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I felt this warm feeling that death was all right and nothing to be scared of

Identifier

021512

Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination

Background

An hallucination is the super-imposition of spiritual input on the input from the senses.

A description of the experience

The Art of Dying – Drs Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick

Dr Sue Brown's mother was taken ill with a brain haemorrhage late in October 1979 and taken into hospital in Liverpool. At the time, she was a postgraduate student doing a PhD at Swansea University, and it was several days before her aunt contacted her to tell her that her mother was in hospital and not too good. She drove up there immediately, desperately hoping she would get there in time, and feeling angry that she had not been told sooner. The next day when she went to the hospital:

My mother was awake and talking . . . and my aunt and uncle were there so I didn't have much chance for a personal conversation with her but I do remember quite clearly that she said one very odd thing which I found unnerving - that my father had been to see her. He had been dead for five years, so I remember thinking that she must be confused, due to her condition . . . Before we left at the end of visiting time, my mother asked if she could see me on my own the next day.

I should state that my relationship with my mother had not been good. I was nagged constantly and never seemed to do anything right, although I know that she was proud of my academic achievements . . . As an only child I had experienced a miserable childhood. Nevertheless, I had wanted to have some time with my mother, so had resolved to ask my aunt to give me some time alone with her the next day.

After returning from the hospital that night, I was drained and tired, but went to bed in my aunt's guest room quite late - after midnight I think, as naturally I was anxious and stressed. I slept, but at about 4 a.m. I awoke suddenly and felt instantly wide awake. The room was light (but there were no electric lights on - and this was November, so it was dark outside at the time) and I felt this warm feeling and was saying to myself (I suppose) that death was all right and nothing to be scared of. The room faded, and a few minutes later the telephone rang. It was the hospital, asking to speak to the next of kin. They said that they regretted to inform me that my mother had gone into a coma earlier and had died a few minutes ago. I remember distinctly saying, 'Yes – I know. Thank you.' I put the phone down, and after telling my aunt I went back to bed, and slept.

I figured afterwards that my waking up after only a few hours sleep (when I was exhausted), apparently close to the moment of her death was a coincidence, or due to the anxiety and stress I was going through. But I have never been able to explain why the room seemed to be bathed in light - unless of course, I was having some sort of hallucination in the moments between deep sleep and being awake. The experience did help me. I am sure that it made me more able to cope with all the funeral arrangements and so on while staying with relatives I was not particularly close to. My main concern was that my mother would have been scared alone in the hospital, and this experience helped me think that the process was not too awful for her.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: Neffy Limb