By D'Arcy Carr, B.S.B.A, M.Ed, Ed.S., LEP
[Note: The following is a transcript of that which was shared on Sacramento television. Subsection titles have been added.]
Welcome Guests and Television Viewing Audience. My name is D’Arcy Carr and tonight I will be speaking about The Joy in Death and Dying.
Have you ever wondered about…what it will be like...when death is imminent?
VISIONS BEFORE DEATH
In his last minutes of awareness, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, gazed fondly upon his loved ones and then over their shoulders beyond them. As his vision focused at that which only he could see, his final words were: “Oh wow…oh wow…oh wow.”
According to a study published in 2014 in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care, end-of-life visions bring dying people comfort and peace, and in Steve Jobs’ case, awe. This is confirmed by author and hospice expert David Kessler in his 2011 book entitled Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What You See Before You Die. David Kessler reports that these reassuring visions include visitations from departed loved ones, maternal figures, and angels, as well as glimpses of the afterlife that take place not only in the last hours of life, but in the weeks prior.
Dr. Cicely Saunders, the English physician who is best known for “transforming the way we look at death and dying” created the first hospice in London in 1967, viewed dying as a spiritual event that brings meaning to life and she observed that “as the body becomes weaker, so the spirit becomes stronger.” [The Telegraph.UK.2005-7-15]
A SKEPTIC CONVINCED
David Kessler, who has been featured on major news networks such as NBC, Fox, CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, and Oprah.com, admits that initially he was a skeptic of bedside visions during his early work and research with his mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the pioneering psychiatrist who published her seminal book On Death and Dying in 1969. David was not certain of the authenticity of bedside visions until his own dying father experienced remarkable relief and comfort following a visitation from his deceased mother. She assured his father that she would be with him throughout the death process.
David Kessler decided to dedicate his life to this work and he co-write two bestsellers in the field of death and dying with Dr. Kubler-Ross including: On Grief and Grieving and Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living. His first solo book, The Needs of the Dying, is the number one all time best selling hospice book that received praise from Mother Teresa.
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES (NDEs)
David Kessler is not alone in his initial skepticism regarding events that are difficult to explain. Take Near Death Experiences (NDEs) for example. Current studies estimate that between 5 to 14% of Americans have had one. Yet, despite books such as Life After Life written by psychiatrist Dr. Raymond Moody in 1975, movies such as Heaven is for Real and Miracles From Heaven, and the wealth of information on the Internet, those who have experienced NDEs speak only of them in whispers for fear of what others will think about them.
I admit I didn’t think much about Near Death Experiences (NDEs) until I was 20 years old, when my father entered into a one during his first heart attack where he was joyously young once again running through the wheat fields with his younger brother. It significantly changed his priorities and choices in life and from that point forward, he no longer feared death. I, too, have experienced several extraordinary events that are known as Shared (or Empathic) Death Experiences (SDEs). While I too have feared what others will think of me, I realize it is time that I share this part of my life with the world, as it may bring comfort to others.
I was in a perfect state of health and I remained so throughout these Shared Death Experiences (SDEs). It was my loved ones who were transitioning from this life to the next.
In 1998 my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and her health declined rapidly. When the hospice nurse informed our family that there was very little time left, I was the only family member who felt comfortable staying in the room, and I settled myself in the chair next to her unconscious body, put my hand over hers, closed my eyes, and spoke to her softly.
My mother was not on speaking terms with God because she was still angry about her fundamentalist Pentecostal upbringing, but she knew about the tunnel and to look for the light, so I encouraged her to let go of her body and look forward to seeing my younger brother who would be waiting for her.
It is difficult to describe what happened next in words and in the time constraints we have, but I’ll provide a summary and explain the best I can.
As I spoke softly to my mother, I felt her spirit leaving her body. Then I felt my spirit accompany her on her journey and we were enveloped by a warm, golden light of unconditional, benevolent love and joy. There was a feeling of weightless and timelessness in a place where everything seemed to exist at once. All of my mother’s pain and sorrow were a faint memory now gone. A chorus of angels began singing “Joy to the World” and I joined in.
Due to the timeless nature of this experience, it is impossible to know how long it lasted. It was only when the hospice nurse placed her hand on my left arm that my spirit rapidly returned to earth. Like an expansive genie out of her bottle, I quickly funneled back into my body. My first thought was as I felt my body again, “It feels so heavy here.”
I tried to explain what had happened to my family and assure them that Mom was in heaven when they re-entered the room, but they were sobbing and distraught over her body. I thought, “That’s not mom, that’s just the human suit she had on while she was here on earth.” (You know…people can get kind of freaked out if somebody shows up in something other than this suit!)
I have experienced one other SDE, but there is not enough time to discuss it now. If you would like to read about them and see the list of books and resources accessed for this talk, including Dr. Raymond Moody’s book Glimpses of Eternity: An Investigation into Shared Death Experiences, it is possible to do so on my website at www.darcycarrtransformation.com.
As our time together comes to a close, I will end with this: In 1982, my 15-year-old brother and best friend, died suddenly in a car accident. Of all the cards that came in the mail and the words of the well wishers, only one brought comfort. My Aunt Jeanne must have known what I needed as she slipped the poem Gone From My Sight into the envelope:
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until, at length,
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone," there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,
"Here she comes!"
This post is the first of many in a series on NDEs, SDEs, bedside visions, and other topics related to death and dying.
D'Arcy is a Licensed Educational Psychologist, Intuitive Spiritual Guide and Consultant,
Medium, and Preferred PSYCH-K Facilitator.
She resides in sunny Folsom, California where she enjoys nature and outdoor activities.