Life, Death and Spirituality

Month: April, 2014


What did we learn in school that has been of absolutely no use to us since?

What could we have learned in school that would have served us well throughout our lives?

When I stop and think about my school days, they most certainly weren’t ‘the best days of my life’ as people tried to tell me they would be.  I wasn’t a model student by any means; I asked too many questions.  I was constantly in trouble for drifting ‘off task’ as my naturally inquisitive mind asked questions that my teachers quite obviously had no answers for; hence their irritability and aggression!  Questions are good.  To ask questions opens doors for us.  The answers to questions bring us awareness.  Asking a question is a tremendous way to receive feedback.  At school when you got something wrong you got a great big red cross on your book.  I remember fearfully opening my book just a chink to see if I had suffered the indignity of a great big red cross!  Unfortunately I amassed a fair number of these during my eventful schooling.  One particular repetitive red cross came every time I wrote the number 8!  Instead of starting like writing a letter ‘S’ and then continuing until it joined up, I would do a reverse S and joint it up.  The result was the same but it obviously offended Miss Jarman considerably that I did it this way.  I would ask her why it mattered when my 8 looked as neat as my peers!  I was chastised unmercifully for this and was hit around the bottom of my legs with a ruler for asking!  It is easy to see why we stop asking questions.  If you label things wrong or bad, what you are doing is making children fear and shame things and you limit what they allow into their world.  Of course, if they are going to hurt themselves by doing something you stop them – this is being kind, but if you are really just going to inflict your opinion on them, maybe let them experiment and find out for themselves.

Many parents stop their children asking questions because it drives them crazy!  ‘Will you stop asking WHY please?’ Pop would say to me.  Mum would always give an explanation with her bid.  Pop would say ‘you don’t need to explain to them; just telling them should be enough’!  For an intelligent man he could be very narrow-minded!

What if this habit of asking questions that most children have is the very thing that expands their mind and so their future – we are limiting them drastically by telling them to stop asking questions!  Perhaps these questions are the very tool that can change their entire life.  Children don’t stop asking questions until we train them to stop asking.  This then becomes habitual.  They stop asking questions and behave in ways that they have been indoctrinated with!  What a sad and narrow existence that then becomes when curiosity is removed from the equation.

I had stopped asking questions.  Whether this was because of my schooling or my parents I’m not sure.  The trigger that kicked off my incessant question-answering again was the death of our beautiful, warm, funny son, Rowan.  I am sure that my family may feel like telling me to stop asking questions but so far, sixteen months into my journey, they are being very understanding!

Why are there so many religions in this world?  Why do they each have a different Deity?  Why are different religions so intolerant of each other?  Why do all these religions have so very many things in common with each other?  What is the difference between religion and spirituality? Do we have a soul that continues to live after we physically die?  Where do we go when our soul leaves our earthly body?

I’ve been chasing answers to these and many more questions.

My hero, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came up with an awesome quote on Facebook recently.  He said

“All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values.  But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.  This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether”.

Love, kindness, compassion and tolerance are qualities common to all the great religions, and whether or not we follow any particular religious tradition, the benefits of love and kindness are obvious to everyone.

By implementing the practice of love and compassion, we will naturally live a non-violent way of life.  Helping others and not harming them is the work of non-violence.  We need to develop love, compassion and forgiveness to develop inner peace and that naturally gives rise to non-violent conduct.

Many people frown on ‘spirituality’.  They equate it with ‘New Age’ thinkers who historically have been treated as drug-crazed flakes!  They envisage people meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, hugging trees and seeking conversation with the spirit world.

I think spirituality starts with love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation………



Déjà vu!!

Three of my four grandparents were blessed with longevity.  My only living grandfather died in his early nineties.  My maternal grandmother, his wife, died when she was ninety-six.  My paternal grandmother was also in her mid-nineties when she died.  She was in the unenviable position of losing her husband when still relatively young, in her early fifties.  She had already lost her eldest son.   He had suffered a horrendous fatal accident when still a boy, which happened in front of his younger brother, my father and his young sister; an accident that left both my father and my aunt severally traumatised.  I guess my grandmother dealt with this tragic loss as best she could.  She closed herself off from my father and turned her full attention to her young and beautiful daughter.  My father wasn’t quite as gifted athletically or scholastically as his older brother; maybe a slight disappointment.  Having said that he still managed to study and qualify in Veterinary Medicine at the prestigious University of Cambridge.

Things were done differently in those days I guess.  The pre-war 1930s were full of unrest; a difficult time for most people.  My father and aunt were sent away to boarding school whilst my grandmother accompanied her husband, a civil engineer, back to India where they lived a fairly opulent colonial lifestyle.  My father and aunt spent their school holidays with a maiden great-aunt who looked after them royally.  She loved them dearly and did everything in her power to make their young lives happy.  However well she cared for and nurtured them, this was not quite the same as having their parents with them through these formative years.  I believe that both my father and aunt were deeply affected for the rest of their lives by this absence of parental care as they were growing up.

