Tag Archives: life after death

Being Dead Is Easy. Getting Dead Is Hard.

mystical-door-shutterstock_184672772-webonlyBeing dead is easy. Getting dead is hard.” — Gerrie Glover

Gerrie is a wise and formidable lady, and truer words were never spoken. I thought of this maxim of hers over and over while my mother, Molly, was going through the process that ended in her death on January 22, 2017.

All this time I’ve been writing about the “dead” and the spirit world from a position of being in touch with that reality, but for the most part I was not down in the trenches with death itself and its gritty and messy biological details. It all became immediate and concrete when my mother had a stroke on January 12. I’m going to write about what I observed in hopes that it is useful to someone.

First, on December 30, 2016, our 20-year-old cat passed. She had done astonishingly well for a long time with her failing kidneys, but her body reached the end of what it could handle. Sheena had been velcroed to my mother constantly for a few years, and her death was a hard thing for my mother to get through. We nursed the old lady through to the last, very hands-on because she would not allow herself to be left alone and cried if we weren’t right with her every moment. We were left with her tiny body between us on the sofa, like a perfect sculpture of a cat down to every hair but somehow no longer a cat. My mother wondered what we should do with the body overnight, since it was late and we weren’t going to bury her till morning. “Well,” I said, “no matter where we put her body, she will probably be in your lap.” And at that moment I felt Sheena crawling into my own lap, a small warm weight that stayed till it was necessary for me to get up.

For a few days it was as if we still had two cats, only one was invisible. After that, it seemed that we only had one cat.

Shepherding Sheena through her journey, being the person who listened to see if her heart had stopped, arranging her little limbs for burial, gave me a kind of dry run or rehearsal to help me deal with what would happen with my mother. In Sheena’s case, there were no wrenching medical decisions to make, no questions about whether she might get better. We had known the end was coming and that there was no treatment possible. Things are more complicated with humans and hospitals.

On January 12 my mother suffered a major stroke, affecting areas on both sides of her brain. I think the emergency room doctor had the right instinct. She told us very gently, based on what she saw, that it was time to think about making end-of-life decisions. But within a few hours my mother was able to move her left side again, and within a couple of days she was speaking somewhat intelligibly and swallowing a bit. It looked like she might recover enough to at least sit up in a chair, communicate and feed herself. We exhorted her to rest so that her brain could heal as much as possible, but for a while she was using a lot of energy to make it clear that she wanted to get the hell out of the hospital and get rid of the IV and the other medical annoyances. Which was certainly understandable.

Two and a half days after the stroke, late on January 14, she was able to explain to my daughter that she was ready to go and had nothing else she needed to do. She had great difficulty speaking but was able to get a whole paragraph out and be completely clear. “I’m ready for the sky,” she said, and Lenore confirmed with her that this was really what she meant to say. We’d pretty much known that she felt that way, as she had been weak and had felt rotten most days for a long time, due to problems with her heart, but it was a great gift to hear it in so many words and be sure of it.

The hours and days had a way of running together, and I’m having trouble remembering exactly when various events occurred. It was probably the 16th when she suddenly pointed straight ahead, no trembling in her arm, and clearly called out, “Ann!” That’s her eldest sister, with whom she had had some previous dreamlike contacts. “Is she here?” I asked. My mother nodded. Since the other contacts had been extremely helpful and positive, I was glad to hear it. I couldn’t detect my aunt myself, but I knew that communication with deceased relatives was common near the end of life, and I took this very seriously. My husband and daughter were familiar with this phenomenon as well, and I think that was when we all knew she was turning the corner toward death.

I will spare you the details of the indignities and unpleasantnesses that my mother had to suffer over the next few days. We were told that most people in this kind of situation “just slip away,” but unfortunately she had to take a harder road. We had assumed that the severe agitation she was displaying so much of the time was an effect of the stroke and would likely improve, but if anything it got worse. By the time the palliative care team came to see her on the 17th, she had been through at least a day of hardly any rest or respite and the nurses and I were getting frantic trying to help her. As soon as the palliative care doctor saw her, he recognized what was going on as “terminal delirium.” I had never heard that term before, but apparently it happens a substantial percentage of the time.

The doctor said that we should stop bothering her right away, pull the IV, the heart monitor, and the other devices that could not possibly do her any good. Thankfully, we were moved to a private room where there was relative quiet. We still had a terrible night because the low doses of medications being given weren’t enough to stop the seizure-like agitation. I couldn’t imagine any of us going on like that. The palliative care people agreed and very quickly and efficiently put through an order to move to the inpatient hospice. Their nurse held me and let me weep all over her.

The Kaseman Presbyterian inpatient hospice was a revelation. Instead of a cramped, chaotic hospital room, we found ourselves in a space big enough to walk around easily, with home-like seating and nearly perfect calm, and an atmosphere that felt like it was filled wall to wall with angels and helpful beings. Soon after my mother was brought in and my daughter and husband and I gathered around her, a priest came in to give her the blessing for the sick. The moment Fr. Charles opened his mouth to pray, it was as if the ceiling opened and a thousand more angels dropped into the room. My mother had been stressed further by the ambulance trip there, and this uplifting interlude was soothing to her as well as to the rest of us. I had only once before had an experience like this with being prayed over. Not everyone has that kind of connection to the heavens, it seems.

We more or less lived at the hospice during the next few days. They had a miraculously comfortable place for a family member to sleep, such a contrast with the hospital, and I took advantage of that. The first night, Wednesday, I felt that I was embraced hour after hour by myriad beings of light, wrapped securely in grace and benediction. In that state it was easy to make a strong heart connection with my mother and feel her embrace as well. I was up often to respond to the nurses and check on things, but when I slept it was a wondrous and restorative sleep, and I dozed off and on far into the day, with the staff encouraging me to rest.

Despite that, Thursday night I felt ill and crashed at home. I intended to go back to the hospice in the middle of the night, but never made it. We all continued to limp along through the process, my mother still sedated most of the time and moving slowly toward the end, not really responsive anymore.

Friday morning there was some drama. Her body became extremely hot, not just to the touch physically, but radiating incredible energy all around. The nurse could also feel the heat and energy— I think anyone would have noticed it— and she and I assumed my mother must have had a raging infection by that time, but since they don’t take temperatures in hospice, we didn’t determine whether she had an actual fever. It was far more than that, though. I had never seen so much energetic activity around a person, and I’ve seen a lot. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, and wondered if it had anything to do with the nonphysical part of her moving away from the physical substrate. I haven’t found any information or opinions about this, but much later I did see a reference to a dying person’s skin becoming very hot at about the same stage.

I will describe my subjective perceptions of the next stages of the process. Friday night, as I was keeping watch from the sofa bed across the room, I saw what looked like a sudden opening in my mother’s chest, like a door or hatch being opened. Something that seemed whitish poured out. (This was a “mind’s-eye” vision— I was not looking directly at her.) This energy appeared to congeal into a mass near her body, with a sort of band still connected rather tenuously. It looked like a vague ribbon or stream to me, not the famous “silver cord,” though it must have been functioning in the same way as that.

Drifting through the hours in the middle-of-the night state of grace (not dreaming, mind you), I lost track of where that main concentration of energy was. Where is my mother? I kept asking myself. She didn’t seem to be close to her body anymore. Fryderyk was accessible, and I asked him what he could see and if there was anything he could explain to me about what was going on. I said something about wanting to be sure to be present when my mother actually passed and not wanting to miss the moment.

“If you wait to see it, you will already have missed it,” he told me in his usual aphoristic and slightly cryptic way. In images, he conveyed the idea that death is not a moment but a series of steps or distinct events.* I was already witnessing it, he said. And as usual, I realized that he was telling me something that should have been obvious to me already.

The next morning, Saturday, I found a distinct change. Her skin was still physically quite hot, but there was almost no feeling of energy near it at all. My mother’s body was still functioning, more or less the same as the night before, but she was somehow much less alive. She had already been mostly unresponsive, but now she seemed not to be “in there” in the same way anymore. I took this as a positive sign. It seemed much better for her not to have to experience too much of her body’s travails.

My understanding was that beneath the painkillers and sedatives, the body was still feeling some distress. I could detect a strong sense of disturbance in her heart, that is, the physical organ, and I felt pain in my palm when I held my hand near that part of her chest. I mentioned to the nurses that I was feeling pain in her chest, and no one seemed to think anything was strange about my statement. Hospice personnel hear and see all manner of things.

We began to feel like midwives, encouraging my mother to make the leap into the next birth. We talked to her and told her it was OK to go, which we figured she knew, but we thought we should say anyway. We started to wonder whether there was some unfinished business we didn’t know about. As I would with a regular patient, I poked around and looked for any emotions or issues that might show up, and worked to clear the minor things I found. (Mostly, she was concerned about leaving the mess of papers and paraphernalia in her bedroom for us to sort out.) We reassured her that we were fine and she didn’t need to worry about us.

I stayed over again Saturday night, afraid to leave, thinking that it would happen anytime. By mid-morning Sunday, I was wanting to get a change of clothes and clean up, and the nurses were gently pushing me to get out of there. (We know that often people wait to pass, not wanting to do it in front of their loved ones.) “Did your mother spend a lot of time alone?” they asked.  (She did.) “Maybe she’d like some alone time now.” So I went home, and Bob went to replace me a little while after. Hardly an hour later, they called for Lenore and me to come back right away.

It was almost comically anticlimactic to rush back to the hospice only to sit there again just as before. But things were beginning to change more noticeably. An elderly friend who hadn’t been able to come sooner arrived with her daughter, and they confirmed, based on their experience, that it wouldn’t be long. Their perspective and wealth of experience were helpful, but a little disturbing and imposing too. When they came to my mother’s bedside, I moved to the foot of the bed so that they had space, and they immediately told me not to stand there. Huh? They explained that in their belief system, the soul exits the body through the feet, and they didn’t want me to block its passage. I was completely nonplussed by this thought— I’d been brought up Catholic too and had never heard such a thing— and taken aback that anyone would try to dictate anything to me at my own mother’s deathbed when she was so near the end. I moved over, though, mumbling something about having seen my mother’s chest open and her soul pour out that way already, which didn’t seem to get through to them.

Every so often the nurses checked on the color of my mother’s extremities and the sound of her breathing. There was nothing to do but wait as the death rattle set in. I sat very close, and the sound was terrible even though I knew it was normal and expected. I was insulated from the distressing events, though. What I mainly experienced was the warm, reassuring sensation of my mother embracing me as if I were a tiny child. It was an incredible gift. I knew that whatever her body was going through, she was fine, and so was I. I wished that my husband and daughter, and the staff too, could feel what I was feeling and know the same peace.

I was the one who probed for a pulse and announced that it was gone. The nurse confirmed the time of death, then left us to say our goodbyes. We weren’t quite sure how to react. I remember blurting out, “I’m so excited for her!” and really meaning it, since so many new possibilities had suddenly opened for my mother. She was vibrantly present in the room, so I kept talking to her. Her mouth was hanging open awkwardly, and I wanted to close it for a more dignified appearance, thinking that she would not appreciate being seen that way. I kept trying to reposition her head to make that possible, and it just didn’t work no matter what I tried. I apologized for my failure, laughing helplessly. The absurdity somehow seemed natural. We found ourselves engaging in some gallows humor, and I wondered how the other families in the facility were dealing with this kind of thing. It was surreal and bizarre as much as it was sad, and at that moment I was feeling relief more than anything.

