Spiritual experiences around the time of death can be very powerful. Sometimes these alert others that someone they love has died.
My friend Carolyn Parfitt shares a story that is a good example of this.
“My husband and I were away camping in Kakadu National Park and we were out of telephone contact. At the time my mother’s health was deteriorating badly.
“We were lying under the stars and in the early hours of the morning I saw a big shooting star in the sky. I had never seen anything like it before and I knew that Mum had died, just as I knew somehow intuitively before then, that she was still alive.”
“The next day we managed to get to a satellite phone and I rang Dad.”
“Um, about your mother,” he said.
“He couldn’t say it, so I had to say it for him: “Dad, Mum’s died hasn’t she?”
“Yes” he said.
Carolyn was right. It turned out her mother had died at the time she saw the shooting star.
Was this just a coincidence or was it a spiritual event marking Carolyn’s mother’s death?
Carolyn’s story is one of so many that follows a similar pattern, shared with GoodGrief! in recent years. An incident occurs, sometimes very small, and this alerts a friend or family member that a person who was labouring towards the end has died.
When Carolyn shared this story she explained that she is an atheist. So many of the people who’ve shared similar stories have pointed out they are not particularly religious. Yet they see the message as powerful and other-worldly.
Palliative care teacher Michael Barbato says today’s palliative care community respects the fact that medicine doesn’t have all the answers to questions about death. “People are acknowledging that there are a lot of unusual things that happen around death and dying that we can’t explain.”
Writer Bianca Nogrady expressed it this way in her book The End: “Shakespeare had it right – when it comes to death and dying, there are a host of phenomena that don’t fit comfortably into a scientific, materialistic view of the world, but are nonetheless experiences that cannot be denied.”
Bianca Norgardy, author of The End’s interview with ABC’s Richard Fidler on the medical, historical and spiritual aspects of death can be found at: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/05/14/3759060.htm
Carolyn Parfitt is a freelance writer. Her article A friend in need about what to say and how to help a friend cope with serious illness appears in the March 2018 edition of Mindfood. https://www.mindfood.com/
See also Good Grief!’s discussion with end of life expert Dr Michael Barbato The deathbed vision.