What Happens When We Die?

“There once was a girl who found herself dead.
She peered over the ledge of heaven
and saw that back on earth
her sister missed her too much,
was way too sad,
so she crossed some paths
that would not have crossed,
took some moments in her hand
shook them up
and spilled them like dice
over the living world.
It worked.
The boy with the guitar collided
with her sister.
“There you go, Len,” she whispered. “The rest is up to you.”
~ Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere

 

Welcome to the third post in my Wednesday series on death and dying.

Last week I talked about the end stage of life, and what you might expect as a loved one or carer. Today, I’d like to discuss the moments after death, and what happens for the person who died.

Let’s start with Antoinette, a friend of mine who lost her life to breast cancer at age forty-two, leaving behind a loving husband and two little girls. Antoinette had battled cancer for a number of years. She was the first friend who ever contacted me after she died. Let me share her story…

 

Antoinette

When Antoinette’s time came, it came quickly and she went downhill very fast.  She did not want to die in a hospital, so her family brought Antoinette home, arranged for medical care, and went about their lives with her firmly in the midst of it all.

My friend had been ravaged by cancer. She was bald, skeletal, and frail as a bird, with a hugely bloated stomach and a deep pallor. As I sat holding her hand in the days before her death, my friend would whisper to me about what she was experiencing as she faded in and out of consciousness.  It was very beautiful, she said, and her Dad had come to help her (he had died some years before)  but she was very afraid.  There was a beautiful garden and people dancing, and she really wanted to join them there.  She was tired and couldn’t keep fighting, but she felt so guilty to be leaving her family when her job with them wasn’t finished. 

As her body began to shut down Antoinette’s words became slurred and incomprehensible to others, but I could still hear her voice as loud and clear as a bell. Her mum and husband would come into the room, and her physical aura would immediately strengthen as she tried to be strong and stay with them.  When they left the room her physical aura became instantly weaker and her etheric aura (her soul energy) grew bright again.

The day of her death a strong pink and gold light descended upon Antoinette, and the whole room was filled with a Divine presence.  I don’t often work with Angels or people who have passed over but my friend’s room became filled with Angels that I could physically see.  As soon as they arrived she began the journey of letting go, and became more and more peaceful.

We all gave Antoinette constant attention and love, and told her that it was okay for her to go to the Light.  My friend was leaving a young family behind, and she resisted death with every breath while the living were in the room with her.  Finally a beautiful moment allowed her to begin the process of finally letting go.

I saw the spirit of a charming man, perhaps in his forties, just as if he was really in the room with us.  I couldn’t hear him, but Antoinette could.  “Dad’s here”, my friend whispered, but she was also distressed – she knew her life was coming to an end.  I had never met Antoinette’s father, and did not know what he looked like.  When I described the man I saw later to her mother without saying who I thought he was, she said – “oh yes, that’s my husband’’.  He’d been much older when he died, but he appeared to Pinkie at an age when he was strong and handsome.

 

Then the spirit of an older woman turned up – my Guides explained that she was a relative from Antoinette’s husband’s family – who had died before Antoinette or her husband were even born.  Her presence soothed family members, even though they could not see or hear her, and did not know she was there.  I watched this older woman standing unseen to all but me in the energy field of Antoinette’s husband, strengthening and supporting him, and witnessed the most moving scene as he then began to recall how he and Antoinette had met, and some of the special moments in their lives together.

Hours before Antoinette’s death, the spirit of a physically stunning blonde young woman turned up by her left side.  Antoinette’s eyes widened in amazement and delight.  “My friend’s here, my beautiful friend.  I don’t believe it.  She’s here!” cried my dying friend.  I watched this beautiful girl lean over Antoinette’s broken body and stroke her cheek, whispering to her, and as she did this Antoinette’s physical aura became paler and paler and her breathing laboured.  Then her etheric aura completely disengaged and floated to the top of the room, held by the most slender and delicate silvery cord.  I left then and went home, so that my friend could share her final moments in privacy with her family.

Even though I knew Antoinette was meant to be leaving us, and would be well guided and looked after, I was very upset at losing my friend, and found it hard to sleep that night.  Just after I finally dozed off I was woken by a bright light in my bedroom, which was filled with the fragrance of sweet flowers. My beloved friend was standing at the end of my bed in a pink dress, and with raven hair down to her waist held by a jewelled head band.  She looked years younger and radiantly beautiful.

