“Is dying painful?”
That was the question Sir William Osler asked in 1900. To find an answer, he launched himself into four years of systematic research.
Osler – a leading physician of his time and one of the four founding professors of John Hopkins Hospital – studied 486 patients and observed that only 90 of these showed any evidence at all of pain or distress at the time of death.
In a lecture on Science and Immortality in 1909, he claimed: “the great majority gave no sign one way or the other. Like their birth, their death was a sleep and a forgetting.”
It is not known if Dr. Karlis Osis was aware of Osler’s research when he and his team launched a research project on behalf of the American Society for Psychical Research in the 1950’s. Even if they were, they were not particularly interested in that aspect of dying. Their aim was to investigate the psychic and – possibly – paranormal events which occurred as death approached.
“We were mainly looking for emerging trends and patterns which might throw light on the possibility of post-mortem survival,” Osis stated.
This team of intrepid psychologists designed a lengthy questionnaire and sent it to 10,000 general practitioners, hospital staff physicians, interns and nurses in the United States.
They received 640 responses – at least twice as many as expected. The responses detailed observations of 35,000 dying patients and provided 700 accounts of mood elevation, 900 pre-death visions, and 1,300 reports of what Osis termed ‘apparitions’.
However, they were surprised to discover an even more intriguing pattern emerging.
Assuming that as death approached, most people would be in a state of panic, they discovered precisely the opposite. There appeared to be little or no anxiety at the point of death!
Some respondents to Osis’ survey acknowledged that anxiety can initially play a part in the process. “Great anxiety building up for days,” wrote one doctor in the survey response, [but] “that usually disappears one to three hours before death.”
In his academic paper, Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses) Dr. Osis wrote … “Surprisingly enough, fear is not the dominant emotion in dying patients.”
In fact, results indicated that many dying patients actually experienced elation or exaltation shortly before their death. “Their moods were so heightened in some cases,” Osis noted, “that the patient preferred to die into this kind of experience rather than to continue living without it.”
One doctor commented that with many of his dying patients, “there is such a resigned, peaceful, almost happy expression which comes over the patient, it is hard to explain but it leaves me with the feeling that I would not be afraid to die.”
“Apparently there is something,” Karlis Osis wrote in the 1950’s, “…which distinctly changes the dying person’s outlook on death.”
Something? What could possibly make a person elated as they approached death?
Aware that many near-death experiencers report hearing beautiful music as they died, I wondered if this was that “something” that relieved their anxiety. After all, it’s said that music soothes the soul.
In his best-selling book, Life After Life, Dr. Moody included a number of ‘musical’ deaths.
A man remembered hearing “what seemed to be bells tinkling, a long way off as if drifting through the wind,” adding that “they sounded like Japanese wind bells.”
One woman who nearly died from internal bleeding old Moody that at the moment she collapsed, she began to hear “music of some sort, a majestic, really beautiful sort of music.”
I returned to my library of near-death experience books and read them all again, searching for references to musical accompaniments.
I came across an old sailor in Norway who heard it. Resuscitated from the brink of death, he told the doctor: “It was all shining blue ocean and marvelous music.”
Dorothy, who survived death while confined within an iron lung as a result of Polio heard it too. “Soothing, minor chord music came from an unseen orchestra,” she told Nurse Virginia Randall after being resuscitated.
On temporarily being returned to life, John from Philadelphia reported to Dr. Martin Sampson that he heard the most peaceful music all around him. “I knew I was dead,” John said, “but I wasn’t afraid. Then the music stopped, and you were leaning over me.” John died again soon afterwards and could not be revived.
In The Waiting World I read about one young woman who was visiting her dying grandmother. When she entered the room, it appeared that her beloved was gone, but her grandmother roused up and appeared quite annoyed because she was still in this life. She said she had already “seen over the wall” and announced that she had heard music, like “a great symphony of voices more lovely than earth could give.”
In the same book, I found a report by Dr. Sloan who attended 2-year-old Florence Repp. As Florence lay dying in her grandmother’s arms, she suddenly exclaimed “Mommom, moosic! Moosic! Don’t you hear the moosic?” “No dear, I didn’t hear any music replied the grandmother, but the girl didn’t want to miss hearing it. “Shush Mommom, moosic! They’re playing up there,” she said as she pointed upward. She died almost instantly.
Elizabeth Yates wrote about a friend’s description of his wife’s death the night before. “It was so beautiful,” he told her. “I was sitting beside her bed … when she turned to me and said “Can you hear it?”
“Hear what?” he asked. “The music,” she said, “The music, Listen!” Her face was aglow, her eyes were shining and she raised her head from the pillow as if to hear it better.
The woman’s husband was aware that the music was not for him, but he recognized what joy it was giving her by the light in her face.
“When her head slipped back on the pillow,” he recalled, “I would not have done anything to keep her from hearing that glorious music forever.
Dear Heaven Knows friends …
It’s been 20 months since I last posted, and a few of you have contacted me to ask why. I sincerely apologize.
