Love’s Magnetic Pull

Love is as essential to us as food and air and water and shelter. Without love well-fed babies fail to thrive and often die. Without love the lonely elderly wither away. We are born on this earth to learn how to give and to receive love, yet each love bears within it a dark seed—that of potential for the future loss of our beloved.

The phone rings. It is my husband’s brother. His wife is in hospice. They have lived with her cancer off and on for sixteen of their fifty-five married years. We pack hurriedly and drive 400 miles in hopes of seeing her while she can still speak. We are too late. We tell her we love her anyway, believing she can hear us. Her husband sleeps (badly) overnight in a lumpy cot in her hospice room, as does her son, sometimes her sister, perhaps her other son will too when he returns. Her jaundice fades. Her face softens until she appears nearly child-like. We joke that she would have loved how smooth her skin has become. I’m tickled that her finger and toe nails are perfectly polished red. We are told she’s been seeing her deceased mom, a sign of how close death is and of the support she is receiving through the veil.

My sister-in-law possessed the strongest drive to live of anyone I’ve ever known. She kept her sense of humor through mastectomies and radiation and chemo, through falls and broken bones and reconstructive surgery, every ignominy illness and modern medical science could bring. Her hair fell out? “Freedom,” she proclaimed. “No more blow-drying! No fussing! Now I just pop on my wig.” Whether with cane or wheelchair, she traveled, took cruises, never missed a single summer of arranging an adventure she dubbed “Kids’ Camp” for herself and her husband and their grandchildren. When the cancer started in one breast and she was told it would most likely migrate to its next-door neighbor, she said, “Take ‘em both off. Give me new ones.” Checking in to her last hospitalization on a Tuesday, she told the doctors, “I must be out by Thursday. I’m going to Las Vegas.” Her failing organs canceled that trip. Beloved of all the medical personnel who treated her, when she went into hospice at home, her oncologist made her first ever house call. Her transfusion nurses visited after she transferred to the hospice facility.

She’d been reading my book and we’d talked of how she might contact me after her death. I regret that we’d never finalized our plan. He tells me he’s read my preface. I hope it helps him to recognize at least the possibility of after-death communication’s gifts. I hope he comes to understand that our essential nature continues. For now he has the love of his friends and his family as sustenance. That is the one helpful thing we have to offer—our love. There is no fixing his pain, no easing it except with temporary distraction.

Now death’s tender enigma has drawn her through its veil. The serenity of her face belies the suffering of those around her. Had she screamed in agony maybe there could have been an element of relief when body and spirit split in two, but all that remains is grief and the loneliness in her husband’s eyes. Does he look at his older brother with envy because I, his wife, still live? The grateful look my husband gives me approaches awe. I am her age. Someday our turn will come. Will it be him or me attempting sleep on a lumpy hospice cot?

We hug. I think back to our first hug, our first kiss, our first whole night together. We were not that young, in our forties, old enough to have loved and lost, yet we gave little thought to this distant future likelihood that one or the other of us would be left to the stark emptiness of our last years.

She dies on Thursday morning. Her husband tells me he will do some work on Monday so he doesn’t have to think about it. I imagine he means, so he doesn’t have to feel it, and I understand. Large grief must be doled out one drop at a time. He would drown if he felt it all at once. Yet it must be felt. If not, it eats us away from the inside out until our hollow shell crumbles and breaks, as my father’s did so swiftly following my mother’s death.

I do not fear this fate for my brother-in-law. He is making plans. His house is too big. He may move closer to us. If so, his son says he will follow. Love’s magnetic pull will be his healer. The memory of his wife’s strong drive to live will remind him to live. I’m told Kids’ Camp at her sister’s house had been discussed, because it would be closer to home, easier on her failing body. I hope the grandkids do gather in four months. Their resilient nature will help with the healing. I imagine them, two by two, huddling tearfully in corners. In between they will share fun stories of their grandmother, and laugh, remember, and play.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil in bookstores, through and through the following sites:
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On the Grace Surrounding Death

Today I’m continuing with the third in my series on the various ways in which our dead beloveds visit us. This week’s examples focus on what can occur just before and after deaths, during the dying process, and at the moment of death. Each example is a real experience that has happened spontaneously.

I’ll begin with a story I tell in my book about a young man who drowned. Neither he nor anyone he loved could possibly have been aware on a conscious level that this accident would occur. After his death, as his family and friends gathered to mourn, it was revealed that within the previous week he had gone out of his way to connect with many of his closest beloveds. He had given gifts and told many of them that he loved them. After the fact, it seemed obvious to everyone that he had been preparing them. This illustrates what I call the Grace which surrounds death and often helps to soften its blow.

The opposite can occur when we have an urge to visit or call someone, to make amends or apologize or say “I love you” and that turns out to be our last opportunity because soon after the person dies unexpectedly.

A drawing done hours or even years before a sudden, accidental death may later reveal details about the death as though the person had known when and how and where they would die. What does this say about time and its mysteries?

After a sudden death, we may realize a recent dream was designed to help us cope.

A child may burst into tears, saying something has happened to her father before being told of his sudden accidental death.

If we’re unaware someone has died, we may be informed of the death by vision or voice or dream before we are told by expected means like phone calls.

A family may “protect” a dying person from disturbing news like a miscarriage or a divorce or a death, yet the dying person may “see” the event and speak of it.

If we’re present at the death of a beloved, we may see or hear or be aware of those who come to greet the dying or have any number of invisible phenomena made known to us.

At a deathbed we may be aware, by means we cannot fathom, seeing with non-physical eyes, of when the person’s essence exits the body.

I experienced this last example at my father’s deathbed. I “knew” his essence (or soul or spirit) had left his body and risen up and passed through the ceiling. When I asked the ICU nurses to disconnect him from life support because of this, they too knew he had gone.

Watch for my focus in the upcoming weeks on physical and electrical manifestations and experiences of synchronicity.

I would love to hear how your dead beloveds have lit up the scene beyond the scrim that separates life from death. I invite you to share your experiences with me at If you’d prefer to tell me your story verbally, let me know and we can arrange for that.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released by Hampton Roads on October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.