Messages from the Afterlife: Memoirs of a Hospice Nurse

Messages from the Afterlife: Memoirs of a Hospice Nurse

by Mary Hill


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Mary Hill was spiritual as a teenager and fascinated with the concept of death and dying. She read many books on the subject, but still had fear about her own death.
She shares her unique and spiritual experiences as a Registered Nurse and Hospice Case Manager. A close relationship with each patient showed her the divine grace that accompanied the dying process as she assisted them to transition to the afterlife. Several of her patients kept their promise to appear to her after they passed. This was evidence that life, or consciousness, continued after our physical body was dropped.
Mary describes her journey watching her mothers decline over the years and experienced the family dynamics that she knew so well. Her mother appeared with messages of love and life lessons for facing many of her fears after her transition.
More hospice stories occurred as she continued as a per diem nurse and performed Reiki and Shamanic healing work. Mary shares her views and personal experience on the controversial subject of medical cannabis in treating pain and anxiety. Further discussion continues with her thoughts about Alternative Medicine versus Western Medicine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982202019
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 04/20/2018
Pages: 210
Sales rank: 776,168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

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How If All Began

My 13 years of working in hospice taught me one thing; there is no death. There is only life – the life we are aware of now and the life beyond our vision. Kathryn Dowling Singh states in her book, The Grace in Dying, "The life beyond the veil is a universal process marked primarily by the dissolution of the body, the separate sense of self, and the ascendancy of spirit."

My spiritual awareness began to blossom when I was 14-years-old. I had a vivid dream that my maternal grandmother had died. She lived in San Francisco where my mother grew up. As I made my way to the kitchen in the morning, I found my mother sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing into her folded arms. I went over to her and wrapped my arms around her. I asked her why she was crying and she said, "My mother died." I was stunned. I told my mom about the dream I had that night. We held each other tight as we both cried. That experience started my fascination and curiosity about death.

When I reflected back on my hospice days, my fondest memories were the connections with families and how appreciative they were for the love and support I provided as their RN Case Manager. I never saw my patients as dying patients. I saw them very much alive even though they were facing a terminal diagnosis. I felt honored to make a difference in a time of their lives when they were at their most vulnerable and full of fear. I had seen so much devotion in family members who stayed at the bedside of their loved one, day and night, not wanting to leave. They put their own lives on hold so they could be there for their loved ones.

Many people felt a palpable fear with the approach of death – both the patient and their family members. The person dying reminded family members of their own mortality which was something most people avoided thinking about. However, so many miracles also occurred during the dying process. A sacred space was created in the midst of this divine passage into love and bliss. With all of my experience as a Reiki Master and a Shaman, I was able to encourage this sacred space to occur when patients were ready – and, sometimes, when they were not.

I learned Reiki – which means universal life energy – and had been practicing it for two years. Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist could channel energy into the patient by means of touch in order to activate the natural healing process of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being. The Reiki master gives a person an attunement that activates the Reiki energy and spiritual guides are received during this process. It is safe because it simply moves blocked energy that is stored within the body.

I began giving my patients Reiki treatments – with their permission, of course – and saw remarkable results. It normally had a deep, calming effect on a patient who was experiencing anxiety, as many do, especially in their final days. Because I was a channel for God's energy, that energy flowed through me. I felt the tingling in my hands as the energy ran through them.

I realized we were put on this earth to help one another. We were all ' one" and the love we shared was what mattered most. I felt greater love for my husband and other family members. I felt more alive and awake. I understood it was not about what my husband was doing or not doing – it was about me. Focusing on him distracted me from my own goals and dreams.

My decision to become a Reiki Master allowed me to set my husband free to live his own life and it set me free to live mine. I could finally be in full recognition of my gifts and talents while pursuing my dreams. I had never been able to articulate what I wanted in life.

I was codependent, being the eldest of five children, and acted like a second mom to my last three siblings when I was just 10-years-old.

