Thursday, July 29, 2010

Children, God, Death and the Spirit World

As adults we are often skeptical of things, whether it is a belief in ghosts, life on other planets or even God. Why are humans in general so skeptical? The answer is because most often people do not want to believe in something that they cannot prove, that they cannot see or touch, and that they cannot understand. I'm open to just about everything because I honestly feel that we humans don't have all the answers, however there are times when even I doubt. Sometimes you just have to believe and have faith.

When it comes to children, they have a much different attitude. They see goodness, magic and wonder in just about everything. Because of this openness, they oftentimes experience more spiritual and paranormal phenomenon than adults do, and sadly we brush off their experiences as childhood fantasy. This is not always the case. Children have a huge connection both to God and the world of the spirits. After all, they recently came from there. What's not to believe? It is up to us as adults to listen to them and to try and understand. At all of my lectures I tell the group to really listen to their children and be open to any experience they may be having. If a child tells you someone was in his room one night, or someone became an "imaginary" friend, listen to him. Hear what he has to say. You may discover something wonderful, and you may learn a thing or two along the way.

I bring this all up because of something truly amazing which my children recently experienced. It was a moment which strengthened my own faith and beliefs, and it brought me much comfort. So I decided I would like to share it with you in this blog. But first, I would like to say that death is a difficult concept for children to grasp whether it is the death of a person they love, or a beloved pet. It is heartbreaking to watch a child mourn, let alone when it is one of your own children. No matter how much you try to help them or comfort them, they have to ultimately work it out for themselves. It is a process and a difficult one at that. To try to help my children understand death, I have been extremely open about the subject. We have a strong faith background in the Catholic religion and in God. Because of the work I do, I have also studied death and life after death for years. I know without a doubt that the soul lives on and that spirit communication is possible. So between our religion, my research and my own experiences, I have done my best to convey the concept of death to my children to the best of my abilities. I do not want them to be afraid, and I want them to know that whoever it is that has died is not that far away; that they stay with us and visit us in spirit form.

So this brings me to my story. Two weeks ago, my almost fifteen-year-old cat had to be put down unexpectedly. We were absolutely devastated. It had come out of nowhere. Just two months before I had the cat at the vet for a routine exam, x-rays and blood work. He had a thyroid condition for a year which he was being treated for with medication. It required me to bring him to the vet every three months to make sure his levels were good. He was doing exceptionally well and there was absolutely no changes in his behavior, appetite or weight. He never looked like an old cat. So when he suddenly couldn't walk and refused to eat we were taken totally by surprise. He was very wobbly and had some sort of a seizure. We rushed him to the vet immediately and had more blood work done. Upon giving him an exam, the vet found a tumor that did not exist two months prior. It couldn't be seen and I never felt it. There were other sudden indications that revealed he was going downhill. The vet told us to bring him home and keep him comfortable and to observe him. He would have the bloods back early the next morning.

That night nothing had changed and the cat still refused to eat and he seemed uncomfortable. My husband and I decided, as hard as it was, that it would be best to put him down. We knew in our hearts that something was terribly wrong with him, and we did not want him to suffer. Our thoughts were confirmed the next day when we got the blood work back from the vet. We found out the cat's red blood count was completely different from his last visit. Even the vet was surprised. Whatever tumor he had was an aggressive one and his body was shutting down.

My husband and I were upset enough, but we still had to tell our two sons, ages ten and seven, of our decision. Of course they were extremely upset. My older child told me he had prayed to God for over an hour the night before. He prayed to Jesus to save his cat and make him well. He was disappointed and a bit angry that God did not answer his prayer. Another hard concept which I had to try and explain to him. After our discussion, I felt like he understood, but he was still upset.

About an hour before we were to bring the cat to the vet, my son came to me again and said he changed his prayer. This time he asked Jesus to give him confirmation that our cat would visit once he died and went to Heaven. He asked our cat too, to give him a sign so we would know he was here. I asked my son, what kind of sign did he ask for? He answered that if God was listening to him, and if everything I said was true about the spirits visiting, then our cat would knock over the bunny on the wicker love seat in our sunroom after he died. I looked at my son and wondered just what to say. This was a pretty tall order. 'We do get signs and God does listen,' I began. 'But we can't expect them to come immediately. Over time we will get a sign. I'm sure.'He shook his head in protest. 'If God is listening, he will come back.' My heart was broken at his request and I prayed that after everything was said and done that he would forget about it upon our arrival home. We simply can't expect God and spirits to answer on cue.

So the hour came. My husband and I decided to get rid of everything belonging to the cat before we left, instead of coming home to it afterwards which is much harder. Before I carried the cat out of the sunroom I fixed the cushion and pillows on the wicker love seat and straightened the antique bunny. The bunny is made of sturdy cloth and the body is weighted down so it doesn't move. The soft, spindly legs rested gently on the sofa cushion while the upper body sat firmly up against the back of the couch. The sunroom was in order and I was the last person to leave the room. The windows were closed; the dog was in another room in her crate. No one was left in the house. We went to the vet and did the inevitable. To try to take their minds off of the situation, we took the boys out for ice cream sundaes afterwards to try to numb the pain. We arrived home an hour or so later. By this point I had completely forgotten about my son's request. The boys however, went running into the house and straight into the sunroom. Suddenly I heard screams and crying. 'He was here! He was here!' they shouted. I didn't know what they were talking about. I ran into the sunroom, and to my utter disbelief...the bunny was completely face down over it's spindly legs.

God had listened, and so did the cat. He had come back on his journey to Heaven to say goodbye and to let us know that his spirit will always be with us. It took seeing things from the eyes of a child to know that anything from this world, or from the world beyond, is in fact... possible.