Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grandma and a few other things

We laid grandma to rest on Friday morning right next to my grandfather. The weather was terrible. It was rainy, very windy and very cold. We took some of the flowers home with us because we new that if left outside they would end up scattered all over the cemetery. During the viewing, I approached my grandmother and she seemed like a hollow shell. Her body, while physically present - seemed completely vacuous. I whispered in her ear (as I had Monday when she died in the hospital), "guide me to where you're now." I think that same desire - the hope of seeing our loved ones again after death - is shared by anyone who has ever lost someone they cared for.

I wondered, perhaps out of fear, how the end would eventually come for my grandmother. She was elderly and one of my biggest distresses when she was alive was getting a phone call at work from my mother telling me that my grandmother had abruptly passed away. Many years ago I selfishly prayed that when the end would come for her that it would come gradually, as to allow myself time to prepare. She lasted eight days after her heart-attack, so I guess my prayers were answered. It's been almost a week since her death and I still can't completely digest the idea that she's gone.

I want to thank all of you again (gosh, I can't thank you enough) for your prayers and for all your kind thoughts. This has been incredibly tough on me and on those of us who loved my grandmother. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On a side note, have any of you heard about Near Death Experiences? I was once ready to blow them off as new-age quackery or a neurological condition brought on by great stress. Then I met Father Jude. Father Jude was a Dominican (O.P.) priest visiting my diocese and I was giving him daily rides from the rectory of my perish to my church. I can't quite recall the topic of conversation, but I do remember, while riding in my car, that he cited some of the described experiences of those who have had an NDE as proof that there was an afterlife. It seemed odd to hear something like that coming from Father Jude since he is very traditional when it comes to the Catholic faith. Apparently, the number of people who have had an NDE is quite large, and mainstream scientists who are investigating the phenomenon believe that human consciousness separates from the brain at the time of death. Some of the commonly described experiences of those who have had a Near Death Experience are feelings of great joy; seeing a beautiful light; profound peace and incomprehensible love; a review of one's actions and their impact on others; a sense of leaving their bodies behind; observing events - such a doctors and nurses working to revive them - while they were clinically dead; when they return, many experience complete change in their outlook on life/ they way they treat other people. There have also been accounts of people who have visited a less than peaceful place. A place of great distress and unpleasant images (you draw your own conclusions). I recently watched the BBC documentary The Day I Died and I was amazed by the number of mainstream scientists who have taken an interest in these experiences. They are focusing their attention on people who were clinically dead (no heartbeat, no breathing, no brain activity) and who also report an NDE.

So what do you think of these near-death experiences? Are they an indication, a hint, a gift given to a few as a glimpse of the world to come? Do you know of anyone who has actually had one? Love to hear your thoughts on this subject matter. The links below are of the documentary The Day I Died, which is comprised of six videos on YouTube. Try to approach them with an open mind.