Books like this don’t fall into the hands of the living every day. I was about to write one myself when I stumbled upon this edition.
As you might expect, a variety of different death scenarios are covered. The book could have a subtitle, What You Encounter After Death. I’m going to focus on the chapters that speak of death from natural causes—the ones that fit with the Salish Sea Hospice Project. So— no suicides (assisted or otherwise), no homicides, no death by misadventure.
The opening chapter is aptly called, You Are Dead. After just a few paragraphs, I see that the first surprise for deceased persons is the realization that they have actually died. It is normal for dead folks to wander amongst the living for a while. Not for too long. Otherwise they risk becoming ghosts and poltergeists. Eventually though, even the ghosts move on, usually with a little help from the living.
Death brings release from the physical body, which is a huge relief. ‘Ecstatic’ is the word the book uses. Shortly after death, some of the dead try to comfort their loved ones. However, very few of the living respond to these efforts, which frustrates the newly dead. Even so, a few manage to connect with the living in the dream state. Others are weary of the human journey and just want to get away.
Another chapter, Death After Long Illness, was an eye opener. The book points out that living with years of disease and medication blurs the line between life and death. When the person does die, they aren’t sure if they’ve crossed over or not. Some of them continue to play out the disease conditions they died of, which can include the effects of the drugs they were taking prior to death. No one is stuck in these states, though many need help to get out.
The chapter on addictions underscored some spiritual physics. When a person dies in active addition, let’s say it’s with alcohol, they find a cosmic bar where other addicts hang out and the drinking games continue. Some of the other addictions, the darker ones, were hard to read through. Is it punishment? Not really—just the way it works. In death, as in life, we attract what we desire, spend a lot of time doing or thinking about.
It is a little out of the ordinary for a living person to get their hands on a book like this. Several times I felt I had slipped into a waking dream state after I began reading. There was something else that was very strange—the book seemed to ‘know’ who was reading it.
Handbook For The Recently Deceased is a challenging book to summarize for a living person. Most folks simply aren’t looking for titles like this. I’ll try to summarize the main points.
First point, you meet yourself at death. Shortly after death, each of us drops into a landscape that contains everything we believed in, hoped for, feared or desired in life. It’s all there, nothing hidden or concealed. Not surprisingly, many dead folks find themselves in a landscape that resembles an overgrown, untended jungle. It’s easy for them to get lost and many do. The book has humor. One chapter begins with a quote, ‘Death washes a lot of stuff away but not before a good soak’.
Second point. The after death realms are vast. Most dead folks end up in the near earth or astral realms, not that far away. We the living, visit these places in dream states, so they are quite familiar. The near earth realms are like a big city that has everything and anything one could imagine. In fact, what is imagined becomes real. Dead folks who belonged to organizations on Earth recreate the same thing after death. There is no destination called heaven or hell, other than what the dead person creates or is drawn to.
Third point. Death is a not a big deal unless you hold on. In other words, letting go of the human story is the biggest challenge a deceased person faces. Great numbers of dead folks simply continue with the same story they played out in life. The result can appear in subsequent lives as mental imbalance or disease.
The central message of the book is this: death with awareness, a conscious death, determines what happens next. The book alludes to something else, something close to my heart. If the dying person had someone at the deathbed, someone they could connect with as they were dying and after death, then the journey is off to a good start.
The missing chapter would be called Companioning.