Ghosts Are Not Ghosts and other Flipside Observations

Time to stop calling them "ghosts." "No such thing as ghosts" is accurate. 

They're only "people no longer here." I've cataloged many cases of "ghosts" giving new information; details, facts only they know, have seen or observed - often after they left. My books "Hacking the Afterlife" and "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" include verifiable cases.

In Dr Bruce Greyson's interview (psychiatrist, UVA, DOPS) in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" he argues these end of life events occur because the atrophied brain is no longer blocking access to higher consciousness or virtual memory. He cites cases where Alzheimers patients regain full memory prior to passing yet autopsies show their brains could not function as they have. As if the "partitions" had ceased functioning and a person regains memory for a brief time.

Dr. Greyson's amended talk is also in "It's a Wonderful Afterlife"

These are not ghosts. These are loved ones who can supersede the false curtain we live with on a daily basis. People who are no longer playing our virtual game, yet have stopped by to help a loved one step off stage.

This author should freak out. Everything he's been told is inaccurate. Bodies die; people do not.

(Michael Woloschinow for The Washington Post)

"At the end of her life, my mother started seeing ghosts, and it freaked me out"

by Steven Petrow

"Last summer, six months before my mother died, I walked into her bedroom, and she greeted me with a tinny hello and a big smile. She then resumed a conversation with her mother — who had died in 1973. “Where are you?” Mom asked, as though Grandma, a onetime Fifth Avenue milliner, was on one of her many European hat-buying junkets. As I stood there dumbstruck, Mom continued chatting — in a young girl’s voice, no less — for several more minutes. Was this a reaction to medication, a sign of advancing dementia? Or was she preparing to “transition” to wherever she was going next?

Regardless, Mom was freaking me out — as well as my brother, sister and father.

As it turned out, my mother’s chat with a ghost was a signal that the end was inching closer. Those who work with the terminally ill, such as social workers and hospice caregivers, call these episodes or visions a manifestation of what is called Nearing Death Awareness.

“They are very common among dying patients in hospice situations,” Rebecca Valla, a psychiatrist in Winston-Salem, N.C., who specializes in treating terminally ill patients, wrote in an email. “Those who are dying and seem to be in and out of this world and the ‘next’ one often find their deceased loved ones present, and they communicate with them. In many cases, the predeceased loved ones seem [to the dying person] to be aiding them in their ‘transition’ to the next world.”

While family members are often clueless about this phenomenon, at least at the outset, a small 2014 study of hospice patients concluded that “most participants” reported such visions and that as these people “approached death, comforting dreams/visions of the deceased became more prevalent.”

 The author’s grandmother, Marjorie Straus, with his mother, Margot Petrow, left, and his aunt Ann Youngwood. (COURTESY OF SUSAN YOUNGWOOD )

Jim May, a licensed clinical social worker in Durham, N.C., said that family members — and patients themselves — are frequently surprised by these deathbed visitors, often asking him to help them understand what is happening. “I really try to encourage people, whether it’s a near-death experience or a hallucination, to just go with the flow,” May explained after I told him about my mom’s visitations. “Whatever they are experiencing is real to them.”

Valla agreed, telling me what not to do: “Minimize, dismiss or, worse, pathologize these accounts, which is harmful and can be traumatic” to the dying person. In fact, May said, “most patients find the conversations to be comforting.”

(RM: Especially because... they're real!  For example - examine what were Steven Jobs last words? "Oh wow. Oh wow! Oh wow!!!" Not exactly something that was "comforting" for a last person to see or say, but echoes what others say as they enter the flipside: amazing, brilliant, fantastic. (I have a chapter in Flipside - "Are Last Words the First Words in the Afterlife?")

"That certainly appeared to be the case with my mother, who had happy exchanges with several good friends, who, like my grandmother, were no longer living.

In a moving 2015 TED talk, Christopher Kerr, the chief medical officer at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, showed a clip of one his terminally ill patients discussing her deathbed visions, which included her saying, “My mom and dad, my uncle, everybody I knew that was dead was there [by my side]. I remember seeing every piece of their face.” She was lucid and present.

Since Mom had already been diagnosed with advanced dementia, I originally thought her talks were a sign of worsening illness. In fact, current research posits that a combination of physiological, pharmacological and psychological explanations may be at play. That’s exactly what May’s hands-on experience of more than 14 years revealed to him, too.