I began writing book 2 (about deathbed visions) last year, but halfway through it, life somehow got in the way.
I also took a few months off to write a fun book about my travels in 1969/70.
Yesterday: A Baby Boomer’s Rite of Passage, was published in April 2019.
Then, when I reviewed what I’d written for book 2 of Heaven Knows, I began to wonder if there’d be sufficient interest in the subject of deathbed visions. It’s all very well to read about people dying temporarily and returning to share their amazing stories …. but dying permanently? Would that be more threatening than comforting to readers?
Well, I’ll leave it to you. Please let me know if you find this aspect of afterlife research interesting. In the meantime, I’ll continue with book 3 (which may become book 2) and post a few deathbed vision blogs along the way.
“Do all people hallucinate when they’re close to dying?” I blurted out as I strolled beside Georgina in the park one sunny day.
Georgie had been a good friend for many years. As a hospice nurse, she regularly sat beside patients as they made their transitions. I had consulted her occasionally on medical matters while writing Heaven Knows, but for ethical reasons we never discussed her experiences with end-of-life patients.
Now, I had a personal reason to risk breaking that unspoken agreement. A few months earlier, my 99 year old grandmother had experienced a ghostly stream of visitors in the days leading up to her passing.
Her mother moved into Room 7 of the nursing home and regularly visited her for chats.
Her nephew, who died as an infant 70 years earlier, had “grown into such a lovely young man.”
Her trusted old doctor from half a century ago came to diagnose her, and she casually repeated his words to us: “He said I was dead from my head down to my chest, and from my feet up to my hips, and that when they meet in the middle he’ll come back for me.”
Perhaps if she’d been drifting in and out of a coma, slurring her words, muttering and whispering incomprehensible phrases, I might have assumed she had confused her dreams with reality. But she wasn’t rambling incoherently. Each time she told us about her latest visit, she was watching cricket on her portable TV or flicking through a magazine searching for a photo she wanted to share.
Then she mentioned our new dog!
Nikki, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had been rescued from a disinterested owner, and because my grandmother had adored our previous dog, Muffin, we’d decided not to tell her about our new acquisition. Yet, on our visit to her nursing home a few days after bringing Nikki home, she remarked: “Oh I do love your new little black and white dog, she’s so sweet.”
That was the real kicker! How could she possibly know that? My research into near death experiences had also dealt with out-of body states. Now I wondered … was my grandmother’s connection to her physical body becoming so tentative that she could leave it at will and visit us at home?
I needed a calm, logical discussion on the subject with someone who could help me sort out the “yes, no, maybe, absolutely, nonsense, probably, certainly, perhaps, no way” thoughts that were swirling around inside my tired brain.
Do all people hallucinate when they’re close to dying?”
Georgie stopped mid-stride and indicated a bench where we could continue our discussion in comfort. We sat down and silently breathed in the warmth of the spring sunshine.
Then she said “At least a quarter of the patients I’ve been with when they died have talked about seeing … something.”
Something? I wasn’t sure I wanted her to elaborate. Fortunately, she continued without my prompting.
“They usually see people they’ve loved, those who loved them. People they think they’ve lost.”
I smiled. “Yes, Nan said her mother moved into the nursing home a few weeks before she passed! Imagine that!” I laughed, trying to appear nonchalant. “Poor darling,” I prattled on, not wanting to reveal my dilemma too early. “I mean, gosh, her mother would have been over a hundred and thirty!”
I had expected Georgie to laugh along with me, but she stunned me with what she said next. “I have no doubt your great grandmother did move into the nursing home!”
I saw no glimmer of humor in her face.
“We usually know when someone’s about to die” she continued. “When they start talking to people we can’t see, we know it’s going to be soon. Sometimes they talk without words – you know – mouth moving, hands waving. Sometimes they call out or reach for something – or someone. Sometimes they just look wide-eyed, smile and nod.”
“So you’re saying that this happens to everyone as they die?
“Not everyone,” Georgie said, “but I’d say most people who die naturally have deathbed visions in the last few days.”
“Die naturally? What does that mean? Is there an un-natural way to die?
“Well, I mean if you die suddenly you probably don’t have one, or at least you don’t have time to have one. People who are dosed up with medication don’t usually have them. They often have weird hallucinations, but they’re very different. And of course, people who are comatose don’t.”
“Although,” she added, as though considering it for the first time, “I suppose they might. It’s just that no-one gets to hear about it.
We sat in thoughtful silence for a while, then she said: “But you know what?”
“What?” I asked, feeling a little silly now for trying to sound so dismissive.
“They’re never afraid! I mean, if you were lying in bed and suddenly someone who died fifty years ago walked into the room, wouldn’t you get a fright?”
I thought about the night my beloved dog, Muffin, had jumped on my bed a few weeks after her passing. I’d seen her clearly and noticed how much younger and stronger she looked compared to the fat old dog whose head I had tearfully stroked as the vet prepared the lethal injection.
Strangely, I hadn’t been the slightest bit afraid when I felt the bed move and peered over the bedspread to see her standing there, enthusiastically wagging her tail.
Actually, I’d been excited – once I realized what I’d seen. But I wasn’t ready to share that with Georgie, or anyone for that matter. Not yet.
“Well, I guess no-one really wants to see a ghost!” I shrugged. “But … do you really believe these people see real people and it’s not just some trick of their dying brain?”
“No, I don’t believe it,” she smiled. “I know it. You can tell by the way their faces light up. They become calm and peaceful, even if they were afraid a few minutes before! And sometimes, they even see someone they don’t even know has died!”
Feeling more confidant, I told her more about my grandmother’s visitors, and she nodded knowingly. “I asked her doctor about it,” I added, “and he said they were just hallucinations.”
“Doctors!” she laughed, waving her hand dismissively. “Most of them don’t have a clue what happens. When a patient’s close to dying and there’s nothing more they can do, most doctors consider it a failure and they disappear. It’s us who sit with them and hold their hands and help them through it. It’s us who hear about their regrets and listen to their confessions. And we also get to eavesdrop on their other conversations – the ones not meant for us.”
Reaching into her handbag, Georgie retrieved a pen and notebook, scribbled something on it, then gave me a peck on the cheek as she handed me the page.
“Here, see if you can find these books. I think you’ll find them interesting. Got to fly. We’ll catch up again soon!”
I thought my research to find evidence for the afterlife was done and dusted.
Now I had an entirely new focus. I was off and running again.
is available through AMAZON or your favorite on-line bookseller
An eccentric miner – who very few people even noticed – may have accomplished as much to advance the progress of research into survival of death as Dr. Moody achieved when he wrote Life After Life.
James Kidd was a reclusive prospector and miner who lived in a ramshackle hut on the edge of a small town in Arizona. He was so poor that he had to borrow a pick when he went out searching for minerals. He kept mostly to himself and often disappeared for long periods, so his failure to return in 1949 initially caused no alarm. It was only when his rent became due that police launched an investigation. Failing to find his body or evidence of foul play, he was eventually declared dead.
Several years passed before tax commissioner Geraldine Swift received a report from a stock brokerage firm addressed to Kidd’s estate and referring to $18,000 worth of stock belonging to him.
Intrigued, Swift made further investigations and discovered over $174,000 – a hefty sum in the 1950’s –invested in Kidd’s name in various banks and brokerage firms!
As Kidd had no living relatives, this appeared to be a nice windfall for the state treasury. The state treasury, however, were in for a big disappointment.
Swift was determined to learn more about the enigma that was Kidd. Fifteen years after his presumed death, she located his safety deposit box in the underground vault of a bank. Inside, she found a scrap of paper covered in scrawled handwriting.
The grammar and punctuation were poor, some words were misspelt, and the handwriting was untidy, but this single piece of paper would spark the strangest court case ever known!
This is my first and only will and is dated on the second day in January 1946. I have no heirs have not been married in my life after all my funeral expenses have been paid and one hundred dollars to some preacher of the hospital to say fare well at my grave sell all my property which is all in cash and stocks with E F Hutton Co Pheonix some in safety box, and have this balance money to go in a research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death. I think in time their can be a Photograph of soul leaving the human at death. James Kidd.
A court case was launched to determine if the unwitnessed and poorly-written document was valid. Word got out, and the judge was overwhelmed by more than 4,000 letters from people all over the world insisting they could prove the existence of the soul and should thereby inherit Kidd’s fortune.
Throughout the next 3 years, lawyers argued back and forth about the will’s legitimacy, and it was finally declared valid in 1967.
Now the real fun began! How should this money be used to satisfy the contents of Kidd’s will?
One hundred and thirty three petitioners packed the courtroom to stake their claim. These included a man who announced that visitors from outer space had confided the secret of the soul to him, and a woman who declared that the spirit of Kidd had materialized in her bedroom.
Although Kidd had no family, this didn’t stop an endless line of people purporting to be relatives. Two elderly Canadians claimed him as their long-lost brother. One woman presented herself as his widow. Two sisters insisted they were his daughters.
In the midst of all this wrangling, Judge Myers received an intriguing typewritten letter in which the writer expressed amusement at all the bickering, adding that he hoped that these funds would eventually find their way into worthy hands.
The letter was signed “Quite Alive, James Kidd.”
The true identity of this letter-writer was never established. If he was still alive, Kidd would have been about 88, so it’s possible the letter was genuine. I find it amusing to imagine the reclusive Kidd standing silently on the sidelines, a hint of amusement on his weather-beaten old face and a mischievous glint in his eye as he watched total strangers claiming to be long-lost family members and squabbling over their claim to his fortune.
Once the crackpots had been dealt with, Judge Myers considered testimonies from those representing various parapsychology groups.
The Great Soul Trial, as it came to be known, ran for 3 months and the money was awarded to the Barrow Neurological Institute of Phoenix, even though they freely admitted they had no idea how to go about locating the soul.
