After-Death Contact: The point of origin


As readers of this blog know, its origins lay in a PhD research study exploring after-death contact (ADC).  The study had its origin in my own lived experience of bereavement which unexpectedly provided the psychosocial and psychospiritual context for the returning deceased; initially my husband and then following his death, both my parents.  Although a number of international studies have reported ADC phenomena  in their findings, few recent studies at the time privileged ADC.  I wanted something different.  I wanted to conduct a study which was not only positioned within a uniquely Australian context but one which did privilege this aspect of adult bereavement.  These accounts are widely reported; what do they  suggest?  What are they inviting us to know?  How do they impact on how we understand not ‘who’ we are, but ‘what’ we are?  And what do they tell us about the transpersonal nature of reality and how we define ourselves not only as human beings but as spiritually organic self-evolving organisms, capable of dynamic psychospiritual transformations?

I didn’t envision that my doctoral work would privilege the transpersonal. The fact that it does is something entirely out of my control and absolutely contrary to the direction I had planned for myself.  It was my intention to further develop my current interest and work in health education policy and reform for Indigenous Australians.  Many years ago a friend told me that God laughs when we make plans.  I resented the statement then especially as I had my life all mapped out however, after now completing my doctoral research I have to agree with those words. Are our lives pre-destined?  I’ve often wondered about that.  Are seeds sewn into our internals at birth which grow into proclivities and drives which naturally propel us in a certain direction and to a certain life purpose irrespective of what it is that we think we should be doing?  I’ve often wondered about that too and I still don’t have the answer to those questions.

What I do know though is what life has taught me to know; that there is a loving wisdom that gently touches all of us like a whisper almost, and so unobtrusive is it that it is almost imperceptible amongst the din of internal noise created by our self-oriented external self-centred lives.   I don’t even know if ‘wisdom’ is the right word.  I think that’s how it manifests, but what it is is beyond the capacity of my mind to conceptualise or understand; I can only feel it moving softly through me.  It’s always been there, like a shaft of sunlight cutting momentarily through a shadowed forest glade.  I would feel it every so often in moments of solitude or communion, as I would the bliss and sense of connectedness that accompanied those internal states, but it is only now after much vastation that I have truly learnt to surrender to it, to let go, to trust in something that I know only wishes to bring me to my greatest spiritual happiness.  And this is precisely how, I believe, I found myself completing a PhD on bereavement and the returning deceased rather than one examining Indigenous health policy and reform.

Michele T Knight Written by:

Dr Michele Knight is a Social Worker, Social Scientist, researcher and independent scholar. Her interest and research in the end-of-life has its origin in the lived experiences of her own bereavements, her near-death and shared-death events, the returning deceased and attitudinal responses to those experiences. Since 2006, she has been extensively involved in community development, support and advocacy in both a professional and community services/voluntary capacity in the areas of bereavement and grief, hospital pastoral care, and academic lecturing/tutoring. Her PhD, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereavement and communique, explores the lived experience of bereavement, grief, spirituality and unsought encounters with the returning deceased.

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