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For your discernment:


Many are those who note "near-death" experiences.

But what about "pre-death" experiences: the seeming mystical insights of those on their deathbeds?

As it turns out, nurses and others who work with the dying are increasingly reporting phenomena. In fact, while it used to be a taboo subject, the accounts are now coming out of the woodwork. For decades, it seems, such phenomena have been quashed (along with belief in general) as atheism has taken root in the scientific and thus medical world.

That now may be buckling under the sheer weight of reliable reports -- reliable because they are so consistent.

"At my core, I am a scientist, and I did not come to the idea of angels and non-physical entities easily," notes a doctor who works with hospice patients. "I believed science had not done enough to narrowly define life, so I began with a skeptical view of the seemingly large number of supernatural occurrences that preceded death. When possible, I found a rational explanation and most often attributed the patients’ visions to their advancing disease, medications, or a complete shutdown of the body systems.

"Nevertheless, the similarity and sheer number of stories, as well as some unexplainable phenomena, began to weigh heavily in favor of something else.

"In the last days of life, the terminally ill retreat within themselves as a way of preparing to release their souls. They tend to relive events in the distant past with varying feelings and often need help in obtaining closure. During this time, the patient may stare intently at corners in the room, or have brief conversations with unseen spirits of deceased family members or brilliantly lit angelic beings. It is these spiritual beings that bring comfort and peace, and aid the patient in resolving unsettled emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual issues, with the ultimate goal of a peaceful transition to the afterlife."

In one case, notes this physician (who worked at a major hospice in Houston), a seriously ill boy correctly foretold the day he would die and also knew of a health issue the doctor himself faced. Another dying man was able to relay what the angels said about the doctor’s background and how he came to attend medical school – information the patient could not have known.

It seems angels or the deceased relay this information.

As one nurse, Francis Shani Parker, from Detroit said, "Sightings of spirits are not unusual for hospice patients. I have had several patients tell me about spirits coming to see them. Patients also spoke about visiting the spirit world, often referring to the place they visited as Heaven. Discussions about these visits created opportunities for patients to express emotions openly about death, while reflecting on life. They enjoyed describing their visitors and their trips. Their detailed conversations explained to me, not only whom they saw, but also the scenery and what the spirits were wearing. Pets were included in these descriptions."

There are also cases in which it appears the dying manifest after their passing, or in which hospitals are simply plagued by roaming spirits.

In the early Church, they were referred to as "revenants."

The Church requires "no motion of faith for or against ghosts," is the way Sir Leslie (a consultant to Pope Pius XI) put it, but the skepticism of scholars like Saint Augustine (at least as far as unappeased souls) greatly distanced the Church from such consideration for many centuries. Yet in City of God (Book XXII), Augustine mentions a haunted house – whether by an earthbound spirit or a demon, we cannot know, although an exorcism was performed, and perhaps there was the distinction for Augustine between the demonic and the ghostly. 

"I used to work in an old labor and delivery unit," is one account. "It was a small hospital, and often times I was back there by myself.

"I liked to keep the lights low and things quite back there, so naturally I heard a lot of creaks and groans.

"There was a whole unused back hall; there was also no access to it except by passing me. I could hear metal objects clanging, and doors shutting. It sounded like somebody was getting ready for a C-section. There was also a back room on the med-surg floor that was never used. It was a patient room that had been converted to a storage room. That room was strange: call light always going off, and nobody near it.  The whole hospital had a creepy aura. Maybe it was the cemetery next door."

"I used to work in an old Catholic hospital," noted another nurse on a major medical blogsite. "Where the labor and delivery unit is located now, it used to be the convent for the nuns that worked at this hospital. One of the nuns died of natural causes years ago. This nun loved and raised numerous varieties of roses. Ever since the obstetrics department was moved to this area, anytime a mother or baby is having difficulties you can smell the scent of roses throughout the whole unit. The obstetric nurses know to be prepared when they start smelling the scent of roses. If a mother or baby dies, the room suddenly fills with rose petals. It is one of the creepiest but also most loving things that happens.

"I was standing in a room one night when the baby died. The room filled with white and pink rose petals. The rose petals just started floating down from the ceiling. It was like someone was just showering the room with them. This has happened several times over the years. I worked at another hospital where you would see a nurse in the old white dress and cap walk down the hallway and smile at you. Then she would walk into a patient's room and apply wrist restraints. All the nurses knew her. It was just Mildred who died sixty years ago. You just had to follow her so you can take the wrist restraints off.”

Said a fourth: "We had a patient who was always on the call button. You know the type: the nurses have to take turns during the shift answering the call button so the primary can actually do other work. And this was a ‘frequent flier’ cause he was very chronic, very borderline, and the hospital was the only place he wouldn't fluid overload. I work seven p.m. to seven a.m. He died at about eight. The look on his face was like, 'how could you let me die!’ Anyway, the family came and were gone by nine p.m. and he was gone to the funeral home at 9:30 p.m. At about 10 p.m., the call button started going off. I was there -- call button going off every five minutes. One of the nurses was a very spiritual girl. At about two a.m., after like four hours of this, she snapped, ‘Enough!’ She walked down to the room, and practically screamed into the empty room, 'Mr X, you have died. You can't be in here bothering us anymore. Move along. In the Name of Jesus, I'm exorcising you from this plane of existence. Go to the light and be happy!'  And I kid you not, the call button stopped going off then and there."

[resources: Whispers of God's Love  and The Other Side]

[Michael Brown retreat in Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area]

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