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Catherine Z's Experience

Experience description:   

With the patient, I was standing by the side of her death bed with her laying there, alone, when suddenly, out of the blue, I experienced her presence as pronounced as if she were standing there.  She was wildly joyful, totally whole and healed, and with God.  I heard the words, "Thank you" and "Good Bye", and then I sensed her spirit leaving the room through an exterior wall and then total emptiness in the room.   

With my Mother, I finally was able to see her 7 hours after her death.  I was surprised to find that her body was as warm as when she was still alive.  I do not know if she had a fever at her time of death, but even so, with 1.5 degrees dropping beginning with the 2nd hour of death, she would not have been that warm.  I could feel the warmth of her arm through the blanket around her, and her forehead was warm as well as her face as I kissed these.  My sister said that it was time for the funeral director to come to take her - right before he came into the room to take our mother, I kissed her forehead again, and it was cold.  My sister and my brother who both saw her first at around 5:00 AM (death occurred at 1:40 AM) both noted she felt warm.  I experienced her being warmer than room temperature.  I interpreted this experience to mean that she waited for us kids to say goodbye to her and her to us - as she did not have a chance to as she died suddenly enroute to her bed from the bathroom at 1:40 AM.  My sister was notified of our mother's death by the nursing home staff, but I did not get the message until 7:30 that morning.  Our Mother was the kind of Mother who would have wanted us to be with her at her time of death.  She lived for our Dad and for us kids.

Did you ONLY sense an awareness of presence of the deceased without actually seeing, hearing, feeling or smelling them?            Yes

Did you hear the deceased or hear something associated with the deceased?          Yes

            Describe what you heard, how clearly you heard it and what was communicated:    already described above regarding patient.

            Did the voice or sound seem to originate externally or outside of you, inside you, or did you not hear a voice or sound, but had a sense of knowing what was communicated?  Patient's voice was inside of me.

            If you heard a voice or sound, was it similar or dissimilar from the voice or sound the deceased made when they were alive?           Neither.  I was aware of only the words.

            Is there any possibility what you heard was from any other source present in the surroundings at the time of your experience?           No.  It was internal.

            Was there any possible impairment to your hearing at the time of the experience?   No.

Did you feel a touch or experience any physical contact from the deceased?            No

Did you see the deceased?         No

Did you smell a distinct smell, scent, fragrance or odor associated with the deceased?      No

How long did the experience last?        Experience with the patient lasted only a minute or two.  The experience with my Mother lasted a good ten or fifteen minutes.

Was the beginning and end of the experience gradual or more sudden?         The beginning and end of the experience with the patient was sudden.  The beginning of the experience with my mother was gradual as she had been warm before I had arrived - but the cooling off was sudden/abrupt.

Could you sense the emotions or mood of the deceased?           Yes

With patient - joyful abandonment.  With my Mom - happiness.

Did the deceased give you information you did not previously know?  I struggle with fearing that with death there is no continuity of life, despite my religious beliefs.  But both women - patient and my mother - have helped me to feel less fearful.  Especially with my mother - I hated to see her go - we were very close - but I also know she needed to go - but her now being on the other side, waiting for me, makes me feel less afraid of when it will be my time to die - and I am really looking forward to seeing her again.  I miss her so much.  Her funeral was only two weeks ago.

How do you currently view the reality of your experience?           Experience was probably real

            Please explain why you view the reality of your experience as real or not real:           I tend to second guess my experiences.  I tend to be skeptical.  I tend to analyze from a scientific point of view - because I want to get to the truth.  But having had said this, despite stating "probably real" I feel it is real enough that I am telling you folks about it.  I want to believe - at the time of these events, I did believe - so my first gut reaction was at the time, these experiences were absolutely real, that God is real, that there is absolutely life after death - but as I become more distant from the experience, that sense of knowing or certainty begins to fade a little.

            Was the experience dream like in any way?   No

It was not dream like at all.  It felt real as day to me at the time.  Mom's death though, feels like a bad dream for me - it is really hard to realize she is gone - it really hurts - and I wish it were only a dream.  It is all very real, actually.

Describe in detail your feelings/emotions during the experience:           With the patient, I was feeling happy, and then physically sick when the room felt empty.  With my Mother, I felt sad and grieving, but happy to be aware of the warmth of her body - a little confused as to the meaning of this - the meaning came to me later upon reflection.

Was there any emotional healing in any way following the experience?           Yes

I missed saying good bye to my Mom.  Realizing she was probably present to me in that room even though she had died 7 hours earlier helped me to have some closure with her prior to her funeral and burial.

What was the best and worst part of your experience?      It's all good.  I am happy for my Mom - but I am very sad for me.

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?         Yes                 Describe:            The things that I used to worry about do not seem quite as important.  My mother's death has brought some perspective to my own life.  But I am also feeling emotional, so I am more easily upset by things that do not go right because I am more emotionally hypersensitive at this time.

Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?
   Yes     I feel more at peace about my own death, because my mother - the most significant person I know who has died - is waiting there for me - and for my Dad, my siblings, and their children.  But my mother wants us to live our own lives - it is not our time to go.  It was her time, and she is there for us to help us on the way in our journey in our lives and to the end of our earthly lives when we too will make the same journey as she did.  She will help us - and she is praying for us as we make our ways along that path.

