A question that looms amongst many of us is there really life after death? Do we leave this earth and come back as something else or do we turn to dust? Losing a loved one can often lead to many unanswered questions as to why, and I often wonder if my mother is watching over me. I clearly remember when she got sick and hospitalized that her prognosis was not good, and death would soon ensue. I was able to see her in the hospital and say good-bye. It was incomprehensible to me to think that I would never see her again. So, I asked myself what happens to people when they pass away? I remember my mother always told me that once she passed away, she would look over me as my guardian angel. Is this the beginning, middle, or end of our existence? Have we lived before in another time, another place? What awaits us when we die? Is the physical being all there is to our existence; or is the spirit or soul what makes us who we are? No one truly knows what happens to us when we die.
I remember when my husband’s mother got sick, and he was by her side in the hospital. Of course, most of you may not know, but my husband’s parents were both deaf. So, I guess you could say his first language was signing. So, when he was in the hospital comforting his mother during her final moments, she pointed with her finger, “Look, over there, I wish those two people would leave me alone as they keep trying to talk to me. Don’t they know I am deaf, and I can’t hear them.” She was convinced that these two people were standing around the corner in her room. According to my husband, there was no one in the room. She would even go on to describe what they looked like to my husband. She pointed, “Look, they are right there, I can’t believe you don’t see them, and they just keep talking to me, and I don’t understand them.”
It sent shivers down my husband’s spine because at that moment; he realized that maybe his mother was seeing angels that came to take her to heaven. Not to mention she really was deaf! I want to think heaven exists and it is a better place. As I ponder that moment when my husband shared this story with me, made me pause and want to learn more about this phenomenon; is there life after death?
What I know to be true is that the concept of life after death is illogical. There are many beliefs about what happens after a person dies. Some people believe that there is life after death, and some think that there is nothing left to a person when they die. Some people even believe in reincarnation as when a person dies; you very well might come back to this earth as someone else or even in a different form. It seems to me that the only real way of finding out what happens to a person is to experience it, by dying. So, for the most part, we can only theorize what may happen to us after death.
Another experience I had was owning a house that was to our knowledge graced with the presence of a ghost (page 238 in the book Blessed to Be Unwanted). We even had to sign an affidavit drawn up by both realtors, making us aware that there was a ghost in the house that we purchased. We were told she was a friendly ghost by the name of Elizabeth. She wore a blue dress. As if that was supposed to make us feel better. But I guess it did because we did go through with the sale of the house and lived there with my mother Joni, for four and a half years. Now, that begs the question of whether if I believe in ghosts. I am not sure, but I can tell you that what we as a family experienced while living in that house, ghostly like incidents that really did happen. My daughter at the time was very young and seemed to be the only person that could see her from time to time. Not to mention, we would encounter her presence differently, and she left me believing that there is possibly ghosts that live amongst us.
To my knowledge throughout recorded history, scientists have struggled to find answers to whether there is life after death. There are lots of books where people have written about their near-death experiences (NDE). A book that comes to mind is Proof of Heaven: A neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. A neurosurgeon by the name of Eben Alexander, MD wrote about his own experience with almost kissing death. He was apparently stricken with bacterial meningitis. His doctor was aggressive with antibiotics, and he remained in a coma for six days, leaving no hope for his recovery. On the seventh day, he woke up and became aware of his surroundings and had a full recovery. According to his doctor, his resurgence was genuinely remarkable. From that point on, Dr. Alexander felt compelled to research and try to comprehend what he experienced while he lay in that hospital bed in a coma for six days.
