Years ago, when I had my own marketing company, I had a number of funeral homes as clients. I worked with them for years and learned a lot, not just about their business, but about the nature of death. One of things I learned was that often people who are sickly and near death, will hold out just long enough to last through the holidays. They just want to spend that time with their families and then they are willing to move on. So, January tends to be a busy time in the funeral home business and a difficult time for many families.
I wanted to share some true stories that were told to me by family members or close associates at the time of someone’s passing. I’m hoping that they might offer a modicum of comfort if you have had to say goodbye to someone you love.
The nurses were part of a local Women’s Group who had asked me to speak about ghost stories. They all worked together at the local nursing home and they had all been part of the same experience. This is what they shared.
“Martha” was a sweetheart. She was one of those patients who never had a bad word about anyone. She was sweet and pleasant with an optimistic attitude, even though she was confined to a bed in one of the nursing home wings. One of the nurses asked her how she could be so happy, given her limitations.
“Well, my dear Freddy comes and visits me every night,” she confessed. “And we have the most delightful chats. With Freddy, I don’t feel lonely at all.”
Freddy had been Martha’s husband and had passed away five years earlier.
The nurses chalked it up to the early stages of dementia, but figured it wasn’t hurting Martha to have her fantasies. That is, until one night, about the time Martha said Freddy always visited, one of the nurses happened to look down the corridor and saw a strange phenomenon. The space in front of Martha’s room was different.
“It was wiggly,” the nurse explained. “You know, like when heat is rising from asphalt and the air above it wiggles. Except it also sparkled.”
They waited until it disappeared and then hurried down the hall to Martha’s room.
“Martha was smiling and very animated,” the nurse said. “She explained to us that Freddy had just left and wondered if we’d seen him.”
“The night she moved on, we saw it again,” another nurse added. “We were at the nurse’s station and we watched the sparkling wiggling air movement. There were no air vents or heaters in the area. A few moments after it disappeared, the monitor went off in Martha’s room. We hurried down and found that she had passed on. She had the sweetest smile on her face and we all agreed that Freddy had come to accompany her home.”
Another story was told to me by a woman who was discussing ghosts with me. Her father had been very sick, this woman confided in me. Hospice had been called and the family knew it was only a matter of time. Her aging mother was worried, she didn’t want to be home alone with him in case he needed something beyond her ability, so the woman told her mother that she would spend the night. This is her story about that night.
I could tell that my father didn’t have long to be with us. His vitals had been dropping, he was barely conscious and his breathing was shallow. The Hospice workers warned us that he could pass on tonight. I took the bedroom just down the hall from my father, in case he needed something in the middle of the night. I slept lightly and, in the middle of the night, a noise woke me. I looked down the darkened hall and I saw my grandmother standing next to the doorway of my father’s room. Although my grandmother had been dead for over thirty years, there was no mistaking her. She was a petite woman with a thick Italian accent. She was scolding my father, asking him why he was taking so long to come. Telling him about the other family members who were waiting for him. She said she was there to bring him home, so he needed to come soon.
I must have fallen back asleep, because when I woke up, several hours later and found that my father had quietly died in his sleep. I wondered about my experience. Could I have dreamed it? But in the farthest reaches of my imagination, I would have never considered that my Italian grandmother would come for her son and yell at him for not being ready. It comforted me to know that my father was guided home by his mother and there was going to be a big Italian family party on the other side.
I have heard many stories that mirror these experiences, those who were dying being escorted home by loved ones who had gone before them. It makes sense that a God who loves us would send those we are familiar with, love, and trust to bring us home.