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Thursday, 21 March 2013

We are Never Alone at Death

By Joyce Benedict

It was some years ago. My husband suddenly walked out on my two sons and me. I was 36 and quite desperate as to what to do.

I learned of a part-time job taking care of an elderly woman in her home for four days a week from 7:00AM to 5:00PM. I applied and got the position.

A registered nurse came in who fed her, got her ready for bed and slept with her through the night. When I arrived breakfast would be in progress.

Vi was her name. She sat in her wheel chair daily. She barely spoke but I did whatever I could to create diversions. I read to her, wheeled her about, directed her attention to the deer in the fields, the birds in the trees and other outside nature activities.

After seven months, her condition worsened. The nurse informed me each morning that she didn’t think Vi would be around the next morning. I would arrive hoping she would have passed easily in her sleep but each day upon arriving, there was Vi eating her daily oatmeal. She kept clinging to life much to the surprise of everyone.

“Amazing," said the nurse. “All indications are she should have gone days ago.”

I prayed that she hang on just one more day. I had never been to a funeral at this point in my life. I had never seen a dead person. Fear crept in as I worried I would be helpless or faint if she died while I was there.

I sat down by Vi and began giving her her oatmeal. It was no more than five minutes after the nurse left that she pushed the spoon away. I tried again to feed her. She pushed my hand away again. Both hands held the tray of her wheel chair. Her head bowed down. I heard a distinct rattle.

“Oh my God, “I cried within, “that’s the death rattle” I had been a prolific reader and often this was mentioned in stories and novels read.

Instinctively, I arose and went behind her chair. I gently pulled her back so I could cradle her head and body against my chest and embrace her. I was shaking inside and praying for her. It was the only thing I could do.

Within a few minutes, her body shuddered and went limp. There began to appear a beautiful light around us. To my amazement I saw three figures appear in the mist-like light, two females and a male. I saw both of Vi’s arms reach up to them in spirit. One reached their arms to her.

The “vision” soon faded. I was deeply affected by what I had “seen.” Still in a daze, I gently left her slumped over on the wheel chair tray and called the nurse and the ambulance. In minutes they arrived.

They all were so efficient working as a team and at a ritual repeated hundreds of times to remove her body to the hospital or funeral home. As they wheeled her out the door, I sat down and bawled from relief, the shock of being so close to death for the first time, my job being over, how now to feed my kids, the sadness of losing my quiet, cute little friend of seven months.

A young male attendant about 28 came over. He put his hand on my shoulder ever so gently. “This is your first, isn’t it?”

I sobbed, “Yes!”

“I know,” he added, “I did the same when it first occurred for me.” A warm squeeze on my shoulder and my comforter was gone.

Is it then true there is a life after? Many have written of seeing loved ones at death reach out or call to deceased relatives. I had had several paranormal experiences and dreams prior this experience, but never anything as powerful, poignant and meaningful that had occurred that day, long ago, in an old farm house on a cold, wintry, dreary day.

Though I had dreaded and shuddered at the thought she would die on my “watch,” I was enriched deeply by this experience not only because I believe Vi wanted me to be the one to die with, but to have seen several deceased relatives reach out to her has confirmed to me what I had read for years, that you are never alone when you die.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Powerful essay thank you for sharing it.

I would like to think that when I leave this world that someone I loved will be reaching out their arms to me to take me into the other world.

Please write more you have a lot to share with your insights and sensitivity.

I am quite firmly agnostic, but my brother and I were holding my Dad (he wanted to sit up) as he died, and I have no doubt that his mother was there and we were passing him to her. I could feel her. She had died when my dad was four.
Her presence was so strong.

We are never alone.

Thanks for sharing this experience.

Wonderful story. Difficult as the experience is, you did a wonderful thing for Vi.

This is a wonderful story, Joyce, and well-written. It is very pertinent to me right now, as my sister is within probably a few days of death, and has alienated herself irrevocably from me and one of her two sons and only grandchild. It killed me to think of her dying alone, so I was greatly relieved when she went to a nursing home where she loves to be.

Thank you so, so much. It is a moving, inspiring and beautiful story.

This was truly beautiful. Thank you.

A very lovely and well-written story. I became non-religious many years ago and nothing I've seen or experienced since has changed my mind. As an agnostic/atheist, I don't expect to find myself in a similar position at the end of life, but I'm happy for those who do.

You told this happening very well. I have experienced and heard of these events at life's end and I'm not afraid to go.

Thanks for sharing. This makes you really think and never doubt we have others waiting for us. I am glad this woman had a good passing and you were with her. There is a reason.

Thank you for this moving story. If it comforts one person today, you have done a great service to us.

Thank you for sharing your story. When my mother-in-law was rushed to the hospital the day before she died, she told her long-time caregiver to please go home and get her make-up. She said her husband (deceased) was there waiting to take her dancing.

I'm 70 tomorrow and I enjoyed reading this, printed it and plan to give it to my children.


Joyce, I related to your story on many levels. I worked in a nursing home when I was young and surprisingly, no one ever died during my shifts. Like most people I have been extremely squeamish about death. When my own Mother was close to dying a nurse at the hospital just insisted I stay while she was actively dying. I had flown across the country ..."Couldn't I just go to the motel and then come back?" I asked...no, she said --"it is more for you than for her" (my Mother was pretty much comatose). Well, so I sat with her for hours and hours and finally I too heard that "last gasp". I am so grateful that I was there, because it was the most beautiful moment...quite unexplainable. I liked reading your story, I think my Mother joined "her people" too...it's just a feeling, but a heartening one.

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