Let’s explore the possibilities of the following: reincarnation, near-death experience, ghosts, and lastly angels. Most religions believe in life after death. Although, what I do know to be right about religion is there are different ideologies. Being that I am a Lutheran and Christianity is similar, I am going to focus on these religions. Both religions fall under the same umbrella of Christianity. Lutherans are Christians. (Celine Article) Most Christians believe in the Holy Trinity, which is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in one God along with Sacraments, prayer and creeds, and the afterlife. By believing in this and accepting death and resurrection of Jesus; if you are sinful, you can be reconciled with God and you are offered the promise of eternal life. (Celine Article)
In my readings, I learned that some people believe in a single life on earth, and others believe in reincarnation. Dr. Ian Stevenson is probably best known for his research that appears to provide what he believes is proof that reincarnation is real. (Innovations, Inc.) He has collected information from thousands of cases of children who remember a past life. Dr. Stevenson believes that past life memories in a child can be fully investigated using scientific protocols.
He does not use hypnosis, he simply identifies with the child’s statements of their past life experiences, and then he verifies the facts of the deceased person’s life that match the child’s memory. (Innovation, Inc.) He even goes as far as matching a person’s birthmarks and birth defects to scars and wounds on the deceased that he verifies with medical records. This way, he feels that he is ruling out all possible “normal” explanation for a child’s memories. He has been researching reincarnation for the last forty years from children’s past life memories of children from all over the world and has over three thousand cases in his files. (Innovation, Inc.) There have been skeptics and researchers that agree that the cases that he has studied offer the best evidence for reincarnation. Taking Dr. Stevenson’s data into account where he has collected information by interviewing children who have experienced a past life, makes one pause and consider the possibility that reincarnation might very well exist.
Near death experiences, also known as NDEs, have been recorded over the years to those individuals who have experienced an NDE. NDEs are also thought to be out-of-body experiences (OBE). The earliest NDEs that have been recorded were thousands of years ago and documented in Plato’s famous story, The Republic. (Blackmore). Dr. Susan Blackmore is one of the most dedicated researchers of NDEs and OBEs. She wanted to experience an outer-body-experience as she knew without being able to almost die herself, she could not experience an NDE; so, she decided to get high on hash. She admits that she takes illegal drugs for inspiration. (Babcock)
Therefore, she believes because of being so high, she could experience what she claims to have been an outer body experience (OBE). She also said that she experienced a similar OBE in her life when she became sleep deprived. She talks about herself being in a tunnel of trees toward a light, floating on the ceiling, and overseeing her body below, seeing a silver cord connecting her floating body and she slowly moved out of the building and then over England, and finally floating across the Atlantic to New York. (Blackmore) There have been people who have dismissed her research as they felt she was simply hallucinating on drugs. In my opinion, one can truly only understand an NDE if they have experienced near death.
Since Susan Blackmore has interviewed hundreds of NDE cases. She believes that NDEs do not necessarily prove that life after death does exist, however, her research shows that all characteristics of an NDE are “products of the dying brain; hallucinations, imaginings and mental constructions that will ultimately stop when the brain’s activity stops” (Blackmore). She also studied and through scientific research has also shown that drug hallucinations can replicate NDEs. In a study that she published in the Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, she does conclude that it is unclear if NDEs do occur. Some reject the idea at best and then some believe that when you experience an NDE and taking drugs, you are hallucinating. However, she does believe that NDEs merit serious research; and the dying, recovering and their relatives deserve to know what has been researched and what we already know. (ResearchGate)
Susan Blackmore also concludes in her findings is that people may have near death experiences based on surveys she conducted where ten and twenty percent of people claim to have had an OBE, and the experiences are similar across ages and cultures. (susanblackmore.com) The question is, why? Her answer is not that we all have a spirit or soul but that our brains are similar. In certain states induced by drugs, shock, deep relaxation, or special techniques, random excitation of neurons causes odd consequences. (susanblackmore.com) Activation in visual cortex produces tunnels and spirals, activation in temporal lobe arouses memories as though one’s whole life is flashing past and – most interestingly – a certain spot near the right temporo-parietal junction produces body image distortions and OBEs. (susanblackmore.com) So the experiences are real enough but do not prove life after death or the existence of souls. (susanblackmore.com)
In reviewing Dr. Eben Alexander’s experience when he was in a coma and on a ventilator for six days, he feels it was indeed a death sentence, but he was astoundingly brought back to life. During those days when he was in a coma, he experienced what he believes is the deeper realms of consciousness and came to understand that there are truths about the universe we occupy. He acknowledges that the tales of NDEs do reveal a bright light that is something that most people experience, which has people believing that there is a world beyond this world we all live in. He believes because his wife and family members stayed by his side and spoke to him that he was able to come back to his loved ones, and this also contributed to healing him. (The New York Times).
