I study dying. Every day before work, I watch at least 10 to 20 minutes of near-death experience (NDE) videos. These videos are accounts of people who have died temporarily, often due to cardiac arrest, and claim to have temporarily entered the heaven realm. In that realm, they usually may experience pure, unconditional love, vibrant colors, beautiful music, greetings from deceased loved ones, and a life review. These accounts are like qualitative research, or stated differently, first-person accounts from people’s lived (or “death”) experiences. The videos help me piece together what the purpose of life is (spoiler alert: it’s to love).
I heard NDEs say that we go into the heaven realm as the exact same people we presently are but enveloped in peace and unconditional love. So, the key takeaway is, if we were to die right now, what thoughts would we like to take with us as our personhood in the next realm? I want to die with thoughts on a higher vibration, feeling only pure love for everyone who comes to mind. So, that’s how I’d like to control my mind daily—to be in a constant state of joy and love- a skill I’ve learned from The Marriage Foundation, although I’ve yet to master it fully.
In my studies of dying, I also watch Hospice Nurse Julie on YouTube talk about what happens to dying people in their final days. A hospice is like a friendly and comfortable home where people go to die. I’ve learned from Julie that birds and cats often know when people will die and show up in the vicinity. I also learned that the person in the dying moments might look upward as if talking to someone, sometimes going from extreme dementia to having lucid conversations, even reciting poems from memory, with an invisible being. It’s all so beautiful to watch as she shows the actual videos.
Long ago, I read the Buddhist book on dying called The Tibetan Book of the Dead. I don’t recall all the details, but it claims we may encounter various shades and colors of light. The key is to stay clear of the smoky gray light, which leads to a hellish realm, and instead focus on the purest white light. The purest white light leads to God. The Buddhists claim that the ultimate death achieves enlightenment. I never truly understood what enlightenment means in Buddhist terms. It seems to be absolute detachment and neutrality, no longer bound to karma, if I’m correct, but enlightenment should mean pure, unconditional love for everyone, in my view.
And I read a book I believe was called Visitations from Heaven, which talks about how deceased loved ones might reappear or we might smell their perfume or hear their voices. My landlady said that, after her husband died, she walked into an aisle in a grocery store, and there he was, in his younger form, visually in front of her, although the vision soon disappeared. I also heard a story from a friend where an image of the face of a deceased loved one appeared while she was driving. She listened to his voice, “Watch out,” which caused her to grow alert, preventing an imminent accident.
To top it off, I’ve read a lot of religious texts, including the Christian Bible cover to cover, countless Christian authors, countless Buddhist texts, the Hindu Baghavad Gita, the Hindu Upanishads, about eight short books on Sikhism, and I’m just starting the Quran and intend to buy the Jewish Tanakh soon. I love them all.
However, I haven’t studied enough on the process of enduring the death of a loved one outside of a book on the five stages of grieving written by a hospice nurse. I wonder if all the studying I’ve done on dying won’t prepare me for when my loved ones leave this world. The book I read on the five stages of grieving seemed insufficient for genuinely coping. In other words, there may be a gap in the literature that could be filled by a more proactive theory on how to endure the death of a loved one.