In 1971, a Welsh doctor named William Dewi Rees became intrigued by some of his elderly patients commenting that they had sensed the presence of their deceased spouse. He followed this up with a systematic study of 293 widows and widowers in his group practice.
Dewi Rees found that almost half of the widows and widowers had a vision and communication from their deceased spouses.
This experience is often referred to as bereavement hallucinations.
But are they hallucinations? Are minds playing tricks on us? Or do our minds have capabilities that are real but not explained in a normally accepted medical way?
Is grief so over-powering that it causes our minds to compensate by keeping a connection with a person who no longer exists?
We are intrigued by the possibility of life beyond this one. A place where spirits exist but perhaps not in human form. Although in the immensely popular CBS TV show Ghosts, the spirits do indeed have human forms. And they’re a lot of fun … mischievous fun! Viewership for Ghosts continues to climb, and there are now more than 6 million viewers per episode. It’s #1 in its time slot.
Séances are attempts made to communicate with spirits from another world. The activity became popular in the 19th Century. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln held séances at the White House to help when grieving for her son William who died of typhoid fever in 1962 at the age of 11. President Lincoln participated in them.
I was in my mid twenties when my grandmother passed away. She was one of the most influential people in my young life. Ever since she passed away I have felt her still in my life. I can’t explain it. It’s been that way for nearly 50 years.
I’ve had no visions of her. There have been no unexplained voices talking to me. Just a reassuring knowledge that she is still watching over me. That’s what I feel. I know its her, not someone else. It’s real to me; not my imagination.
People are reluctant to talk about such things for fear people will think they’re a bit off, or even looney. But my experience makes me wonder how many others have similar experiences they keep to themselves.
Is there more than one realm of existence?
Perhaps the person who was most knowledgeable on this subject was Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She spent her life studying stages of grief and the phenomenons of people near death who “see” to the other side.
Her pioneering studies started as a way to show medical students how to relate to terminally ill and dying patients as human beings instead of from a scientific approach. In the 1970s she championed the hospice movement and worked with HIV/Aids patients. It was then that she started interviewing thousands of patients who had clinically died but were resuscitated, and described to her their out-of-body experiences.
She became an advocate for spiritual guides to the afterlife. She published her first findings in the book On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy and their own families. (1969).
She identified patterns in the way we deal with grief and put them in five stages which are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. At first they were used for individuals faced with death, but later became associated with the period of bereavement by those left behind.
For seven years Bill and Judy Guggenheim, co-authors of the book Hello From Heaven! conducted research and interviews with people who experienced after-death communication. Because of their research they identified 12 different categories of experiences. They six most frequent are:
Sensing a Presence (me with my grandmother)
Hearing a Voice
Feeling a Phantom Touch
Smelling a Fragrance or Scent associated with that person
Seeing a Partial Apparition
Getting a Glimpse into the Beyond
For those of us who want a tangible way to relate to the possibility of another world, there are a variety of movies that can take us there. They range from drama, to comedy, to romance, and the occult in the way the stories are presented.
There is Field of Dreams, A Christmas Carol, The Sixth Sense, Ghostbusters, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Ghost Story, Heaven Can Wait, and It’s a Wonderful Life, plus many others. Hallmark has found success doing TV movies that include angels and connections with the after life.
The concepts of immortality and pre-destination are fascinating. The idea that when we depart this world there is something better yet to come holds a strong allure. Some things really do need to be taken on faith, and the idea of another world is one of them.
“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.”Bruce Lee
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