Dr. Raymond Moody was the doctor that came up with the term NDE, and he was one of the first people that studied the near-death-experience in depth. He has also written books that review patient case studies having NDEs. When he analyzed the NDEs, he found that many common characteristics that people describe when they have an out-of-body experience are going through a tunnel towards the light. For instance, he reports a case in which a woman left her body during surgery. Apparently, she floated into the waiting room and saw her daughter. She was able to describe what she was wearing. She was evidently wearing mismatched plaids.
Interestingly enough, the daughter’s mother was unable to dress her, so the maid had hurriedly clothed her for the day. She did not physically see the little girl that day, so the question is, how could she comment on the fact? (There and Back Again) When she told her family that she saw her daughter and described what she was wearing when she was supposedly clinically dead, they realized she must have somehow made it to the waiting room. I have to believe if this really did happen, this could not be possible unless she did leave her body and floated into the waiting room.
As far as ghosts, if we had not lived in that house in Redlands, California, I am not so sure I would even be questioning ghosts or also if there is life after death or the fact that angels are watching over us. What I am about to tell you really did happen, and all we have to go on is the fact that the prior owners made us aware that there was a friendly ghost named Elizabeth, who made herself known from time-to-time. Our first encounter with Elizabeth, it seemed by blaming Elizabeth was the only logical explanation.
Myself, my mom, Steve, electrician, and carpet installer were there, and we all heard a loud noise that sounded like glass crashing everywhere. We all gathered on the second floor, and we were puzzled. We thought for sure that the workers broke something. They did not. They were also wondering what that unexplainable noise was. They along with us began searching in the house to see if we could find the broken glass. No shattered glass was found anywhere. The electrician went into the kid’s bathroom and noticed the light fixture sitting in the middle of the porcelain tile floor. He stood there with the utmost amazement and yelled out, “Hey, I think I found the source come quickly I am in the kid’s bathroom.” We all came running to find him in complete bewilderment. It was not smashed, just sitting there as if someone had taken it down from the ceiling and laid it there. The eerie part is that no one removed it from the ceiling. It was just sitting there unexplainable. The electrician commented, looking up and down repeatedly, “That is impossible for that glass fixture to fall 10-feet and not break.” We contributed this incidence to Elizabeth. She must have caught the fixture, and she was able to save it from breaking. This was our first encounter of many that we would have with Elizabeth.
On another unexplainable event, my husband, Steve, and I were fast asleep. I was abruptly awakened at 3:00 am with a strong smell of what I can only describe very pungent Frito-Lay corn chips. I quickly woke Steve as I thought someone was in the house. He woke up and smelled that odor too. We were both a little freaked out. Steve got up out of bed and carefully made his way down the stairs. When he got to the kitchen and flipped the light switch on, the smell immediately dissipated. Another outstanding occasion thought to be where Elizabeth was cooking in the kitchen.
In researching the 3:00 am witching hour, many paranormal’s believe that ghosts are more active at 3:00 am. We seemed to wake up to strange noises, roll over and look at the clock and it would be 3:00 am. According to European folklore, the “witching hour” is the time when supernatural beings such as witches, demons, and ghosts are thought to be at their most potent, and black magic at its most effective. (Ghost Hunting Theories) I know in some cases you must probably think it is the midnight hour, and not associating it to superstitious beliefs. The term “witching hour” can also refer to the period from the mind not necessarily associating midnight to 3:00 am, while “devil’s hour” refers to the time around 3:00 am. Apparently, the Devil’s Hour is the exact opposite of the time Christ supposedly died at 3:00 pm. (Ghost Hunting Theories). So, I suppose this explains why we seemed always to hear something around 3:00 am in that house.
