As Spiritualists we believe that at the point of physical death it is only our bodies that cease to live and we, the essence of what we are, our spirit, moves on to another dimension. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet’s soliloquy that no one comes back from the dead ‘The dread of something after death, that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns’. Yet there are countless thousands of anecdotes about spirits of departed loved ones returning to comfort the living and announce the truth of everlasting life. Indeed it is the very basis of most religious beliefs that there exists, beyond the confines of this material world, a heaven or paradise where the souls of believers go. It is the belief of Spiritualists that not only believers but all, every living thing that dies, goes into the next dimension. We also believe that there exists a way back.
My late Aunt Edith was, all her life, a devout and committed member of the Roman Catholic Church. She attended each Sunday for Mass, her home contained many religious artifacts and she read the Bible daily. Aunt Edith had been married over fifty years when her husband became ill and died. I clearly recall attending the funeral at the Church and then the local cemetery in Nelson, Lancashire. Some few weeks later I received a call from Aunt Edith who told me that she had woken from her sleep in the middle of the night and there by the side of her bed stood her husband. She told me he looked younger than he had been and spoke to her of a wonderful land he lived in surrounded by friends and family, so she should not cry. He was, he told her, quite content and would be waiting for her when the time came, but that it was not yet. Aunt Edith told me this but was upset as when she had explained the visitation to her priest he had denounced this as a visit from the devil attempting to lead her away from the path of Jesus. All credit to my dear Aunt, she told me that no matter what the priest said she knew it was her husband, she’d lived with him more than half a century.
In ‘The Afterlife’ by Jenny Randles and Peter Hough there are many personal anecdotes recounting visits from spirits returning to comfort or even heal the living. Here is an example taken from that book:
The famous singer and entertainer Tommy Steele was not always on stage, as a boy of just fifteen years of age he ran away to sea joining the Merchant Navy. However Tommy was not at sea for long, he developed a serious and life threatening illness, spinal meningitis. The hospital doctors feared that he would die, he was placed in a screened off bed and left to rest. Whilst there Tommy, who was semi-conscious, became aware of the laughter of a child in the room. Opening his eyes he saw on his bed a beautiful, brightly coloured ball just out of his reach. Thinking the ball belonged to the boy whose laughter he had heard Tommy struggled with all his remaining strength, reached out, picked up the ball and threw it over the screen in the direction of the laughter. Moments later the ball was thrown back and again landed on his bed. Not wishing to deprive the child of his ball Tommy again summoned all his energy and reached out for the ball and once more threw it back over the screen. By this time Tommy Steele was utterly exhausted but again the ball was thrown back landing on his bed and he made a really serious effort to reach it and throw it back. As he did this Tommy noticed that the feeling in his legs was returning. When the doctors next examined him they found, to their utter amazement, that instead of dying, as they had expected him to do, Tommy was getting better. When he was able to speak he told them that he had that little boy to thank for playing that game with the ball. That had given him the strength to fight on. But the doctors wondered what he was talking about and when they removed the screens Tommy could see that there was no one else in the room, there was no little boy nor had there ever been.
TOMMY STEELE Sings The Little White Bull
Tommy Steele’s parents were delighted that their son was getting better and listened in wonder as he told them how his life had been saved by a boy that wasn’t there playing ball with him. Then they asked him to describe the ball, which he did in some detail. Tommy’s mother knew then who the boy was. Years before, when Tommy Steele was just a lad he had bought his three year old brother Rodney a ball for Christmas. That was to be the last present he was ever to receive for the poor child developed an illness and died shortly afterwards. There may be a number of explanations for what Tommy Steele experienced, such as an hallucination conjured up by his sub-conscious mind. But then could it not be that the spirit of his departed younger brother returned to save him.
In the year 1986 my Great Aunt Norah was ill and taken to hospital. I did visit her many times though the hospital was miles away in Yorkshire and at the time I lived in Flixton, Manchester. It was early one spring morning, around about 5am that I woke to the sound of loud banging on my front door. It was as if a giant were attempting to smash through the heavy Victorian oak panels, thump, thump, thumping away for at least half a minute. I jumped out of bed, ran to the window and looked down at the pathway and area directly before my front door, there was no one there. The path and indeed the street were completely empty. As I stood wondering how that could possibly be the telephone by the bed rang. When I answered it a nurse at the hospital where my Great Aunt Norah was being cared for told me that she had, just a few moments before, passed away. It is my belief that Aunty Norah had called at my home one last time to say goodbye as she made her journey into the world beyond.
You can get a copy of the highly readable and informative book ‘The Afterlife’ by Jenny Randles and Peter Hough from any good bookstore. The ISBN number is 0-7499-1804-7 and the publisher is Paitkus Books Ltd. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about life after death be they sceptic or believer this work will make them think.