Farewell to a Dear Friend

“Lauren Ann”
April 8, 1980 – September 14, 2019

On Saturday, September 14th, my dear friend Ann was released from the prison of her failing body to explore the last great mystery of this earthly life. Ann became gravely ill nearly a year ago, and since then I’ve been stumbling through the darkness of spiritual doubt and some very non-spiritual anger at the universe. With Ann’s suffering at an end, and I find myself adrift between grief and hope, relief and profound sadness. There is a sense of closure, but also a sense of waiting and wondering. Where are you, Ann?

Last November, Ann suffered a massive hemorrhage of her brain, the result of a mass of malformed blood vessels in her frontal lobe called an AVM. Although she underwent brain surgery, the unremitting swelling of her brain created difficulties in her cognition and motor skills. Subsequent strokes and embolisms in the last few months paralyzed half of her body and made it difficult for Ann to speak. Ann spent most of her remaining days in a semi or unconscious state, rousing only rarely. Her family never left her side these last months, lovingly tending to her needs as they could. Ann took her last breath in the early evening, during a rare moment when her family stepped out of the room. She was 39 years old.

According to hospice nurses, it’s not an uncommon occurrence for the dying to choose a moment when alone to pass on. Was Ann’s timing deliberate? Did she choose to wait until her family stepped away momentarily to transition? I can’t know for sure, but if Ann had any agency to choose in that moment, then I believe her timing was indeed purposeful; a final act of love. It was meant to spare her mother the acute pain of watching her youngest child take her final labored breaths, and yet ensure that she was discovered by her loved ones already in peaceful repose; no nurses calling to deliver the news in the middle of the night.

The day Ann died, I was completely caught by surprise. I thought for sure that I’d know. I thought I’d somehow pick up on the seismic emotional shift of her passing. Maybe a shadow would cross the sun, and a chill would run down my spine. Maybe I’d feel the ripple in the ether of her soul leaving her body, or a loving message of goodbye cast in my direction as she departed. But none of this occurred for me. When I got the call that Ann had passed, I was engaged in the most mundane of activities: I was washing my car.

It was a beautiful late summer day, but after learning that my best friend had left the world, it felt wrong that the sun was still shining, the earth spinning, and the birds chattering as they do in the late afternoon. Ann was gone. From one moment to the next, there was life, a breath, then… the slowing of the heart, the vacancy of that worn out body.. death. Ann left the world and I didn’t sense her departure. I felt guilty that during such a solemn and sacred occasion, I was absentmindedly scrubbing bird poop off my car, completely oblivious to her soul’s flight.

For all of the hours that we spent discussing what the afterlife might be like, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that she’s there. For her, the mystery is revealed, the answers given, the long fear of death finally confronted. Ann has leapt the wide chasm separating this life from the next. While I must continue to stare down the yawning darkness ahead of me, I strain to see if she’s waving from the other side.

I’ve tried in vain to quiet my mind; to feel the sun on my face and listen to the wind and try get sense of her. When I close my eyes, I see the flashes of her image in small details, things that were unique to Ann. The sun on her dark hair, her beautiful long fingers and smiling Irish eyes. I remember the way she used mindlessly chew on her lip when she was thinking, and her beautiful voice when she felt brave enough to sing. I can close my eyes and imagine her so clearly, but these are manufactured memories; simply composited remnants from the decades spent together.

Ann and I always had a strong emotional connection; to the point where I could always get a sense of her even though I never considered myself particularly sensitive. When Ann died, I initially assumed our connection would become stronger. And yet, all I feel now is a profound sense of Ann’s absence.

I should know better; there are many reasons given by researchers and mediums why a loved one in spirit does not return quickly to announce their safe arrival. It’s only been six weeks, after all, and most after-death communications happen after the three-month mark (if they occur at all, of course). But since I can’t seem to help myself from wondering where she is and what she’s doing, I’ve come to the conclusion that Ann is probably deep in recovery. Her final illness was long and painful emotionally and physically. Based on examples from other sources, Ann may going through a long healing process and is either unaware of her condition, or is focusing on her recuperation from her long trials. If this is the case, then it is a hard-won and most deserved respite from her suffering.

This long period of convalescence is commonly described in spiritual literature after protracted illnesses that ravage the mind and body. There is a necessity for healing, slow recovery, and the gentle but delayed revelation that ‘the great change’ has occurred. When Ann passed and the days did not bring even a fleeting sense of her, it brought to mind the Afterlife experiences of Sister Francis Banks in the book Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves. The author, a close friend of Francis Banks for many years, claims to have written the book by receiving telepathic impressions from Banks after after her passing from cancer.

Francis opens these sessions by describing her surroundings not long after her death and ‘awakening’:

I am in kind of a rest home now. It is run by the Sisters of the community to which I belonged when in incarnation. They are so kind and gentle with me. I am now lying in a bed, high up on a terrace, that looks out over a vast sunlit plain. It is a beautiful scene, and so restful. I am recuperating from the illness which brought disintegration to my physical body (Greaves, p. 11).”