My hospice journey started in October 1997 after working in the home health field as a Nurse Case Manager for several terminal patients. I had concerns about whether I could look death in the face every working day and face the pain that I saw in the eyes of loved ones. Nevertheless, I felt drawn to this work and marveled at the miracles that surrounded the dying process. However, I struggled for two years about the decision to join the full-time ranks of the hospice team that was a division of the home health company for which I worked.

The decision became easy when our home health company was being purchased. The hospice division remained a separate business and there was an opening for a hospice nurse. I applied for the position and was hired. I was able to keep my seniority and generous time paid off. Then my journey began. This book grew from the journal I have kept along the way.

"There is no death, only a change of worlds."

~ Chief Seattle Suquamash Tribe, 1873



* * *


I had a special connection with Jeff. He felt very familiar to me as though we might have had a past life together. Jeff was 6' tall with wavy, brown hair that was streaked with gray. He was only 64-years-old and his slim, athletic body was now riddled with cancer. I thought to myself that this one was going to be hard because I was referring to his impending death that the doctor said could be within two months. His cancer was metastatic and I suspected that the cancer had spread to his brain due to his increasing confusion with each passing day.

One day his wife, Jean, was transferring him to bed and his right leg snapped which caused it to turn and face backward. He was in great pain while she called 911. The ambulance arrived shortly afterward and whisked him away to the nearest hospital.

The surgery went well and two weeks later, Jeff was sent home to their new apartment. It was in the retirement community of their dreams that they just moved into several months earlier. I was sitting with his wife and waiting for his anticipated homecoming. The van transportation people gently lifted him from the stretcher onto the adjustable hospital bed that hospice had provided. The Christmas tree, with all its twinkling lights, was placed near the foot of his bed. Jeff smiled as he gazed up at his special angel that topped the Douglas Fir.

I greeted Jeff with a hug and kiss on his forehead. I completed my nursing visit by taking his vital signs and assessing his lung sounds. I reviewed all of his medications with his caregiver and wife who were present and I answered their questions. I reinforced that they should call hospice if there were any problems.

Jeff continued to decline in spite of all the love that surrounded him. The family had plenty of morphine available and I reassured them that they could medicate him every two hours, if needed, per the instructions on the bottle. He slept most of the day when we were able to control his pain which was a blessing for his wife and caregivers.

His wife told me that she heard him saying, "I need to get my keys and I want my white pants. We have to wait in the dormitory for a while before we go home." His words did not surprise me because patients would frequently have deathbed visions while they processed their transition. Patients would also report seeing loved ones who already crossed to the other side. This was true for Jeff as he saw his wife's deceased mother whom he loved very much. This vision brought him and his wife great comfort.

I sensed his death was imminent due to the changes I saw in his condition - such as withdrawal from his surroundings and a decrease in his intake of food and liquids. His breathing was becoming more labored, but he seemed relatively peaceful. I made my nursing visits on a daily basis as well as frequent phone calls. I kissed him on the forehead and told him good-bye with a great heaviness in my heart. I had a premonition this would be the last time I would see him alive.


When I called Jean in the morning, I told her I had a feeling that Jeff would die today. She repeated what I said and tried to absorb it all. Her next words were, "There are tears streaming down Jeff's face." After offering some words of comfort, I reassured her that I would call her around 3:00 p.m. to check on his condition. When I called Jean later that afternoon, she reported, "He is slipping away fast." Then, she exclaimed, "Oh, my God – he stopped breathing. I think he's gone."

I rushed over to their home and was greeted by Jeff's two daughters, his wife and two close friends. We all cried and hugged one another. Jean told me that in the morning his eyes had taken on a bright look with his pupils fully dilated. He had a look of amazement and joy that she had never seen before. He also appeared to be conversing with someone other than those present in the room.