“Thank you, Nicole,” said my friend, smiling widely.  “I’m okay, and I understand everything.”  She then gave me some short messages for her Mum, husband and family.

I heard from the family the next morning that Antoinette had passed away ten minutes before I saw her.

A girlfriend rang later that day to see how Antoinette was.  I told her of our friend’s passing, and the things I had experienced with her before her death.  This girlfriend had gone to school with Antoinette and knew her very well.  From my description she immediately identified the girl who had come to Antoinette’s bedside as a childhood friend who had died tragically in the company of Antoinette when they were just eighteen.

My girlfriend asked if I would be prepared to share what I had seen with the family of the girl who had died so many years ago.  I was able to share my experiences with that girl’s family, who took great comfort from the fact that I had seen their long-lost daughter and sister, and that the girls were together again, looking after each other. A photo they showed me matched the girl that I had seen exactly.

I’ll share with you with the final thing Antoinette said to me on the night of her death as she stood at the foot of my bed.  “Don’t worry Nicole.  God is everywhere.  It all makes sense when you get here.  It’s really okay, and so am I.  I love you.  Tell them all it’s okay.  It’s all just love.”

 

And here’s another reassuring story, although this one is very different.

Angela

When my friend Angela died, in the early hours of the morning, her spirit stayed in the hospital room for a long time afterwards. At first it was hard for her to believe that she was truly dead. There was quite a period of adjustment for her until she could finally feel a deep love for herself, and for her body. In life she had never felt beautiful, or good enough. In death she looked down upon herself and her loved ones and felt only love.

As dawn approached she slipped out of the room, and understood that with her thoughts she could travel freely. She gave me a running commentary as she travelled from the confines of the palliative care ward in Lismore. Angela spoke with joy about what it was to feel free. The world was so beautiful. She flew back over her home, and visited her dogs and her garden. She flew down to the coast to watch the sun come up over the lighthouse in Byron Bay. She could see dolphins! She could see so far, and the dawning morning was one of the most precious gifts she ever received. She was euphoric.

Angela’s spirit came backwards and forwards to our realm until her funeral a few days later. She was calm, joyful and completely at peace in a way she had never been in life.

Image by micahkiter

Image by micahkiter (The link takes you to great drone footage of the Byron Bay Lighthouse)

 

And this final story is of a stranger.

The Motorbike Man

I witnessed a terrible road accident a few years ago, involving a motorbike. It had just happened when we came upon it. There had been two people on the bike, but I only saw an empty helmet, and a rider who still wore his helmet, but who was horribly injured. As I sat in the car in the middle of the traffic jam, waiting for the emergency responders, a man in motorbike leathers came to the open window of our car. He asked me to help his friend. I poured all my love into the injured man, and prayed for him. I called upon his Guides and Angels and Ancestors. I prayed for the paramedics who were working on him, and I asked for the outcome for the Highest Good for all.

It was only much later that I found out the young man I’d been speaking to had actually died in that accident, and he’d stayed because he wanted to make sure that his friend would live. By an uncanny twist of fate I later met this friend again, at a cafe in Brisbane. You can read more about that here.

 

In every instance that I have sat with the dying, and with their body afterwards, their soul has left their physical body and stayed for at least a short while with their loved ones here, or taken a final tour of important places.

Wherever our soul travels to after this life, I know that we reunite with loved ones who have already passed, and that we feel nothing but radiant joy, love and calm. We return to love and we are never alone.

Whenever I have communicated with souls after their passing they have been at peace. Anger goes. Shame goes. Fear goes. Pain goes. All that is left is love.

Image from tatamom78 at www.photobucket.com

Image from tatamom78 at www.photobucket.com

I also know that love gives us ability to reconnect with and visit our loved ones in small ways, once we are no longer in a body.

Haven’t you ever felt the presence and love of someone dear to you who has died? We might not talk about it often, but it is a common occurrence.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to the mysteries of life and death, but I have seen so much that goes beyond what was ever taught to me or held as true around death and dying that I cannot but believe that we go on, that love goes on, and that love is all there is.