I wistfully noted that the individual cells of the body, most of which were probably perfectly healthy, were now condemned, along with the billions of commensal organisms that ride along with us and make our human life possible. But that is the way of things.

My mother was around and available a great deal for the next few days, and others besides me experienced and enjoyed her company. I couldn’t really feel grief-stricken, since she wasn’t gone. She didn’t continue to hang around so much of the time, and I expect that she’s been doing more worthwhile things than watching us, but there is contact now and then. I still haven’t found her current will; I’d thought I knew where to look, but her papers were not arranged the way I expected. When I begged her for help in locating it, she pointed me in a definite direction in her bedroom— but what we found there was her will from 1963… this would be a great time for me to be a much better medium than I am… still no current will to be seen, unfortunately.

But that situation can be easily dealt with. I have no major complaints. My mother is dead but not lost, and I’m at peace with her and with the process of her life and death. I’m intensely grateful to have been privileged to observe and perceive so much of what went on. My only discomforts have been a few small lingering questions about the medical decisions we made. I’m comfortable that we did the best we could with the information we had at each moment, though.

I understand far more about death than I did before, but there are myriad questions remaining. For one, I have been wondering, if a person dies suddenly in an accident, by gunshot, etc., do they go through the same stages, only much more quickly? Or is it a very different process? I’m sure there must be some after-death accounts of sudden deaths out there.

Friends and patients have been telling me about their experiences of the deaths of their own parents and others close to them. I would love to hear anything you would care to share, either as a public comment or privately.

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*Michael Tymn posted this on his blog at
http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/entry/guarding_against_premature_cremation/:

‘In his 1998 book, Light & Death, Michael Sabom, an Atlanta cardiologist, cites an article by Dr. Linda Emanuel, who comments that life and death are viewed as non-overlapping, dichotomous states, whereas in reality there is no threshold event that defines death. “Several scientific observations support Emanuel’s argument that loss of biologic life, including death of the brain, is a process and does not occur at a single, definite moment,” Sabom writes.’

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Inedia, Molecules, and What Are We Made Of?

While working on something else, I came across this page I’d written in 2008 while in the midst of taking a seminar in Richard Bartlett’s “Matrix Energetics.”  It explores some ideas I want to develop soon in these posts, so I think I’ll just submit it in its original form for the moment and whet your appetite.

Yesterday, before the intro to the Matrix seminar, I was reading an article on “breatharianism” or “inedia,” in which people go for very long periods of time without taking in physical nourishment and yet stay alive and healthy. The article, written by psychologist Jon Klimo, did not say that this is necessarily possible or true, but since there are recorded cases that are well studied and seem convincing, it asks whether there might be some kind of theoretical framework that could allow for this phenomenon. Klimo uses zero point energy, among other concepts, to offer possibilities.

(Seems like Chopin was attempting inedia at times, but I think being able to breathe well is a prerequisite if you are planning to live on air….)

I was thinking, “This sounds a lot like what we’ll be talking about in the seminar.” And right then I saw the Matrix Energetics book listed near the top of the bibliography. I’ve had the article for a couple of months, but didn’t read it till now, a time when it fits right in with the rest of what I’m thinking about. This is always happening to me. Sometimes the universe is so nice and convenient.

The inedia article, in part, concerned what humans are made of and what really happens when we take substances and energies into our bodies. This led me to ask a question I hadn’t thought about in a long time: What is Fryderyk made of? He doesn’t have molecules these days—or does he have them, but in a different form? (Just bear with me for a minute here.)

Not that we understand what molecules are made of. They certainly aren’t made of anything solid; if you cut them into smaller and smaller pieces, you find that there aren’t any pieces. There’s just something that could perhaps be called energy, though that’s not a particularly good term for it. I’m not sure what the fashionable term is for the fundamental Stuff at the moment. We could call it Qi, which would be fine with me; Oriental medicine says that everything is made of Qi, and that concept fits my experience. When I was a Rosicrucian, I learned to call it Nous. Whatever. Now we know that what we always called “vacuum” and thought was empty is actually seething with activity, serving up particles of all sorts at every instant and destroying them just as quickly, so that we don’t notice unless we look for them in the right way. “Solid” matter appears and disappears effortlessly and instantaneously, matter and energy transform into one another, and everything seems to do whatever it damn well pleases.

One of the first things Richard Bartlett told us in the seminar was, “You think you matter, but you don’t, ‘cause you aren’t!”

I always thought of Fryderyk and his ilk as being made of Qi, like the rest of us, but missing that one layer that appears to us as matter. In terms of energetic perception, a “dead” person feels very much like a “live” person to me—indistinguishable, in fact, if I am not in direct contact with the Earth-plane person’s skin or clothing.  (One of the entertaining aspects of being in a room containing 560-plus individual humans is noticing the different flavors of their personal fields—otherwise, I pretty much hate it. Some people I would like to have sitting next to me all the time, others I want to get away from as soon as possible, and most, strangely, I don’t notice at all unless I put forth some special effort. The field of the group as a whole, as you can imagine, is pretty overwhelming.)

But we don’t know what Qi is either. Some of the people writing on healing, Qi Gong, etc. talk about electromagnetic energy, but Qi can’t be electromagnetic. I wish it were, since that is something we sorta kinda understand, but it it’s not. It can’t be, because the strength of electromagnetic fields falls off rapidly with distance, but Qi can be shown to act at seemingly impossible distances. These effects are measurable. While there are models within physics that involve action at a distance, the EPR paradox and Bell’s theorem, as far as I know they do little or nothing to explain phenomena like remote healing. They also don’t explain the observed effects, also at a distance, of purely mental interventions like prayer or positive intentions. So saying that everything is made of Qi doesn’t resolve the mystery.

