Dr. Lynn Robinson, Ph.D.
Am I here; am I there, or where?
Can you remember wondering where you were before you were in your mama’s tummy? Can you remember asking about that? Sometimes we may have been given satisfying answers, and sometimes not.
And can you remember wanting to know where grandmama went when she died? Answers may have been as confusing as satisfying.
What becomes more fascinating as we age is wondering where our loved ones may be when they seem to be both here and there, wherever there might be. I have been bedside with friends or family who appear to be communicating with someone not physically present but with whom an absorbing conversation is in process.
One friend told about a protracted illness, his mother slowly losing her life force. She had been comatose for some time. During that time, her husband sat bedside each day, reading a favorite book aloud to her, hoping she could hear and enjoy shared memories the reading might offer. I was told that on one day, when the reading was of the bardo in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, she sat up in bed, opened her eyes, and said, “I want to tell you about that. That’s where I am.” She said a few more things, closed her eyes and never opened them again.
In my recently published book, Loving to the End…and On, A Guide to the Impossibly Possible, there are many such stories. One that is particularly amusing to me recounts a seriously ill friend who is released from the hospital and returns to her bed at home where she sees her deceased father whoosh down a sliding board on a closet door in her room. Similar types of stories are continuously shared with me: some humorous, some poignant, some thoroughly heartwarming.
In February, 2018, a friend emailed me that he was bedside with his mother who wasn’t expected to live. Because he planned to stay with her to the end, he was unsure when he’d be able to return home or resume his tireless work for a non-profit organization. He found joy and humor in some of his mother’s end-of-life communication, some that had gone on for a while. A devout Christian, she let him know that the Lord had given her the job of creating titles for movies she’d been shown. Because of his familiarity with Near-Death Experiences, as he listened to her describe the movies, he realized she was talking about a life review. His mother informed him that when you die, you will see a movie that is everything that ever happened in your life. She had been creating titles for the ones she was seeing.
Being told such stories reminds me of the time I met Dannion Brinkley, who was to speak at a local conference. I had agreed to do a little volunteer work at the conference. When I arrived, I was introduced to Dannion. He put his arms around me and lifted me off the ground in an incredible “bear-hug.” As he put me down, grinning broadly with a hint of a chuckle, he said something like, “You know, I did that just as much for me as for you. I know that the next time I die, I’ll feel your feelings and mine, and I want a double dose of feel-good.” Later when he spoke to the conference, Dannion told of his three near-death experiences, his book about each, and what he had learned in his three life reviews. He also commented that having a NDE, then writing a book about it, and then doing both twice more, was “a helluva way to make a living.” He mentioned his hospice work; he has been bedside at the point of death for hundreds of people.
In 1971 Robert A. Monroe published Journeys Out of the Body, a classic
on out-of-body experiences. A business man with a distinguished career in the broadcasting industry, he developed Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia as a response to his own surprising awareness of consciously looking down at himself from a vantage point outside of his physical body. Though he was alive, his out-of-body description is similar to those reported in many near death experiences. Today, Monroe Institute remains on the cutting edge of research and exploration, offering experiential out-of-body programs on its beautiful campus. Members of its professional division provide research, delving into experiences and explanations to assist in existential understanding of possible local versus non-local realities.
Our pets, who generally have much shorter lives than humans, also give us hints of existence somewhere, somewhen, somehow beyond our bodies. A person may be half a world away and a cherished dog will howl at the time of death of its beloved human. We love our four-legged family members when they are here, and we mourn their “passing.” For those of us who love our pets, hope is kindled when we hear our dying friends and family members acknowledge the presence of pets who have preceded us in death. As she was dying, one of my closest childhood friends named her most recent dog, and managed to tell her daughters he was there for her. Then she began naming earlier dogs who also came to welcome her. Our pet friends appear to accompany us as we depart our bodies to wherever we may be going.
As we ponder the meaning of our lives from birth to death, our pets and our loved ones give us glimpses beyond our physical selves. Though we may not know with certainty, we smile, enjoying the possibility that from here we are also together there, somewhere.
Lynn B. Robinson, PhD is a professor emerita of marketing and a former business consultant, an author and speaker, a hospice and community service organizations volunteer, and facilitator for a local affiliate of IANDS, she is the author od Loving To The end…And ON
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