Visitors from Beyond the Veil
After the passing of my paternal grandfather, Frank Andreasen in late February 1999, my wife and I decided to move from across town and in with my grandmother, Lauree Andreasen, along with our 3 young children, to help take care of her in her aging condition. She had experienced several years of medical hardship and wasn’t able to take care of herself. It was a challenge to move out of our home and into their small basement, but it was a sacrifice we felt prompted to make. The details of that story could be shared at another time, but what I want to share in this story is what happened on the night of Feb. 8, 2000.
To preface this account, I feel that I should share that my grandparents had always been a part of my life. In fact, my some of my earliest childhood memories are of walking with my older brother, as a toddler of 2-3 years old, from our house over to my grandparents who had and adjacent lot to ours, entering into their kitchen and being sat up on a bar stool at the kitchen counter and eating sliced apples sprinkled with salt with my grandmother. But those were younger days which had long faded into the past.
I always felt close to them throughout the years and have many life lessons and experiences with them which shaped my life and helped me learn how to be who I am today.
On this February in 2000, after nearly a year since grandpa had passed away, her health was finally failing rather rapidly. There were some hospice services involved, which provided some intermittent cares to help her out, but most of the daily responsibility of trying to meet her needs fell upon my angel wife (in addition to trying to care for our 3 children). She was always tired and emotionally spent when I returned home from work each evening, so on this particular night, I decided to stay upstairs with grandma so my wife could rest.
Grandma hadn’t gotten out of bed hardly at all for the previous 2-3 days, and wasn’t eating much and barely drinking, but as she was on comfort care measures and hospice services, there were no plans to take her to the hospital, but simply let things take their course. I could tell she wasn’t doing well on this particular evening, so I felt prompted to bring a chair in by her bedside and sit with her throughout the night.
As she lay there dosing fitfully, I sat next to her and held her hand. She was having trouble breathing and periodically would wake up, in obvious intense discomfort and distress. She would weakly squeeze my hand and look at me with somewhat pleading eyes, but as a health care professional who worked with elderly patients in a nursing home, I had seen these signs before and knew that there was nothing I could really do to help her as the end drew near.
As she struggled on through the night I hummed hymns to her and prayed silently, but the hours seemed to drag on forever as she struggled in the final physical throws before death would take its toll. Despite having witnessed such end of life changes in people where I worked, this was my own grandmother, who I knew and loved for all my life, and it was heart wrenching to witness it so closely and firsthand. I have to admit that a deep sadness descended over me.
As I was silently praying for her to find some relief from her ongoing struggles, I happened to look across the bed where she lay and noticed a picture of her mother, my great grandmother Josie Robinson Hatton.
She had passed away unexpectedly when my grandmother was just a young girl of only a few years old, and so my grandmother hadn’t even really ever known her real mother during her lifetime. I thought of how wonderful it would be for her to finally meet her mother when she passed away.
As I gazed upon her picture, and these thoughts crossed my mind, a sudden warmth and peace filled the room. Like a breath of fresh air and life, an unseen light began to grow and fill the dark spaces of the room. I didn’t see an actual physical light or any personages visible with my mortal eyes, but I could feel the presence of not only her mother, but also my grandfather Frank, as well as several others. I don’t know how I could tell it was them, but I just knew without a doubt that they were there!
In an instant the despair was gone, and a profound peace came over me and settled upon the room. My grandmother was still struggling, but now there was suddenly a deep understanding and feeling that all was well and right. I knew with every fiber of my being in that instant, that the relatively short amount of time my grandmother would continue to struggle was of insignificance, for as soon as she passed through the veil, she would be received into the loving arms of many of her dearest relatives. Although she had been struggling for many days and hours, I knew that once she passed through the veil, she would never remember those struggles or be affected by such things ever again, for she would be filled with rejoicing in the great plan of happiness of our Father in Heaven.
I had always been taught and known that death was just a passage into the next phase of existence of an eternity beyond, but it was as if in this instant, I was being granted the privilege of experiencing a portion of what that would be like, even though I would still remain alive for many years to come. The tears of sadness I had experienced only moments before were now replaced with tears of joy and happiness with the peace which flooded through me as unseen heavenly beings filled the room around us.
I sat with her throughout the night, and as the dawn arose, she was still clinging to life by a feeble thread. The profound intensity of the “gathering” had gradually dissipated, but I knew those heavenly beings were still there, patiently waiting for God’s time table to be fulfilled for my grandmother. Finally, I left her side as she fell asleep and prepared myself to go to work. My uncle arrived as I was leaving and I told him that I was sure she would soon be passing on, and briefly shared my experience with her. I called my father in Idaho and informed him that if he wanted to see her again, he should come down that day, and then I left for work.
I received a phone call a few hours later that she had finally passed, but there was no sadness. I marveled how my perspective of death had been changed with the personal understanding provided by what I had experienced. Although her passing left a deep hole in my life, I felt happy for her, because I had been granted a brief glimpse into the joy that she was now feeling and would continue to experience throughout the rest of eternity.
She was now back with those she loved and missed, and I counted it a miracle that after 70 years of marriage, she and my grandfather would not be separated for even a single Valentine’s Day!
To all those who have gone on before us, and for those of us still left behind, and to all who may be suffering from the loss of a loved one, I feel impressed to share my witness that our loved ones are always near, and there are never any true partings or farewells, only a changing of visual perception between us, which will someday fade away when we are finally all gathered for our eternal life together in joy and happiness! Until then, may we honor them in life with our remembrances, and may we be open to receive of their guidance until they too gather around to welcome us finally back “Home” into their loving arms once again.