This matter (no pun intended) of Qi-at-a-distance is bothering me increasingly. It’s an obvious reality that can’t be avoided, yet it doesn’t fit known physical laws. Which has to mean we don’t know all the laws yet, because everything is ultimately physics. I don’t know what kind of research strategy could deal with it, and I don’t have the math(s) to even begin to think about this like a physicist might. If physicists were thinking about it, which only a few of them are willing to do. (David Bohm and Nick Herbert deserve mention.)

Metaphysics is physics too, just physics we don’t understand so well yet. I don’t think there’s really a “meta” anything, except maybe metaphor. And whatever Fryderyk is made of, it has to be physics.

One way, one fruitful way, to look at reality is that it is made up of interacting fields. Unfortunately, that is likely to bring us back to electromagnetism, but for a moment let’s postulate that everything is information. Dr. Bartlett said that we were working with fields of information, that that is what we are. Ah, I thought, Fryderyk is a field of information. I think that’s probably the closest I’ve gotten to the truth of the situation. But what is information made of? I have no idea.

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An Invisible Patient

I thought I’d be writing Part II of my last health-care post at this point, but meanwhile something fascinating came up that I’d like to share with you.

More and more, I’m being called upon to do psychic work with my patients, although I never advertise or warrant that I can do that. They assume I can do it and trust me to come up with something useful, even when I don’t trust myself. Two weeks ago, on September 3, a patient asked me to help with something that seemed a bit outside my abilities. She, and the other person involved, have authorized me to tell about our experience.

The other person involved was my patient’s dear friend and business partner, who killed himself a couple of months ago after grappling with intractable mental and physical health problems and other frustrations. I’m going to call him G for Ghost, and his friend simply P for my Patient, even though in this case the patient was actually the ghost himself.

G has been in persistent contact with P since his death. Not in a frightening way, not any kind of possession, no attempt to control P, but he’s just always around. He’s talked with her often, with perfect clarity. He’s even commented on conversations she’s had with other people, which were not intended to include him, leaving her a bit peeved. When P asked if she could bring G to my office so that he and I could communicate, I didn’t understand what she wanted. Since she could hear him so well, and I likely couldn’t, why would it help for me to try to converse with him?

“He needs to talk with someone who isn’t me,” she told me firmly. The truth of this became obvious later when we had our meeting.

I’d already met G, briefly, at P’s last appointment. It’s not particularly unusual for spirit entities of various flavors to come in with patients, but finding myself nose to nose with a recently dead human being was still a little startling when it happened. I asked G if he had anything to tell us, and he hung his head and repeated, “Sorry sorry sorry sorry….” Poor guy, I thought. I tried to tell him that nobody was judging him and everything was OK now.

Later, P told me that G had been feeling terrible, both before and after his passing, about how much he had needed her to do for him, how much of her energy and resources he’d taken, and how he had hurt her by committing suicide. She said that the “sorry” message was very real and I had heard correctly.

It seems that G has been making every attempt to be helpful since, but his helpfulness may not be any more balanced or healthy than his guilt and shame. I wasn’t sure what to make of the message P relayed next, that G wanted to help me with my “balance of giving and receiving” because he felt that my patients were draining me. OK, I can somewhat see where he’d be getting that, but overall it’s not the issue he thought it was, and at any rate it wasn’t happening at the treatment he’d observed me giving to P.

I set up an appointment with P, and tried to prepare every way I could during the time leading up to it. I sent out repeated calls to Fryderyk, requesting his presence at the event; I had the feeling that things would be difficult, and I was hoping for backup. I got very little response.

P and I agreed that if nothing happened, we would just accept that and not worry about it. I set our chairs on either side of the treatment table, as if we were about to work on a physical patient who was lying there. On the table was the MacBook on which I’m writing now, with GarageBand open to record the session. We needn’t have worried that nothing would happen– as usual, G was right to hand.

G immediately reiterated his desire to be of assistance to me, and a moment later he was inside my body, trying to move my hands and look out through my eyes. This would have totally creeped me out if I hadn’t had such experiences with Fryderyk before; as it was, I stayed utterly calm. I didn’t think that G was any threat to me or that he had any ill intent, but still, this was exceedingly inappropriate. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was not allowed to use my body in this way.  It was useful that he made the attempt, though, because that showed me where he was coming from and what he was trying to do.

I told P what was going on, and added a bit about why I thought G was incorrect in thinking that he needed to save me from being drained by my patients.* P marveled that even after death, we can still project our own issues onto others. Well, as we discussed, we’re still ourselves when we die, and we don’t immediately become hugely enlightened, though I hope we can get a bit broader of a perspective even early on. G, it seems, had major issues with being able to ask for help and to feel OK about needing it. I can understand that, and it’s not foreign to me by any means, but as I told him, I get a great deal of help from both Earth-based people and the spirit world, and I’m very aware that I couldn’t manage without it.  Anyway, I thanked him for his offer, but made it clear that we would not be working together in that way, period.

It was becoming apparent to me that G believed he needed to work through a physical body, even though he had given up his own. I tried to convince him that he was far less limited in his present form, and could do whatever he might want or need to accomplish perfectly well. “I don’t even work in my own body half the time!” I exclaimed. But G looked to me (through my mind’s eye, not as a vision in the room) like a small, contracted, grey figure, not a powerfully glowing ball of energy, which is how I see a person in a healthy state. He didn’t look like he could accomplish much of anything, he was so closed up and shut down.

“Isn’t there anyone helping him?” I asked P. Normally, we all have our connections to current family, ancestors, guides and so forth, and we’re always told that when we die someone comes to take care of us and show us the ropes. I could not detect anyone or anything around G, and P couldn’t either. This seemed unimaginable, but my own vision, the messages P received, and her subjective experiences all said that G was completely alone except for his connection to his one friend. When I asked G about this directly, I heard the only verbal message I got from him that day, which was an impassioned, “I LOVE [P]!!!!”

