then disappeared.goingtolight

So, can we and do we share our deaths with others? I certainly believe so. Is there a continuation of life after we die? I certainly believe that, too.

But what do you believe? And why? Have you ever had the chance to say goodbye to someone when they’ve died? Have you  somehow just known the moment a friend or loved one has died?

What are your experiences?

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?