After our wife passes, many of us will ask the question we desperately want an answer to:
“Does she still exist? Is she still aware of me? Can she hear me or see me? Is there any way for me to communicate with her?”
No matter our religious beliefs, some struggle to make sense of our loss and our wife’s absence. Half our being has been ripped away, and our minds cannot comprehend this sudden change and loss. Like the recent amputee, we may feel that our missing part is still there and functioning.
Some of our more religious widower brothers may feel that they know the answers to these questions based on their chosen religion’s practices and beliefs. And I say more power to them… but that approach has not worked for me. My inquisitive mind drives me to dig deep for satisfying and helpful answers as I move forward.
Like many others, I would often awake in the middle of the night and believe that I saw and heard a form next to me in bed. I often believed this to be my wife. Other times while walking a familiar trail, I could swear that she was next to me, and I could even sense her hand in mine.
Some have more vivid experiences, like Peter in Widower: When Men are Left Alone by Scott Campbell and Phyllis R. Silverman. He said, “After Sherry died… we had six or seven vivid contacts… there came this… very vivid image of Sherry in a flowing white gown with a radiant face. I opened my eyes, and the image stayed… We had a very neat conversation – not a verbal conversation – about all kinds of different things every night as I’d go to sleep. These were actual visitations… they were so complete that there was nothing to question… I felt so at peace with them that I didn’t tell anybody.”
After Theresa, my wife, died in 2015, I devoted some time trying to find answers that would help me understand and heal. I needed to know that she was ok… and I needed her to know that I was ok.
This search took me to several articles and books on the topic. Like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, some were helpful but did not address the core issue of “Is there life after death.” Interestingly, I had read Raymond Moody’s Life After Life over 40 years ago while on a trip to visit a grandmother who I knew was likely nearing the end of her life.
At that time, I found the book amazingly freeing as it recounted the near-death experiences of several people from all around the country. Many of them experienced similar events and a feeling that death was not the end of life. Many of them also came away from the experience convinced that whatever faults you may have when you die, you still have them after dying…. In other words, they learned that they had better start addressing those issues now, rather than thinking death will wipe their slate clean.
Remembering that lesson drove me to see what else I could find out about the after-death experience. I found several books that helped me to mentally and psychologically deal with my own wife’s passing. These included:
Life After Life: The Bestselling Original Investigation That Revealed “Near-Death Experiences” by Raymond Moody, M.D.
Reflections on Life After Life by Raymond Moody, M.D.
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story by Mary C. Neal, M.D.
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the After-life by Eben Alexander, M.D.
The last two included in-depth fascinating stories by two doctors who were essentially given up for dead. Both had ongoing and in-depth memories of what happened when they “died” and when they recovered weeks and months later. In both cases, they were quite aware of what was going on around them and could see others (even outside of their rooms) and what they were doing. They had interactions with deceased others while in their comatose state and eventually were able to awaken… healed, and able to return to a normal life.
These stories, and many others that I found, helped me understand that while each of us may have a different perception of the after-life experience, we might all find some solace in these amazing stories of how one’s consciousness may survive us in some form or another.
Whether it is a spiritual interpretation or a scientific explanation, I don’t care. Whatever you might believe, it is comforting to know that yes, maybe… just maybe, our wives continue on with their lives… just in a form that we do not yet understand.
CAKE (an online after-life planning and grief group) offers a list of 15 Books to Help You Understand Life After Death at: https://www.joincake.com/blog/books-about-life-after-death/. If you google the topic, Life After Death, you will find a bevy of options out there to explore further on the subject.
© Copyright 2022 Fred Colby
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