This article was updated 24 November, 2022. It discusses suspending disbelief about the after life.
by Sandra Moon
Are you an afterlife sceptic or not? Have you ever looked for or had a sign from a deceased loved one? Whenever I see the Ulysses butterfly, I call it “Aunty Janet” and think of my sweet, kind and funny Aunt as this was her favourite butterfly. It isn’t unusual for people to consider a visit from a specific creature or another sign, such as a flickering light, to be a comforting reassurance that their loved one’s energy is still surrounding us.
Take Jeanne Wright and her sister, who both appear in the Netflix series Surviving Death. The sisters enjoyed bird watching with their mum and as she came close to death, they asked her to return to them as a cardinal bird when she got to heaven. After her passing the sisters were playing her favourite card game together, when a cardinal bird suddenly hit the window and later returned to them after they released it, providing them with great comfort in their grief.
After life sceptic or not you may feel averse to watching a series that is a bit ‘woo woo’. Nevertheless, I highly recommend suspending disbelief and watching the fascinating documentary series released this year, directed by Ricki Stern and based on journalist and author Leslie Kean’s book of the same name. You don’t need to believe or agree with every aspect of this series to be left changed by it or questioning your beliefs as you journey with the subjects involved who themselves are a mix of sceptics and believers.
The series takes the viewer through expert and personal accounts, research and experiences of signs from the dead, end of life experiences, reincarnation, and what some would call paranormal experiences or connecting with loved ones who have passed.
Particularly interesting is the account in episode 5 from Christopher Kerr MD PHD CEO and Chief Medical Officer at Hospice Buffalo, who catalogued over a thousand end of life visions, an experience common to the dying. He works with hospice patients usually with a prognosis of less than six months to live, who are flooded by them and noted that seeing the people they love brought peace to the dying. Dr Kerr says what is good for the patients is good for the loved ones and it absolutely soothes them all in their grief.
Watching her daughter Ginny’s end of life visions became a great comfort to Michelle Lloyd. Ginny described to her mother that her deceased Aunt Miriam came and visited her to tell her she will bring her up to heaven. Ginny said when she spoke with her Aunty they were in a castle. Michelle describes how having experienced her daughter’s end of life visions helped her grief knowing that she is not alone. Now when a friend or family member dies Michelle shares Ginny’s story to reassure them and help them get through their grieving process and to demonstrate the spirit is now free, much like the freedom of the Ulysses butterfly.
So, if you are grieving a loved one, walking with someone as they journey towards the end of life or are intrigued by the possibility of an afterlife do watch the extremely binge-worthy Surviving Death.
And to read more about understanding loss and grief read Nick Cave’s answer to Rose from Melbourne who wants help to understand the experience of loss on Nick’s blog The Red Hand Files.
Over on Nick’s wife Susie’s blog, The Vampire’s Wife, you can read their favourite poem on how to keep a loved one close in I carry your heart with me.
Also, see ‘I’m not going.’
And for those who want to explore more about unconsciousness at death and death bed visions, see the following: