We tend to think of our lives as separate from one another, and assume that we have no control on each other. In reality we’re all connected in some way and everything we do within this universe has a direct impact on on another. The same goes for death. It may look like a separate experience as one loved one’s soul leaves their body behind in our world…but what if you were actually part of the experience too?
Perhaps understanding the experience of shared death, and exploring it is the key to closure on grief for both the person losing someone and the person dying. Here’s how.
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Our Relationship With Death
When you think of death, what feelings come up? Most people have an uneasy relationship with death so when they think of death they feel uncomfortable and even fearful and that makes sense when we consider that we tend to be afraid of the unknown because we have no control over it. We don’t know when our time will come, how it’ll happen, and what waits for us on the other side. As a result, we associate “fear” with death and the dying.
Instead, we avoid death and even try to cheat it. Some of us buy into health and beauty trends that make us false promises of preseving our youth or even turning back the clock. Some of us stay as healthy as possible to extend our lives. We’re more concerned with life than we are with death, and that’s because life is all we know.
The Mystery Of The Afterlife
When we do finally think about death, the next concern we have is not about death itself but what comes after. If you think about it, our obsession with figuring out the afterlife is somewhat rooted in the hope that just as the word suggests, there is some kind of more “life.” We can’t stand the possibility that our lives just end at death and nothing else comes after. In fact, opinion polls consistently find that the majority of Americans believe in a benevolent afterlife.
People are quite interested in the mysteries of life and the afterlife. and out of 1000 cases in one study, 87% of the people interviewed reported that their experience has convinced them that there is a benevolent afterlife. Interestingly enough 70% of people spoke of a “shared death experience” that impacted their grief so much that more than 50% said that it removed their own fears around death and dying, according to William Peters, a Grief & Bereavement Therapist
What Is A Shared Death Experience
So what is a “shared death experience?” The term isn’t that common yet and it’s mostly because of people’s reluctance to speak about death and their fears around it. But “shared death experiences” is a phenomenon that is being observed more and more commonly among the dying and their loved ones.
it’s when a person who is still alive reports an unexplainable connection with someone who just passed around the time of their death. Those who have experienced it describe an overwhelming and clear sense that their lost loved ones made it to a better place. In his studies, Peter has even found that in 50% of the cases, those who experienced it even accompanied their loved one part way on their way out of this world and into the next.
Between Life And Death
The concept of shared death experiences is becoming more and more popular in places where death is common like palliative and hospice care. Dying is no longer a feeling that only those who experience have but one that they’re able to extend to the loved ones around.
This shouldn’t seem too far out of reach when considering how often terminally ill patients share experiences of connecting with deceased family members before actually dying themselves. Some say that someone comes from the other side to help them transition over. The living who have experienced shared deaths have even said to have sensed or seen these figures too.
A Comforting Experiencing
Shared death experiencers aren’t usually comfortable sharing their stories because it requires a certain amount of faith. It is a rather spiritual experience that not everyone understands.
Take Stephanie for example, a woman from Washington who had to witness the death of her husband from aggressive cancer. She remembers traveling with him into a bright, white light and describes: “There was no pain, no hurt. It was peaceful…It felt as if I were going back to something I already knew.” However, when she tried to share her experience she felt hut down, and explains “that deflated me terribly.” It wasn’t until an oncologist told her behind a closed office door that he had a similar experience that she felt validated.
The Key To Moving On
Accepting the possibility of shared death experiences and even figuring out how to facilitate them could be the key to helping the living process and accept death, as well as helping the dying transition over without fear. This would make death not feel like this sad uncotralable thing, but rather a peaceful journey.
Take Carl, for example, a man whose father died of heart failure. He explains: “I could feel it in my bones and my cells that my dad was there with me…I miss my dad, and I wish I could call him up and be with him and spend time with him. I grieved and was sad, but it doesn’t feel like a tragedy. It feels like he is in the place he needs to be.” The experience didn’t necessarily take his grief away but it created a sense of peace and acceptance that his dad was okay.
Peacefully Letting Go
There is no easy way to say goodbye to someone we love. There is never going to be a “good” time for them to part. But we can’t hold on to people forever because if there’s one guarantee in life, it’s that death waits for us all. Don’t let that be a source of fear and anxiety. Rather look at it as a new experience that waits for you.
Shared death experiences are a great step in becoming comfortable with death and peacefully letting go of the dying. This will be comforting for both the living and the dying and help us all work through our fear of the unknown. It’s possible to die happy and have a good death, and it’s possible to be okay with the passage of a lost loved one.
If you’re looking for more information on how you process feelings specifically, then you’ll need your own zodiac reading. We’re each on our own unique path and what some struggle with, might not be applicable to you too.
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Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives