Thoughts on Death and Dying
An Evening with Spiritual Teacher, Sylvia E. Browne
by Orest E. Ulan
I read a book by Sylvia E. Browne (she has written twenty) a couple of years ago when preparing a talk to be given at my church. The idea for the talk came from a chance remark by a woman who, in coffee hour, shared her feeling of being unprepared when some of her elderly patients expressed an agonizing fear of dying.
I knew I didn't fear death (though I would prefer it be
painless and not before I had completed a book I planned),
but because of that woman's remark it occurred to me that
that was indeed perhaps a widespread fear; and what could
I say or do to comfort some folks like that by sharing my
thoughts and their genesis?
Was the moment of death itself
painful? Did the departing soul regret not being able to
say good-bye to someone beloved? Was the soul nearing the
last breath sorrowing for not being able to complete a fulfilling
The tone I ultimately took in my address, based
on the writings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Sylvia Browne,
was that death — in a word — is simply not the end. And it doesn't hurt.
It appears that, as the final moment draws near, people who have had the near-death experience, whether by trauma or disease, relate a total shedding of pain or anxiety. They feel transported towards a brilliant white light, on the other side of which they are greeted by a loved one who passed over earlier. Some even relate meeting their guardian angels, or someone giving them the feeling of God Itself.
What happens beyond that feeling of joy, peace, and relief from pain, differs depending on who you read. Sylvia Browne believes we are reincarnated, even thousands of times, over the centuries. Others who have pondered this question come up with differing projections.
Some orthodox Christians believe we enter a state of repose awaiting judgement, which in the words of St. Paul awaits us "in the blink of an eye", then resurrection, but not on earth. Other religions believe something similar about where and how the soul comes nearer to God.
But back to Sylvia Browne-she is quite firm in her belief that we are eternal, we are energy, and energy cannot be destroyed; that we do come back, some of us, and sometimes not until a very long time.
An evening with Sylvia Browne is not at all somber. What she believes is good news and she has the gift of comedy. She can make a point in her own way that brought the audience-well over a thousand people at the Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium-to a good belly laugh repeatedly. I will welcome the next opportunity to hear her again and to bring friends with me.
The major religions are incompatible with each other's concepts of rebirth. Others disbelieve reincarnation because it cannot be proved scientifically. And skeptics who enjoy what they believe may not ever be convinced. They may think similarities between individuals in family lines, or vivid recollections and descriptions of distant places in other times by people in a calm meditative state, are not much more than chance or coincidence; and many hoaxes have been exposed, of course. But stories told by young people, who are not affected by books or television, or elders of a similar lifestyle, cannot be written off as intentional lies, or they as attention-seekers; and
birthmarks, mannerisms, or afflictions with whom ancestors
have been identified cannot be faked for long.
Tom Harpur, a well-known writer, in his book, Life
After Death, says, "Death is very much like birth. It is the traumatic but essential passage into a new phase of life." I think it is comforting to believe that, don't you?
Author's Suggested Readings: Lessons
from the Light, George Anderson; The
Journey Home, Phillip L. Berman; We
are Eternal, Robert Brown; Crossing
Over, John Edward; Divine
Guidance, Doreen Virtue; Conversations
with God, Neale D. Walsch; Embraced
by the Light, Betty J. Eadie; Reincarnation, Paul Edwards; The
Search for Bridey Murphy, Morey Bernstein; Who
Were You?, J. Maya Pilkington; Life
After Death: Opposing Viewpoints, Thomas Schouweiler; Send
Me Someone, Diana von Welanetz-Wentworth; The
Wheel of Life, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.
Orest E. Ulan is a writer who lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and who was visiting Saskatoon in late May 2005, when Sylvia E. Browne gave her presentation. Those who have wondered about the hereafter may access Sylvia Browne's books and recordings by going to www.sylvia.org or by calling (408) 379-7070. You can also hear Sylvia Browne at www.hayhouseradio.com.