Visits from departed loved ones – dream or reality?June 28, 2010
A couple of months ago I wrote here about the sad loss of my cat, Binbag. Binbag had been my cat companion for 16 years so as you can imagine, I was devastated. My other little cat friend, Pyewackett, who grew up with Binners, had died suddenly three years previously and Binbag’s demise brought memories back of this, as well as symbolising the end of an era for me, so I found myself grieving for both of them and for happy times, never to be revisited.
I also felt a lot of guilt and concern about the way Binbag died. I’d noticed him acting strangely over the previous week and had begun to wonder whether he was perhaps going senile. His personality began to change – he no longer seemed to be his usual laidback happy little self – and he spent a lot of time just staring at his food dish, or seemingly staring into space. When I realised that he was also beginning to struggle with his breathing I decided it was time for a trip to the vets.
Despite his advanced age, I still hoped that the vet would offer some remedy for his problems and that our old Binners would be back with us, right as rain. We’d had a little scare six months earlier when his eye swelled up enormously and blood started to trickle from his nose, potentially the signs of a tumour. Luckily it turned out to be a simple infection and a couple of shots of antibiotics had him back to his old self in no time.
However, this time it wasn’t to be. The vet examined him and told me that he had a lot of fluid round his lungs, which was why his breathing was difficult, and also appeared to have a swollen liver. To remove the fluid would have involved a painful operation and she said that at his age, there was a good chance that the procedure in itself would kill him. The swollen liver was also a bad sign and she advised me that if it was her cat, she would probably do the kindest thing – and euthanize him. Ultimately though, the decision was mine.
I was utterly distraught and completely torn over what to do. After composing myself outside of the room (I didn’t want Binners to pick up on my distress), I went back in and after a lot of thought and soul-searching, sadly gave her the nod.
It was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever experienced. It all felt faintly surreal and the moment when the needle went in was truly horrible – I knew at that point he was going to die and that there was no way back from then. What made the experience even more traumatic was that his circulation was so bad, the vet had to inject him in his stomach which was clearly very uncomfortable for him as he squirmed in a desperate bid to free himself. The vet then had to hold his head up due to his breathing difficulties, so as he died he was looking straight into my eyes. As I stroked his paws and told him what a great little cat he’d been and how much I loved him, I saw the light finally go out of his eyes for good, but because of his illness and where he had the injection, he still continued breathing despite apparently being brain dead. The actual end – which in reality probably took a couple of minutes – seemed to take forever to arrive. I was heartbroken.
Over the next couple of weeks I found myself constantly in tears, unable to sleep and feeling desperately guilty about whether I’d done the right thing. Maybe if I’d allowed the operation, he might have stood a chance? He’d always been a fighter, after all. I also felt terribly traumatised by the manner of his death - I’d always imagined euthanasia would be quick and peaceful but this wasn’t the case at all with poor Binners. My father, who was with me during all of this, assured me that I’d done the best thing for him and my friends and family all told me that he’d been a very lucky cat who had had a wonderful life, but none of this could console me.
I spent a lot of time over this fortnight pacing around and wandering about aimlessly, unable to settle or concentrate on anything. Then one day during yet another aimless wander around my garden, a bee began to follow me. Everywhere I went, there was the bee, buzzing around my head despite my attempts to flap it away. I suddenly recalled that I’d heard of people being visited by deceased loved ones in the form of a non-human creature, and I began to wonder if the bee was Binners, particularly as it was a bumble bee (BB standing for Bumble Bee and Bin-Bag). So I said to the bee – ‘’Ok, if you are Binners and you’ve come back to let me know that you’re ok, then please give me another bee sign in the next 24 hours.’
The following day, exhausted through my lack of sleep, I decided to go for an afternoon nap. I always dream a lot when I have a sleep during the day, and this time was no exception. In my dream, I was in a strange house with my parents and daughter which was apparently our home. Despite the unfamiliarity of the house, I accepted that this was home and believed this to be real, until I suddenly spotted Binners curled up asleep on the floor. ‘ Hang on a minute,’ I said ‘this can’t be real! Binners is over there and I know for a fact he died. I’m dreaming this! I need to wake up!’