Francis describes her awakening as gradual; a series of periods of unconsciousness during this time are punctuated by visits from friends.

After the Change was over, I was free of my earthly “covering” and I “woke up” here in this hospital of the Rest Home. My room had no walls and the sunlight seemed to flow over one all the time. I opened my eyes… or I came back to consciousness…and there was Mother Florence just as she used to be and as I had remembered her for so many years. She took my hand. She said, “so you have arrived safely?” But I must have been very weary, for I can remember little more. I think I slept again.

This period of convalescence in a rest home or hospital is described in other spiritual literature as well. Most notably, the first in a series of books written through automatic writing by Anthony Borgia of the experiences of Reverend Hugh Benson. In Life in the World Unseen, Benson has newly arrived to the spirit world. With his friend Ruth, another newcomer, and their host, Edwin, they come upon a building that Edwin names a ‘home of rest’.

“Ruth espied a rather stately building set among some well-wooded grounds, which also aroused my curiosity. On appealing to our guide, Edwin told us that it was a home of rest for those who had come into spirit after a long illness, or who had a violent passing, and who were, in consequence, suffering from shock. […] As we drew near I could see that the building was in no sense a “hospital” in outward resemblance, whatever it’s functions might be. It was built in the classic style, two or three stories high, and it was entirely open upon all sides. That is to say, it contained no windows as we know them on earth. It was white in colour as far as the materials of its composition were concerned, but immediately above it there was to be seen a great shaft of blue light descending upon, and enveloping, the whole building with its radiance, the effect of which was to give a striking blue tinge to the whole edifice. This great ray was the downpouring of life – a healing ray – sent to those who had already passed here, but who were not yet awake. When they were fully restored to spiritual health, there would be a splendid awakening, and they would be introduced into their new land. (Borgia, p. 23)”

After touring the building, Benson continues with an explanation of the purpose for this healing.

I learned that all of the ‘patients’ in this particular hall had gone through lingering illnesses before passing over. Immediately after their dissolution they are sent gently into a deep sleep. In some cases the sleep follows instantly – or practically without break – upon the physical death. Long illness prior to passing into the spirit world has a debilitating effect upon the mind, which in turn has its influence upon the spirit body. The latter is not serious, but the mind requires absolute rest of varying duration. […] During this sleep-state the mind is completely resting. There are no unpleasant dreams, or fevers of delirium. […] Some will wake up partially, and then sink back again into slumber. (Borgia pp. 25-26)”

Ann loved the bluebell woods of England, and always expressed her wish that after her death, she would find herself in such a space. This is where I imagine her now, and it stands as my post image. I don’t have any proof that Ann is currently ensconced in a healing space or ‘rest home’ as Borgia and Greaves describes it. It is simply what I would like to believe is the case for Ann, and it gives me comfort that such a place is described in sources of information about the afterlife.

Hope drives my search for life after death, as it always has. The stakes are higher now that Ann has gone before me into the darkness of the unknown. I must be patient, for if some part of my dear friend still exists, I believe she is immersed in the process of healing, evolving and expanding. I have faith that if she can reach out, she will in time.

On the way back from a short trip to the mountains recently, I had the desire to open a particular book on my Kindle. It’s written by April Crawford, a very talented but not well-known full trance medium. She published two books of ‘letters’ from anonymous spirits on the other side, written to unnamed loved ones left behind on earth. I picked a random place in the book, and the letter that appeared showed a date at the top; presumably the date that the letter was received by the medium. The date was April 8th, which happens to be Ann’s birthday.

Is it message from my dear friend? Despite the coincidence of the date, I’m not quite convinced. Rather, I believe it may be a message from my own guides; a reminder to sooth my stressed-out mind and grieving heart.

Here are the last lines of the letter, dated April 8th:

“Lose the anticipation of annihilation. Lose the expectation of a biblical heaven or hell. It is so much more than that. You cannot really know until you are here. Just relax and allow. All will be better than fine.”


Thank you to everyone who has endured this difficult passage with me and has written to me with words of comfort in my previous posts about Ann. Ann was my spiritual confidant, my soul sister and my closest friend. Her family and friends are all struggling with the loss of her beautiful spirit from this world.

Lauren Ann, you continue to be a light in this world for me. I will seek the truth, and I will remember to be kind, and I will cherish the beauty of nature as you did. When I walk through the woods as we used to, I will know you in the sunlight through the leaves, and in the song of the wood thrush. You are the brilliant crimson of the sugar maple, and the wood smoke smell of winter, and in the lilacs blooming in our favorite garden. As the world turns from one season to the next, I will remember you and your love for all the beauty in this painful world. The world feels darker without you, but I am blessed to have known you and loved you for so many years. Until next time, my dear girl. Love always, Jenn

https://www.youtube.com/user/Neruala26

8 thoughts on “Farewell to a Dear Friend

  1. Sending heartfelt ✨💚to you and share your sadness at losing your sister/friend. Be gentle with yourself, you’re both recovering from Ann’s illness and the seeming separation. And I know you know that separation is a trick of ego… it’s impossible to be separated from Light. 🌻

