My sister, Kate, had been living with cancer for 10 years prior to this experience. Mid-December 2022, she came to my home on Hospice Care. There were three connected experiences that happened in the time period from 16 December 2022 to 25 January 2023 when Kate left this world.
First was when I found myself in hospital with anaphylactic shock on Dec 23, 2022. I had an NDE there where I found myself back in my living room, up near the ceiling, looking down on Kate in the hospice bed. The rest of the room was in a gray mist. Her friend was sitting on the couch. I perceived my question: "What will happen to her if I die?" The answer: "It's ok, she will be fine." Then all her and my animals flashed before my eyes and I asked the same question with the same answer coming back at me. Lastly the faces of my three grown children flashed and then stayed together in my sight and the same question. Halfway through that answer I felt my hesitation and felt emotional at leaving them and immediately that part of this experience was over. After I woke up and was told I could go home, I returned to my caregiving duties with Kate.
The second experience was while I was home and Kate was sleeping in her bed in the living room. I went to take a shower while a friend watched her. This incident with Kate happened three times. While standing in the shower, it felt as if Kate was somehow fully inside my body, from head to toe. I was aware of standing in the shower and was myself as well as being Kate. I was also outside myself, standing directly in front of me face to face, but seeing Kate. I knew that Kate was me and I was Kate and another me was standing outside of the original me watching this. The first time, I could hear in my head Kate saying with a laugh, "Haha - look at what I can do, Sis!" It was a very quick experience. The second time, I could just feel me being both of us and reached my hand up to feel my hair. I felt Kate's hair - hers is much coarser than mine. I felt slight shock and the word "Whoa!" came to mind and then it was over. The third time I felt this, I asked her to please stop doing this. I was utterly exhausted as her sole and full-time caregiver and could not process this as well. She stopped.
The third experience was also unexpected and was a great honor.
Kate lived until 25 January; the last days she was unresponsive. A friend helped me tremendously during this time by sitting with me the last two nights of Kate’s life. Neither of us got much sleep at all, not wanting to be asleep when she passed. At close to 7am on January 25, my friend left to go home and sleep for a while. I locked the door behind her and went back to the living room where Kate was. I started to sit on the couch, but had a deeply strong need to be right at her head with her, so got up again to move to her.
As I got up from the couch the number 842 lit up like a digital alarm clock in the air in front of me, in large red numbers. The TV had been off for days, no computers were on and I don't have an alarm clock. I quickly dismissed it as it meant nothing to me at all and I had Kate on my mind. It was very disconcerting to be alone with her when I knew she would possibly pass away with only me there.
I sat next to her hospice bed looking at her, knowing that I would not have her with me for much longer, listening to her slightly labored breathing, watching her chest rise and fall with quick intakes of breath and the longest exhales that had my soul on edge. I was grateful that her forehead was smooth – no signs of stress or pain, but small, almost imperceptible changing expressions – an occasional flash of puzzlement or worry, a slight frown or sideways nod of her head. And then it was as if I heard her inside my head, or rather just felt what she needed.
It felt as if she knew she was leaving but did not know how, which way to go, and wanted me to go with her. She had said on the previous Thursday that she felt that there were 'two of us going,’ but I told her that I am not going to die yet. I told her that her dying would make me feel like it but that I would not be going with her. Little did I know….
So, I rearranged my chair, dropped the railing on the bed and leaned in close, my mouth right near her ear. First I sang, or hummed the “Tula Tula”(too-lah) song that our dad had sung when she was stung by a bluebottle when she was about 5 years old. It is an old African Lullaby. He put her on his shoulders and ran down the beach going for help, all while singing/humming that song. It was incredibly soothing and caring and I had not even thought of it for many, many years, but there it was, softly spilling from my mouth right into her ear.
From there on it was if I was simply In a situation that I somehow knew what to say and do. I had no plan how to do this – no idea what I was going to say or do or what to expect, and yet I knew what I was doing – what needed to be done for Kate. I had no idea this was possible, and I was not stressed or emotional. This just was happening and I was doing this.
I was aware that the living room had disappeared – everything was a light, unremarkable gray and both my and her bodies had only our head and upper chest area visible... then it was as if I went deeper and we were standing on a dirt road. The road was smooth dirt, no rocks or potholes. We just were there, there was no landing, no getting there – we were just there.
I could feel her stress and tension and knew that she was worried, or rather, apprehensive. I remember feeling really calm, almost smiling as I told her that she could stand and walk properly again, without pain or worries of falling and to give it a try. She bounced a bit on her feet and I could feel her relief and joy at the lack of pain and her ability to move freely. I pointed out to her this gently convex road, told her that this was the way we had to walk and waited a minute as she adjusted, standing straight and without pain. This road was not a surfaced road – it was just a rather non-descript dirt road, very light dirt color, slightly narrow, somehow comfortable-feeling road.