 

 

Thanks for reading. Next week I’ll be talking about suicide and also about grief. If you have any questions you’d like me to cover in this series, please contact me here on the blog or at cauldronsandcupcakes@gmail.com

Wherever you are, go in peace today, and know that you are in my thoughts, prayers and meditations. I’m wishing you well. I’m sending you love,

Nicole❤ xoxo

The Things That Really Matter

“Perspective is as simple as answering this question: If I had 5 months to live would I experience this problem differently?”
~ Shannon L. Alder

 

As you read this, my friend Liz and her young family are readying their bags. They are heading to the airport. They are flying to Hawaii for the holiday of a lifetime.

A lifetime that will soon be over for Liz.

Last week Liz was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Doctors think she has, at best, three or four months. They have told her that there is nothing they can do except manage her condition and pain. They have told her that the end, when it comes, will be a very sudden downhill slide.

But for now, Liz feels okay. She’s tired. She’s sore. She gets a little forgetful. But she’s upright and functioning.

After extensive talks with me last week, Liz and her husband decided to pull their kids out of school and take them on this family holiday. They want to make memories that will last a lifetime. They want these last days together to be good ones, and to make the most of these kinds of opportunities while Liz is still mobile.

Liz has already spoken to her employer, her union, her insurance company. She’s talked with the kids’ schools. I’ve helped her to access palliative care, and have connected her with an excellent social worker who is experienced with guiding people through these kinds of situations.

Why pretend life is normal when suddenly it’s not? Why cling to routine when soon it will be forever changed anyway?

While I was talking with Liz, she said something that resonated deeply with me. ‘I was living on automatic pilot, doing all the things you are supposed to do. Paying the mortgage on a big house. Paying the loan repayments on big cars. Paying off the credit cards. I was working so hard. So is my husband. We live in a beautiful new house we’ve never had time to enjoy. We run around all week doing jobs we hate, and then spend all weekend catching up on chores and housework. I really lost sight of what matters.’

‘What does matter to you?’ I asked her gently.

She burst into tears. ‘I was too worried about stuff. It’s all just stuff. What really matters is my husband and my kids. My mum and dad. My friends. Fergus, our dog. But I haven’t had time for any of that. I think we were actually happier in our old cramped home, where at least we had time for each other.’ Liz pulled herself together. ‘In the time I have left I’m going to teach my children that what matters is where your heart is. It’s your relationships and your family. It’s making memories and having experiences. It’s about slowing down enough to notice the world around you. It’s about doing things that make you happy, like cooking a meal together or working on a scrapbook, or singing Disney songs in the car with your kids, or picking flowers for the kitchen table.’

So now Liz is taking her husband and children to Hawaii, a place she’s dreamed of going ever since she was a small child. They’ll be there until just before Easter, after which they’ll come home to friends and family.

In the time left to her, Liz is going to work with her children on planning their 18th and 21st birthdays. She’ll make scrapbooks and write letters, and record some video messages. She and her husband will go on date nights. She’ll fill her life with the people she loves.

Liz has decided not to follow any last-minute anti-cancer diets, or to fly off and leave her family to search for last-minute miracle cures. She wants to enjoy good coffee, and eat her favourite foods, guilt-free. She wants to take the kids to the beach for fish and chips, or eat pizza and popcorn and ice-cream on the couch in front of a DVD.

In the time left her Liz wants to live, mindful of and grateful for every moment.

I think that’s good advice for us all.

 

This Psychic Life

Image from shutterstock

Image from shutterstock

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
~ John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

 

I had a difficult night last night.

Yesterday, unexpectedly, the face of a client popped into my head. I haven’t worked with her for years, although I see her name in my facebook feed sometimes.

I didn’t think anything of it until I went to bed. I was dog-tired last night, so I did my healing meditation sitting up in bed with pillows propped behind me.

Meditation was easy, and I moved deeply into a place I sometimes go to. Perhaps because I was so tired. I’m not really sure.

Anyway, in this meditation I soon found myself looking at this woman’s face again. A terrible knowing came over me. I saw cancer, profoundly and silently ravaging her body. A cancer that can only be found too late. Because it’s too late. There is nothing now that can be done.

All this woman feels is tired, and fat. Her belly bothers her with its bloating. She’s always bone weary. Everything in life seems suddenly difficult for her, so she is also heavily into self-criticism and pushing herself harder. There is no joy in her life, such is her fatigue. There is only struggle.