This caused a sensation. Several parapsychology groups banded together to appeal the decision, which led to a further 5 years of legal wrangling.
The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) put their case forward:
“We present the hypothesis that some part of the human personality indeed is capable of operating outside the living body … and that it may continue to exist after the brain processes have ceased and the organism is decayed.”
In 1972 – 23 years after Kidd’s disappearance and 8 years after the discovery of his will – the original ruling was overturned.
Due to accrued interest, Kidd’s fortune was now worth $270,000. The court awarded two-thirds of it to the ASPR, and the remaining third to the Psychical Research Foundation.
As an esteemed member of the ASPR, Dr. Karlis Osis had much-needed funding for a planned multicultural study of deathbed visions. He joined forces with colleague Dr. Erlendur Haraldsson and together they designed a research program aimed at collecting deathbed data through surveys of physicians and nurses in India and the U.S.
Kidd’s legacy, however, was worth far more than dollar bills.
James Kidd’s will captured the attention and imagination of people around the world. The court battles throughout the 1960’s were sufficiently newsworthy to ensure that the international media kept the public well informed on their progress.
As a result, people began to openly discuss the possibilities these trials suggested.
Was there more to us than just the physical body?
Could science really prove the validity of the soul?
Did the afterlife really exist?
The time was now ripe for many people to begin the process of questioning long-held assumptions.
Was it a coincidence that a mere three years later, the public eagerly embraced Dr. Moody’s ground-breaking book, Life After Life?
Two years later, in 1977, Drs. Karlis Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson detailed their research on deathbed visions in India and America in their book, At The Hour of Death.
It is said that everyone’s life has a purpose. While James Kidd may not have made a big impact on the world while he lived, his death – and the note he scrawled 3 years earlier – certainly helped to open more than a few minds.
… an organised group of musicians who have departed from your world are attempting to establish a precept for humanity, i.e. that physical death is a transition from one state of consciousness to another wherein one retains one’s individuality. (Franz Liszt, 1970)
Rosemary Brown might be described as having been as normal as anyone could be.
Well, apart from the fact that she regularly entertained long-deceased people in her home!
As a child, Rosemary presumed everyone saw ‘dead people’. They were always quite solid, and for young Rosemary it was easy to confuse them with living people. She recalled one occasion when she woke to see the figure of a very tall man standing beside her bed and thought it was a burglar. She was terrified, but as she sat up the figure vanished. She shrugged and thought “oh it’s only another old ghost,” then turned over and went back to sleep.
When she was seven, a very old man with long white hair and wearing what Rosemary thought was a long black dress (she later learned that it was a priest’s cassock) appeared beside her bed and told her that when he had been in this world, he had been a composer and pianist. Rosemary had no idea who this old man was, but she remembered him because he was the only ‘ghost’ to have spoken to her.
“When you grow up I will come back and give you music,” he told her.
Over forty years later, Franz Liszt kept his promise.
Those forty years had not been easy for Rosemary. An only child, she was born in Clapham – an inner suburb of London – on 27 July 1916, and grew up in humble circumstances. The family’s income had barely met their basic needs. As a young teen, she had begged her parents for piano lessons, but funds didn’t stretch to such luxuries. Undaunted, she tried to teach herself on the old piano inherited from her grandparents. It had a few dud keys and was kept in a big drafty sitting room, so in winter her fingers were so cold and stiff she could hardly move them. She persisted for a year, then ran errands to earn enough money to pay for 2 terms of lessons.
As if the family’s circumstances were not sufficiently dire, world war 2 meant six years of rations, while sirens sent everyone running to the nearest bomb shelter, hoping their home would still be standing when the all clear siren sounded. When her father died before the war ended, life became even more difficult.
In 1951, at the age of 36, Rosemary married widower Charles Brown and produced two children. Alas, Charles was often unwell and unable to work. At one time, Rosemary even tried to sell the old piano to make ends meet, but could find no-one to buy it. She was later to understand why she was meant to keep it.
Although she regularly brought through highly evidential messages for Charles from his previously deceased wife, it’s interesting to note that during these lean years it never occurred to her to offer private readings to help make ends meet, although she did conduct a few later in life.
In 1960, Rosemary’s mother died, and the following year, after just 9 years of marriage, Charles also succumbed to his illness, leaving Rosemary penniless and with two children to raise. She found work as a cleaner at the local school, but not long after starting, she slipped in the school cafeteria and broke two ribs.
One day while recuperating, she was tinkling at the piano when suddenly, Franz Liszt appeared. He slipped his hands over hers as though his were a pair of gloves, and she found herself playing music she’d never heard before.
After several sessions, he began to speak. “I have come to fulfill my promise.” He reminded her. “Do you remember me coming to see you all those years ago when you were a little girl?”
She remembered, and commented that he looked so much younger now.
Liszt began talking more after that, and she would sit and listen intently as he spoke about the music he was giving her. She wished she could write the compositions down so others could hear them, but her musical education was limited and she knew that remembering and sorting out the correct notes on the keyboard would be far too difficult.
