As a young girl, I spent a fair amount of time thinking about death and dying. To others around me, had they known about my curiosity surrounding the afterlife and “what happens next,” I’m sure they would have called me strange, even morbid.
I began to have premonitions about my mother’s death when I was eleven. At the time, I didn’t realize that my active imagination was predicting events to occur in later years. From time to time, I would just “space out” and see images of myself as a teenager at my mom’s funeral.
At age fourteen I a had a truly profound experience. My mom called me into the living room, and while holding back tears, told me that she had terminal colon cancer. While I felt immense sorrow, I wasn't shocked or surprised. I had known this would happen.
After her passing, I was more preoccupied with life and death than ever. “Does it mean anything, and do we have a purpose?” Often, I’d sit alone and grieve for my mother, feeling angry at God for ripping her away from me at the tender age of eighteen.
In my twenties, I became a registered nurse, and for more than a decade I helped dozens of terminally ill patients and their families come to terms with dying, loss and “the other side.”
Grief Support: Andrew's Story
Early in my career, I started an I.V. on a man in his early thirties who had contracted H.I.V. through unsafe sexual practices. His outlook wasn’t good, and he was only expected to live a few months longer due to a rapidly declining immune system. This young man, (Andrew) told me that he’d learned the most about life once he faced “the end of it.”
Andrew told me: “I’ve started having vivid dreams that feel more real to me than being awake. Somehow I just know that when I die my mom will be there (heaven, afterlife, etc.) to greet me.”
Over the next few weeks, I was assigned to Andrew’s care a few more times. We had some of the most philosophical conversations about death, and whether we merely cease to exist or continue on in a spiritual version of our true selves.
One afternoon, Andrew told me about Landmark Senior Living Communities that he’d begun reading the works of Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian yogi that lived between 1893-1952. Andrew was captivated by Yogananda’s best-seller, Autobiography Of a Yogi, a book that went on to be included in the prestigious HarperCollins 100 Best Spiritual Books Of the Century.
Before Andrew died, he told me with absolute conviction and certainty, “Death is just as beautiful a thing as life is - the trick is to realize that while you’re still living. You never really lose people you love when they die; you’re just temporarily separated from them until the next meeting.”
For two decades since my mother’s passing, I’ve taken comfort in believing that I’ll be reunited with her one day. If your friend, family member, sibling or child has recently died, I would like to shed a few words of encouragement from Yogananda that (I sincerely hope) will provide you with peace of mind. All things in life are temporary; even separation from the people you love the most.
Words of Encouragement
“Take life as it comes and death as it comes. Death is really beautiful; if it were a bad thing, God would not let it happen to us. It is really freedom, an entry into another, higher life. We must utilize this life in order to realize the life beyond this one. Beyond this earth garden is the infinite land wherein we meet those whom we have thought lost. Although we must not seek death, when it comes we should know that it is the final examination for a great reward.” - Paramahansa Yogananda
If your searching for a place to call home for your loved one, look to Landmark Senior Living as that place. For more than thirty years we have provided affordable senior housing with convenient amenities that make growing older less stressful. Call us today and arrange a tour at one of our seven beautiful properties.