At the very start of this road, there was a stripe in the middle, like on a real road, but that went away as I felt we were together, standing looking into the distance. The sides of the road were both colorful, covered with plants, bushes, trees and flowers and also bland or plain – nothing remarkable there – and it became more bland as we slowly started to walk. There was muted color there at the start, but then it was more important to just walk, be together, and the color would be distracting – so it left. When I first found us on this road, I was aware of muted, almost pastel color, but nothing bright and beautiful as described by others – just calm and gentle. I also felt my instinct as a photographer to want to capture this beauty, but the color almost instantly faded with that quick thought. I knew there was still color, but I could not see it anymore. Although there was no color, the flowers, etc. were solid, not see-through.
I told her that this was the way to walk, that if she looked way in the distance, she would see what seemed like a large black gate that was not solid, but with vertical bars that one could see through. On each side of the gate was a square white pillar, but nothing to the sides of the gate posts. No scenery, no ground, no road or fence.
“Give me a minute,” she said. She would often say this when getting out of bed, etc. and needed to get used to something new, a new movement or situation.
She took her time and then I encouraged her to keep walking slowly, that I was right next to her and would stay with her all the way. I did not touch her at all, or she me. I was not supporting her – she was solid on her feet. We did not look at each other all the way down the road nor did we touch in any way, but her thoughts and feelings were known to me. I was aware that our bodies were whole but I did not look to see my legs or feet. I knew and saw that she stood and walked without a problem. I am also not aware of what we were wearing, nor that we put one foot in front of the other – we moved down this road in some way or other.
I told her that behind those gates were all her people – people who wanted her to go with them and that they were all excited that she was on her way. “Give me a minute,” she said a little breathlessly as she slowed down just a little again.
About halfway down the road Kate said quietly (inside my head), "I would rather stay here with you." I was fully aware of the distress she felt at this point and spent a while gently telling her how important she has been in my life, how much I wished she could stay with me. I told her how this was the only way forward and that it was not an option to be able to stay with me. “You cannot go back, you cannot stand still, nor can you go left or right. The only road to go is ahead and I am going to be walking it all the way with you. I won’t leave you,” I told her. She nodded and walked a bit further. I remember a small part of me wondering how I could be so calm while telling her this – but that part of me felt separate from the me that was walking with Kate.
After gently encouraging her, taking a few more minutes every now and again, I told her to look at that gate that had become much closer. “Look through it at all the people behind there waiting for you.” “Give me a minute please,” she said softly. So we stood for a while, just relaxing and letting her get more comfortable with this process and the progress we were making towards the gate. I could see that there were people there, but not individually at this point. I did not feel rushed or that we had a time frame to get to the gate. It was all in her control.
As we got closer, I could now see all the people I knew who had died before her, standing on the other side of that huge closed gate. There were no walls or fences on either side of the gate – just the gate and nothing to the sides of it. Our focus was on the gate and now the people behind it. They stood there quietly, just waiting gently for Kate.
I kept telling Kate that I would walk all the way with her, that it was all ok and she was safe. I told her that this was her journey, I was just there to help her get there, and I would stay with her till the end. I told her that no one was going to come and drag her there, that they were going to stay right there until she was ready to go to them herself. I felt her relief when I said this. I told her that they would only reach for her once she reached for them. She seemed to relax little by little as our steps took us closer and closer to the gate. She seemed a little puzzled when she looked at the people, so I started naming some of them and she seemed to relax even more and her head nodded slightly to the side as she looked through the gate bars. I could feel that she was feeling more at ease, less stressed and noticed that she stood a bit more upright.
There were many people. Some I recognized, but could not place where I knew them from, but I did see my mother, father, aunt, a nephew who had died by suicide and many more I knew, friends who had recently passed and also those who had been long gone. I recognized them, knew who they were, but they had no facial features that I could see, they appeared to me like minimalist art where the artist takes a paintbrush and one stroke is the dress, or pants, another brush stroke was the shirt, and a round dot or blob, the featureless face. Again, I knew their clothing had color and even patterns, I just could not see it.
And then we were close to that huge gate – about 6 feet away. I told her that to open the gate so she could go to her people, all she had to do was to lift either hand in the air – like one does in a classroom. I knew that she needed to control this process and I was just the support she needed. I told her that before she lifted her hand, I would take one small step backwards, just one step and that this was her journey and reminded her again that I was not going with her now, just getting her here, and I would stay until she was there.
‘Give me a minute,” she said and then, “Can I look at you once more?” I told her to take as long as she needed and that of course she could look at me again. She turned to look directly into my eyes with those beautiful blue eyes of hers and a relaxed smile, but was quickly drawn back to the people behind the gate. I noticed that she looked healthy, not sick anymore. After one more “give me a minute,” her right hand slowly went up in the air.