Nothing, it seems, was too difficult for Franz Liszt. By 1964 he had devised a way to dictate his music so she could write it down. It was a slow and painstaking process as both were learning how to do it and looking for the best way to communicate the music.
Liszt warned her, however, that if she agreed to do this work, she would be subjected to a great deal of ridicule, jealousy, and harsh skepticism. He told her that people would try to exploit her and attempt to suppress the music.
Rosemary was undaunted and unhesitatingly agreed to continue.
Liszt was to become the organizer and leader of a group of famous composers – Chopin, Schubert, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Schumann, Debussy, Greig, Berlioz, Rachmaninov, Monteverdi – all of whom began visiting Rosemary regularly to dictate their new music to her.
Over the many years until her own death, these celebrated composers dictated over 500 pieces of music.
In 1968, the BBC interviewed Rosemary, then produced a documentary about her. Shortly afterwards, she was offered a recording contract with Philips. (Thanks to Sandra Champlain, host of You Don’t Die podcast, here is a link to the documentary): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mX477Zo7otg
The LP subsequently produced by Philips – A Musical Séance – described each composition as having been “inspired” by the named composers – Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, Schubert, DeBussy, Brahms, Grieg and Schumann.
As Liszt warned, Rosemary Brown was subjected to much criticism and skepticism. As she often pointed out, she would need to be a musical genius to have written all these pieces – and all in very different but easily recognizable styles.
However, she has also received accolades from those with ears highly attuned to the styles of the great composers. British composer Richard Rodney Bennett once told how he had been having trouble with a composition of his own. “Mrs. Brown passed along Debussy’s recommendation,” he commented. “It worked!”
“If she is a fake, she is a brilliant one,” Bennett added in an interview for Time magazine, “and must have had years of training. Some (of the music) is marvellous. I couldn’t have faked the Beethoven!”
Rosemary Brown did not have ‘years of training’, nor was she brilliant. During the time she worked with the composers, she was a reclusive, middle-aged housewife who worked part-time as a cleaning lady.
Why did these composers feel the need to bring new musical compositions to the world anyway? Didn’t we have enough music already?
“There is more in all this than perhaps meets the eye,” British conductor Sir Henry Wood stated in 1970, 26 years after his death. He was speaking through the mediumship of Leslie Flint. “It’s not only the music we are interested in … we are anxious to change if we can your world; change the thoughts of man. By the efforts of many souls here, we should be able to bring man to a greater realization and understanding of the purpose of life.”
Rosemary Brown died on November 16th, 2001, aged 85. No doubt she now has a far greater understanding of the purpose of life – at least the purpose of her own life!
This amazing medium’s legacy not only included over 500 compositions dictated to her by a crowd of long-deceased composers, she also wrote 3 wonderful books …
This is one of my all-time favorites! After a plane crash, a young therapist, Claire, is assigned by her mentor to counsel the flight’s five survivors, who begin to open up and share their recollections of the incident. But one by one, these survivors begin to mysteriously disappear. Claire becomes determined to uncover the truth … no matter the consequences. But the truth is far more than she bargained for. A compelling and thought-provoking movie.
The Discovery is a grim movie, to be sure. It’s about a scientist (played by Robert Redford) who uncovers scientific proof that there really is an afterlife, but this revelation prompts many to take their own lives. Some loved this movie, some were bored with it (including me for a while as it does tend to get bogged down due to its jumps between past, present and future) but I felt the final scene brought it all together beautifully and made it worth the effort.
Who HASN’T seen The Sixth Sense? When it first came out in 1999 (wow, that long ago?) everyone was talking about it and saying “don’t give away the ending, it’s such a surprise!” So I rushed out to watch it, and I confess, I predicted what I thought was the ending within the first 5 minutes, but knew there had to be a bigger twist than I expected. There wasn’t, so to me it was a bit of a let-down. But when I watched it again years later, I enjoyed it far more because I wasn’t trying to figure out what the twist would be, and I appreciated it far more. It’s a classic ‘afterlife’ movie.
The ending to THIS one, however, I didn’t anticipate! A woman (played by Nicole Kidman) lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children and becomes convinced that her family home is haunted. I thought it was going to be just one of your run-of-the-mill haunted house movies. How wrong I was. Loved it!
Sorry, but I confess that I just didn’t get this one. Perhaps it’s my sense of humor – or lack of. It certainly falls within the category of afterlife – in fact, it’s a “life review” movie. Yuppie Daniel Miller is killed in a car accident and goes to Judgment City where he must prove in a courtroom-style process that he successfully overcame his fears. Written, directed and starring Albert Brooks (and Meryl Streep). If you love Brooks’ work, then you’ll probably love this movie. I just hope it’s not how it works in real life … er, I mean in real death!
This is a thriller about a young girl who was murdered and who watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal. It’s a little slow and may not be a movie to watch so much for the story-line as for the experience. It didn’t get rave reviews from most viewers, but it’s a hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking movie.
