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What the Dying Can Tell Us

Way back in the long-ago 1950's, my wife was in her final year of nurses' training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She talks of standing by the bedside of an elderly woman who had been in a terminal coma for some time. Suddenly, the woman regained consciousness, sat up, pointed off into the distance, and said, her face radiant with joy, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" With that, she lay back down, and stopped breathing.

I have heard many similar stories over the years, some of which happened before the flood of New Age accounts which followed the publication of Moody's Life After Life in 1975. These stories have the cumulative effect of convincing even the worst skeptic that, when we die, we do not cease to be but move into a new world from which our spirits came in the first place.

Recently I heard from an online friend, Mark Dohle, who for years has had the opportunity of working with terminal patients. He could write a book about all the things his patients have told him concerning the next world.

For instance, he speaks of Clarence who seemed to be having "visitors" in his room. He told Mark, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, that he was seeing an angel. Or Michael who was in his eighties. Mark entered his room one day and saw that Michael was in ecstasy, his hands folded and his face aglow. He turned to Mark and said with a beatific smile, "Oh Mark, you have no idea how beautiful heaven is."

Michael died soon after that and Mark later had a dream in which he was in a hospital ward. He saw Michael in bed. Mark says, "His face was again glowing like the sun and he looked at me, laughed and said, 'I'm OK, Mark, just resting up.'"

Mark had another patient who was suffering from Parkinson's and dementia, and who had to be watched twenty-four hours a day. Shortly after his death, Mark had another visitation dream. He was in a church fixing some books when this former patient walked up to him. His face was suffused with love and compassion, and he looked at Mark and said, "I love you, Mark; thank you for all you did. I will pray for you."

Another patient, Philip, suffered from dementia, yet seemed to have the ability to deliver messages to some of the staff members. One lady had lost a brother and was worried about him, wondering if he was OK. As she was feeding Philip his breakfast, he suddenly became very clear and told her that her brother was OK and to stop worrying about him. No one had ever talked to Philip about her brother. She came to Mark in tears and told him what had happened. He told her not to worry, that her brother had simply found a way to communicate with her.

These stories, and countless others like them, remind us that we live in dual worlds, and that our truest identity is spiritual rather than physical. We need to remember this when the things of this world begin to weigh us down. That other world which is "so beautiful" is waiting for each one of us, like a heavenly vacation after a lifetime of hard work.

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2009