Jean's spiritual friend, Jamie, was with her at the time of Jeff's death. At the moment of his death, Jamie saw a beautiful white light surrounding him. She gently said, "He just crossed over," while witnessing the release of his soul from his body. Jamie told me that she felt the presence of angels surrounding all of them, bringing peace and joy to Jeff as he made his transition. I remembered thinking that I wanted to be able to feel the presence of angels in my own life and I was in awe that Jamie seemed to be connected to higher realms. I was so grateful that she was there to help Jean cope with Jeff's transition.

One of the joys of being a hospice nurse is the inner knowing that I made a huge difference to patients and their families with the support and knowledge that I shared with them. I was so grateful for the support of the friends and families of my patients when death approached them. These individuals are like messengers and helpers from God and we are here on this earthly plane to help one another during the most difficult times - providing love, support and caring.

We are never alone. It is only our thoughts that make it seem so. Our belief in separation from the divine caused anguish in our lives. I knew that Jeff was happy now and free from pain.

"Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is just a passing shadow of a cloud."

~ Yann Martel Life of Pi



* * *


I had a new patient who came on hospice service on a rainy Friday night. Dennis had beautiful blue eyes and he loved to wink at me when I approached him with my blood pressure cuff. He was a young 67-year-old with lung cancer that had spread to other organs of his body. His wife and sons were delightful and I enjoyed my interaction with them as we had many laughs together amid their impending loss.

I instructed the family how to give a few drops of liquid morphine under the tongue to manage his pain. I demonstrated how to help him get out of his chair by using two people on each side with their arms under his armpits to lift him up. I showed them how to reposition Dennis on his hospital bed, using pillows between his knees and ankles while he was lying on his side to prevent pressure sores.

I did not have much conversation with Dennis because he was very weak. He was such a brave fighter and refused to lie in the hospital bed we provided. He insisted on sitting in his recliner in the living room where he was present with his family. Much to our amazement, he was also able to gather up the strength to walk to the bathroom.

During the two weeks of his hospice service, I had the great honor of performing Reiki energy work on him. I sensed his relaxation and peace during the Reiki treatment. That energy was a part of me, too, because I was a channel for this beautiful light that came through me into another. Dennis' family was delighted that he was able to receive this gift because they witnessed the positive effect it had on him.

Dennis made his transition peacefully on a Saturday night with his beloved family at his bedside. I received the news through our hospice voicemail system and, later that morning, I saw his widow and family having breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants, Lazy Dog Cafe. I greeted them all with hugs, tears and condolences. We reminisced about what an incredible guy Dennis was and his sons talked about how grateful they were to have him for a dad.

Later that day, I went to my favorite park where I treasure the peace and solitude. As I sat there watching the tree limbs dance with the wind, I reflected on all the hospice patients I had recently lost and felt the sadness and grief of losing them. When I looked at the trees, I saw a swarm of butterflies flying around. There was this one butterfly, black with beige edges, that kept circling my head. I thought it was very strange and asked, "Is that you, Dennis? If it is, you can let me know by landing on my hand." A minute later, the same butterfly brushed against my forehead; landed on my hand; and stayed there for two minutes. I was mesmerized by this experience and knew that Dennis came to me in this form to let me know that all was well. His message from the afterlife was powerful for me. That magical experience helped birth the title of this book.

The next day, I had my appointment with my massage therapist who was truly gifted with psychic abilities. I told her the story about Dennis, which she loved. She had her hands on my back and said, "Mary, what was the name of that patient?" I told her it was Dennis and she replied, "He's here now. He wants you to know how happy he is. He is having fun visiting the significant people and places that had meaning for him and his family." She went on to say that we had a real soul connection that I was not aware of but never doubted. She expressed that we had a spiritual agreement that I would be there for him and his family when he crossed over beyond the veil.