That gate slid silently open to the left, disappearing into the left pillar, not extending beyond it as it would here. The people stood quietly with their arms at their sides, but with such understanding and patience emanating from them all. So many people we had known were there, and they all looked only at Kate. I was happy that they were all looking at her because this was all about her, and I was only here to help. I felt no negative feelings about not being noticed by my family and friends, just happiness for Kate that she was being welcomed in this way.
Kate drew in a deep, even breath and asked for another minute. We stood in utter peace in front of this large group of people and just soaked it in. I could feel Kate almost happy now, her shoulders were relaxed and I could feel her peace. After a short while, I quietly asked whether she was ready yet and to be sure only to take the next step when she was totally ready.
She half looked back over her left shoulder and asked, “Can I wave at you one more time?” “Of course!” I said as she took a couple of steps forward and I stayed where I was. Then her left hand lifted up, bent at her elbow and wrist, and she waved at me in a jaunty, happy, relaxed way as she kept walking forward, now with a spring in her step. As her left hand ended her wave to me and went down again, her right hand reached out to the crowd in front of her and the last few steps were a lot faster and sure and confident.
She took that step across the gate opening and I saw everyone start to greet her with so much joy and comfort. It was as if she was thrown a surprise party with people she never expected and had not seen in ages – the hellos were so full of joy.
It was all so gentle, so peaceful and so right!
As I watched her being welcomed and her mingling with everyone there, a very thin line formed in the ground along the gate opening. It was a gently wavy hair-thin line that became a gap that grew and grew as everything behind that gate drifted ever so slowly and gently away from me and a mist softly covered it all. It was a bit like continents drifting apart, I thought. It felt like the part drifting away had a light blue hue to it, but again, I could not see the color, just felt it.
Kate never turned back again. This made me happy as I knew then without a doubt that she did not need to look back, to want to be here anymore, that she would be just fine. That gate never closed as I watched it all drift away.
I heard in my head a voice that said, "That was a job well done." It was not a male or female voice – just a gentle, kind voice. Knowing that I had done what Kate needed me to do, that she had needed help, assurance and company for this final journey here on earth made me feel at peace and I was deeply grateful that it was me that walked that final walk with her. I felt so deeply in awe of what I had just experienced.
Right after this I had the sensation of being to the left of where I was standing before and saw a mist/fog or cloud come and enfold me in a cocoon. It was extremely relaxing and I felt a deep calmness and peace infuse me. While in this cocoon, I was aware of being upright, suspended but utterly relaxed and calm.
And then I felt a quiet 'pop' and I was back next to Kate’s bed in my living room, still leaning over her. The gray mist was gone and everything was back again, I could hear the cats and dog and outside noises again. Looking up, I noticed that the sun was bright and my eyes caught the clock on the wall. As I registered the time, I looked down again at Kate as her last breath brushed against my face.
It was 8.42am.
This was the number 842 I had seen when this experience first started. At first, I did not realize how much time this had taken as time was not an issue during this experience. After approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, my back was not aching from leaning over her bed. I had no discomfort at all. It was only a couple of months later, when telling my son this, that he pointed out the length of time that had passed.
Losing my sister has been devastating. We were extremely close, only 365 days apart in age, close friends, confidants and supporters of each other in every part of our lives. Together we had an adventure during our lives together, many unusual experiences where what happened to her subsequently happened to me and vice versa, almost like extensions of each other – even in looks. This experience has somehow made it a little less painful, enabling me to cope with life here, absolutely knowing that she is just fine.
I have had a few other experiences with her and one visual visitation after her death that show me that she is still close by and encouraging me to go on, to live my life to the fullest.
With all this said, I have a need to 'do something' with this experience, combined with my others too, to help people when and if they are scared to cross over. Never knowing that a shared death experience existed, this has opened up a whole new world to me. I also now recognize that I had a very different kind of shared death experience with an ex-husband a few years back, but had no clue what happened so pushed that experience away until it surfaced again when I started to research what had happened on this walk with Kate. The only thing I have found recently that comes remotely close to my experience was written about by Judy Hilyard where she talks about the old Celtic traditions of Anam Cara and Anam Aira where they accompanied souls to the other side.
An interesting aspect of this experience, for me, is that this was not showing me anything: no beautiful colors, angels, beings, lights, beautiful music, visions, no tunnel or message to bring back or teach or direct me. It was, as that voice said, a job that I had to do, was chosen for or chose to do, a privilege I am deeply honored and, to be frank, totally awed that I was able to do.
To be able to see that Kate, my dear sister, my other half, is both safe and happy is a priceless gift.