(RM: If you watch the clip above, Dr. Greyson explains that despite an atrophied brain due to Alzheimer's - or perhaps as a result of it - people in 70% of the cases in the UK were able to regain their memories just prior to passing.  Fully. As if the barriers had come down so that they could say goodbye. Later, autopsies showed they should not have been able to communicate, let alone remember their lifetime.)

May acknowledged that it’s understandably “hard to have empirical evidence” for such episodes in patients, but that it’s important for family members and health professionals to figure out how to respond.

(RM: "Empirical evidence" may be difficult, but "eyewitness reports" are not.  There are thousands upon thousands. If people consistently say the same things - whether during a near death event, while under deep hypnosis, or in hospice care about the afterlife, isn't that worth examining? People at the end of life don't claim to see martians, aliens, Barney, Big Bird or other imaginary creatures (for the most part) but consistently claim to communicate with loved ones,  hear messages from loved ones or people they don't recognize but somehow have known forever. "That little man in the doorway is beckoning me."  They may not recognize them here - in this lifetime - but they do once they go "home" - as every case I've filmed describes the place we go after we are here.)

Last fall, another visit to Mom raised the stakes. As before, she greeted me by name and spoke coherently for several minutes before she turned to the bookcase near her bed and began cooing to an imagined baby. I watched in astonishment as Mom gitchi-gitchi-goo-ed to an apparition she referred to as “her” baby.

“My baby is very sick,” she repeated, clearly deeply concerned about this apparition. “She’s very thirsty. She’s hungry. She’s crying. Can’t you do anything for her?”

I didn’t know what to do. Neither did my siblings or Dad. I had long stopped “correcting” Mom. A year earlier, Mom had regaled me with the story that my niece Anna had made a delicious dinner the night before and was at that very moment out doing errands. In fact, Anna was away at college; also, I’ve never seen her cook, and she doesn’t even have a driver’s license. But why contradict Mom’s vision of a perfect granddaughter?

(RM: I've found in my research the opposite is effective.  To ask questions. To actually listen to what they're saying. Just because you can't see what they're seeing doesn't mean what they're seeing isn't there. (Ask Ray Charles).  But if you ask simple questions - "Who is this baby?  Is he or she a friend of yours? It's it someone you know from here in the hospital? Or is this someone you used to know?"  By asking simple direct question, you'll be surprised - perhaps "freaked out" by the answers.  If you actually care to listen to the person who raised you - actually listen to them and not assume they're crazy or nuts - you actually might learn something new from them.  I've been asking these questions for years and get some pretty amazing answers.  It doesn't hurt to ask)

Social worker May, when asked about these sorts of imaginings, put it this way: “Don’t argue, because an argument is not what they need.” I decided to go along with the “baby” story and told Mom I was going to take the baby to the kitchen to bottle-feed her, which alleviated the crisis.

As the fall days grew shorter, Mom’s “baby” was a continuing presence at my visits, with my mother becoming increasingly distressed. I would settle things down by giving the imagined infant an imaginary bottle, or cradle her in my arms and leave the room for a while, saying I was taking her to the doctor. At one point I asked gently, “Mom, do you think the baby is you?” She didn’t miss a beat. “Yes,” she replied. “The baby is hurting.”

(RM: Fantastic! A question asked and answered.  "Is the baby you?"  First you need to clarify what that means.  "How could the baby be her?"  Well, if you examine the research, the reports (Dr. Helen Wambach, Michael Newton's books) claim that only about a third of our energy is here while we're incarnated.  Two thirds is always "home" or "back there" -- where we "return." 

So seeing a child that is hurting - which she may actually be seeing, or may be referring to herself, not a scrambled idea, or a mixed message if you've actually examined other reports of people who say something quite similar. He asked "Are you the baby?" She answered "Yes."  She answered the question as to what she was experiencing or seeing. The next question is - "How can that be? Or is there anything you want to tell that baby that is you?"  If you follow my logic, there is no question that is wrong when it comes to talking to the flipside, or those people with a foot in both realms.)

In fact, the largest study to date on deathbed visions reported on numerous cases when the “arrival of . . . a visitor appeared to arouse anxiety and intensify death fear.”

(RM:  Really? That's the best they can come up with? How about the "arrival of a visitor" was "followed up by a series of questions. "Who are you? Why are you here? What's your role in this person's life or spiritual evolvement? Is there anything that you want to impart to this person or to those around them? How can you help them in this transition?"  No one is going to be fired for asking the questions. But the answers may yield helpful and/or calming results. And what's the harm in doing that?)