And I promptly did wake up – only to feel the familiar sensation of a cat jumping onto the bed. I sat up, eyes still closed, and was elated to feel fur rubbing against my skin. Binners was here! I was too afraid to open my eyes as I seemed to sense that if I did, he would disappear, so I contented myself with stroking him and was delighted to feel by the sleek texture of his fur that he was young and healthy again. He nuzzled against my face, and somehow wordlessly communicated to me that he was happy and at peace, and that he loved me and that I should no longer feel sad or guilty about him. And then he jumped off the bed, and finally I had the courage to open my eyes – just in time to see the tip of a black tail disappearing out of the door.
I lay in bed for a while after, feeling stunned and excited. Was that really him? Did that really just happen or was I still dreaming? I had heard about people being visited by deceased loved ones whilst they lay in their beds, so maybe this was what had happened here. When I eventually got up, I decided to do what I always do when wondering about something, and went on the internet to google it.
I typed in ‘dreams of deceased loved ones’ and came up with over a quarter of a million results. The first entry I looked at was a discussion forum which I felt would offer a number of different experiences, one of which may be similar to my own – and on the first page I viewed, under a comment which particularly resonated with me, was this ‘signature’:
It was the bee! And as you can see, not only is it a bee, it’s a bee who appears to be jumping up and down and waving at me, as if to say ‘Well, you wanted your sign and here I am! NOW do you believe it was me?’
This whole experience was of enormous comfort to me and I was finally able to let go of the guilt I felt about Binners’ death. It was also a very exciting experience and over the next week I found myself sharing the story with a number of people. I live in Yorkshire where the people are very down to earth, and I expected that many would at best, humour me or at worst, look at me as if I was slightly mad. But amazingly nearly everyone I told, including those who I expected to be the most sceptical, had a similar tale to tell of being visited by a recently deceased loved one whilst lying in their bed. Each of these stories had striking similarities – no words were spoken yet there was a telepathic communication between them, the message usually being ‘I’m fine, don’t worry about me’, the loved one appeared youthful, well and happy, and there was a surreal feel to the experience, with the person being visited unsure whether they were awake or asleep. Further research on this brought up that same surreal feeling time and time again – that it didn’t feel like a dream, that it felt real yet the fact that the visit occurred during the night made them uncertain of how real it actually was.
Having considered this for some time and done a vast amount of research, my belief now is that this experience is a genuine visitation and that for most of us, this is probably the only time when energy of a more ethereal nature can interact with us. When we are resting, our mind is relaxed and therefore much more receptive than during the day, when we are usually over-stimulated and stressed out by our daily routines. When we are lying in that limbo state – half-awake, half-asleep – we are also probably less likely to be afraid of a ‘spirit’ appearing before us. At rest and away from the harsh realities of everyday living, it seems all of us have the abilities and sensitivity of the empath…
If you have recently lost a loved one, I hope this story is of some comfort to you – and if you have experienced something similar, please leave a comment as I would love to hear your stories too.
Incidentally, when my cat Pyewackett died, it was a shock as it was unexpected – we came down one morning and he had simply died in the night – but it was nowhere near as disturbing as the experience with Binners. However, even though I was relieved that he’d died the way we’d probably all want to go – suddenly, without any prior illness, and at home (especially as he hated going to the vets more than any cat I’ve ever known) – I still felt guilty that I hadn’t been with him, particularly as I had heard him miaowing in the night and had just told him to be quiet. He was always a very talkative cat, regardless of the time of day or night, and there was nothing in his tone to suggest anything was amiss, but I still felt upset that I hadn’t been there for him in his last moments.
A few days later I was in a local supermarket waiting for a friend to finish her shopping. As was usual at this time, I was thinking about Pye and feeling upset that I hadn’t been there for him when he needed me, when I suddenly spotted this rather bizarre headline on the newspaper stand. It said simply, in huge letters right across the front page:
“I’m happy to die at home.”