I came out of meditation filled with the deepest sadness. Sadness for this woman whose life will end so much sooner than she currently knows. Sadness for the lack of love she extends to herself, and for a society that demands so much of us – that we must constantly flog ourselves because there is no time to rest and never enough money for that luxury. Sadness because I have nothing good to tell her.

I was shown this for a reason.

I’m heavy-hearted today. I know I will have to contact this woman, and find a way to tell her what I can see. I hate that I will have to do this.

I know that I have to do this.

She needs to know. She would want to know. She has been asking God and her Angels to tell her what’s wrong with her. She’s been pleading with the Universe in quiet moments.

It’s better to know than not know. We make better, truer choices in the face of such gravity. We spend time on what matters and stop worrying about the things that falsely garnered such importance prior to knowing our mortality and a deadline.

Spare a thought for this woman and her family today. Send them love and all the courage and good energy you can muster.

 

 

 

Cancer, Coffee and Community

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“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”
~ Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals

 

If there’s one thing that my husband Ben and I have become very experienced with, it’s living with dire medical prognoses and chronic illness. We know what it’s like to live with a shadow hanging over you, with death lurking around the corner, and to have a private life that few other people understand. We know what it is to cling to hope, and to try absolutely every option in order to keep living.

Fortunately for me, after years and years of bad news, I have turned a corner again. Just as I have a number of times when I’ve been given rotten news and short time-frames for life expectancy.

Now, sadly, dear friends of ours are on a similar journey. The wife has stage four metastatic breast cancer. They are trying everything they can, but it’s a hard battle, and an emotionally exhausting one. We’ve been supporting them as best we can, and passing on our tips for everything from shower chairs and toilet chairs to oxygen machines and incontinence pants. Getting wills in order, having an enduring medical power of attorney, notifying your spouse about your wishes in the event of a catastrophic health event, DNR forms (do not resuscitate), hiring medical equipment, diet and therapy successes  – all the things we have had to deal with during my own illnesses, and which we are now sharing with our friends.

The wife is in hospital receiving pain management palliative care right now, so we met her husband at a local cafe yesterday.

It was early when we got there, and I thought perhaps we might sit at a table far away from the main cafe, to have some privacy. But Ben had other ideas. ‘We always sit at the main table,” he said, “so we will today too. Our mate will be fine. It will be good for him to talk about normal things.”

We chatted with some of the other locals before our friend arrived, and then introduced him to our regular coffee mates. The talk turned to football – Australia has several grand finals this weekend. Over excellent coffee we hashed the weekend sport, politics, and all things farming.

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Our local friends turned to speak to some new-comers and finally on our own we discussed our friend’s wife, and how she was doing. They have a meeting with her main oncologist next week to get a treatment plan. And they have a whole team of doctors and natural therapists onside too.

“Make sure you take a notebook and write everything down,” one of the local farmers at our table quietly added.

We all looked over to him. “You’ll never remember it all,” he continued. “Don’t be intimidated by the doctors. Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand. Ask lots of questions. Write everything down. That’s what my wife used to do.” He cleared his throat. “I hope you don’t mind me joining the conversation,” the farmer said. “I have a bit of experience here.”

Over the next hour we talked cancer, treatments, doctors, and staying sane in difficult times.

“Just know that you’re never alone, mate,” the farmer said to our friend as we left. “Heaps of us have been through this, and there’s always going to be someone you can talk to, or who can help you. All you have to do is reach out and ask. Don’t sit on this. Don’t stay silent. You need your friends. You need your community. We all have to be here for each other.”

Who’d have thought that a simple breakfast at a local cafe would prove to be so nourishing?

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The Gift Of Blood

“How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
~ William Shakespeare

 

We have a loved one going through aggressive chemotherapy right now.

One day a fortnight powerful chemicals flow into her veins. Each following day her blood slowly loses life.

A week after the chemo she has a blood transfusion. Vitality is restored.

Blood gifted from strangers keeps her alive as her body and the drugs fight the cancer.

Such a kindness from people she will never meet. People who are going about their daily lives with little or no thought to the battle she is fighting, or how the short time it took for them to ease some of their own blood into a storage bag is now buying so much more precious time for her.

I’m humbled by the life-giving power that flows through our veins, and by the generosity of humans who simply want to be of service to others.

Thank you, on behalf of our family.

And please, if you’re able, donate blood. It truly is the gift of life.

