Knock, Knock, Knocking

heaven door

“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” Rumi

Life is all about change.  In our day to day world it is easy to forget that fact.  We go about our days thinking the same thoughts, doing the same things, slight variations of a constant stream of sameness.  It brings comfort and lulls us into a false sense of security.  We nestle into our routines and create a nice, comfortable illusion for ourselves.

But then something happens and that illusion is shattered.

Which brings us to last week.  Message received from Mom:  Dad is in the hospital with multiple pulmonary embolisms (emboli?) and while she ensures that everything is fine, I decide to hop a flight anyways, to see for myself. What, me worry?

*SPOILER ALERT*

He is fine.  I am happy to report that through the magic of blood thinners and after a week in the hospital they sprang him and he is back to his former self, only better because now he can breathe.  Which is important.

But for a while there he was knock knock knocking on heaven’s door. He actually came close enough to the other side that he had a peek at it.  As he was laying in the hospital his first day in, he had a couple of visitors show up.  His parents.  They stood there in his room, smiling, dressed in their best going to town clothes and looking to be in their early thirties, which is cool because they’ve been dead for quite a long time.  Dad reported later that he had the thought that he must be passing over and that they had come to meet him.  He claimed to have no fear at all, just a sense of comforting recognition. And then Mom walked into the room and they disappeared.

Exit not taken, for which I am sincerely grateful. Back off Grandma and Grandpa… we are keeping him here.

Dad’s experience reminded me of a book I had read not long ago by David Kessler, called Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms.  David Kessler is a hospice expert and through many years of working with the dying came to realize that a very large portion of those in their end days had similar experiences.  Upon further inquiry with other healthcare professionals, David managed to compile accounts of the phenomena that people seem to experience at the end of their lives.  While each experience is unique to the individual there seem to be three distinct themes.

The first is Visions.  Many people in their final hours or days will have visions of another place or of deceased friends or relatives popping in for a visit.  The visions while unique to each person all seem to have one thing in common. They are comforting, bringing a peaceful exit that seems devoid of fear.  Having that peek across to the other side and seeing the beauty and love that awaits takes the fear out of death for both the dying and the bereaved who are left behind.

The second phenomena is that the dying, in their final days, will often make reference to taking a trip.  They will talk about waiting for a bus or train or ship.  They will sense the need to prepare, get packed and ready to leave.  The metaphor of dying as a journey to another place is made manifest in these visions that many of the dying share.

The third shared experience common among the dying is the sense that the room becomes crowded.  Many of those at the end of their lives will talk about the crowds of people standing about.  When asked to identify the people in the crowd it seems that they are the deceased friends and relatives of the person getting ready to pass over.  Must be one heck of a party when the dying person finally joins all of them.

The medical and scientific communities have long sought to ignore these events, chalking them up to oxygen deprivation or hallucinations brought on my drugs or a dying mind, but there is a growing movement of researchers determined to bring these experiences into the light.  Latest studies put the frequency of visions and phenomena upwards of 90%.  That seems a mighty big coincidence, don’t you think?

It is comforting to realize that there is nothing to fear in dying. If anything these experiences make me understand that death is a sacred  part of life.  Taking fear out of death and dying helps to take the fear out of life and living.  At death the veil lifts and the dying see that they are surrounded by crowds of loving beings.  It makes me wonder.  Have they been there all along, walking with us through life, whispering , laughing, cajoling and comforting?  I think so.  Yes.

At Steven Jobs’ funeral his sister eulogized him.  She talked about his final words as he passed from life to death.  His words really do say it all:

“Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

40 thoughts on “Knock, Knock, Knocking”

  1. Soooo cool! It never ceases to amaze me that EVERY SINGLE TIME I participate in or hear of veil experiences, I am super-charged with awe! It’s such a given: I know it, I’ve lived it, I’ve been asked to vigil at the bedside of no fewer than six people (not including mum) and I’ve seen it happening. But everytime, it is spectacular. Just reading about your Dad’s parents got me all joy-filled and tearful at the same time. Living without fear of death is the very best part of having experienced life-threatening trauma. The very best.

  2. Your message was beautifully expressed. The fact that a large number of people have this experience of moving toward a transition at end of life — and we’re lucky enough to know it — is comforting.

  3. Hi Brenda everything you mention in this post is true. My dad passed away because of cancer about 20 plus yrs ago. Couple of months before he passed away he was in and out of consciousness. At one time he told my mom,”tell them to leave please tell them to go away they are here and I am not ready yet.. I don’t want to go”.. My mom kept asking him who was there but he slipped back into a state of semi consciousness ….that’s when my mom started informing family and friends to come say good bye to him.. We expected he could go any time now that he had “visitors”…we knew they had come knocking or perhaps were still hanging around waiting for him to be ready.. I was by his side when he passed couple of months later…this time he pointed to a section of the ceiling and said loud and clearly they are here to take me.. I must go…and within a few minutes of that he crossed over. My grandma on the other hand was always saying” I need to go I need to get ready ” upon asking where she was heading she would say ” I have to take a trip to get to where others are but all of you are keeping me here and won’t let me go.. I don’t want to be here just let me go”

    1. You and your Mom are very wise to be aware that the “visitors” might mean your Dad was leaving shortly. It is wonderful that you accepted what he was seeing and didn’t discount it. And your Grandma’s experience is very interesting. I wonder if we do keep people here with our longing for them to stay. That would make me think that dying is a group exercise… 🙂 Very cool!

