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?

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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?

DEATH – Why Does It Frighten Us So?

Death.

That word probably frightens people more than any other.

Why?

Because it represents the ‘great unknown.’ We know less about death than we do about outer space or the deep recesses of Earth’s oceans. After all, it’s not easy to explore a dimension or state of being that requires us to cease living. So, for most of us, death becomes the area that, like on maps of old, was marked with the words: ‘There be monsters here.’

Monsters. Demons. Angels.

 

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These are what we think of when we think about death, because that’s all we know, or at least suspect, based on the stories that we are told about the land of beyond. Of course, some people eschew the typical concept of death being a place or a continuation of some form of life. Instead, they see death as a black nothingness. Still others divide the realm of death into two states: one where demons and monsters abide, and another where angels and cherubs live.

Proof.

Of course, trying to prove if there is a type of life after the physical body dies isn’t easy to do. After all, how do you gather statistics and measurements when you have no physical form? It is just this conundrum that has plagued most of us who have died and returned. We have garnered little acceptance from the scientific community regarding our experiences simply because we lack the physical proof of what occurred. All we have is our memory of the events, and even those vary widely based on each person’s interpretation. For instance, for someone who is a strict Catholic, the experience may be interpreted through the filter of their Catholic iconography and tenets; while, someone who is an atheist may describe their experience using a filter of science or space aliens.

Some experiments have been conducted. They are usually of the sort wherein someone is forced into a chemically- or electronically-induced death, and then revived within the time limits deemed safe. While these experiments are done within the confines of labs and under the supervision of ‘specialists,’ the interpretation of what did or did not occur on the ‘other side’ (if indeed, the other side was even reached) is still up to the individual who died.

The specialists monitoring the physical side of the experiment can note data on the ‘traveler’s’ body—heart rate, brain waves, blood pressure, etc.—however, they are unable to experience what the traveler who died experienced. Scientists can site all types of speculation and theories to explain what may or may not have happened—low oxygen levels in the brain, random electrical pulses, or a bad interpretation of what was happening around the person who was ‘dead’—but without proof of whether or not the dead person actually traveled their suppositions are as bogus as their disdain of what the travelers experienced.

Been There.

Having made the roundtrip at least once in this lifetime, I suppose that until we devise some sort of carrier to ferry us (the physical us) into the realm of death and back, we will simply have to rely on our own beliefs and truths as to what awaits us when we die.

To that end, I have written my interpretation of my experiences with the hope that they help people overcome some of their fear of Death. Death isn’t anything to fear. It’s merely another step along life’s path.

 

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