IMAGE: Signs of hope across a bleak but beautiful landscape where a shipwreck endures © Louise A. Shilton
Dying is the easiest thing you will ever do because you are re-emerging back into the world of spirit—back to where you came from—back to your source. It is really always a pleasant experience at the moment of death, when the soul leaves the body—it’s like a breath of fresh air—it’s like taking off a tight shoe! You feel a sense of release and relief. If you had a remembrance of it, you would never fear death again—you would go through life with a spring in your step and joy in your heart.
John Cali, Channel for Chief Joseph, in the documentary Tuning In Movie (2008).
2005 was a tough year for me personally. I have had many challenging years—because, at a soul level, I have chosen to tackle many challenging experiences in this life. But 2005 was full-on.
In 2004 I had been badly injured as the front seat passenger in a car accident just two months into a job that I had migrated from the UK to Australia for. I ended up needing four operations, each a few months apart, and all the while trying to hold down two full-time jobs: the first was as research scientist with a heavy component of fieldwork as well as the writing pressures in a major scientific organisation; the second was as a “workplace injury” in said organisation. (As anyone who has been badly injured in a heavily bureaucratic workplace will know—it’s a paper trail nightmare!)
In the first quarter of 2005, my badly smashed right arm—yes, I am right-handed—re-broke early one Monday morning, shortly after my soft cast was removed. This was a month after my third operation, and after my surgeon had confidently declared that my radius bone was “rock solid”. (Hmm… sandstone rock, perhaps…)
Both my doctor and my workplace manager were unconvinced that my arm had re-broken, preferring to believe it was just soft tissue swelling. In the doctor’s case this was influenced by the surgeon’s report after having made the decision to remove my radius plate during the most recent operation. (The ulna plate had been removed in the second surgery, but this wasn’t what I was anticipating for the radius bone when I went under for the third—I thought they were replacing the screws which were too long and caused severe discomfort and inflammation the more I tried to rehabilitate my arm.)
So, effectively one-armed and without pain relief, I somehow managed to drive my 20 year old manual 4WD dual cab ute the 14 km commute to work and sat at my desk that day, and for a few days of that week, trying to type stuff up with an unsupported broken arm until it swelled so much that the doctor suggested that I go home and ice it. (I was in a regional town—it wasn’t confirmed as having re-broken until the x-rays made it back up the hill from Cairns at the end of the working week.)
Shortly before the third surgery, my partner had returned to the UK following our relationship break-up, which was sort of a few months earlier in late 2004—but had drawn-out exhaustingly, partly due to geography. (She had come over from the UK to join me in Australia, and you don’t just send someone packing when they’ve made such an effort.)
Then, necessitated by the radius re-break and barely into the second quarter of 2005, I had surgical operation number four—which also required a bone graft from my hip. (And detachment of the major gluteus maximus muscle from the pelvis—the bit the surgeon didn’t tell me about before I went under!)
At the start of the third quarter of 2005 I contracted Dengue Fever—a nasty mosquito borne virus—while doing my fieldwork among mozzie-infested rainforest edges and paperbark swamps. Falling prey to dengue at this time was no doubt in part due to me having a thwacked immune system following all the general anaesthetics and post-operative drugs for pain relief and inflammation. (I discovered that I’m highly sensitive to codeine, being rendered virtually legless with even half of a popular pill brand that many women I know are happy to pop for period pain!)
My dengue was suspected but medically unconfirmed at the time due to what I now know is an anomaly with how my body produces antibodies—subsequent blood tests show dengue along with other tropical nasties that I have had. (And there’s absolutely no doubt as to when I had dengue—aka “breakbone fever”.)
Unfortunately I had just travelled nearly 2,000 km to a conference near Brisbane when dengue took hold of me. And so, there, in a no frills undergrad box-room on an isolated university campus, I experienced the worst bone-crushing pains, fever and loss of fluid I have ever had. No home comforts—no DVDs to watch—and no-one to help out or comfort me. (Instead I had to defend my illness against ignorant comments from some colleagues who proffered that I would know if it was dengue because I’d be “really sick”. That’s what you get when you manage to drag your badly dehydrated and aching body out of bed to deliver your rescheduled research presentation, even though you can barely stand up and feel like you are going to collapse in front of the audience…)
At one point, when it felt like a steamroller was rolling slowly over each and every part of my body to make sure that no bone was left uncrushed, I felt like I was going to die—and I can tell you, I came pretty close to willing it to be so!
But, something good had happened in April 2005—I met someone new! Quite out of the blue, Faith had earlier contacted me having seen something about me being a wildlife ecologist, and thinking I looked cute. I really wasn’t looking for romance—but we had fun together, and realised there was more of a connection. Only she was shortly planning to return to her native USA after several years in Melbourne—which was still 3,000 km from where I lived, but hey—at least it was the same continent!