Did the experience give you any spiritual understandings such as life, death, afterlife, God, etc.?            Yes     I have been talking with my Mom.  And I experienced her telling me last night as I was crying for her, that she was joyful - I heard her say to me, "You just don't know".  (I forgot to mention this experience; it was also an interior voice - but more internal than with my experience with the patient).  My mother suffered an awful lot throughout her life, and the quickness of her death and her not having to suffer a much more laborious death from her congestive heart failure made me aware of how the Lord was taking good care of her.  Some people could have handled a more difficult death - but I think my Mom had gone through so much, the Lord had spared her further suffering.  And because I know that she is safe - because the Lord reminded me of my Christmas day dream of her death, where she was with God, safe, and free from pain and with loved ones on the other side and happy - I know she is safe - also from her body being so warm seven hours after her death.  In a way, this is a miracle, and another sign from the Lord that she is with Him and happy.  That is a comfort to me to know that she is happy.  That is all I want for her.

Death Compacts are when two or more living people promise among themselves that whoever dies first will try to contact the other(s).  Have you ever made such a compact?        No

Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later?          Yes The warmth of my mother's body.

What emotions did you feel during the experience?            See #23

Was the experience witnessed or experienced by others?           Yes

Not with Patient.  But yes, with my Mother.  I experienced the patient's presence immediately after her time of death had been recorded by nurse, and nurse and CNA left the room; the patient was wildly joyful, totally whole and healed, and with God; I heard the words, "Good-bye" and "Thank you" and then experienced patient's spirit leaving room through an exterior wall - and then total emptiness in the room.   

With my Mother, I finally was able to see her seven hours after her death.  The rate of cooling after the first hour of death on average is 1.5 degree F - but my mother's body was so warm that I could feel the warmth through the blanket and her head was also so warm, I thought she might still be alive - though she was truly dead.  Momentarily right before the funeral director removed her body, she suddenly became cold - very cool to the touch.  I had the sense or belief that Mom's spirit remained near her body until we kids who could come could say good-bye to her - she was that kind of Mother. 

Did you have any sense of altered space or time?   Yes

When I am talking with my mother, I feel as though I am in prayer, and I lose sense of time when I am in that sacred space.

Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?    Yes

My mother has always believed in me, and my call to serve God.  She supported me through Divinity School - and even though I cannot be ordained a Catholic priest because I am female, my Mother, a devout Catholic, still supported me and believed in my call to the Catholic priesthood.  I would not have made it through Divinity School without her support (I am a chaplain and needed to complete my MDIV).  With her now being with God and I am still here, I want to even more live into my calling and do the tasks that the Lord has set before me.  There is more clarity than before, as I am aware that I am not really all that far behind my mother - and I want to use the time I have on this earth wisely to do all that I can to love and to serve God.  I am wanting to do this to honor my Mother and the gift of life that she and my father have given me - my father is 90 and still alive in an Alzheimer's group home.

Did you become aware of future events?       Yes

Before my mother died - on January 19, 2009, I had a dream of her death on Christmas morning - December 25, 2008.  But aside from this, no.

Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience that you did not have prior to the experience?         No

Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body?     No

Did you meet or see any other beings other than the deceased?            No

Did you see a light?           No

Did any part of your experience seem to occur in a place other than the location described above?            Yes

The experience of my Mother describing to me how happy she is happened last night as I was crying in my house.

Have you shared this experience with others?        

Yes     My brother tried to analyze my Mother's body temperature being the result of the decaying process, and he understated her body temperature with me, whereas he told my sister she felt warm to him.  I told him that I have had exposure to many people after their death, and I have never felt anyone as warm as Mom had been.

Have you shared this experience formally or informally with any other researcher or web site?   No

 Is there anything else you would like to add regarding your experience?       No.

Were there any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience?            No

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?         Yes 

I have had mystical experiences in prayer all my life.  Once I heard an audible voice of Jesus speaking to me - that is a touchstone experience for me.  I am prone to mystical experiences.  I do not take controlled substances or medications that would produce audible or other hallucinations. 

Did you ever in your life have a near-death experience, out of body experience or other spiritual event?           Yes 

I experienced an audible experience of Jesus speaking to me.  I had been struggling with returning back to school to complete a BA in Theology, and I heard Him say to me during a friend's ordination Mass, "Cathy, I want you to go back to school.  It's not a mistake."  In Roman Catholicism, this mystical experience is known as a "locution".  I have experienced God's presence enveloping me where I have experienced ecstasy and where I have been in speechless awe, just being held in that presence.  In front of the tabernacle I had experienced the Blessed Sacrament physically drawing me toward the tabernacle with the Lord loving me - I experienced my arms around the body of Jesus while praying before the Blessed Sacrament.  My mother prayed and asked St. Anthony to help me find my lost purse - and I was contacted by the person who had found it on St. Anthony's feast day.  These are a few of the experiences I have had of a spiritual event/nature.  There are too many to account for here.

Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?               No

These experiences go beyond words.  You will never be able to accurately and comprehensively describe these type of experiences - because they describe an infinite reality and we live within finite time and space.  But you did a good job at trying to get to the experiences with objectivity and I appreciate that very much. 

Please offer any suggestions you may have to improve this questionnaire.    Not at this time.  Please contact me at my e-mail address and let me know the outcome of this survey.  I would like to share my experiences of the patient and my Mom especially, with others on your website.  Please let me know how to do that.  Thanks.  sib@fidalgo.net