During the past thirty-two months since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I have shared my grief, and in turn others have shared their grief with me, telling me stories they never told anyone else. I have heard incredible tales of signs and dreams and feelings of connection to the one who has left earthly life behind, which makes me realize that something is going on beneath the surface of earthly life, though I don’t know what.
Although I concede that near death experiences exist, I do not believe that NDEs are necessarily an encounter with those who are dead. We humans are so incredibly complex, that these experiences could be an as yet unknown state of consciousness, such as a dream state, or maybe even a dip into the collective consciousness. I’ve heard of too many people who saw the white light, saw their loved ones begin to draw near and then immediately recede as the nearly dead person returned to consciousness. It seems peculiar to me that the dead have nothing better to do than wait for someone to begin to die, to hurry and don their earthly bodies to rally round on the off chance that the person will die, and then shrug off their earthly personas and go back to doing whatever their disembodied selves were doing before being called to reception duty.
On the other hand, there have been an incredible number of instances of people saying good-bye before they left the earth for good.
Sometimes the good-byes were said while the people were still alive. I’ve heard many stories of perfectly healthy people who visited and called family and friends they hadn’t seen in a while, and then a few days later they had an accident or a heart attack and died. It was as if part of them knew they were going to leave this earth, and they were saying good-bye even though they didn’t consciously realize that is what they were doing.
Sometimes the good-byes were said after the people were dead. A boy’s grandmother stopped by to tell him that she would be okay and not to spend his life in sadness. A woman whose husband died in an accident never got a chance to say good-bye before the hospital removed his body, but that night, she felt a kiss on her cheek and his whispered words that it didn’t matter, that he’d already been dead when he reached the hospital. A woman who swam too far out into the ocean and was floundering in panic heard her mother tell her to relax, that she would be okay, and later found that her mother had died at that very moment. A woman who lost her husband had incredibly rich and coincidental experiences every Monday during the first six months after he died. She could even feel his anger, but now, eighteen months later, he is finally leaving her alone to find her own way.
And sometimes the messages come in dreams. One daughter planned to move in with her mother, and that night her father visited her in a dream and said he was glad, that her mother needed her. (The daughter told her mother to tell her father to stay out of her dreams.)
Even I had a good-bye experience. Two of them, actually.
For the last year of his life, my love and I argued about what I would do afterward. He thought I should go stay with my father where I would be safe and warm and fed, but I could not bear the thought of doing so. I’d just finished caring for one dying man, and I didn’t want to look after another. While he was in a coma during his last days, however, I finally decided to follow his wishes and come stay with my dad, and I told him so. Just a few hours later, he died.
At the moment of his death (or rather, when his breathing and his heart stopped), I did not feel anything except a moment of relief that his suffering was over. I watched the nurses clean his body and shroud it in a blanket, then I waited numbly for the funeral director. After she took away his body (in a black SUV, not a hearse), I left. The highway was dry, but about halfway home, my car suddenly went careening, around and around, back and forth, totally out of control. (I assumed I hit a patch of black ice, but that was such a peculiar night, I can’t say for sure.) I thought I was going to die, but oddly, I never left the road. The car finally came to a halt facing the wrong way on the highway. I was fine. So was the car. As I sat there gripping the wheel, I wondered if he had stopped by on his way out of this world to save me, to leave me a final reminder to be careful, or maybe give a shake of his ghostly head at this evidence of my carelessness. (He always worried that I wasn’t careful enough.) I remember feeling him leaving this earth — like a breath passing over head — but to be honest, I don’t know if I really felt his leaving at the time or if the impression was something my mind created later to explain the bewildering event. It was after this particular near death experience (as out of control as the car was, it truly is amazing that I survived intact), that the feeling of his goneness slammed into me, and I never again have had any sense of his presence in my life.
What was he doing for those hours before he left this earth? Finishing his dying, possibly. Closing down systems of the body and brain that have yet to be discovered. From grief, I have learned the power of our lizard brain, learned that there is way more to the brain — and human biology, psychology, and consciousness — than is in our textbooks.
So what does all this mean? I don’t know, and that’s the truth of it.
Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+