Now, here are two “oldies-but-goodies”. (Stairway to Heaven was made in 1946.) Peter Carter’s plane crashes. It was his time to die … but ‘they’ couldn’t find him in the fog. By the time they do, his life has changed, and he must plead his case in heaven. Sounds a little like “Defending Your Life”, but this one isn’t a comedy. However, it IS a bit soppy, as old movies often were. A nice romantic one for a rainy Sunday afternoon.
I searched high and low for this 1944 movie for many years and believe me, it wasn’t easy! I remembered seeing it so long ago but couldn’t remember its title or even who was in it! But I eventually tracked it down and loved it all over again. It’s about passengers on an ocean liner who can’t recall how they got on board or where they’re going, but it soon becomes apparent that they all have something in common. Now this is how I intend to travel to the other side!
(Be reminded: old movies can be a big soppy!)
I still have so many more movies to share with you, so I’ll put another collection up in a few months. In the meantime, if you want to go back and check out those I’ve already mentioned months ago on this blog, you can find them at:
I’d be really interested to hear your opinions on the movies listed – did you love something I didn’t enjoy, or didn’t enjoy something I loved? Please feel free to share your thoughts with me and this blog’s other readers through the comments box.
In the meantime, I want to thank all those who have written such lovely reviews on Amazon about my book, Heaven Knows, and encourage those of you who have read and enjoyed it (or even if you didn’t enjoy it) to write a review. My purpose for writing the book was to help those who are grieving or living in fear of death, and reviews always help potential buyers make a decision.
I was recently asked by a reader of HEAVEN KNOWS whether our departed loved ones really do respond to our requests for confirmation that they made it safely to ‘the other side’.
“Aren’t these just coincidences that we read too much into because we want to believe them?” this borderline skeptic asked.
Perhaps. Sometimes. But put yourself in the shoes of a departed loved one who is trying to let you know they made it and are safe and happy. How might you get such a message through? I’m constantly amazed at the creative ways such messages come through, and often disappointed that a skeptical little voice in our heads can dismiss them so easily.
When my 94 year-old aunt heard about the book I was writing, she told me a story she had never shared with anyone. Over 60 years ago, she sat by her mother’s bedside and held her hand as she passed, then silently asked a question: “what happened to you, Mum? Are you still alive somewhere, in a place I can’t see?”
She then felt compelled to go outside and sit by herself to tearfully process what had just occurred. While there, she happened to glance down at her feet and noticed what appeared to be a cocoon having convulsions. It was a strange place for a cocoon as they are usually attached to branches of trees or some other safe place above ground.
My aunt was so intrigued that her tears ceased as she watched a beautiful butterfly slowly emerge from its cocooned prison.
A few moments later, after spreading its wings to dry, the butterfly took flight, circling around her head once before it flew away.
Had this merely been a coincidence?
A few years ago, a close friend who is very much a non-believer in the afterlife lost her husband to a debilitating illness that had limited his movements for months. A few days later, she told me how she had awoken that morning with a song playing over and over in her head – a song she had not heard for many years.
Believe it or not, I’m walking on air
Never thought I could feel so free.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it’s just me!
(theme song from the TV show The Greatest American Hero)
We all get ear-worms occasionally, but they can usually be explained by having heard a song on the radio recently. This verse seemingly came out of nowhere!
Or did it?
Readers of Heaven Knows may recall Murielle, a friend who is mentioned in the book. Murielle’s brother in law, Bill, was a world-renowned medium, and Murielle was a firm believer in the existence of the afterlife.
Even so, when Murielle’s husband died a few years ago, that nagging little skeptic in all of us prompted her to beg for a sign. “Just let me know you’re ok and that you made it safely.” Murielle begged while meditating one evening.
The following morning, she walked outside to get into her car and noticed that the previous night’s rain and wind had covered her windscreen with leaves and twigs, so she returned to the house to fetch a bucket of water. Once she had cleaned the windscreen, she took the bucket and sponge into the house, then made her way back to the car. What she saw made her knees go weak. In the few moments she was gone, and without rain and wind, three twigs had returned and adorned the windscreen she had just cleaned. They formed a large A. Her husband’s name was Arch!
When I heard this, I silently reprimanded my recently-deceased mother. “If Arch can do it Mum, YOU can do it. Come on! Send me a sign. Let me know you’re ok. Find a way to send me a large capital P (for Phyllis).
My mother and I had always loved reading a column called In Black and White in the daily newspaper. It featured interesting and humorous anecdotes and always provided us with a few giggles to start the day. The morning after Arch’s amazing windscreen signature and my request for one of my own, I opened the newspaper and as usual, began to read the In Black and White column.
Here’s what greeted me:
Notice that the name Phyllis appears FIVE times (4 times in text and once in a heading) and belongs to THREE different people! (And it’s not a name one hears often these days!)
So much for a capital ‘P’ !!
