Be Not Feared!
Comforting Insight For The Suffering, Grieving And Dying.
by Bob Olson, OfSpirit.com Editor
I believe that we can alter our life today
simply by learning not to fear death. And by fearing death less we
discover that we live life more! Shakespeare comments on this in Julius
Caesar: “It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that
death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
Isn’t it remarkable how this natural
transition from one life to another—from our life on earth to our life
in spirit—is so feared, yet it is a transition we will all be making? I
believe that it is our ignorance of death that makes it so feared. And our
ignorance remains because most of us do not acknowledge that death exists.
Francis Bacon wrote, “Men fear death as
children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is
increased with tales, so is the other.” What are some of the tales we
hear about death? We hear it is dark. We hear it is grim. We hear it is
cold… or just the opposite—death is a fiery inferno for those who are
sinners! We hear clichés like, “as cruel as death,” “as hungry as
the grave,” or we associate death with other feared realities such as in
Benjamin Franklin’s famous line, “Nothing in life is certain except
death and taxes.”
Woody Allen spoke what most of us feel. He
said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be
there when it happens.” We don’t want to be there. We don’t want to
die. Most of us don’t even want to think about death.
A childhood friend of mine—a gal I have
known for almost twenty years—recently learned that her friend was
probably going to die of cancer soon. The cancer was in this woman’s
lungs and liver. During a stay at this gal’s home, my wife, Melissa, and
I sat and talked with her about everything from the weather to her work
and every aspect of her life, but she would not
talk about her dying friend. Occasionally she would well up in tears and
have to walk away. We were all aware of what weighed on her mind, but she
would not talk about the most pressing topic of her thoughts—her
friend’s imminent death.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross tells us that denial
is the first stage in dealing with death. Apparently that is true for both
the person dying and the people surrounding the person who is dying. We
assume that if we don’t talk about it, then it isn’t real. But we need
to talk about death to work through the other four stages. Dr. Kubler-Ross’
five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally,
This gal’s inability to discuss her
friend’s cancer may have resulted from her parents protecting her from
death when she was a child. I don’t mean protecting her from her own
death, but rather the death of others. Many parents think they are
protecting us from the pain of knowing death by hiding it from us as
children. But in reality, parents prevent us from developing the skills to
deal with death when they hide it from us. Instead of allowing us to say
goodbye to our dying loved-ones, they withhold that gift from us as if we
won’t notice, as if we won’t forever crave that privilege.
I spent 35 years not knowing what to think
about death, especially life-after-death. I was one of those people who
got frustrated by the subject because it seemed to be a topic that could
never be confirmed. By confirmation, I wanted evidence that we continue to
exist after death. By evidence, I wanted something concrete that I could
grab hold of to know that there was no other logical outcome than to
believe life goes on.
Some people hear me speak about
life-after-death and think that I have been one of those naïve believers
who has accepted the theories and dogma of others all my life. Oh, this is
so not true. In fact, my fear of appearing naïve, of being fooled by some
tricky charlatan, used to be so intense that I fell a little to the
cynical side. Max Lerner must have written directly for me when he wrote,
“There is no crime in the cynical American calendar more humiliating
than to be a sucker.” So I lived my life, admittedly, as a cynical
Even as a child I questioned adults for
more evidence to back up their spiritual teachings. I must have been seven
or eight years old when my parents first brought me to Catechism class. It
was in the bottom of a Catholic church. I sat at the long cafeteria-style
table with about ten other little boys and girls and I raised my hand.
“Yes, Bobby, do you have a question?”
the teacher asked.
“Well, I just wondered how we really know
that heaven exists,” I said.
Right at that moment, this little blonde
girl who sat diagonally across from me turned to me with a look of
contempt that could have melted the metal buttons on my Roy Rogers cowboy
shirt. I hesitated and then continued with my question.
“Is there any proof that there is a
heaven?” I asked.
The Catechism teacher was kind and patient.
I’ll never forget her answer. She said, “Well, Bobby, we know heaven
exists because the same God that created the trees, flowers, oceans,
birds, plants, mountains and animals also created a heaven. We know heaven
exists because we know God exists.”
Right then, the little blonde girl looked
at me again with a nasty smirk on her face and said, “There,
satisfied!” And then she stuck her tongue out at me.
Of course, I wasn’t satisfied with my
teacher’s answer. And I wouldn’t be satisfied for almost three decades
despite ten more years of Catechism classes. But it wasn’t like I
continued to seek answers to my uncertainties all this time. I barely paid
attention to what the religious teachers said. I had learned from that
little blonde girl that I shouldn’t be announcing my doubts in
public—it wasn’t worth the public disdain. So I only listened enough
to get through without getting into trouble.
