There is an old Irish cliché that states, “Life is a bitch and then you die.” Surely there must be more to life, a reason, a meaning as to why I was born, who am I and what happens when I die. My quest for such answers came in 1992 when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and was facing my own mortality. I died on the operating table and found myself floating into a most magnificent light-filled space. Peace and tranquility enveloped me, and I felt at one with a presence that I had never known before. A universal love held me in sacredness as a Godhead energy of total bliss surrounded me. I had no fear as love and light enfolded me.
Upon waking I felt little pain, the feeling of peace and tranquility caressed my body. I supposed the infusion of morphine was working its magic and helping paint my world in a kaleidoscope of color. Days later, I was informed by my surgeon that my surgery was extensive – I had died on the operating table while bleeding outwards. He said I was one lucky lady to be alive and that “someone must have been watching over me.” My father died the year previous and I have no doubt he petitioned a Divine dispensation in my favor. I dedicated the following year to my recovery and healing, but the presence of this magnificent light never left me, it became my friend and constant companion. I understood then that there was a reason for my existence, but I needed to discover why.
The promise of a place, a heaven, was something I needed to explore. I became a seeker of knowledge. I explored different cultures ranging from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and many more traditions. I became a sponge for knowledge; I had an insatiable thirst for what lies beyond. I read many books on death and dying, I travelled abroad to undertake workshops. I studied many healing modalities, became a Shaman, an angel healer, crystal healer, grief counselor and teacher on spiritual awakening. I met amazing and inspiring teachers on my journey; to mention a few, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Brian Weiss, Wayne Dyer and many more. I studied Mediumship with the awesome James Van Praagh.
I was only scratching the surface of what lies beyond the physical world beyond the five senses. Through my healing work I was receiving messages from people who had passed on. I was sensing blockages within the energy body of clients. I was beginning to understand that a powerful energy was guiding me and working through me. This energy I knew was not the energy I was born with, but a spiritual energy that would enter me when I invoked it prior to working on a client. Helen Keller once said that, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” I finally understood what her statement meant: during healing sessions I was transported onto a different plane of existence, where a download of Divine energy would seal me and a loving presence would over light the entire session. I was merely a channel, a conduit for this energy to pass through me. Was this the same light that people reported after having a near-death experience (NDE); was this the light I saw all those years earlier? I had to know, I craved the answers and they came in many different ways.
I have come to the conclusion that there will never be a definitive book on what happens when we die, which I think is good because no single book will ever convince skeptics or console everyone who has wondered about an afterlife. What might change society’s fear and doubt is the rise of evidence put forward by scientists, doctors, professors, quantum physicists and many more who endorse the evidence that life continues after death.
Swedenborg (1668), known throughout the world as a genius, provided many revelations in the exploration and mystery of the afterlife. A Swedish scientist, mathematician, statesman, inventor, author and mystic, at the age of 55 years he had a series of clairvoyant visions, which he said “gave him the ability to experience the spiritual dimensions.” He claimed to have conversed with biblical prophets, apostles, Aristotle, Socrates and Caesar, as well as numerous deceased friends and acquaintances and spirits from other planets. He published thirty books, reporting on his explorations of the spirit world, including his conversations with many souls on the other side of the veil. In his first great work, Arcana Coelestia, he addressed the issue of life after death by writing: “That I might know that man lives after death, it has been granted me to speak and converse with several persons with whom I had been acquainted during their life in the body, and this not merely for a day or a week, but for months, and in some instances for nearly a year, as I had been used to doing here on earth.” The most significant discovery by Swedenborg was the existence of a continuation of life beyond physical death.
Among the most influential researchers was the renowned Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who came under siege with the introduction of her first book On Death and Dying (1969). Kübler- Ross was ridiculed and laughed at by her medical colleagues. The idea that life continued after death was deemed absurd and ignorant. Years later the ground breaking work of Dr. Raymond Moody (1975) opened up a whole new approach to the scientific understanding on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). The studies of Moody on NDEs had astonishing findings, patients describing leaving their bodies, floating above their beds, watching doctors as they tried to restart their hearts, moving higher and being drawn towards a bright light, seeing a loved one and hearing them say, “It’s not your time.” The best clinical study on NDE was undertaken by Dutch cardiologist Dr. Pim van Lommel.
He was astonished by commonalities in his findings, his patients were having vivid recall of life continuing after all neural activity ceased and were clinically pronounced dead. Dr. Penny Sartori, in The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences (2014), states that NDEs undoubtedly occur and have very real, often dramatic, life-changing after-effects. The results of her hospital research and that of others could not find a physiological or psychological explanation for these experiences, and indicated that they could no longer be ignored or explained away. Melvin Morse a pediatric doctor contributed excellent books and medical journals about the near-death experiences of children. His most renowned books are Closer to the Light (1990) and Transformed by the Light (1992). His findings showed that children who experienced near-death experiences had more meaningful, positive and fulfilling lives. He also found these children to have a higher rate of verifiable psychic abilities than those who had not experienced a near-death experience. Dr. George Ritchie (1950s) exposed himself to ridicule when he spoke openly about his own near- death experience. Ritchie was rejected by his medical cohort similar to Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Dr. Moody when they endorsed the concept of near-death experience adding substance to proof of an afterlife.
I was blessed to discover the renowned Irish author Colm Keane published many books containing comprehensive insights into Deathbed Visions: We’ll Meet Again, Going Home, The Distant Shore, including the latest scientific research into what happens when we die. My most intriguing research was that of Dr. Victor Zammit, a retired attorney of the Supreme Court of Australia. After much research he has devoted the last twenty years to endorsing afterlife existence through scientific and medical research, A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife. So compelling the evidence, Zammit has offered one million dollars to anyone who can disprove an afterlife does not exist. To date no one has taken up this challenge.
In practically all studies examining the phenomenon of life after death, near-death experiences embody an overwhelming feeling of bliss, joy, tranquility, freedom, happiness, perfect health, a presence, being held in an eternal embrace where only pure love survives.
Excerpted from Where After: WHERE do our loved ones go AFTER they die? by Mariel Forde Clarke. Available from www.6th-books.com and from wherever books are sold. https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/6th-books/our-books/where-after
Since her own near-death experience in 1992, Mariel Forde Clarke has dedicated her life to exploring the mystery of life and death. She has studied many cultures where the afterlife is considered our true home. From the various research gleaned, she now understands that a belief in an afterlife determines and impacts how one grieves. Anecdotal evidence from many of her workshops showed a prevailing common theme. Participants who believe in an afterlife manage their grieving process in a healthier and more integrative way. For others, the afterlife is of no concern, with death being the cessation of all life and communication.
These workshops to name a few include The Journey of the Soul, Life after Physical Death, Coping with Loss, and healing through the Grieving Process.
Other workshops include Spirituality in the Workplace, Angels and Spiritual Awakening, Ascension finding your Way back to Source, The Way – The Chalice of Light, The Secret Teachings of Mary Magdalene.