Feeling perplexed, I set about trying to help G open up to the universe beyond the small area in which he’d confined himself. Right away, I sensed extreme resistance to this. Looking further, I discovered that G believed that if anyone out there saw him, any higher beings, they would immediately judge and reject him. I did my best to convince him that this was not the case at all, but he wouldn’t take that in. I talked about other messages I’d channeled and been told about, in which I’d heard how valuable and beautiful and precious an individual human personality is, and how loved we all are, as well as how much fun he could have in his new expanded state of being and how much good he could do. P and I kept up this encouraging conversation for a good while. At the same time, I kept doing energy work, as I would with a physical patient. I brought a column of illumination down into him (best I can describe that), and G began to expand and light up a bit. He still seemed extremely skeptical about what we were telling him, though.

At this point, I felt like I really needed some outside support. Unable to find anyone naturally connected with G, I sent out a plea toward Fryderyk, who I knew had done this sort of work before. I felt only a vague tendril of contact; it appeared to me that he and G reached their hands toward each other, but the connection felt tenuous, and I wasn’t sure anything was really happening.

Over an hour had gone by, and we were all beginning to feel that we’d said everything that could be said in that session. I knew that G still wasn’t the least bit ready to Go Toward the Light, but I had no more incentives to offer him. P reported that G was telling her, “She needs to go and have lunch.” I was feeling that way too. It was a day of 7 patients in a row with this in the middle, and I definitely needed a break.

When I checked my laptop, there was a message on the screen saying that GarageBand had crashed because there was too much data coming in too fast for it to handle. A simple recording of one track of ambient voices, with a lot of spaces between sentences– how could that be too much or too fast?

G left the room, and there was no question in my mind that he was gone. I didn’t feel that there was any residue left in my body or in the space. P felt him go, as well– giving her a little break! And the moment he was gone, Fryderyk was all over me, embracing me warmly, almost overwhelmingly. No words, but a feeling of “Good job! I knew you could do it!” He must have been observing the entire time. And really, I could do it. P and I were both completely capable of handling this sticky situation, and we both felt fine afterward.

But we didn’t succeed in helping G on to the next phase of his existence. When I saw P a week later, she reported that he was still around. All. The. Time. Her strategy at that point was to sit in her yard and meditate, expanding her own energy outward, trying to model this behavior and encourage G to do it along with her. It sounds like a reasonable response to the situation. This is all I know so far about the results of our session.

 

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As you know if you’ve been reading my posts for a while, I am all too familiar with the feeling of a malign entity invading one’s system. (See “A Case of Possession.”) G isn’t like that, and I don’t mean to lay any blame on him, at least not much– he’s doing more than enough of that himself, after all. He’s just confused, as far as I can tell. When my other patient died at her own hand last year, she had become much clearer and in a way well by the time she passed over**, but G died in a state of great distress, as far as I know, and didn’t have a chance to resolve anything. I don’t know how typical this is of suicides, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens a great deal.

I am also familiar with the feeling of having an invisible friend hanging around for days on end. Now that I don’t get a lot of concentrated time with Fryderyk, I’m nostalgic about it, but early in our relationship there was occasionally almost too much togetherness. Sometimes, after it went on for a while, I would begin to wish for time to myself, like can’t I even go to the bathroom on my own for gosh sakes? It was not unpleasant in any way to have him around, and I didn’t experience any interference with my daily activities, but I would just start to feel like I needed a little more room to breathe. I can certainly empathize with P’s desire to have her own space again.

There is another close parallel with my experiences with Fryderyk: the form that my interaction with P and G took was exactly like the “afternoon teas” Mendy Lou and I used to have with him. In both cases, the other embodied person in the room was getting verbal messages and for the most part I was not, but I was clearly picking up emotional and energetic impressions. Combining our two streams of communication, we were able to put together vivid and complete pictures of what was going on. The similarity says to me that the type of communication I received from Fryderyk when we were with Mendy Lou was more related to my personal mix of abilities than to his specific way of interacting with us. I’m still much more an empath than a telepath, and still a pretty small medium, I’m afraid.

As I worked on this today, I couldn’t help but radiate wishes to spend some quality time with my dear departed, and apparently those got through to him. When I settled down to rest for a while, my wish was granted. I’d been hoping to ask him about a subject that had come up in the past couple of days, the types of keyboard temperament (tuning) in use in his time. I wondered what sort of tuning he had preferred. It was a fairly technical question and I didn’t know if a reasonable answer was possible, but I asked anyway. The first answer was that if an instrument could be competently and completely tuned in some temperament, any temperament, and stay that way for a while, that would be great! Yes, for sure…. So then I asked him, “If you had an ideal instrument and an ideal tuner, what would you ideally prefer?”

As so often has happened, he gave me a reply that came in from a totally unexpected angle. Showing more than telling, he conveyed this to me: If he could have had anything he wanted in terms of tuning, what he would have wanted was to sing, to be able to shape the intonation and tone quality of each and every note without limitation. I felt a huge rush of air and sound through my body, vibrating everywhere, tremendous power and freedom. It was exhilarating, and it was something I want as well and have experienced all too rarely.

It was something his small, struggling body could never have done, but somehow he deeply understands what it can feel like. Perhaps I should see if he and I can try it together.

 
*This strikes me as amusing in light of what my former friend and colleague, whose patients I inherited, said about me– that because of the “evil spirit” Fryderyk hanging around me, I was draining the energy of my patients and everyone near me. Here another “evil spirit” was seeing things exactly the other way around.

**I had been pleasantly surprised, when I encountered her after her death, to find that she seemed peaceful, not stuck or confused. https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/get-right-while-you-can/

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Dead Doesn’t Have to Mean Serious

Death is profound, but being dead doesn’t have to be serious.  As a devoted follower of Swami Beyondananda and the fortunate friend of that famed comic actor Chopin, I am pleased to pass on this story of humor and lightheartedness from the beyond.