So there I was, negotiating yet another long-distance relationship. Faith was in a dilemma and was considering staying on in Australia for me—for us—but I, knowing how strongly I can love and already a wholehearted believer in “Where there’s love—there’s a way”, encouraged her to return to the USA, as I understood her reasons for needing to reconnect with friends and family in her homeland at that time.
But I digress…
Back home from the conference I endured fever relapses two and three, dragging the worst of the dengue experience out for about two months. I was almost hospitalised to be put on an intravenous drip because I couldn’t even keep a sip of water down for several days—I was dangerously dehydrated. (Dengue fever can shut the kidneys down.)
Knowing what I know now, I would have said “Hospital please!” as I recall how my doctor toyed with admitting me to hospital but decided to prescribe me a pill instead “to settle the stomach” and see if I could keep some fluids down. (This may to some extent have been due to some conveyed reluctance on my part to be back in hospital after the four operations and numerous related appointments over the previous 15 months. Not to mention the unsupportive manager who continued try to intimidate me behind closed doors, while making it very clear to me that any time out from my job—even under medical orders—was going to impact on my career prospects—at least while he had anything to do with it.)
Sometime during the period of being struck down by dengue I recall having a significant phone conversation from my bed, with my partner in the USA. My family’s situation had been challenging for many years, but I had an increasingly uncomfortable intuitive sense that things were coming to a head, and that my dad might consider suicide as his only option. I didn’t convey this concern to Faith lightly—it was a whole-of-body knowingness—a sense of pending doom and dread.
But this was eight years ago, and I wasn’t anywhere near as confident in trusting what I was sensing then as I am now.
Shortly into the final quarter of 2005 my dad completed suicide.
And with this event my life changed indelibly.
Holding it together and toughing it out no matter what life threw at me was about to change—I was about to change.
I mentioned my floodgates opening in my mid-20s in yesterday’s blog. But in the months and years after Dad’s suicide, in my early 30s, not only did the floodgates open—but my wounded soul surfaced.
Dad’s suicide was like the faucet opening on a tap of grief that ran so deep—I didn’t know when it was going to end. At some point, I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to end.
But experiencing and overcoming grief and loss—as well as understanding and healing soul wounds—will be the topics of future blogs. For now, let’s rewind to just before my dad completed suicide…
In the days, even weeks, preceding Dad’s suicide I was aware of myself spiralling emotionally. On the surface, there were a lot of contributing factors. Debilitating injury following a car crash that might have claimed my life. Surgical operations and the undesirable effects of a cocktail of medical drugs that go with them. Workplace bullying. Temporary residency contingent on the continuation of specific employment. Dengue fever. The strain of having a romantic partner the other side of the world who just wasn’t coping as well with the geographical separation and enduring the temporary, but necessary, time apart as I was.
Each of these circumstances can, in and of themselves cause depression!
And, in the bliss of falling in love and into a new relationship, I had forgotten to take the anti-depressants that I was briefly on—not because I wanted to be, and not because I felt I needed to be—but because the workplace injury protocol required that I followed doctor’s orders and see a psychiatrist when I was exhibiting some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—something the bureaucracy had prematurely ticked off as being nicely and neatly averted following the workplace motor vehicle accident I was a passenger in. (Unfortunately for me the only shrink in town was classically Freudian and old school—but thankfully for me he was living on his own precipice and suddenly disappeared from his practice, going “walkabout” for an indefinite period of time, leaving his receptionist in the lurch to cancel all future appointments. I felt sorry for her, as she seemed to have no job security, but I was mightily relieved that I didn’t have to see him anymore to satisfy the workplace paper trail!)
So it was in September 2005, without the numbing effect of anti-depressants, I was spiralling emotionally, and it was escalating. I was in a fear-response—it was fight or flight survival mode. I just knew something bad was going to happen. I didn’t know what exactly, but I recall some sense that it wasn’t directly about—or of—me.
Then, just six days before Dad completed suicide, the penny dropped when he and I spoke briefly on the phone. Dad was unusually upbeat—chirpy even! This made no logical sense given the family circumstances at the time (details of which were not shared fully with us kids, but which intuitively I seemed to understand more than was actually spoken about).
Dad’s chirpy! What on Earth is he so upbeat about?
A memory kicked in for me from a movie I recalled having seen years earlier on TV. In this American movie—which I have searched for the title of without success—a promising high school student suicides, and his devastated mum confronts his psychologist and says something like “I know he had been depressed, but these last two weeks he’d been so much happier—upbeat even! I thought he was over the worst.” And in response, the psychologist explains that often someone considering suicide appears to be upbeat when they have decided upon their course of action—they can be calmer and happier because they have chosen a way out of their pain—rather than because they are actually freed from the grip of despair.
