Madame X, an asthma patient in Vierzon, sees her grandson lying dead, on a sort of slab, covered with a grey cloth
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Death and its Mystery: After Death – Camille Flammarion
As a physician, I have under my care, here in Vierzon, Madame X-, who is about seventy years old (allow me to omit her name). She is most intelligent, and is nervous to the point of having been neurotic in her youth. I am now giving her treatments for attacks of asthma.
Upon her request, her daughter, who was living in Paris, had come to live with her in December, 1907. During the night of Wednesday to Thursday, - from the eighth to the ninth of last January, - about two o'clock in the morning, the invalid called her daughter and demanded a light, saying:
“Light the lamp. I've had a terrible nightmare."
These were the only words she spoke. The following Sunday, she said to her daughter, “You can't have eaten much for breakfast." And, after her daughter had shown her astonishment:
“You can't have eaten much, for you are suffering a great deal. It is useless to keep it secret: your son is dead. The other night, when I called you. I had seen his face; it passed and repassed behind the window panes, and he looked at me. Next, he disappeared, but then I saw him lying dead, on a sort of slab, covered with a grey cloth."
The invalid's grandson had really died on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 8th, in Paris, in a hospital where he had been treated for some time for tuberculosis of the lungs. This was the account given me, in the first instance, immediately after the happening, then subsequently on several occasions, at intervals some time apart. The story was related both by the invalid herself and her daughter, without any variations, despite my discreet but searching questions.
If I may be permitted a few more words, I should like to show the occurrence in all its extraordinary aspects. The invalid's daughter was not informed of her son’s death until Thursday morning, when she learned of it through a telegram. She did not go to Paris for the funeral and did not leave her mother: there was, therefore, no absence on her part which might have led to suspicion. She was already wearing black, and did not change her clothing to go into mourning. And, lastly, no one spoke, in the invalid's presence, of her grandson ; besides, his condition had seemed unchanged for some time: the announcement of his death was almost a surprise. Such was the occurrence. I am giving you a dry account of it, as I would of an observation made in a hospital, without relying in the least on imagination. Without wishing to offer an explanation, I should like to add these remarks:
(1) The apparition corresponded to actual reality.
(2) The description given by the grandmother was absolutely exact. When a death occurs in a hospital, the corpse is taken into a room where autopsies are performed, and placed on a long narrow table, usually zine-covered, "a sort of slab” The description is correct, and Madame X- did not know of this particular detail.
(3) There can be no question, under the circumstances, of telepathy from one brain to another: the apparition occurred after the young man had actually died.
(4) It would seem that we are confronted by two separate phenomena:
(a) The replica of a dead man in Paris appeared to his grandmother in Vierzon. (One detail deserves to be noted: the apparition did not enter the room, but remained behind the window- panes.)
(b) The grandmother's consciousness (she was alive) seems, after that, to have been borne from Vierzon to Paris, and to have seen the corpse.