A teenage boy who I’ll call N was killed in a car accident late in 2012.  His family was devastated.  There is nothing funny about any of that, but his mother and his aunt have been telling me about the amazing and amusing lengths to which N has gone in trying to communicate with those he left behind.

N was in JROTC in high school, and had always been interested in shooting.  After his death, yellow BBs started showing up around his family’s environment.  It would be easy to say that there must have been some he had dropped or left lying around the house during his life, and they just happened to turn up over time.  However, they were placed much too creatively and implausibly for that to be the case, and in places where N could not ever have been.  Why BBs?  Well, it seems that N’s stepfather was always giving him a hard time for leaving them underfoot!

N’s mom went on a cruise and found a BB in her stateroom.  His aunt found one in her car.

On N’s 16th birthday, the family gathered at their old house, which had been completely cleaned out and gotten ready for sale.  They held his party outside, but the went into the house for a little while to blow up some balloons.  They checked the floor carefully, because they had a baby with them, and they didn’t want to leave anything lying around that he could put in his mouth.  N’s aunt reported: “Then, my mom and younger sister went back into the rooms they had just checked and little BBs started appearing: 8 total. They stated they just started showing up, N was there at that moment putting them everywhere they looked.  It was trippy and funny at the same time.  My husband found the 9th one in the bed of his truck.  He happened to be in the bed looking for a jack.  He had been in that bed many, many times before and POOF there was a yellow BB.  So, my mom and younger sister gave each of us a BB because there were 9 total, one for each of us.”

You might still be thinking, “Well, those BBs probably just didn’t get vacuumed up when the house was cleaned, and they didn’t check as carefully as they thought.  The one in the truck bed had been there all along.  And the one in the stateroom had been stuck somewhere in the mother’s luggage.”  But how about this:  On another trip, N’s mom brought a bottle of medication straight from the pharmacy.  It had not even been removed from the bag, which was still stapled closed.  Yup, you got it– when she opened the bottle, she found a yellow BB inside among the pills.

This seems like incredible virtuosity to me, especially for someone who was very young and hadn’t been gone from this life all that long.  I’m wondering if N’s little cousin, B, who says that she sees him on a regular basis, might be helping to provide an opening for him to get through.

On the Valentine’s Day after N died, the little girl, now age 3, received one of those mylar balloons filled with helium.  Her mom, N’s aunt, told me that the balloon stayed aloft for months.  Every time it started to sink to the floor, it would magically reinflate and head for the ceiling again.  It would also follow B’s mom around the room, so that she laughed and told N that she knew he was there.  One night it somehow passed through three closed doors to show up in her closet, floating as usual.

Recently B was playing a board game with her family.  The game included cards with printed questions, and B appeared to be reading the cards.  Now, she’s a smart girl, but she’s still only 3, and she’s definitely not reading yet.  “Is N telling you what’s on those cards?” her mother asked.  B admitted that he was, and as she’s done many times, said he was right there.  I wonder if she’s mystified that other people don’t see him the way she does.  Her mom does her best to be open to seeing, but so far it hasn’t been possible.  At least no one laughs at the child or tells her that she’s making it all up.

In the midst of all this, N’s mother and grandmother went to consult with a medium.  They were still mired in grief, and we know that making contact with the deceased can help tremendously with the pain that loved ones feel after a death.  They received quite a few meaningful messages, and indeed this has helped them to feel better, although things are still very difficult.

One day N’s mother got a text message that simply said “Hi” and appeared to come from her son.  He had known another boy with the same name, so she asked if the message was coming from his friend.  The reply was just her son’s name again.  She didn’t know what to make of it.   At the next session, the medium reported that N was asking, “Did you get my text?”  I guess for a teenager, there could be no more natural way to communicate than to send a text.  (Could Fryderyk figure out how to do that?)  And it seems that N’s mom had received some other anomalous texts before that, starting about 9 months after the accident, which contained the letters of N’s name but didn’t make any sense.  Unsuccessful attempts, apparently.

[Ironically, as I write this, the sound system here at Annapurna is playing “Up above my head/There’s music in the air/And I really do believe/There’s a heaven somewhere.”  N’s aunt wrote, “I hear the songs we put on his memorial slide show for the funeral all the time!  I will be in yoga listening to their nature music and all of a sudden a song will play.”  I have often heard of songs showing up anomalously as apparent messages from the beyond.]

N’s aunt continued:  “My stepdad spends a lot of time at N’s and his spot (my parents’ land).  He has said that he will go up there and clean the land up from weeds, move rocks etc.  Every time he goes up there, all the things he has done with the rocks are back to where they were.  You see N used to make “ramps” out on the land to jump his bike and/or motorcycle.  During a time when his mom and my mom talked to the medium, N asked if Papa got his signs.  Also, a hatchet that N lost of my stepdad’s at the land miraculously showed up too.  Just sitting by the garage on the land as if it had been there the whole time, nice and clean too!

“N is aware that my dad is rebuilding his race car.  It was always N’s car.  They wanted to make it street legal so N could drive it when he turned of age.  My dad has been hard at work rebuilding it.  N knows about it and states that he sits there with my dad when he is working on it and can give details about it.”

N’s maternal great-grandfather has also gotten in on the act.  His daughter, N’s grandmother, had a terrible time dealing with his death a few years ago.  He has told her, through the medium, that he’s tried very hard to get through to her but that she hasn’t been open to his messages, including the pennies he’s put in front of her.  From what I’ve read and been told, spirits often express such frustrations.  It’s sad to think of that, but at the same time I’m giggling at the idea of N and his great-grandpa having so much fun thinking of new tricks to play on the family.  I wonder what they’ll come up with next.

Update, 6/3/14: 

Well, here’s what they came up with next.  Recently N’s great-grandmother died.  At the cemetery, when the mausoleum was opened to inter her body, dozens of yellow BBs came rolling out.  The family didn’t count them, but there seemed to be about enough to give one to each person who was present.  Of course it had been many years since this mausoleum had been opened.

