Loss of A Sibling

by P. Gill White, PhD

For many years I have denied the unusual experience that happened to me when my sister Linda was in the hospital just prior to her death from cancer at the age of 13.  I realize now that this was a significant part of my spiritual journey.

She had been in the hospital for nearly 4 months.  One night, I was asleep at home when I heard her softly calling my name….”Pat….Pa-a-a-t” –over and over.  I woke up and looked around.  The room was dark but a little light came in from the streetlights outside.  I got out of bed and went to the window.  I still remember looking up the street and seeing only the yellowish light on the sidewalk. I heard her call again…”P-a-a-a-t……P-a-a-a-t”.   I couldn’t tell if it was coming from outside of me or inside my own mind.  This scared me.

I turned to the door and opened it to go wake up my mother.  But as I opened my door, my mother was opening hers, and we both said at the same time,  “I hear Linda calling me.”  Just then, the phone rang.  It was someone at the hospital calling to say that she was hemorrhaging and wouldn’t last long.  She died a few hours later.

At first, I told myself that she was reaching out to me at the time when she was hovering between life and death–a way of saying good-bye.  I was fifteen and able to accept that kind of thinking.  Later, I rejected my adolescent belief and convinced myself that this event was merely a coincidence.  That somehow, my subconscious mind had figured out when she was going to die, and woke me up.  I became a rationalist.  If I couldn’t see it or touch it, it didn’t exist.  Gradually, however, as the years went by, I stopped caring about explaining it rationally and just accepted that it happened.

My sister’s death has shaped my life and I have spent a great many of my adult years working as a counselor with people who have lost a brother or sister.  Hundreds of people have told me stories similar to mine, about how their brother or sister came to them in a dream to say good-bye, or came to visit them just before being killed in a car wreck, or ‘happened’ to run into them the day before they died, even though they hadn’t seen each other in years.   I now believe that the connection between loved ones is so strong that it transcends death.

Antoine de St. Exupery, in his book, The Little Prince, said it simply,  “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I do not understand the spiritual world, but I believe it exists.  It no longer scares me to think about things that I can’t explain.  I trust in that connection and just accept it. That is enough for me now.

P. Gill White, PhD Director, The Sibling Connection www.siblingconnection.net

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