Lastly, about angels, I believe that if we look really hard and we call on our loved ones that have gone to a higher being beyond us, they listen and if we open our hearts, we can be guided. The book titled, Angels Blessing Cards of Sacred Guidance and Inspiration by Reverend Dr. Kimberly Marooney teaches us just that. She is an Angelologist, and she wrote the most beautiful foreword for my book. Bet you never realized that someone could get their Ph.D. in Angles. Well, Dr. Marooney did just that. She believes that angels come in many forms to guide us, comfort us, and protect us. Some are in human form like my mother offering kindness at just the right moment. Other angels work invisibly behind the scenes watching over us. (Angels Blessing) I feel my mother’s guidance from time-to-time.
It is apparent to me that some people do wonder if there really is life after death. For me, I really never thought about death and dying and what might happen when you die, until my family and I experienced a ghost living in our house. There are case studies that show that people have experienced near death experiences, through their own evidences. I do find it interesting that most of the testimonies, as described by people, is that they typically see the light. It does seem to be all over the map in terms of how people interpret those experiences and what they might have seen. What I do know is that when a person dies their physical body either goes into a grave or is cremated.
Is there life after death? I don’t think we really know the truth to this question. Over half of the people, whether they are religious or not, believe that there is life after death. There have been case studies with children that can make an argument that they have been reincarnated. Many people have studied near-death experiences to try to prove whether if there is an afterlife. Scientists believe that all NDEs can be explained either by the physical aspects of a dying brain or psychological issues that occur as a result of extreme fear. Dr. Blackmore was able to show that NDEs can occur as a result of hallucinogenic drugs. Both Blackmore and Moody agree that there is not one hundred percent physical proof that the afterlife exists (Blackmore & Moody). Ghosts and angels still remain somewhat of a mystery. Since science has not been able to prove without a shadow of a doubt that ghosts and angels exist, as well as understanding life after death, we only have faith to rely on. In the end, I genuinely believe we will only know about these phenomena when we die ourselves!
Celine. “Difference Between.” Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects, 22 May 2017, www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/religion-miscellaneous/difference-between-lutheran-and-christian/.Innovations, Inc. Internet.
Scientific Proof of Reincarnation: Dr. Ian Stevenson, reluctant-messenger.com/reincarnation-proof.htm.
Dr. Susan Blackmore’s Near-Death Experience Research, www.near-death.com/science/experts/susan-blackmore.html.
Babcock, Jay. “Dr. Susan Blackmore: ‘I Take Illegal Drugs for Inspiration.’” Arthur Magazine, 11 July 2005, arthurmag.com/2005/07/11/dr-susan-blackmore-i-take-illegal-drugs-for-inspiration/.
Moore, Lauren E., et al. “Near-Death Experiences (PDF Download Available).” ResearchGate, 1 Mar. 1996, www.researchgate.net/publication/14517267_Near-Death_Experiences.
Kaufman, Leslie. “Readers Join Doctor’s Journey to the Afterworld’s Gates.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2012, www.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/books/dr-eben-alexanders-tells-of-near-death-in-proof-of-heaven.html.
Dawn. There and Back Again ….. Near Death Experiences and Light, livingtransformation.ch/index.php/79-science/120-nde.html.
“The Witching Hour: The Devil’s Hour.” Ghost Hunting Theories, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ghosthuntingtheories.com/2009/09/witching-hour-devils-hour.html.
“Cards of Sacred Guidance and Inspiration.” Angel Blessings, kimberlymarooney.com/angel-blessings.