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Where Does Music Really Come From? More on Rosemary Brown

Rosemary Brown at work on the mazurka in D flat

The music of Rosemary Brown is the subject that has brought people to my blog more than any other.  My writing about her has put me in touch with some fascinating people in faraway places, and just recently that has led to my being given another album of Brown pieces as .mp3s, plus a collection of Brown sheet music I hadn’t seen before.

Through a series of e-mails begun with, if I remember correctly, a reprint of my original article on Mrs. Brown in The Ground of Faith, I’ve had the good fortune to become acquainted with a Brazilian musician and composer, Guilherme Tavares, who has supplied me with a lot of these materials, and also did me a tremendous favor by editing my own recording of “Grübelei.”  A circular sort of Web process brought some of the recordings to Guilherme, involving other people with strong interests in the Brown phenomenon:  Ademir Xavier left a comment on my blog about Érico Bomfim, who is trying to record all of Mrs. Brown’s work, then Guilherme contacted Érico, who sent recordings to him, which he passed on to me, and I am now making available to you.

Guilherme also found a BBC radio program about musical mediumship, from three years ago, and recorded the section about Mrs. Brown.  He asked me to transcribe it, and I am posting it here.  It includes the moment when “Grübelei” came into the world– a fascinating moment in which the most hardened skeptic would be hard pressed to believe Mrs. Brown was faking.  I’m going to save further comments on the new material and on Mrs. Brown in general for the next post, but for now, I’ll say that I’m especially intrigued by what she said about all composers perhaps getting music from a central source beyond themselves, possibly transmitted to them by intermediaries, just as the composers themselves were transmitting music to her.  This has been my meta-question about Mrs. Brown’s work all along– where does music really come from?  If Liszt or Beethoven or whoever give music to Mrs. Brown, where are they getting it?

I remember one of my piano teachers, Jane Viemeister, who’s a competent composer herself, saying that music is like an endless waterfall; all you have to do is take your bucket and scoop some up, and there’s always more where that came from.  Arlo Guthrie once said that music was like a stream going by, and it was his job to dip out the good stuff before Bob Dylan could get it!  Many composers have reported feeling that they were simply writing down music that was being dictated to them by some higher Source, perhaps even God.  Yet, every composer has a recognizable, individual style.  I still find this all mysterious– especially when a poem pops unbidden and fully formed into my head.  I can’t write music, but my best work does tend to happen in much the way those composers describe.

The conclusions, or rather non-conclusions, reached during this radio program are pretty close to my view of the subject.  Except that, having lived with a spirit close by much of the time, getting mixed up in my daily life, I don’t have any problem believing that Liszt could advise Mrs. Brown on the price of bananas in the supermarket.

“Music from Beyond the Veil,” hosted by Professor Paul Robertson on BBC Radio 4, first aired July 14, 2009.

[A rather rough recording of “Grübelei” plays in the background.]

Mrs. Brown:  It really began when I was a child.  I had a vision of Liszt, but at that time I was not aware that this was Liszt, because I was too young to have seen pictures or photographs of him.  And he told me that when he was on the earth, he was a famous composer and pianist, and that when I grew up he would give me music.  After Liszt had established a link with me, he first brought Chopin, but then he began to bring others, and there is now quite a group communicating fairly regularly.

Robertson:  A group which included many of the greats, Brahms, Debussy, Schumann, Schubert, even Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.  This piece of music, recorded in 1969, is attributed to Franz Liszt, yet it was recorded nearly 80 years after his death.  He chose as his musical intermediary, if we are to believe her account, a quietly-spoken, unassuming housewife from Balham.  Her name was Rosemary Brown, and she created a stir in the late ‘60s, when her musical mediumship added dozens, and eventually hundreds, of new compositions to the musical canon of Liszt and his group of famous friends from beyond this earthly veil.  As a musician myself, a violinist who spent most of his career leading a string quartet, you could say that I too am a medium, but when I aim to express some long-dead composer’s intentions and emotions, I believe I’m working from a musical score.  Yet, I’m fascinated by the mysterious connection between music and our spiritual lives, not least the question of where seemingly transcendent musical inspiration comes from.

In 1969, BBC Radio 3 broadcast “Music From the Dead Composers,” an hour-long program which took a close look at Rosemary Brown’s claims.  During the program, Rosemary described how she received new compositions from beyond the grave.

Mrs. Brown:  Liszt, who was the first one to give music to me, has a way of controlling my hands.  I think quite a few people will have heard of something called automatic writing, where a spirit controls the hand of a person here, and writes through them.  Well, in this case, Liszt somehow contrives to control both my hands, so that he can make them play the music, and he plays the same phrases over several times, while I watch and try to memorize the notes, and then I’ll write it out afterwards to the best of my ability.

Robertson:  In May 1969, during the making of “Music From the Dead Composers,” presenter Geoffrey Skelton and his producer Daniel Snowman visited Rosemary’s home, a small end-of-terrace house in Lakewood Road, Balham, to record with her as she received her music.  Forty years later, Daniel Snowman can still remember how Rosemary sat at the piano waiting for inspiration to strike.

Snowman:  It was a very emotionally low-beat occasion; there was no sense of a séance or of magic or tables moving or all those things.  We simply turned the machine on and sat there, with her obvious agreement– she gave us a cup of tea and all that– and we sat.  And she would, every now and then, mumble various things– not sure whether they were to us or for us, or to somebody [chuckles] from the dead.

Mrs. Brown:  I’m becoming aware of their… they’re present.  At least they’re here, see.  They’re going to transmit.  I can see Liszt quite clearly.

