while most forebears appear to NDErs as they had been in their prime, others presented as they had looked when older. Was this perhaps their choice? Perhaps specifically for recognition by the NDEr, to help him or her feel more at ease? I have read several NDE reports that make the claim that spirits in Paradise may choose their age when meeting relatives, and what they wear for the occasion, but I would need further examples of this before accepting it as a generality. Regardless, they look in brimming good health, as seen in the Christian minister Don Piper’s 4 description.
The first person I recognised was Joe Kulbeth, my grandfather. He looked exactly as I remembered him, with his shock of white hair and what I called a big banana nose. He stopped momentarily and stood in front of me. A grin covered his face. I may have called his name, but I’m not sure.
‘Donnie!’ (That’s what my grandfather always called me). His eyes lit up and he held out his arms as he took the last steps towards me. He embraced me, holding me tightly. He was once again the robust, strong grandfather I had remembered as a child.
I’d been with him when he suffered a heart attack at home and had ridden with him in the ambulance. I had been standing just outside the emergency room at the hospital when the doctor walked out and faced me. He had shaken his head and said softly, ‘We did everything we could.’
My grandfather released me, and as I stared into his face, an ecstatic bliss overwhelmed me. I didn’t think about his heart attack or his death, because I couldn’t get past the joy of our reunion.
While his grandfather looked much as Don had remembered him, his great-grandmother looked so much better than he recalled her!
My great-grandmother, Hattie Mann, was Native American. As a child I saw her only after she had developed osteoporosis – her head and shoulders were bent forward, giving her a humped appearance. I especially remember her extremely wrinkled face. The other thing that stands out in my memory is that she had false teeth – which she didn’t wear often. Yet when she smiled at me in Heaven, her teeth sparkled. I knew they were her own, and when she smiled it was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.
Then I noticed something else – she wasn’t slumped over. She stood strong and upright, and the wrinkles had been erased from her face. I have no idea what age she was, and I didn’t even think about that. As I stared at her beaming face, I sensed that age has no meaning in Heaven.
Lillian Oaktree 7 describes when she first saw her dead parents, Abe and Jacqueline, standing at the front of the crowd, motioning her to come with them. ‘Mum had died five years before,’ says Lillian. ‘She was 74 and died from kidney failure. But here she was standing before me looking like a young woman. She was radiant and healthy and her hair was a shimmering blonde. She was wearing a blue top and blue trousers. There was a glow all around her and I could feel her sending me massive waves of love. It felt amazing.’
Of interest to the fashion conscious, perhaps, are the reports that suggest people in Paradise may have the choice to be wearing whatever clothing they want. Lillian’s mum was in a blue top and trousers. In another case, RaNelle Wallace’s 3 grandmother wore a dress in Paradise that she had never worn while alive on earth – it was the one she had been buried in, bought especially for that purpose by her loving, grieving daughter.
Family Units in the Afterlife
Why do relatives and occasionally dead friends meet NDErs? We should contemplate this mystery, as it may have deeper significance than is at first obvious.
Scripture teaches that there are three ‘eternals’ dealing with character that we take into life after death. They are the most vital personal qualities that we can develop on Earth – Faith and Hope and Love, which I have capitalised to emphasise their importance. The Bible informs us about them in 1Corinthians 13:13: ‘These three remain: Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest of these is Love’. This means you will take whatever degree of love for others you have developed on Earth into Paradise with you, as have relatives, ancestors and personal friends who have pre-deceased you. Logically, then, because love is eternal, you can expect your ties with those you loved to feature in Paradise. It is no surprise, then, that you will meet at least some of them and the love you developed for them previously on Earth will continue.
Literally thousands of reports describe meeting family members in Paradise, which raises another interesting question. Just as there are sections in the Prison area of Hades, might loose family gatherings be a primary grouping of Paradise? Dr Des Sinclair 8, the New Zealand evangelist who died for 25 minutes, claims he noticed family clusters including ancestors being a basic grouping in Paradise. Other NDErs indicate they have seen or been told this during their NDE. So do we spend at least some of our time in Paradise in family gatherings, which would need to be flexible and mobile because we all belong to different and very long family lines? Friends have also been part of the meet-and-greet group – so additional mobility between groups seems likely.
This is such a primary question that I would like to make some additional observations that might pertain. In the Western mindset, family ties have loosened – but they remain the primary grouping in most other cultures on Earth, where knowing one’s ancestry assumes a much greater importance. Many communities in the Third World can rattle off their ancestors going back over generations – somehow they perceive this to be important to their own place in the world.
Ancestral lines are seemingly more important to God than they are to the Western mind, which may explain why even ancestors unknown to the NDEr are often there in Paradise to greet him or her. Ancestral relationships were accorded prominence in scripture. Genealogies are recorded in detail in books such as 1 Chronicles. Furthermore, we find in the New Testament Jesus’ own ancestral lines both through Joseph and through his mother Mary, which speaks of the importance and significance to God of these connections.
Yet observations of life suggest that in the heart of Western man, deep down, there remains a recognition of the dominant importance of family ties stretching back into the distant past. For example, my previous book to this one was an historical biography about Edward John Eyre, an explorer and dynamic young man in Australia between 1832 and 1845, who left no family there before moving on. After publication, most of the correspondence I received about the book was not about his amazing achievements for one so young, but regarding possible ancestral links between the correspondent and Eyre, or family links to the men who served with him! And another ongoing situation grabbed my attention. A generation ago, comfortable under anonymity protection laws in Australia, a lot of students became sperm donors to raise ready cash while at university. The resulting children grew up and many began to speak of their yearning and sometimes desperation to meet their fathers, in order to know their own identity. They hope to establish a good relationship with those fathers if possible. These young people from throughout Australia and even New Zealand made – and continue to make – every personal and legal effort to trace their biological fathers. Some unexplored primeval need to know about one’s immediate family is involved here. I hope it is a tiny encouragement for them and others who have not succeeded in tracing their ancestry to know that in life after death, they will most likely meet and get to know their family members!
Brian Johnson 7 adds a further dimension; while he did not recognise his ‘welcoming party’, he instinctively knew that they comprised ancestors.
Then in a split second there were people surrounding me and they were people whom I had never seen before, but for some reason I knew that these people were long time passed away family members whom I had never known, seen or met before in my life, and that they had died way long before I was even born, but I knew that all of these people were there just for me and I could feel all this love from these people like no other love that I had ever felt before and I did not want to leave this place. While I was in this place, I was totally pain free and surrounded by strange people who loved me so very much.
If the purpose of the NDE is to instruct, reintegrate and redirect the NDEr, because the process itself is both strange and unexpected, the introduction of relatives and other familiar loved ones may impart confidence to the NDEr. They may more readily accept that their best interests are at heart during the experience. Mike 1 expressed it well: ‘I knew that my grandpa was there, and everyone who had touched my life were all there, and relatives whom I had never met. It’s an overwhelming sensation of just knowing that everyone who had ever touched your life was there, just for you.’
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