My friend’s husband died recently and she feels his presence still around her. One of her husband’s friends told her that she too experienced his presence swinging through to say goodbye when a hanging object moved without apparent cause around the time of his passing. Are these kind of happenings proof of an afterlife?
Delusion in the Eye of the Beholder
This event could be dismissed out-of-hand as delusional. Or it can be embraced as a source of comfort – especially if you believe in life after death. I have no problem accepting the event as my friend’s true personal experience and I am happy if she can find comfort in hearing validation that her husband does live on. I also, simultaneously, marvel that the mind could be capable of creating such occurrences as it searches for meaning in a complex and vast universe.
I myself have had many such occurrences after experiencing the deaths of close family members. On certain days these events – a chiming unwound clock, a vivid dream, a significant song being heard coinciding with a specific thought of my loved one, and pennies materializing on a floor where they had not been 5 minutes before – bring comfort and peace to a grieving heart.
On other days, they bring a search for what could have caused them because everything has a cause. Except of course, the first cause which is the subject for another time. Just as events have a cause and effect, they can also be causally unrelated but occur in such a way that they are meaningfully related. This idea, termed synchronicity by psychologist Carl Jung, adds an expanded dimension to the world that we live in.
The Intangible Meets the Tangible
Hearing an obscure favorite song that was played at my husband’s funeral on the anniversary date of his death while walking through a grocery store and passing his favorite food section while thinking of him creates a connection beyond any of those individual events. The person next to me, in the same store, on the same day, in the same section, hearing the same song, has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the profound experience I am having. My experience creates a penetrating sense of connection to something beyond physical reality. It is surreal and the meaning I assign at that moment is not only valid but it is my reality, although not necessarily the Truth. It is my husband reaching across the veil of death telling me that he is okay and that life goes on. It is God bringing comfort to a broken grieving heart. It is the universe conspiring and coalescing events to say that all is as it should be and everything happens for a reason. It is synchronicity with profound implications. It is a meaningless coincidence. It is my own volition creating an event bringing me to that location at that moment to experience a salve to save myself from despair. It is all of those things and none of them. It is whatever I choose it to be. I choose how to interpret the world around me just as everyone chooses to interpret his or her experiences. That is how we create our world.
The balance we must find is in how we integrate our inner reality, full of wonder and profound growth as individuals, with a shared world that is just as full of others trying to impose their own inner reality and certainty on the outer world. The quest of a seeker who is uncertain of any absolutes but longs for humanity to live in peace must include balancing their own inner beliefs (or lack of) with a world that is full of a wide array of contrary and contradictory beliefs.
Life After Death? Maybe…
May my friend find comfort in the presence of her deceased husband – whether he was there or not.