Heaven and Angels

This book is written for everyday people who want to learn more about love, forgiveness, and hope. Healthcare professionals such as nurses, social workers, chaplains, nursing assistants, medics, police personnel, firefighters and doctors who want to expand their awareness of the values, beliefs and experiences of folks for whom they care will find the stories within this book a guide for better understanding the perspectives of those they serve.

Few things are more feared than death. Experiences with death haunt some people. Thoughts of death torture others. Nothing is more painful than the sense of loss we feel when someone we love dies. Death is a big part of life.

Although death has been around just about as long as life has, we talk more openly about the joy of birthing than about the sacred process of dying. But, the rise of “death cafes” and interest in “natural burial rites” tell us that people do want a picture of what dying is like. And, individuals aspire to prepare themselves. So, to meet this demand for knowledge, Heaven and Angels presents the penultimate of all life experiences—the far edge of death—heaven.

Many of the stories revealed in this book were derived from my clinical work as a bedside intensive care (ICU) nurse, clinical nurse specialist for death and spiritual care, teacher, Director of Nursing, and state nursing home investigator. People who survived accidents and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and had near-death experiences (NDEs) shared with me their visions of the other side. Accounts also come from those who have witnessed the life-death juncture up close.

Some people do not believe in heaven. Some people think nothing exists after death. Death is the final chapter; the book is finished. Others believe that death, when one is elderly, is part of a natural ending to life, and that, at least some parts of healthcare today, interfere in that process. Many believe that even though people die, they may return to visit in a spiritual form. Those individuals who can obtain all their material needs and wants are now turning their attention to spiritual questions about existence. They ask what lies ahead at the end of this earthly journey. This book has the answers for them.

All major religions talk about an afterlife. So do those who have been close to death. People who have been clinically dead and resuscitated often declare, “I know. I met God. I talked to Jesus.” And, dying people often exclaim to spirits who reach out and talk to them from an existence hidden to us, “I am coming soon to join you. I see the angels waiting for me.”

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As a child stricken with polio, I left my body when I was in pain and floated above it in a spirit form. I watched and heard what was going on around my body. I learned early on that there is another realm of existence. Supernatural encounters taught me at a very young age that angels and Jesus do come to those in need.

When I became a nurse and spent time at the side of people during death, I often heard references to a light that guided people on their way to heaven. The dying talked about seeing a light. Many who survived CPR, described a light-being that bathed them in unconditional love.

I studied the Bible to examine references to a light. Scriptures support there is a light that serves as a beacon guiding the dying to heaven. People who have met this holy light report they feel a love and peace that exceeds all their previous understanding. They say death is a journey to a place where physical pain, anxiety, shame and psychological hurt no longer exist.

Comforting passages from the Bible are incorporated into this text. Readers may want to share these scriptures with dying loved ones.

A common thread in people’s stories about heaven and angels is the presence of very special people on earth. Everyday people can be a light on earth for others. And that is the point, after all…that we follow in the footsteps of Jesus to be an inspiring, forgiving person of unconditional love and acceptance.

As you read the stories of people who have seen angels and heaven, I invite you to awaken yourself to the love, forgiveness and hope that these accounts bring. Michelangelo cautioned us to not dread death as it comes from the same maker as life. We need not fear death for, by all these accounts, it leads to heaven.

—Susan L. Schoenbeck, RN MSN