Fortunately, most of us don't contemplate it with any regularity. It's only when death confronts us to we give it any serious thought: when we lose a loved one or when, perhaps, we have a close encounter with the Grim Reaper ourselves in the form of a bad accident or the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease.
Why do most people fear death, especially when most people would also proclaim a belief in an afterlife? Is it because even though we say we believe, we're not absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure? Of course we're not. No one knows with absolute certainly what happens to us when we die. Do we simply cease to exist? Or does some part of us live on in some other realm, dimension or plane of existence? Don't say you know for sure because you don't.
Many people have become convinced - as convinced as we can ever be - that there is a life beyond this one through a variety of fascinating and mysterious experiences. Deathbed visions, near-death experiences, voices and apparitions of the recently departed are all ways in which the living have, they believe, received messages from someone on the "other side." Overwhelmingly, these messages are positive: I'm all right. I'm in a better place. Don't worry about me. There's no need to grieve. It's great here. I'm watching out for you.
Although the skeptical-minded would argue that these assorted visions are mere wishful thinking, flights of fantasy or chemical reactions in the brain, these anecdotes - and there are thousands upon thousands - are the only "evidence" we have of life after death.
Consider some of these:
B. was only four years old when his grandfather died, and he was very upset with his mother because she would not allow him to go to the funeral...
- He was my favorite grandparent. After that, I would have times where just thinking about him would set me off crying. One day, however, as I was going up the stairs, I suddenly heard his voice say, "Everything is going to be okay." After that, I didn't have any more crying spells.
Grandma's Favorite Tune
Diane D. was home alone. The rest of her family had gone to a ball game, but she had to stay home because she was grounded for some teenage transgression. But that's when she received her message - in the form of a tune...
- My grandmother, who had lived with us, had passed away about two years earlier. She was the only one in our family who could play the piano. I only ever heard her play two songs. One was the "Third Man Theme." The piano that belonged to my grandmother was in the basement. I had been watching TV, and all of a sudden I heard the "Third Man Theme" coming up from the basement. I got shivers and was scared to death. I think my grandmother was trying to get a hold of me by doing this.
Boyfriend is All Right
Elizabeth K. experienced vivid apparitions as confirmation of continued existence. One interesting aspect of this encounter is that it was somewhat prearranged...
- In January 1982, a man I was seeing committed suicide. He was living in a house with my elderly cousin, Homer. He shot himself with Homer's 38. As Homer was 80 years old and in poor health, I spoke frankly with him about dying, and asked if he would relay anything back to me about our deceased friend. He assured me he would if he could. The following June, Homer died of emphysema. A few weeks after he died, I was in my room with the man I had started dating in March. It was about three in the morning and we were just sitting up reading when I noticed two people standing in the corner of the room. I was riveted and said to my boyfriend, "Phillip, look at the corner and tell me what you see." "Why, that's Homer and I don't recognize the tall guy with him." When I asked him to describe the tall guy, my boyfriend described exactly what I was seeing - my former boyfriend. Though Phillip had known Homer, he had never met my previous boyfriend, nor had he seen any photos of him. The ghosts appeared translucent and they didn't speak a word. They just stood there looking at us for several minutes. I feel very grateful to Homer for coming back in such a way that I would not doubt my sanity at seeing him. And he answered a question about what happens to folks who commit suicide. Unless Homer was also visiting from Hell, my friend didn't go there.
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