The headings are also interesting:
“Boy, it’s tough” suggests that providing messages from that side to this isn’t an easy task.
“Phyllis bows out” is self-explanatory. She had!
The Phyllis in the first story was “now 88”. My mother was 88 when she died!
The only anecdote that did not include her name was the one about the Ceylon Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade, Melbourne.
Ah, but sometimes there are messages within messages that the eye and brain doesn’t recognize!
When I told my aunt (the same one who watched the butterfly emerging from the cocoon) she read the column and then reported back to me.
“That’s amazing!” she said. “But, you missed one of the messages!”
Then she told me something I had no way of knowing!
“When my mother and my aunt left Tasmania and came to Melbourne around the turn of the (20th) century,” she explained, “they worked as waitresses. Where? In the Ceylon Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade! The very same tea-rooms mentioned in the column!”
Then she added: “No doubt Phyllis is letting you know she’s having a nice cup of tea with Mum and my aunt!”
I think she was probably right!
Have you ever had an ‘uncanny coincidence’ that left no doubt in your mind that your loved one was sending you a message? I’d love to hear about it, as I’m sure other readers of this blog would, so please feel free to leave a message in the comments box. You are also invited to click on the ‘about’ button at the top of this page and read a few pages of my book, Heaven Knows.
At the beginning of this year, I listed all the movies that included – or were about – NDE’s. At least, all those I knew about! But someone recently told me of another I’ve never even heard of, called A Near Death Experience. I haven’t seen it so can’t comment on its content, but I’d be interested to know if anyone reading this has seen it and if so, what you thought of it.
Made in 2008, it stars Amy Acker and Bronwyn Booth. Following a near-death experience, Ellie Daly is terrified to realize she is able to see and speak with the dead. Returning home, she’s approached by the angry ghost of a dead woman, who accuses Ellie’s mysterious and handsome new neighbor of her own brutal murder.
One I did neglect to include last time was the classic 1990 movie, Flatliners, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts.
Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences, hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure.
Tonya S. Haynes left a comment on my January movie blog that another one, also called Flatliners, is due out soon. On checking, I see it is expected to be released in September of this year (2017) and is also about medical students experimenting on “near death” experiences that involve past tragedies, until the dark consequences begin to jeopardize their lives. (Perhaps a re-make of the old classic?)
This time, I’d also like to list a few movies about the afterlife, but as I sit here looking at my dvd collection, I see have 16 – and they’re only the ones I know about! So I’ll just mention 6 of my favorites this month, and list the remaining 10 next time I do a movie blog.
One my all-time favorites is the Spielberg movie, Always. Released in 1989, it’s an oft-overlooked gem. It stars Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter, with a cameo appearance by Audrey Hepburn.
They couldn’t hear him. They couldn’t see him. But he was there when they needed him… even after he was gone.
One amazing movie is known in English as Astral City: A Spiritual Journey. Be warned, it’s in Portugese so there’s lots of subtitles to read, but once you get into it, you forget you’re reading and just enjoy the experience. The book on which this movie was based was written by the amazing Brazilian medium, Chico Xavier. (By the way, this incredible man wrote 469 books about the afterlife and spiritual growth!) The original title of the movie is Nosso Lar – in English, Our Home, and is about … well, it’s about heaven!
Another excellent movie about the afterlife is one most people know and love – What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jnr. After Williams’ character dies in a car accident, he is guided through the afterlife by his spirit guide, Albert. His new world is beautiful and can be whatever he imagines. Even his children are there. But, when his wife commits suicide and is sent to hell, he ignores Albert’s warnings and journeys there to save her.
Speaking of Robin Williams, he also appears (briefly) in another movie in a very intriguing scene about death and the afterlife. Watch out for it in the 2009 movie, Mother and Child, starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Samuel L. Jackson. Note: the movie is not about this subject, but it’s an excellent movie all the same and worth watching, even if just for William’s brief scene … on a bridge (and that’s ALL I’m saying!)
Now, here are two movies that maybe a little tongue-in-cheek, but both are well worth mentioning:
The 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, stars Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan. Most will know this wonderful old classic, so all I’ll say is:
“Build it and he will come!”
Heart and Souls is a fun little 1993 romantic comedy starring Robert Downey Jnr. A businessman is reunited with the four lost souls who were his guardian angels during childhood. All have a particular purpose – to get home to the afterlife. There are a few laughs and even a fun rendition of The Four Seasons’ Walk Like a Man, but there are also many poignant reminders about why we’re here.
That’s it for this month, but in my next movie blog I’ll list 10 more titles, including two very old movies (both from the 1940’s), that I saw when I was very young and spent many years searching for – without even knowing their titles! (Bless Google)
I also invite you to click on the ‘ABOUT’ link at the top of this page and check out my book, Heaven Knows. If you’d like to, you can even read some of it by clicking on FREE PREVIEW.
The ‘Leave a comment’ link is just below the title of this blog if you’d like to make a comment – about movies, near-death experiences, the afterlife or Heaven Knows. I’m always delighted to hear from readers of my blog.