My father always told the story of a visit by his father to his boarding school one day during the rugby season.  He hadn’t seen his father for well over a year and during the game caught sight of him standing alongside the Headmaster watching the game.  He was elated; full of pride in the fact that his father was there watching him play.  At the end of the game he dashed over to find him only to be told that his father had already left!  My father was shattered.  What a strange way to ‘nurture’ a child.

I have gone back to these times to help explain my present situation.  I have been told by four separate Mediums and Channels, people who have had no idea of our family history, that my paternal grandmother is one of my dominant Spirit Guides and that she does this from a position of ‘knowingness’ and ‘mindfulness’.  Maybe she is the one who has pushed me to research and to study and to read and to try to make sense of the tragedy of losing Rowan.  Maybe she wants me to see a positive perspective to this loss.  Maybe she hopes that I will enhance my understanding and become more spiritually enlightened.  She lost her son, David and never learned to deal with it in all the years that she lived.  She closed herself down and cloaked herself in indifference.  My father never fully recovered from this indifference; disinterest.  On analysis I really do believe that Gran is doing for me something that she wished had happened for her.  If we are all part of one great big soul family then this makes perfect sense.

If you were to have asked me a few years ago which grandmother would have been most likely to be a spirit guide for me I would have guessed my maternal grandmother every time.  She and I were far closer, particularly as she grew older, than I was to my paternal grandmother.  I actually felt a more spiritual connection to the maiden aunt who raised my father and aunt than I did to Granny S; perhaps borne from a defensive reaction to my father’s upbringing.

I have been told, again by several people, that Rowan is an old soul.  I have been told that he has reached the enviable position where he doesn’t have to return to learn more life lessons; he now has the choice.  He is, at the moment, a guide to those other young people who cross over at a young age; he meets and greets and soothes.  He intends to be there for Chris and I when we cross over.  What then?  Who knows?  For now I am happy to know that he is busy doing what he does best; making people feel loved, warm and comfortable.  I am happy to know that Granny S, in helping me, is helping herself to finally heal.

There are no coincidences – perhaps, in our interwoven lives, these experiences are all pre-determined, one great big tapestry of life.


Anita Moorjani – if you haven’t yet come across her, Google her!  She wrote a book about her NDE (near death experience) called ‘Dying to be Me’.  What an awesome read; inspiring, moving and one of the most exciting books I have read recently.  She had been battling Lymphoma for four years and, as a Stage 4 cancer patient she lapsed into a coma and was rushed to hospital.  Her oncologist told her husband that he really needed to call the rest of the family to her bedside as quickly as possible because she was on the cusp of death.  As the doctors and her family discussed her condition and waited for the inevitable she watched and listened to them from a lofty place.  She returned to her body and the lemon-sized tumours she had throughout her lymphatic system had disappeared from her body and she was proven cancer-free within six weeks of this episode.  During this NDE she perceived that she needed to return to her earthly body because it was requisite that she shared her experience with other people.  She offers hope for those whose lives have been touched by cancer.

This has been the case in so many of the books I have read; a pressing need to share knowledge of the afterlife with others – to give them hope, to educate them, to help them make informed decisions about the way they choose to live their lives.

In the case of Marvin J. Besteman’s ‘My Journey to Heaven’ he was turned away at the gate and sent back to his earthly body again to retell his story of the afterlife.  He was embarrassed.  He didn’t want to come back here again because the glimpse he had been given was so awe-inspiring.  He dreaded trying to explain to his wife and family how it was that he really didn’t want to come back to them because the alternative was so awesome!  When he returned to his body he was disgruntled for a number of years; frustrated that he had knowledge that he couldn’t share because of the shame he felt.  He was eventually persuaded to tell his story through a ghost-writer.  The day after his book was published he died peacefully in his sleep – I guess he had fulfilled his life-purpose!

It always seems to be a major, life shattering event in someone’s life that triggers the need to learn.  I know without a doubt that it was the death of our precious son, Rowan, which set me on the path of discovery.  I would have happily bumbled along in the general direction of unawareness if I hadn’t been called upon to make some sort of sense of what appeared to be his appalling premature death.

My literary journey began with the factual Elisabeth Kübler-Ross MD, ‘On Death and Dying’.  I then honed in on as many Mediums as I could find; Kelvin Cruickshank, Alison DuBois, James van Praagh, Lisa Williams to name but a few.  I then started looking at Near Death Experiences and found some amazing stories written by doctors, surgeons, medics who had experienced this phenomena first hand.  Each genre provided me with a completely different but enlightening experience.

I have no first-hand experience of Heaven.  I have no first-hand experience of Archangels, Angels and Spirit-Guides.  But I believe in them all.  The beauty of my state of mind now is that I don’t need to search for proof – I know wholeheartedly that God, Goddess, the Source, the Creator exists.  I believe Rowan is with me every time I think of him.  I know that we will catch up one day soon and he will tell me all about his awesome life on the other side of the veil.  Love, gratitude and thankfulness are the routes to healing your heart and to happiness.