I attended Dennis's funeral five days after that experience. During the reception, I saw his wife's friend, Joanne, sitting at a table with a group of women. I told them the butterfly story and one of Joanne's friends responded, "I have a similar story. About five days after Dennis passed, a blue bird landed on our patio and kept pecking at our sliding door. He stayed there a very long time and kept up the pecking until my husband went upstairs to get our digital camera. He took a picture of the blue bird and transposed it over a picture of Dennis." That picture was at the memorial service. It showed Dennis with his outstretched arm holding the bird in his palm.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

~ Henry Scott Holland Death Is Nothing at All



* * *


One of my very favorite patients was Lil, a spry 94-year-old with a humped back. She was 4' 8" tall and wore thick glasses. Having lost 95% of her vision, she was nearly blind with macular degeneration. She was so cute and an absolute sweetheart; she was the grandmother I never had and I loved her dearly. I visited her twice a week as she was on service for cardiac disease.

Lil had a great sense of humor and she even dressed up as Charlie Chaplin on Halloween. She also loved to share stories about her life; particularly her party-filled youth. She told me about the time she had mistakenly made a date with two different men for a particular Saturday night. They both showed up at her door within minutes of each other and she had to choose between the two of them. She treasured reflecting about her many love relationships with interesting men.

Lil lived in subsidized housing. She did not have much in the way of material possessions, but she was rich with love. People loved her – especially the people who managed the building. Lil was their favorite. I was friendly with the managers and we laughed a lot during my visits with her.


Excerpted from "Messages from the Afterlife"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Mary Hill.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

PART 1 Hospice Patient Stories,
Chapter 1 How It All Began, 1,
Chapter 2 Jeff, 4,
Chapter 3 Dennis, 7,
Chapter 4 Lil, 10,
Chapter 5 Walt, 16,
Chapter 6 Pamela, 18,
Chapter 7 Lillie, 21,
Chapter 8 Emily, 23,
Chapter 9 Rosemary, 26,
Chapter 10 Carolyn, 29,
Chapter 11 Ngoc, 31,
Chapter 12 Loretta, 35,
Chapter 13 Billie, 38,
Part 2 My Journey,
Chapter 14 Strawberry Music Festival, 42,
Chapter 15 Facing Fears, 44,
Chapter 16 Family, 46,
Chapter 17 My Shamanic Path, 49,
Chapter 18 Taking Care of Myself, 55,
Chapter 19 Fears, 58,
Chapter 20 Past Lives, 62,
Chapter 21 Hospice Per Diem, 64,
Chapter 22 Mom's Decline, 67,
Chapter 23 My Nursing History, 69,
Chapter 24 The Joys of Per Diem Hospice, 72,
Chapter 25 Letting Go and Letting God, 73,
Chapter 26 Dorothy, 76,
Chapter 27 My Chicago Visit, 79,
Chapter 28 Quitting Hospice, 83,
Chapter 29 Dorothy's Transition, 85,
Chapter 30 Christmas Eve, 88,
Chapter 31 Fears Around Money, 89,
Chapter 32 Dorothy's Return, 91,
Chapter 33 Chicago Trip for Mother's Day, 93,
Chapter 34 Mom on Hospice, 96,
Chapter 35 A Letter to Mikey, 104,
Chapter 36 Reflections on Life, 106,
Chapter 37 Healing Work, 109,
Chapter 38 Family Dynamics, 110,
Chapter 39 Retirement, 112,
Chapter 40 Plant Medicine, 114,
Chapter 41 Alternative Medicine, 118,
Chapter 42 Blessings of Being a Hospice Nurse, 120,
Chapter 43 Benefits of Cannabis, 123,
Chapter 44 Love, 125,
Chapter 45 Pain Medications, 129,
Chapter 46 Gratitude, 133,
Chapter 47 More Reflections on Life, 136,
Chapter 48 Lessons I Learned from Hospice, 142,
Chapter 49 Self Love, 145,
Chapter 50 Mom's Decline, 147,
Chapter 51 Home Again, 152,
Chapter 52 Losing My Mom, 158,
Chapter 53 Aftermath, 171,

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