( Originally Published 1918 )
0NE of the things I am most sure of is the fact that we are met at death by friends who have gone before. This has been proved to me by many curious pieces of evidence, some of which are described in my book, "Psychical Investigations." On several occasions a spirit has communicated, giving his name and many identifying details, and remarking that he was waiting about for a relative or friend who was dying. And in all these cases the people in question were quite unknown to the sensitive, even by name.
If this fact of meeting is true, we ought to find contributory evidence of other kinds; and, as a matter of fact, we do. Dying people often see their waiting and welcoming friends. As Sir William Barrett says: "The evidence seems indisputable that, in some rare cases, just before death the veil is partly drawn aside and a glimpse of the loved ones who have passed over is given to the dying person."
A few such cases have been described to me, and I now quote them.
"In May, 1892, I lost by death my idolized mother, from pneumonia following influenza. While she lay on her death-bed I had a severe attack of the same complaint, which, of course, I could not nurse properly. Five weeks later my dearly loved father died. He had always been most tenderly attached to my mother, and on his death-bed, where he had been lying for many hours in a state of coma, he suddenly sat up, and, with flashing eyes, he stretched out his hands and cried with a clear voice, `Mother!' —the name by which he always called her. All the previous day, while he was perfectly conscious, he waved me impatiently away when I went to one side of the bed, as if I was obstructing his view of something he loved to see, though he never said what it was. Could it be that she was there and he saw her? I could not grieve much at his death, for joy at the thought of their reunion."
H. M. MURGATROYD.
The following case has a curious "physical-phenomena" incident, which is quite in line with similar experiences of a friend of mine, a materialist, who rejoices (or sorrows) in a wife possessing psychic faculties of various kinds.
"A male friend died in November, 1909. The next day, I and my little daughter being alone, caretakers of an empty house, we heard very heavy and slow (seemingly stiff) footsteps descending the stairs, but nothing was to be seen. It was broad daylight. So long as I stayed there I heard very loud and distinct raps about my room.
"When my husband lay dying he asked me in an awed tone if I saw the man who had been at his bedside. I replied, `No, I had seen no one.' He drew his last faint breath with me only in the room, and after it had ceased a sudden smile came over his face.
"As regards the footsteps on the stairs, a natural explanation would be that noises echo through semi-detached empty houses, yet, though it might therefore have been a workman next door, etc., we never once heard again anything at all similar, though we stayed there four months longer. My little girl was in our living-room on the first floor, then came the drawingroom on the ground floor; I was in the basement back-kitchen doing some washing, with my back to the door, facing the window. I heard the steps descending slowly, as it were, from our floor upstairs (this friend was particularly attached to my little daughter) ; when they reached the basement flight they were silent—another mode of motion may have been used—and I next heard them on the flat floor walking in the front kitchen, where all my boxes were. Somehow the slow, heavy, stiff sort of movement, directly I heard it, made me think at once of the dead, though only noon and a bright day; and as they came nearer I turned round and faced the door. Nothing appeared. I felt too scared to remain down there alone, but, before going up, went in the front room to make sure it was no human intruder. The room was perfectly empty and filled with sunshine. I then went upstairs, and just as I got near our first floor my little daughter ran out saying, `Oh, Mummy, why have you been making such a noise coming upstairs? You frightened me.' This happened in November, 1909, but my memory is very good, and my daughter could corroborate it, though now she scoffs at such things, having turned Roman Catholic, and says that the faces she used to see, and which I see now (the last eight years), are only imagination. You know the Romanist is not allowed to believe in any visions except those of `Our Lady' and Roman `saints.' All others are under a ban."
A. G. PAWSON.
The next case was kindly sent me by Miss H. A. Dallas.' The percipient's mother is a friend of hers, and is an excellent witness.
"My friend Mrs. Sunmore related the following to me. She had lost many children, and one of her daughters was, at the time referred to, fading gradually away. A married daughter had recently died just after the birth of a baby, who had not survived her long. The married daughter I will designate as `Violet,' the girl who was dying as `Bertha' (she had been told of the death of `Violet' and her baby). As Bertha lay dying she began to talk to her brothers and sisters who had died already, said my friend.
"Do you mean that she talked of them?' I asked.
" `No,' she replied, `she talked to them; and then she suddenly exclaimed, "Oh!" and "Violet and the baby!" I gave a little groan, but Bertha said, "Mother, you ought to be delighted !" '
"My friend was convinced that Bertha saw and talked with the brothers and sisters who had come to welcome her into their new life.
"You can use this or not, as you like. Perhaps it is not as striking a case as some others—in which the death was not known to the percipient normally."
H. A. DALLAS.
The next narrative is similar and includes a "clairvoyance of animals" incident.
"When I was in London last I went to see an old friend who had lately lost her mother, and she told me that her mother had had such a great dread of death (what we call death), and had said she wished her daughters could go with her. But a day or two before her passing, when my friend was in the room, she suddenly called her, with a look of great surprise and happiness on her face, and said, `Oh, look! do you see them?' and pointed out beyond the foot of her bed. And from then onwards all fear left her. My friend is a peculiarly matter-of-fact, level-headed woman, and I am sure she was convinced that her mother did see what she could not see. I have myself seen a dog persistently watch an apparently empty chair, as if watching someone sitting in it. This happened many times. But the dog never seemed the least afraid. And if the `visitant' were the spirit I think probable, this would be so, as there was in his character a very keen sympathy with all the `creatures' and nature in general."
`(Miss) M. E. POOLE.