As a minister of a Spiritualist church, I find that the passing of a loved one is the most difficult time for a family. I had a Near Death Experience as a child, so I have already taken a step into the other side. But how do I help families deal with their grief?
One of the greatest gifts a Spiritualist can give a family is to help them understand the transition that their loved one experiences during passing. The person has finished their physical journey here on earth and is now moving on to their spiritual journey. My job as a Spiritualist is to be at the person’s bedside during their passing to make them comfortable and help them make the transition. My assistance is not only for the person who is passing, it encompasses the entire family.
Different things occur when a person is passing. They may say see loved ones who passed on before. They may see strangers who are there to assist them. They may ask if they are hallucinating. I am there to reassure them and inform them that what they are seeing is real.
I was only five years old when I passed to the other side. As a child, I experienced the event with the understanding of a child. Because of that, I like to read about the Near Death Experiences of others to have a greater understanding of the process.
One of those people is Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian and mystic who lived in the late 1600s. Swedenborg referred to the passing of the spirit as the awakening. He said, “I have not only been told how the awakening happens, I have been shown by firsthand experience. The actual experience happened to me so that I could have a full knowledge of how it occurs.”
He explained the process of passing over to the other side. “We are only separated from the physical nature that was useful to us in the world. The essential person is actually still alive. I say that the essential person is still alive because we are not people because of our bodies but because of our spirits.” He saw death as resurrection or a continuance of life.
Swedenborg said that he was first contacted by angels. They sat near his head, silent, sharing their thoughts with him in a telepathic way. They kept watch over him, waiting for his body to breathe its last breath. “When heavenly angels are with people who have been awakened, they do not leave them, because they love everyone.” At the same time, he felt a tug, like his spirit was being pulled from his body.
He spoke about angels rolling back a covering from his left eye toward the center of his nose so that he could see. “I could see a kind of clear but dim light like the light we see through our eyelids when we are first waking up. It seemed to me as though this clear, dim light had a heavenly color to it,” he said. After that, something was rolled back from his face.
According to Swedenborg, angels do everything for newly arrived spirits. They inform them, at least to the extent that they can grasp, about the realities of their new life. If newly arrived spirits do not want to be taught, they are free to move on. Other good spirits accompany them and do all they can for them. If the departed was not a good person in the physical world and wants to get away from these good intentioned spirits as well, they are free to go. They may search until they find the company of people more attuned to their own spiritual development. Swedenborg explained that some spirits “remarkable as it may sound, then lead the same kind of life they had led in the world.”
According to Swedenborg, the first stage of our life on the other side does not last more than a few days. After that, the spirit travels from one state into another until finally it arrives either in heaven or in hell.
Reference: Swedenborg, Emanuel; Rose, Donald L. “Afterlife: A Guided Tour of Heaven and Its Wonders, Second Edition.” iBooks.