 

Reflections From A Cancer Clinic Waiting Room

Image from pixgood.com

Image from pixgood.com

“From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”
~ H.P. Lovecraft, Tales of H.P. Lovecraft

A small family cluster of us sat endlessly in the waiting room of a cancer clinic yesterday.

It was a busy place, at a busy hospital. On the way to the clinic, we’d passed a young woman who had lost her eye, a man in a wheelchair missing a foot, a series of shuffling and shambling patients of various ages.

There were hosts of worried relatives in thrown-together outfits, looking careworn and in need of coffee and a hug.

The waiting room was packed. We found seats underneath a television screen we could not see. But I listened to the running commentary.

The irony was not lost on me. Television spruikers talked about the importance of skin care and maintaining our youthful appearance. Life was better with young skin. You would be more popular, and get better jobs. You could look  like a movie star. Then there was a miracle exercise machine to effortlessly melt fat. It came with complimentary mineral makeup. Call now!

How truly offensive it was, listening to these paid presenters playing to our insecurities. Deprived of the pictures, the commentary took on a lewd ignorance.

Here I was, surrounded by people fighting for their lives.

For some, the fight isn’t going well. For some, the fight will be lost.

People bald from chemo, their skin fragile, bruised and thin, their faces bloated and round or gaunt and pale, looked away from the screen. I saw beauty in every single one. I witnessed the most tender exchanges of love and care. I saw how valued and precious each person was to their family and friends.

You are beautiful. Life is beautiful. This endless quest for youth and physical perfection is the ugly thing.

Hug your loved ones today. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to the people around you. Don’t buy into that garbage on television and the media. What’s inside you will always matter more that big hair, white teeth or a perfect hip-thigh ratio.

I love you. Right now. Just as you are.

Nicole <3 xoxo

Saying Goodbye To Julie

'Hearts and Flowers' by Lauren Marems

‘Hearts and Flowers’ by Lauren Marems

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
~Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 

My friend Julie died last night. We’d known this day would come. Julie was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer on June 11 of this year, a mere 46 days ago.

Still, we’d all hoped this day would have waited a little longer. In the end she was given just one extra day for every year of her short and precious life.

Her husband has lost his wife. Her small children have lost their mother. Julie’s mother has lost her daughter. I have lost a friend.

We’ve been talking a lot, Julie and I, these past 46 days. I was trying to help her prepare for the inevitable. My friend had time to record some messages and write letters for the events in the future where she will not be there to guide and comfort her two young daughters. She managed to create some new happy memories with her loved ones and to savour some last beautiful and life-affirming moments.

I also shared my insights about death, gleaned from all of my many experiences as a psychic. That we are souls having a physical experience, that when the body dies our soul continues to exist, that love endures, and that we are always and forever connected through love.

Rumi quote from QuotesWave

Rumi quote from QuotesWave

Julie had come to a place where she was no longer afraid of death. But she was afraid of pain and suffering, and given her situation, it was expected that her last days would be difficult, even with pain management.

But Julie died without having to experience any of that. She ended up with a bowel blockage, and needed emergency surgery yesterday after her temperature spiked and she began to have abdominal pain. The surgery went well, her family came to see her after she came out of theatre, and they sat with her until bed time, when she drifted off to sleep. She died in her sleep from heart failure. No pain. No suffering. No distress.

After I got over the initial shock of her death, I laughed. She got a good death. A very Julie death – for my friend was the Queen of taking care of every small detail, of streamlining and problem-solving and organising things just so.

Ah, we’re all saying through our tears. She didn’t suffer. She died in her sleep, which was what she’d wanted and believed she would be denied.

If Julie was a gardener (see opening quote), then the way she touched me is this – she showed me the importance of taking time for what matters and for making time for myself and my healing. She also encouraged me to drink fine champagne, eat the best chocolates, cheeses and cakes, and savour the deliciousness of life, even if it meant needing to bend the rules sometimes. Treating yourself occasionally, she kept telling me, was vital for anyone who worked hard and grew ragged at the edges from stress, duty and the ongoing everyday demands of life.

Oh my darling friend, I shall miss you being physically in my life. But you know you’re welcome to pop in any time, energetically speaking, for a catch up and some love.

Some pretty pink bubbles and cupcakes for you! Onward on your journey. Bless xoxo

Image from ZuJew Life

Image from ZuJew Life