I've buried two husbands, both my parents, and various dear friends, but it was the death of my son that led me beyond beliefs into experience of ourselves as spirit when our bodies stop functioning.
I remember the unreality of death with my first husband who passed of a heart attack: One day we were walking though life with this intense togetherness of sex, problem-solving, 20 years of everyday issues, efforts, and discussions, and poof! He disappeared! I could feel the size of his body beside me. His spirit was so real, his personality was what was him. Where did he go? It felt like science fiction, like he'd been abducted while we walked down the street.
But taking care of my son as cancer ate his body was way beyond imagining. The sense of oneness plus responsibility that a parent feels toward her child was unbearable. Where did my son go? Was he all right? How could it be that he's been yanked out of our story and I will never, ever see him again?
I had had various strange experiences after the deaths of each of my husbands — feeling their presence at their funeral/memorial services, then often in dreams I felt like I was not dreaming about them but had really been with them while my body and rational mind slept. I had been in spirit, where they were.
Years back, a friend asked me to stop at the Spiritualist camp in Clinton, Iowa, where I learned about the large 19th-century movement of exploring contact with those in spirit. Recently, I looked online and found the Church of the Spirit in Chicago where this denomination continues. Here I found a community of upbeat explorers in this natural part of life, viz. where we're going after death.
Also through them I learned of the International Association of Near Death Experiences (IANDS), which monthly brings speakers to share their experiences of being out of their bodies after accidents or illness, going on in spirit only to be told they must go back to their failed bodies, recover, and finish a task or share their experience. For four years I've attended IANDS each month and heard amazingly similar accounts of being warmly met by a guide or family member, doing a very fast life review (self-judgment), feeling they're in a tunnel or atmosphere, surrounded by love, feeling pulled toward a greater loving light.
Here is where they usually get stopped and sent back. Their bodies are mangled, maybe already in the morgue, but there they are with the challenge to recover — and speak! Dr. Eben Alexander was one of these who spoke last summer, a neurosurgeon who contracted meningitis and was brain dead for 10 days. His book Proof of Heaven, a Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, tells his amazing experience of being out of his body in a real realm of life.
A year ago IANDS hosted a famous medium, Janet Nohavec. After telling her strange life story, including six years as a nun, she finally followed her unusual abilities to sense the presence of those in spirit. Then she offered to be a channel for spirit there with our group of 200 people. She sensed a young man recently passed, around the age of 40, and someone in the audience held his hand as he died. No one else claimed this experience but me. Then she went on: "You cut a piece of his hair from the left side of his head." Yes, I did! No one knew that except the four close people with me at his cremation. She went on, telling fact after fact about him. (See my blog account, September 2012, martiandfriendsexploretheuniverse.blogspot.com.)
There were more experiences of my son to come, and I feel much restored in confidence that life is solid, appearances to the contrary. When our bodies are finished, our true selves continue on with more adventures. This is where my life experience has led me — after my education and beliefs had dead-ended.