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  2. Just a heartfelt sadness for your loss Jenn. I experienced that same lack of presence when my sister passed almost 5 yrs ago. With others who have gone I always had a sense of their continued presence. Dreams, thoughts, impressions etc. but my sister was just gone. Now I understand that death isn’t simply the release of the body, that her experience has continued. Like Ann, my sis had a very long illness, many lessons to process. I can’t know what that means for her, but I am, finally, at peace with the sense she’s fully engaged in that process, in ways I can’t possibly understand while locked in a body, still under the influence of what’s left of ego in this last phase of my life. Be gentle and kind with yourself, you went through Ann’s illness with her and you need to recover from it as well. Sending love and ✨

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  3. I have practiced the art of detachment for many years now, it has become second nature. When I got the news that my mother had been killed in a car accident I felt almost guilty that no grief overcame me, just the sense of, ‘it is as it is’, so I was relieved when I read a passage from Eckhart Tolle where he said “No matter what happens accept it as if you had chosen the situation.” As Tony Parsons says in ‘The open secret’, “There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny and no choice at any level, nothing has happened.” Is there some wonderful secret waiting for us? we don’t know, can’t know so it is pointless pondering the matter except out of curiosity and interest. One thing is sure, we aren’t in control, the cause and effect of our lives could be traced back to the big bang, all that is left is acceptance.

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  4. Sorry for your loss Jenn, Ann is well remembered and much light her ordeal and experience sheds on you and us.

    Grief, or sorrow, I still grief the death of my wife by suicide. It had been more than 3 months. The insanity that comes afterwards, the rethinking about life and death, or what is soul and so forth, all take a different dimension and momentum.

    Both are natural in the occult, as she was a known writer within the subject. All ideas and truths we talked about, yet the blow of death wasn’t designed to be endured by the living.

    If anything, it’s like coming to the conclusion of Faust’s shriek, ‘that nothing can be known cuts me to the bone!’. Yet the fire is still there.

    As if, all these experiences, all these questions, and the answers, never satiating; be it glimpses of higher truths, or reexamining the nature of one’s mind in it’s thirst, feverish mind; all the momories, not knowing if they are transient or eternal, to whom when it’s forgotten; the perspectives that were and some are held; all of this I think is but a call to prepare who were meant for it, if the wind is right, to ego-death, Nirvana, Fana, however it is described. Kind of like waking up, with an understanding we lived our life backwards?

    Have you heard Hendrix’s posthumous song ‘Drifting’, on a life boat, on sea of forgotten teardrops, sailing for your love, sailing home..? Have you read these lines from Poe where he comes to this:

    My tantalized spirit  
     Here blandly reposes, 
    Forgetting, or never  
      Regretting its roses— 
    Its old agitations  
     Of myrtles and roses:

    But we have to keep pretending we don’t know, or trying to get there.

    Ann will visit you, give her some time; when in an unnatural agony, where what constitutes a life force is disrupted in your being, she will share some of this ‘blue ray’ or light, while stroking your hair, if that what would you need, in your half sleep: she might even wave her hand to you telling you Ann is alright, in a hypnogogia.

    Keep up the brave work and words that you do create, it brightens our captured souls while incarnated.

    Love, to you and Ann

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  5. No matter how much we may know and understand what happens on death and maybe beyond it, the element of missing the physical presence of someone much loved can’t be changed. We should, though, draw comfort in what we know while at the same time accepting that the missing of someone is an invaluable experience for us as individuals, no matter how we may hate the emotions that accompany it.

    Interesting to learn that the effect of a body ravaged by illness may not quickly be shaken off. We may talk glibly about how our physical problems are left behind on our passing but for some their psyches seem badly ‘injured’ by what they’ve endured before their passing.

    As for signs and symbols from those who have made the transition, well it seems that absolutely anything is normal. From someone’s near immediate return and an awareness or even sight of it by family and friends right through to nothing discernible or signs so fleeting and nebulous we can feel no certainty.

    My view has changed over years ‘in the spooks’ to one of being more accepting of situations I once could not be.

    mac

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  6. The words “grief” and “gratitude” begin with the sound, “grrrr.” May you find expanded peace in merging grief with gratitude. And, the surprise that is coming to you from Ann’s spirit energy will be profound. With love, MLHE

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  7. I think that we are deluding ourselves if we are seeking ‘proof’ of a life after the death of the body. What is proof, after all? Proof is an internal, subjective, individual standard. Were it not so, then why do we have juries, all witnessing the same trial, unable to come to a unanimous verdict? What we really have is evidence, which is objective, and which does, or does not, convince a given individual.

    I have no doubt that life after death is a reality, that the spirit world exists, that there are indeed paces there to care for those who died lingering deaths. I have no doubt that that we are the same person after the moment of death as we were before, and that we make progress in the spirit world.

    Direct evidence from our loved ones who have passed on? Yes, we can receive it: at times. But we must not expect instant gratification of our desires to do so. It took me 6 months of intense searching before I received my answers: and those answers came from an unexpected spirit source. I sometimes think the spirit world does this just to test our endurance and the intensity of our desire.

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