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  • I’ve had some interesting experiences with “Death” as they call it. Not dying and coming back or anything that dramatic… but the experiences I’ve had have led me to believe that “death” is actually transformation.

    Everyone that I was close with who passed on to the other side has come back to visit me in one way or another. Sounds crazy, but true! If I gave you all the details, I’d be writing a book. But the most amazing visit came from my mom, who, about seven months after she passed away, came to show me what she was doing in what some might call the “afterlife.” It was so vivid and clear as day. It was not a dream.

    In life, my mother was a schoolteacher for Davis Elementary School in Camden. She loved teaching and loved kids even more. Because of my previous experiences of receiving posthumous visits throughout my life from my great grandfather, both my grandmothers, and even my pet parakeet (two of whom came to me before I was told they had died), I was fully expecting my mother to come visit me after she passed away.

    So I waited. And waited. And waited. I eventually became so depressed on top of the expected grief I was feeling. I was so sure that my mother would send me some sort of message, but I got nothing. Nothing – until seven long months later.

    It’s hard to explain a vision. It’s like visiting another world, a world that you know nothing about, where you don’t speak the language – and yet you understand everything. It’s like visiting a family member for a holiday– a familiar, comfortable place to visit, yet you don’t call it home.

    All of my previous “visits” were different, but there was one common denominator. Each person lets me know, very specifically I might add, that “everything’s going to be alright.” I call it the company line. Each loved one says it in his or her own way, but the message is clear. And I believe them. Some have said it ver batim, and others have said it using pictures or feelings.

    But waiting for my mother was like waiting a lifetime. I missed her so much and didn’t understand why, if she was the closest to me out of all of my loved ones to have come visit following their deaths, she was not coming. The excruciating wait was magnified by my grief. I think that this is a unique problem to have, and that most people who grieve are not waiting for a specific vision or visit. In hindsight, if I had been able to pinpoint this thorn, my grieving may have been different. I saw two different therapists and it never even occurred to me to bring up the “visits.” We are taught as adults that there are no such things as ghosts, and that we might be crazy if we see and hear things that aren’t there. So why would I talk to a therapist about something that would not be perceived as actually having happened? It never even crossed my mind. This took several years for me to actually put this together.

    On a cold night in January, seven months after my mother had died, I finally had a vision. My mother showed me the house in Cherry Hill in which I grew up. The house, however, had been transformed by my mother into a schoolhouse, complete with a classroom full of laughing children. My mother was teaching them a lesson, and in part of the lesson, she ran outside and dropped into the bright snow with pure abandonment, swiping her arms and legs back and forth. She was making a snow angel. All the children were glued to the window watching my mother with glee and loving every minute of it. My mother was having a blast. She was showing this to me because she wanted me to know that this is what she is now doing. Teaching children. She is doing something she loves, even on the other side.

    Most of the time when I describe these things to people they think I’ve had a dream – but it is very different. True, most of the time I am lying down or perhaps ending a rem cycle at night, but this is very different from a dream. This is an experience. The visions are neither here nor there; they do not happen when I am fully awake, nor when I am fully asleep. These visits happen when I am Between the Worlds (with the exception of one visit when it was in the middle of an afternoon and I was in the back of a moving car). I remember these visits and visions like regular memories.

    Grieving is different for everyone. Even the best book on death, dying and grief, even by notable authors such as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, can’t predict how one individual is going to grieve. Yes, there are the “stages of grief” as Kubler-Ross describes in On Death and Dying, i.e., denial, anger, etc., but really, no one can tell a grieving person what they will experience once the grieving begins. I think that I would just tell people to accept their feelings as they come and that all feelings are valid. One of the major feelings I had during my grieving after my mother died was despair. Despair is not mentioned in the Kubler-Ross model. I suppose a Kubler-Ross purist might categorize despair under “depression,” which is on the list, but to me, it is not the same. I have been depressed before, but this was the first time in my life I had ever felt despair. If despair was the same thing as depression, there wouldn’t be a need for a second word. The Kubler-Ross model also makes no mention of that terrible feeling I had when I was waiting for that supernatural visit from my mother. Simply put, everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

    I often wonder once we get to the end of our lives, do we look back and feel we’ve just had a brush with life? I remember when I was younger and more foolish, I would wish that I was somehow “smarter” so that I could understand the world better. But wisdom may be a harsher reward than death.

    After all these experiences I’ve had with visits from the other side, I have come to believe that death is not finite. I feel that what we living people call death is actually a transformation. We are moving into the next stage of life. It’s been four years since my mother passed away. I still cry. But I take comfort in knowing that she is safe and happy. I know this because she showed me: Everything’s going to be alright.
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