If You Are Bereaved

One of the most beautiful parts of our lives on earth is our love for each other.  I believe that people are at their best when connected to the part of ourselves that not only loves, but is love.

But it is this very capacity for love that invites such great pain when a loved one dies. Losing those we love is perhaps the greatest challenge we face during our time on earth, but it is also an inescapable fact of this phase of our existence; it’s a burden each of us must bear at some point in our lives.

It is natural to grieve for lost friends and family. But when I hovered near death—when my brain stopped functioning in the hospital—my experiences convinced me that lost isn’t really the right word. As I travelled through the place I call the earthworm’s-eye view and into the heavenly realms, I didn’t feel lost at all. I felt perfectly content, and experienced moments of pure, true joy.

So if we grieve for loved ones, let us remember that while we may have lost them, they are not lost.  They are in a place where their needs are met and they are truly, completely loved.

And though they have moved on, they are not beyond our reach forever—I was able to meet my biological sister, even though she had died years earlier.  Other people who have been through near-death experiences report seeing and talking with loved ones, and even sharing deeper, less encumbered communication and connection with them.

This is not to say that we should not grieve after a major loss.  Grieving takes time, and can manifest in a range of emotions.  Psychologist and near-death experience researcher Elisabeth Kübler-Ross found there were five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Her model may be the best known, but other researchers have also found that people facing death or a major loss often experience a mix of fluctuating emotions.

That’s why it’s important to remember that there’s no “wrong” way to grieve, and that you will heal at your own pace. Many people find it helpful to talk with friends and family members, or to find a grief counselor or support group.

Hospices throughout the United Sates offer counseling and support groups.  To find the location of a hospice near you, contact:

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
800-658-8898 or www.nhpco.org

Some other organizations offer counselors for specific needs, including: Compassionate Friends (for parents enduring the loss of a child) 630-990-0010 or www.compassionatefriends.org and Judi’s House (For children dealing with the loss of a parent) 720-941-0331 or www.judishouse.org

Loss is always difficult, but it may help to remember that when a loved one dies, it is our loss, not theirs—and it is temporary.  The love we share with other people is a fractal of the love the divine shares with us, and it is that love that we reclaim in its full dimension and range when our time arrives and we move on to the next phase of consciousness.

Eben Alexander, M.D.

Dr. Alexander, a renowned academic neurosurgeon, spent over three decades honing his scientific worldview. He thought he knew how the brain and mind worked. A transcendental Near-Death Experience (NDE), in which he was driven to the brink of death and spent a week deep in coma from an inexplicable brain infection, changed all of that – completely!


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