But what to do? I hated that Mom’s level of distress was skyrocketing in what turned out to be her final weeks. I simply held Mom’s hands a bit tighter and tried to distract her as best I could with family and political news. Oh, and I cooked, which she loved my doing.

One evening I made a simple dinner: spaghetti with a store-bought marinara sauce and a bright green leafy salad. Mom had pretty much stopped eating by this point, which is common as the end draws near, but she made a show of trying her best with this repast for the two of us, plus my father. It was heartbreaking to watch her try to spear the pasta, but she managed several hearty mouthfuls, saving room for a scoop of Sealtest vanilla ice cream.

After dinner, I helped her back to bed, where she exclaimed: “How did you know?” “How did I know what?” I asked. “That was exactly how I wanted my funeral to be. You invited all my favorite people, and the food was just what I would have ordered.”

She was beaming. Six weeks later, she passed — and pasta and salad were on the menu at her service.

(RM: I would argue that she was describing her own funeral service with her favorite people - which includes her husband and her son, (and of course all those on the flipside waiting for her, including her mom) and the food she loved the best.  I know that on my pal Luana Ander's last day on the planet, she asked me to bring her a tuna sandwich from "Ocean Seafood" in Santa Monica. Her favorite. 

I didn't know where it was, had never seen the sandwich, and could not find it pre-smart phone days. I brought her a sandwich from a nearby deli. The look of disappointment on her face remains; I had failed in the one simple last meal request she had. (I was able to connect her to her best friends however, the Coppolas called in from Turkey on a satellite phone, Robert Towne, Charles Grodin and Jack Nicholson called to say their goodbyes, so I was happy about that) After she passed, I made a point of stopping by to eat that same damned tuna sandwich - which I finally found, and still regret not bringing her.  At least the author Steve Petrow got to serve his mom her favorite last meal.)

Steven Petrow, the author of “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners,” addresses questions about LGBT and straight etiquette in his column, Civilities.  Follow @StevenPetrow

(RM: My only desire in using this wonderful story of Steven Petrow's on my blog is not to chastise the medical community for not understanding or examining the flipside, or make light of a loved one's passing. 

Anyone who's read my work knows the depth of emotion I associate with anyone's passing. I've experienced it profoundly myself, as has everyone reading this post. 

In my case, readers know that "Flipside" the film and book came out of my friend Luana Anders returning to visit me in dramatic fashion after her passing, in such a visual and profound way, that it put me on the path of trying to discover if it was my imagination or - if it was accurate, how could I go and visit her?  I've done so, at least five times since beginning this journey.  

I've been researching the topic for 20 some years, I'm a filmmaker and an author, and have written extensively, and have many book talks on youtube (MartiniProds) and speak often on Coast to Coast radio.  
With Coast to Coast's George Noory
at a recent public appearance

My point of this post is to show that there is ample evidence to back up precisely what his mother was experiencing. That it's not merely a story of ghosts, or a "ghost story" or some other pejorative people use for consciousness - but an example of what's really happening just outside of our perception. 

We only need to reach out to understand it better.)

And some testimony from a Hospice Chaplain:

Here's Hospice Chaplain Savarna Wiley talking about the same phenomena, as well as her journey to becoming a hypnotherapist in her 2013 talk at the Afterlife Convention in Santa Monica:

So Steven Petrow;  I've got some good news for you.

Your grandmother was visiting your mother.

And your mother is with her now - and both are keeping an eye on you.

How do I know that?  

It's in the research.  It's not my opinion, belief or philosophy.  I've examined 10,000 cases of people talking to loved ones under deep hypnosis, as well as filming 40 of them, and doing 5 myself.

I've interview mediums, scientists, doctors, psychiatrists and others - to get to the bottom of why this might be. I've published those findings in "Flipside" "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" and "Hacking the Afterlife."  

Transcripts, eyewitness accounts that confirm precisely what your dear mother was telling you.

And is trying to tell you still.

You just need to open up your awareness a bit to hear her.  

If you need help doing so, contact me at @martinizone on twitter, richardmartini (at) gmail, or find a Michael Newton trained hypnotherapist near you (searchable at their website), see for yourself if you can or cannot continue the conversation with dear mom.  Bon voyage! (and bon appetito!)

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