Much has been written about NDE’s since the late 1970’s, following Dr. Raymond Moody’s ground-breaking book on the subject, ‘Life After Life’.
Many have wondered if the reports describing tunnels and lights are genuine experiences, or if they spring from an over-active imagination coloured by previously recorded accounts. This is one of the reasons I set out to research and write my own book, Heaven Knows, which features many pre-Moody accounts.
During this research, I came across an old (pre-Moody) book called ‘Psychic Odyssey’ by Percy W. Cole, in which the author describes his own NDE in 1935. His account includes a feeling of intense exhilaration and joy, the presence of a guide and other souls, a bright light, a desire to remain on the other side, and of particular interest to me, a two-way tunnel!
Mr. Cole was an Englishman residing in Australia. He had made arrangements to have all his teeth extracted. However, a few nights before his appointment, a lady called Dorothea (who was no longer “of this world”) visited him in a dream and warned him that the anaesthetic he was to have for the operation presented a major risk.
While he doesn’t say so, it would seem that Cole dismissed this as nothing more than a strange dream.
When the day for surgery arrived, the dentist and doctor gathered at Cole’s home to perform the operation. (Remember, this was 1935, and in those days it was not unusual for such an operation to be performed in the patient’s own home.)
A mask, sprinkled with ether, was held over Mr. Cole’s mouth and nostrils in preparation for the operation.
While I have included excerpts of this NDE in Heaven Knows, what follows is the full account in Percy Cole’s own words …
Suddenly a doubt came into my mind. Had I done the right thing in having a general anaesthetic instead of having local injections? After all, I had been warned about it. I tried to tell the doctor, but found I could not make him hear. So I closed my eyes and let myself go.
The next time I woke up, I found myself completely out of my body. There were others in the room now, besides the doctor and the dental surgeon. One of these was the lady of my dream, Dorothea.
Realising that I was out of my body completely, I had a feeling that for many years I had not experienced. It was a sensation of intense exhilaration and joy. I can best describe it perhaps, in terms of youth and buoyancy; it was like the early morning on my far-away school holidays, when as a schoolboy waking up prepared to go to school but with reluctance, the faint murmur of breaking waves on a distance beach would steal into my sleepy ears, and I would suddenly remember that I was on holiday. Then the whole morning would take upon itself a new and radiant aspect and it was a pleasure to get up and dress before racing down to the beach.
That was the feeling, that “holidays” were just beginning.
Looking round the room, I stood between the two men, the doctor and the dentist. I could hear their spoken conversation as well as knowing what they were going to say before the spoken word was uttered. It was as if I knew by some process of telepathy.
They were discussing the price that a man, known to the three of us, would get for his house, which he had put up for sale. A certain sum was mentioned, and I took the opportunity to interject with “he won’t get it.” Neither man appeared to hear me.
Dorothea turned towards me and said, “We warned you about this.” Then she went on to say that now that I was on the “other side” she was not at all sure that I would be able to get back again.
I had a look into my own open mouth, as I walked round the table, and saw that the dentists had taken out all the teeth that I wanted removed. Looking at my pallid features, the doctor said that I looked as though I had had about as much as I could stand. Glancing at my corpse-like face, I felt that had there been much more to come, it would certainly have been too much.
At some time when the operation was getting near to its end, I stopped breathing. I could see the concern of the doctor. More than that, I could see what he thought, for all at once it appeared to him that I might slip through his fingers. He said nothing to the dentist but shouted “Breathe, breathe, Mr. Cole”.
I was not in my body but standing at its head, yet somehow I managed to make it breathe.
A great bright light shone on my left, for although the summer sun was shining in at the window from a cloudless sky, it was not nearly as bright as that other light. Near to the door, two people were standing. I could not see them clearly or else it is that I cannot recollect them, but I had the impression they were my deceased parents.
Turning to me, Dorothea told me that it was time I got back. She wasn’t sure, she said again, that I should be able to go back, but added with a smile “You can stay here with us, if you like.”
For a moment only I hesitated. The world and its work seemed so very far away. It would have been lovely to have stayed, but – just at this critical moment – our dog Patch barked as she ran across the lawn below the open window. The sound of that bark from close at hand brought me back to a sense of my responsibilities. I thought of all the trouble I should bring upon my wife and son, if I did not come back.
“No, I mustn’t stay,” I replied, and turned to go.
“You’ll have to put up a fight for it, if you are going to get back,” Dorothea said.
So I turned away from the light, into the darkness of a kind of tunnel. I fought my way against the stream, for a stream of shadows pressed against me as they passed on towards the light.
How long this kept on, I do not know, but at last I saw in the distance a tiny light, just a mere glimmer far away. Struggling against the stream, I pushed my way towards it.
When at last I got there, I found myself in bed, with my wife sitting by my side.
Many years later, Percy Cole returned to England.
While there, he visited a psychic artist.
The resulting portrait of Dorothea was precisely as he remembered her.