Snowman:  And then she said, “Oh, yes, Liszt, Liszt is here now.”  And Liszt apparently dictated to her a difficult piece called “Grübelei.”  And she was mumbling back and forth with him, in English, “What? Five-four in the right… and a different… and the key signature, how many sharps?  And three-two in the left?”  You know, kind of, “If you say so, Maestro.”

Mrs. Brown:  [slowly picking out notes, scratching on paper]  I don’t know what I’ve left out.  What have I left out… left out… left out?  Oh, yes, you said repeat that, that goes there, yeah.  No….

Snowman:  And then gradually the thing seemed to come together.  She tried to play it, couldn’t, Geoffrey had a go, and it came together as an interesting piece.

The most extraordinary thing to me about that piece she produced in our presence, “Grübelei” by Liszt (supposedly), was that somebody of the ability and authority of Humphrey Searle, a great Liszt expert at the time, you know, looked at this piece and said, “Yeah, it’s very much like the kind of piece he was experimenting with towards the end of his life.”  It’s an extraordinary piece for somebody to simply do a pastiche of Liszt, to come up with something like that.

Willin:  Well, I had quite a lot of correspondence with Rosemary when she was alive, um, and I’ve looked at a lot of her music and I’ve done a lot of tests on it, and I’ve discussed it with possibly thousands and certainly hundreds of people.

Robertson:  Dr. Melvyn Willin describes himself as being a paramusicologist.  As well as being a music teacher and performer, he researches cases where music apparently meets the paranormal.

Willin:  And what do I have to say?  Um, I think that she was genuine, I think she was tapping into something.

Robertson:  So when you say genuine….

Willin:  She wasn’t fraudulent.

Robertson:  She was sincere.

Willin:  Sincere, yes.

Robertson:  OK.  But do you think she was, in your terms, a genuine medium for something she couldn’t otherwise have achieved?

Willin:  I think she believed that she was genuinely in touch with the composers that she said she was in touch with.  Um, and hey, perhaps she was.  I would be happier to think that she was in touch perhaps with something that was within her, that she was perhaps getting some help from externally.  But I don’t believe that Beethoven or Liszt was telling her the price of bananas in the supermarket, etc.

As to her music, it’s always come across to me, and to others, as a rather good pastiche of the actual composers.  But having said that, I wouldn’t say always, and that’s the frustrating thing, because I can’t say that no, I think all her pieces were pastiche.  I have to say that I think an awful lot were, but there was the odd one or two, that I just think, I don’t know how she did that.

Robertson:  So where does that leave us with the intriguing case of Rosemary Brown?  Not even her most ardent critics accused her of being fraudulent, or of somehow deceiving the public, and she was clearly sincere in her belief about where her talents came from.  It’s interesting, though, to hear her in an interview of 1967, describing her composer friends from the other side as themselves intermediaries for something greater.

Mrs. Brown:  Well, it seems to me to come from a central source of inspiration, as if there were spheres of music, and I think it is channeled down to me, as perhaps it is channeled down to other composers, by various intermediary beings, spirits, whatever you like to call them.  And in this instance, I think there are people who have been composers upon the earth, trying to channel the music to me.

[Background music: a tenor singing “O Sole Mio.”]

Robertson:  I’ll leave the last word to Leo May, who is as certain in his conviction as Rosemary Brown was in hers that he’s channeling the spirits of dead musicians, in his case, those of Enrico Caruso and Mario Lanza.

[An interview begins]  So in a way, it’s not a million miles different to having a talent and then having a duty to serve that talent.

May:  I’m a servant, yes.

Robertson:  And is that quite important, to feel that?

May:  It is indeed important, yes.  Indeed it is, to serve it.  I want to serve the spirit world, which I know, if anybody says to me, “do you believe in the spirit world?” I say, “No.  I know it.”  And there’s the difference between knowing it and surmising that it might be there.  I know it.  Without a doubt.

***********************************************************************************

http://www.arends-musikverlag.de/rosemary-brown/
Where you can buy Rosemary Brown sheet music and recordings.

https://app.box.com/s/isl0e5ybqgm84ljdusvi
My own recording of Liszt’s “Grubelei,” with some engineering help from Guilherme Tavares.

http://www.youtube.com/user/xavnet2
Ademir Xavier’s YouTube Channel, where you will find Érico Bomfim playing some Brown works, as well as a couple of interviews with Mrs. Brown.  Xavier has a blog, Era do Espírito, at http://eradoespirito.blogspot.com.

https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/the-music-of-rosemary-brown-from-a-pianists-perspective/

My earlier post, “The Music of Rosemary Brown from a Pianist’s Perspective.”

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She Just Knew

Originally posted on May 30, 2009 at Gaia.com

My last post, on the ghost with the stove obsession, brought comments like, “That kind of thing has happened to me all my life.”  Thanks for your feedback!  Here’s a rather more inspiring ghost story, written 11/1/07, on Dia de los Muertos.  I wanted to share it with you all:
“Alice Pinkston died last week at the age of 90.  Her family has run a store in Milan, New Mexico for something on the order of 50 years.  Her passing has left a hole in the community.  Alice’s son, Howard, has told well-wishers, of which there are many, that he knows for sure his mother is in a better place.  Here’s why.

Many years ago, Alice’s daughter, Sherry, died of leukemia.  She was only four years old.  Her death came just a couple of weeks after the diagnosis, and Alice was sent into such a state of shock that for two months she was completely unable to function.  She did not speak.  She ate, but she had to be led to the table, and her family had to put the utensils in her hands.  She seemed barely alive herself.

Then, suddenly, Alice came back to her life.  One day she emerged from her room smiling, radiant, completely herself again.  She explained that Sherry had come to her and told her that she was fine and that she didn’t want her to be sad anymore.  Sherry had said that she was in a beautiful place– and then she had taken her mother there to visit.  There were no words to describe it, Alice told the family.

So for the rest of her life Alice just knew, and so does her son.”

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