So, there I was, having a phone conversation in Australia with my Dad in England who was being upbeat, in an out of kilter sort of way.
My last words to my dad were “Dad, you do know I love you don’t you?”—words that I have always been grateful for having said to him at that time.
Dad went quiet and handed the phone to Mum, but I knew that he had heard me—I sensed that he had, but was too choked inside to respond. (After the event I realised that he simply couldn’t acknowledge what I said to him at the time—because he didn’t want to be derailed from his path.)
I also sensed that Dad knew that I was about to call him on what he was planning to do—and I was—I was about to say “You’re not thinking of doing anything stupid are you?” But he wouldn’t come back to the phone. Instead he fobbed Mum off to tell me he was busy. (“Dad’s never busy, Mum”, I said “please get him back on the phone…”. It’s important, I think he may be thinking of taking his own life, is what I thought, but didn’t say…)
So, I was emotionally fraught and spiralling, I eventually learned, not just because of the range of tangible challenges in my own life, but also because I was directly experiencing my dad’s emotions energetically.
I understand now, what I had no real comprehension of at that time—I am highly sensitive to energies—I am an empath. (These days I know how to manage being an empath—someone who quite literally feels another’s pain and emotions energetically. Having the tools to manage this beautiful, but enormously challenging gift, has changed my life. But again, this will be the topic of future blogs.)
In the moments before my dad passed over…
Ceinwen had just arrived late that Thursday night to crash over at my place. We were only going to get a few hours sleep as we needed to set off at 3AM if we were going to be successful in catching flying-foxes returning to the colony after a night’s foraging.
I was trying to be present for Ceinwen—trying to listen to her making conversation with me as she sat to my right—but I couldn’t focus on her words fully due to a build up of bodily sensations and growing discomfort in my upper back and neck. I remember the intense feeling of my neck and jaw contorting, and the pain building up until the pressure felt like it was going to pop my head! And then, suddenly, there was a dramatic release of the pressure, and the physical discomfort dissipated.
In this instant I heard—I heard telepathically—a heartfelt sigh of relief as my Dad’s soul said “Ahhh… That feels better!”
This was around lunchtime in the UK, and late night in Australia. After just a few hours of sleep—which, for me, was interrupted by lucid dreaming of my mum’s distress—Ceinwen and I set up the nets before dawn, and I remember feeling numb, and fumbling with a knot—feeling frustrated and focusing on the knotted rope while trying to hold back tears that desperately wanted to be allowed to flow.
After an unsuccessful morning waiting to catch bats, I drove to the office. I was never good at sleeping after night-time ‘til early morning hours’ fieldwork. (Tiredness would generally catch up with me the following day.)
I sat down in my office, and opened an unprecedented email from my sister. It read like a telegram “Awful news. Please call.”
I called immediately. But, intuitively, I already knew what she was going to tell me. I could see it in my mind’s eye.
I knew what had happened. I knew when it had happened. I knew where it had happened. And I knew how it had happened.
Mercifully, I also knew that I had experienced something that suggested that Dad felt great relief and release at the point of his passing over. Deep down I knew I had experienced something that meant that Dad’s consciousness was not extinguished when his mortal body died. But it was another four years or so before I truly believed that the soul lives on.
These experiences turned my world upside down in more ways than I can even begin to describe here. In addition to the devastation of Dad’s suicide and the ripple effect of a family of suicide survivors each falling apart in its wake, I tried to convey my knowingness to others.
And I tried to understand why—oh Lord please tell me why—I was privy to experiencing some awful events that I could not do anything to change the course of?
And so, it has been a tough journey over many years to get to where I am now—to understand the whys and the how, and to confidently express that the clairvoyant, clairaudient, clairsentient and claircognizant experiences that I had then were real—very real. But blessings really do come from the most tragic circumstances.
I am very grateful for my dad’s communication to me at the time of his passing over—at the moment his soul consciousness left the confines of his physical body. It forever changed my life and how I see the world.
On Suicide and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
Late last year I undertook ASIST with Lifeline—using the program developed by LivingWorks. It was a hugely valuable experience, and I would encourage others who are interested in learning some skills to support people who may be at risk of suicide to do this training, or something similar.
Experiencing the suicide of loved ones is something that has changed my life in ways too numerous to mention—and suicide is something that I will be writing more about in the future.
But for now, let me just close by sharing another quote of John Cali, Channel for Chief Joseph, from the ground-breaking documentary Tuning In Movie.
Every death is really a suicide – because nothing can happen to you vibrationally that you are not a party to…
Have you ever had an energetic experience or intuitive knowing about the death of a loved one? Has your life been impacted by the suicide of a loved one?
I would love to hear about your personal experiences in the comments or via private email.