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For your discernment:

THE MAILBAG: VIEWERS RECOUNT TIMES WHEN DECEASED SEEMED TO SEND CONSOLATION

MACS J0025.4-1222Rare but treasured are those moments when it seems like we are touched or sent a message or consoled by the other side. That is, when we seem to feel the presence of those who are deceased -- who have gone before us.

While we are strictly instructed (by Scripture) not to initiate contact with the dead, there are spontaneous signs that sometimes come as a sensation of warmth or with a sound or by way of a scent. Is it truly the deceased?

Noted a viewer named Anita who had her experience in Gaunan, Mindanao, in the southern Philippines:

"My father died leaving us eight children to fend for life on our own. A few days after the funeral, I was helping my brother in our small general merchandise store. On that particular day, there was a need for wrapping papers and I went to my fatherís room where the papers were kept. I was bending to collect a batch when suddenly I felt this warmth around me as if gently hugging me from behind with the strongly recognizable scent of him."

She had no doubt. She felt as if he were right there. That's fairly common, as far as encounters go. A feeling. A scent. In Catholic mysticism, the Blessed Mother is often recognized by the "odor of sanctity" (which seems to hover around mystics).

In Upstate New York, Lynn Chriss from a town called Holland recalls the death of a devout mother who had helped her during an illness.

"When she was taking care of me, she had organized my silverware drawer in the kitchen, shaking her head at my messiness and laughing at me in the way of, 'How do you find anything?' Her funeral was on a very hot august day, no breeze, no coolness, no flowers anywhere.  

"I was waiting for my husband to finish getting ready for the funeral and decided to put away the silverware. Looking at the silverware, I smiled and said, 'Okay mom, Iím putting it away,'  and although they only bloom here in the spring, out of nowhere came a cool breeze through the windows with an amazingly strong scent of lilacs -- her favorite flower."

Indeed, as noted in The Other Side, the deceased are said to be given the opportunity to linger until burial to assist those left behind. "In December 1996, my father died after a year-long battle with cancer," noted a viewer from Illinois. "He was young (only 59) and became very, very ill before he died.

"The evening of his burial, after everyone was back at my mom's home for dinner, I just needed to 'get out,' so I put my coat on for a walk. I had gloves but no hat, and being December in Chicago, the temperature that evening was only in the teens.

"I had walked for a distance without focusing on where I was and when I stopped to look around and see where I had walked, I had arrived at an apartment complex where my parents had previously lived (before their final residence). We had some happy memories there, as my daughter was a newborn and their first grandchild [when they had lived there].

"What affected me the most, though, was a very warm sensation on my ears -- as if someone were cupping my ears from the awful cold. I am convinced it was my dad -- putting his hands on my ears as if to say, 'Stay warm' -- and also offering an encouragement to go back to my mom's home where the family was gathered. I believe this was the Lord's way of letting him say 'good bye' and move to his new home in Heaven, now that the funeral and burial were completed."

Some claim to actually have seen the person. Of course, we are especially careful with this. Careful and yet -- if it's God's grace -- open.

"The most prominent instance of a Ďvisitationí took place in November 1994," wrote Christie Otranto of Asheboro, North Carolina. "At that time, I was the mother of five, the youngest being a four-month-old.  My father had just passed away the previous October.  He had been stricken with Alzheimerís disease and we hadnít spoken to each other in many years. Shortly after our return from my fatherís funeral, I became ill with a cold which included terrible chest congestion and fever. 

 

"During that time, my husband slept on the couch in another room so he wouldnít catch my cold. One of those nights, I remembered coughing until my chest and ribs hurt and I sweat so much, I soaked my pillow and sheets. It was that night I awoke to my father calling my name. When I opened my eyes, I observed that the bedroom had an unusual luminosity to it.  I heard my fatherís voice call my name, again. I immediately sat up and saw my father standing at the foot of my bed. He appeared younger than I last remembered and was surrounded, and fully illuminated, by a beautifully bright and flowing light.  Somehow, I wasnít fearful or startled to see him, at all. 

 

"He spoke to me and said that I was getting pneumonia and I needed to see a doctor. He also informed me that our baby, who was sleeping in a bassinet next to my bed, was getting sick and needed medicine. Dad sternly stated that we needed to take care of our baby. Then, he asked for my husband, by name, insisting that he should be taking care of us. 

 

"Dad told me I had a high fever and needed to get up and take medicine to bring it down. Following his instructions, I immediately got up and, in my weakened state, struggled to the bathroom. Upon reaching the door, I turned back toward my dad to thank him, but he was gone and I was left in the dark doorway. I thought that I must be delirious, but checked my temperature, anyway. It had reached 104 degrees. I took some medicine for the fever and immediately checked on our newborn son. Discovering that he indeed had fever, I administered medicine for him, as well. 

 

"The next morning, I told my husband what had happened and he immediately took both of us to the doctor.  I was informed that I had the flu and was in the beginning stages of pneumonia.  We had our baby treated as well.  My husband took my Dadís words to heart and nursed us back to health. I donít know if I was delirious or not, but I always sensed that we were given a special grace to have my dad come to us during a serious time of need."

Others have dreams in which the deceased speak to them on the phone. Perhaps most mystifying are when the deceased seem to send signs through the peculiar behavior -- or so many say -- of animals.

"My Granddaddy, who was very close, died early one stormy morning," recalls Lina Rodriguez, who works in the department of surgery at the University of Alabama.

"I woke up with the thunder and was lying in my bed and a bird came to my window, in spite of the rain, lightning and thundering -- and began singing to me. 

"I knew then that my grandfather had left. I said, 'God, you didnít have to send a bird out in this weather to tell me.' But Iím grateful He did it that way. 

"The phone rang and mamma came to tell me she was going to the hospital. I told her that granddaddy was already gone." 

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