Although I was skeptical, it didn’t mean
I was narrow-minded. These are two completely different animals. I was
always open to new possibilities. I had hope that there was more to
life—and death—than I was seeing. So I explored. I visited psychics,
tarot readers and so-called spiritual practitioners. But I never met with
any degree of satisfaction that there were any truly gifted people in this
world who could provide me with the evidence I was seeking. I’m not sure
if I was only led to phony practitioners or if my skepticism prevented me
from recognizing genuine practitioners. As Robert M. Pirsig wrote, “The
truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the
truth,’ and so it goes away.” That might have been me.
I gave birth to a new aspect of myself on
January 15, 1999. I just had a book published and it was really exciting.
However, a couple days after its release, I had a talk with my father.
This was a great deal more exciting because my father had been dead for
almost two years.
This is the day I met my first genuine and
legitimate psychic medium. Yes, there really are people who can
communicate with spirits. But, of course, one needs to believe in spirits
in order to believe that people can communicate with them. At the time, I
wasn’t sure about either.
I heard about a medium (spirit messenger)
from my brother-in-law, Derek. He had just gone to see her and he
couldn’t stop talking about his “reading” with her. The main point
he kept hammering at me was that she gave him details about his life that
nobody could have known—especially this stranger. I liked that idea:
details that the psychic medium could never know. Can you imagine? I found
it intriguing, to say the least. So I made an appointment with the medium.
It is rare that we have a single experience
that immediately alters the course of our life. My appointment with this
spirit messenger was one of those life-changing experiences. It wasn’t
just the fact that I left the medium’s home that night knowing that my
father and grandmother, as well as other loved-ones who had passed on,
were still alive. And it wasn’t just that I discovered evidence that to
me was incredible proof that we live on after we cease to exist on this
earthly plane. It was more subtle than that. It was that I had broken
through to a new reality that now changed my view of death—and life.
Today I have studied spirit communication
and life-after-death for over three years. Within my research I have
studied near-death experiences, after-death communication, out-of-body
experiences, past-life regression and other spiritually related phenomena.
What amazes me most is that each new area of study provides additional
evidence to verify the existence of life-after-death rather than discredit
it. Despite the remaining skepticism I had for practices such as
astrology, numerology and tarot readings, every time I adventured into
these new areas, my findings only paralleled the evidence I had gained
through mediumship, even though my expectation was to disprove these new
I have had three years to think about why a
reading with a psychic medium, or any experience that provides evidence of
an afterlife, could have such a profound and life-altering effect on me.
My conclusion is very simple: it eliminated my fear of death. Gladys Hunt,
in her book, Don’t Be Afraid To Die,
says that “Psychiatrists are now saying that death is the most important
question of our time and that fear of death festers a variety of
psychoses… Some psychiatrists believe a massive panic over death
pervades young and old alike in our culture.”
Let’s think about that. What is a phobia?
Isn’t a fear of germs in some way related to a fear of death? Are not
more people afraid to fly in airplanes today than before September 11th,
2001? Dr. Kubler-Ross says there are only two natural
fears: fear of heights and fear of loud noises. All other fears are
learned. Children will play with spiders, mice and snakes until they see
someone scream at the sight of one. Sure, some fears are necessary to
protect us from harm. But at what point do our fears limit our ability to
Some people never leave their house due to
fear. Others never do anything adventurous. Since September 11th,
people are traveling less. Traveling less means seeing loved-ones less if
they live far away. Traveling less means limiting our ability to
experience the world and all its treasures.
And what about people who are dying? How
does their fear of death limit their remaining months, weeks or days? Does
it limit their remaining life experience due to a fear of accelerating
their death? Does it distract them from their experience with loved-ones
due to a fearful focus on death? And is it possible that our fear of death
negatively affects our ability to heal from life-threatening, although not
yet terminal, illnesses and conditions? Although we may never know the
answers to these questions, there is no question that people’s fear of
death only adds to their suffering with a multitude of effects.
In my experience, discovering that mediums
can communicate with the dead proved to me that we don’t really die. The
transformation that occurred from this awakening resulted in the
elimination of my fear that there is nothing beyond death. This insight
gave me a new freedom to live, free from the prison of my fears.
I contend that we must think about death
rather than deny or ignore it. By acknowledging death and talking about
it, we will be more likely to investigate it. If we investigate death with
an open mind, more people will discover—as I have—that we don’t die.
If we close our minds to the possibilities, death will remain the end and
our fears will prevail. Yet if we are able to see death for what it really
is, we will realize that death is a “going home” versus a “going
away.” Perhaps John Taylor described it best when he said, “While we
are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him
behind the veil.”
articles by Bob Olson, visit www.ofspirit.com/bobolson.htm