      1. In my grandma’s case my mom
        Thinks she was referring to her two sons.. She had unresolved issues with them and my mom wondered if it was the reason for my grandma not letting go sooner .. She was around for almost 2 years and passed after she spent some time with her sons..

    1. I find that staying in the present moment as often as possible is the best way to keep fear at bay. Too much dwelling in the future “what ifs” will only bring unnecessary worry. Life happens in the present moment. Our purpose is to live it as much as possible. My hope for you is that you experience perfect health and a joyful path. <3

  4. Thank you, Brenda, for this wonderful post. I will check out David Kessler. I’m old enough that I think about death, and wonder, and am sometimes afraid. I love stories of “guides” going with us, a beautiful white light, all of that.
    My mother’s last words, by the way, were, “I’m going home.”

  5. Very informative and beautiful post.

    Glad your father is better.

    I have never thought really about the near-death experience or after-life. Being Hindu, and a believer of reincarnation, I have heard of other accounts from loved ones.

    I guess that those are willing to know, they will experience it. And those who know something else, will experience that.

    In the case that I recall, a family member felt himself rising out of his body and seeing his body from above with the doctors and family members surrounding him. He was in cardiac arrest at the time and was shouting to the family, “Look!!! I am here! I am here!” He was revived and then recounted his experience to the family.

    I remember having a lecture last year on death. We were discussing something very insightful written by an ancient Greek philosopher (I forget the name now). Death is painless. In fact, death may be a release of the pain of dying. In death, we lack sensation. We no longer experience pain. His point was that our fear of death is in fact a misconception and should not be so. Should we fear the stillness of death??

    But, in the midst of what he says, he probably captures the serenity of something that is very difficult to take for the onlookers.

    Sorry for going off at a tangent, but there is something very beautiful about what your father recounts, which reminded of the lecture.

    1. I love this: “those are willing to know, they will experience it. And those who know something else, will experience that.” So very wise and true. Thank you for sharing this and the lecture about death and dying sounds fascinating. Whatever takes the fear out of the death experience is a value to humanity, don’t you think? Please feel free to go off on tangents often! Thank you!

      1. Thanks. In regards to taking the fear out of death. Yes indeed.

        Another tangent (!) that may support this view – German philosopher Heidegger wrote that our lives are lived inauthentically. We are not true to our very spirit and character due to external forces within our world. We basically thrust ourselves into a life that does not nurture our being. Heidegger’s cure to inauthenticity is to ‘go towards death.’

        What Heidegger meant is that once we no longer have a fear of our death, we can live according to our true spirit. We can live authentically.

        So what you have said, and according to Heidegger, is exactly true. Anything that takes away our fear of death must be a good thing!!

  6. Sitting with my father at the end of his life, he shared his excitement about the next part of his journey, which made it so much easier for the family, to hear his acceptance and wonder. Thank you Brenda Ann, I’d like to rebog this one please!

  7. I love this post. Years ago I had a friend who awoke one night to find his grandmother at the foot of his bed, suitcase in hand. She told him that she was going on a trip and that they would see each other again someday. My friend thought it was a dream only to discover the next day that she had died in her sleep.

    That’s only one story of several I’ve heard through the years. I do believe our loved ones perhaps “check in” on us from time to time and are never very far away. It comforts me to know that in death, we’ll be reunited with those who have gone on before us.

    Thanks for posting this.

    1. Your story gave me shivers! What a wonderful thing for your friend to be able to say goodbye to his grandmother. It makes me believe there is certain to be a joyful noise on the other side when we pass. Thanks for sharing, Sheri <3

  8. So happy your father is well and recovering from his illness.

    Just a few months ago, my Mom was very close to dying after reacting to pain meds taken after she had fallen and broken her leg. She saw many different people in those first few days. She asked me who the tall person was standing behind me. When I asked her to describe the person, she couldn’t. She also told me about the little boy that was sitting in the chair across the room. Later that night I woke hearing her have a conversation with the little boy. It didn’t scare either of us – I just assumed it was spirits coming to guide her home.
    Happily, she is still living with us with the help of hospice.

    I am enjoying your posts. I have had many experiences that are similar to those you have described. Really interesting to share in your journey.

    Kathleen

  9. Thank-you, I’m always glad when I see someone else help to take the sting out of death. I’ve believed for as long as I can remember, that we should fear death no more than the caterpillar fears the cocoon. And I believe the end result will be even more magnificent than the butterfly.Thanks again.

  10. Interesting article. I think we fear death too much! When I was a child we used to bring the deceased to the home for the visitation – now we keep them at a funeral home. Not sure the old way was not best. Glad your Dad is still around here for awhile longer for you and your Mom.

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