Several years ago when I first started speaking, I got a call from a meeting planner two days before my full-day workshop. She said, “We have the projector and screen all set up and ready for your presentation.”
I panicked. I hadn’t planned on using slides, and instead of saying, “I won’t need it,” I decided I had to rebuild my entire program. I worked on it all that afternoon and during my flight the next day. The minute I checked into the hotel, I got busy editing, improving, and adding slides. At midnight, although I hadn’t completely finished, I realized I had to stop and get some sleep. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have enough energy to present the workshop the following day.
I climbed into bed and turned off the light, but I couldn’t relax. I tossed and turned and could not get comfortable. I woke up at one, at two, at three, and four o’clock. At 5:00 A.M., feeling exhausted and confused, I was standing at the hotel’s breakfast buffet trying to figure out what I wanted to eat.
I toasted a piece of bread and put it into a bowl. Then I stood there thinking, “That’s stupid. No one puts toast in a bowl!” I decided it would be okay if I poured milk over it and turned it into milk-toast. I then decided it might make it more appealing if I added a little cereal. As I stood there looking at my breakfast turn into a disgusting, soggy mess, I started mentally berating myself. I was thinking, “You foul up everything! You can’t do anything right! You even screw up a breakfast buffet!”
At that moment, I sensed someone had entered the room. I looked up and I gasped when I saw a woman standing at the entrance to the restaurant. I said, “You look like my mother!”
She smiled at me, and I exclaimed, “Oh, my God! Mama! It is you!”
I ran to her and put my arms around her. Holding her close, I rubbed my hand over the osteoporosis hump on her back, and I said, “How’s your back?”
She shrugged and said, “I don’t have a back!”
I said, “Of course, you don’t!” and we laughed and laughed until tears ran down our cheeks.
And then I woke up. I was still in bed.
Was it a Dream? Or Did It Really Happen?
At that point, Mom had been dead for five years. I knew the second I opened my eyes that I’d had a dream. I also knew it had not been an imaginary encounter. In her smile, I had witnessed absolute peace, incredible joy, and perfect, unconditional love. I had seen the love of God on my mother’s face, and I felt it in my soul.
I got out of bed, showered, and got ready for the day. I was filled with energy and confidence, and my presentation came off without a hitch.
How Do We Know If an Afterlife Encounter Is Real?
I have shared this story with a few friends and family members. Most of them have reacted with polite skepticism, which is fine. I know what I saw. I know how it felt; and when I close my eyes, I can still see my mother’s face. It was real to me and I don’t need proof beyond that to know that her soul and spirit survived the grave.
Are Departed Loved Ones Still with Us?
In 1998, my friend Margaret* lost her husband to a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Last summer she was faced with a tremendous crisis within her family. She simply could not figure out what could be done to fix it. One night, as she was sitting on the side of her bed trying to work out a solution, she pounded her pillow with her fist and yelled into the dark, “Damn you, Henry*! Why did you die and leave me alone to figure all of this out on my own?”
She buried her face in her hands and sobbed. When her tears subsided, and she sat up and took a deep cleansing breath, she caught a whiff of Henry’s after shave lotion. She didn’t see him, and he didn’t say anything, but she felt his presence. In her heart she knew he was by her side.
Some people believe we are strictly physical beings, and when it’s over––it’s over. Others find solace in faith and the promise of redemption, forgiveness, and life everlasting. We can all speculate, but no one knows for sure what happens when we die.
If it turns out that loved ones only live on in our hearts and memories, it will still be okay with me, because it will still mean that as long as we remember those we have loved that they will never be completely lost.
*Not their real names.
What do you think? Have you ever encountered your loved ones in dreams or otherwise after they passed away? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Elaine K Sanchez is the author of the unflinchingly honest and surprisingly funny book, Letters from Madelyn, Chronicles of a Caregiver. She is the co-founder of CaregiverHelp.com, an online caregiver support program, and she frequently delivers keynotes, workshops, and trainings across the US. Contact her directly at email@example.com.