How often do we think about death? Death can feel scary to think about. In popular culture, it is often associated with horror and pain. Death is a major symbol of the unknown; what happens after we pass away is a question that people throughout time and in different cultures have deeply engaged with. It has led to some of the most fascinating stories and rituals known to humans.
One tradition that my family practices repeatedly is visiting the graves of my deceased grandfathers and relatives and praying for them. Each time I go, I am reminded of the fact that this life isn’t forever, and that the many things that may be causing me anxiety and stress in the moment, may not actually matter in the long run. In my personal experience, death is a strange paradox, yet it is the one fact I know to be true; we all pass away, at least from the physical world.
I was quite young when a certain reality hit me; people can die at any time. They can pass away unexpectedly, like my friend’s 19-year-old brother did. We unfortunately still do not know exactly how he passed away.
Recently, I’ve been learning about what other people have been saying about death. There are some people who say they’ve come back even after seeing what heaven looks like. There are some that have had life-changing near-death experiences. There are some that have been present to the journeys of people preparing to move on from this world.
Today, I’ll be sharing some key lessons such people have chosen to share after their experiences. The honor of knowing these stories can inspire us to live more courageously, and shed comforting light on death as well.
Dr. Christopher Kerr and His Work at a Hospice
At a TEDx event, Dr. Christopher Kerr shares some of his experiences from working at a hospice. I’ve included the link below.
He shares insight on how people, as they get closer to their time of passing away, have dreams and visions that help them make peace with their lives and their death. According to Dr. Kerr, these experiences are common across cultures and throughout time. This rings a bell, since elders in my family have said something similar to Dr. Kerr; people often see their deceased loved ones before passing away.
In one study that Dr. Kerr conducted on patients at a hospice, over 80% of the participants reported seeing at least one very vivid dream, “different from normal dreaming”, that could be classified as a pre-death experience. 72% dreamed of deceased loved ones. Having such experiences can give us a sense of being cared for and loved, as well as give the end of life even more meaning.
In this way, the things we experience close to death can clarify to us what has essentially mattered most to us all of our lives.
Anita Moorjani’s Near-Death Experience
Anita Moorjani had a near-death experience after battling with cancer for four years. You can watch her TEDx talk below:
Anita shares 5 beautiful lessons that she has learned from her experience:
1. We want to focus “our awareness on love”; love yourselves as well as others.
2. “Live life fearlessly”: Live out of love, not fear, as love keeps you safe.
3. The most important things are humor, laughter and joy.
4. “Life is a gift”. She says “even the challenges are a gift”. In her own words, “If you’re in a challenge and it doesn’t feel like a gift yet, it means you haven’t got to the end yet”.
5. Be your authentic self. Get to know who you are and shine your light.
Lewis Brown Griggs’ Journey Between Worlds
Lewis Brown Griggs also speaks about his near death experiences at a TEDx event. Here is the link below:
He explains how, due to a car accident, his spirit left his body; he felt “such joy and such relief and such release that he wanted to share it with all who he loved and who loved [him]”. He has learned that our hardships and our weaknesses can become our biggest lessons, and in turn our biggest strengths.
He shares: “I am going through the tunnel at such speed that when I get out on the other end…there is pure light… purelight, love, truth, grace, peace, all consciousness, all knowingness… and having left the body way behind and even the mind, the spirit experiences unique oneness with all that was, all that ever will be, all that is and complete understanding of all of it.” He adds, “we all have access to it. We need not have to die first”. This means it’s possible to experience this type of peace even in this world.
Here are five main lessons that he shared in his talk that really resonate:
You are on this planet to do your own unique work and be all that you can be. What that is, is up to you to figure out.
As we walk our unique path, doors start “to open on their own” and close “on their own”. Our job is to work in harmony with them and make the best of each opportunity.
“Our differences are gifts to one another”.
The essence of who we are is beyond all the things we associate it with. At our deepest core, we are more than our personality, our habits, etc.
The process of passing on from this body is actually peaceful.
As we reflect on other people’s experiences surrounding death, as well as any of our own, I hope we find more peace with ourselves and the world. I hope we gain more understanding of our unique journeys, insight into how to follow our bliss, and courage to face it all. I hope that when time comes to go on from this world, we leave with a smile on our face and a sense of peace in our hearts. Peace be with us all.