Recently, I have received phone calls from dear friends who have lost people they love. Lost. That word, it is so final, but do we really know? Still, there is that empty space of where are they? What’s it like? Are they happy and safe? It is so difficult to wrap our human brain around death.

I believe that we do get signs. After 20-plus years working in hospice, helping the living and the dying, sometimes I witness and hear things that I know are straight from heaven.

My girlfriend was taking care of her dear friend with cancer.  She and another girl took turns taking care of her. My friend called and shared with me that just before her friend died, she said, “I am getting up and going home now.” Message from heaven? Maybe.

I have seen people look past me and smile saying they see their mother, father and friends. Sometimes hands extended outward with no words. Another time, I was in a room that was very dark and my patient was laying in her bed. We could barely see each other.  I leaned in and got closer; she stared at me deeply and said I was an angel.

Another friend told me the room filled with light when his friend died.  People say they feel a love they have never felt before when someone passes. I have been so touched in my life with these experiences. I would feel elated even when I left the home or facilities. I didn’t feel sad but what I did realize was that being that close to death Is being on holy ground.

Here is the thing though: I think birth is the same. Have you ever noticed how a newborn baby looks past you and smiles, or looks above your head? When babies are born and people die I believe they are getting messages. Having conversations with angels, Jesus, or loved ones. We can’t hear it because it is not our time. Heaven is the great secret.

Two nights before my own mother died, I had the most amazing dream about the gates of heaven for her. She was scared and she didn’t want to leave us. She was a woman who loved nature and plants. The gateway to heaven was lined with plants and twinkling lights! I know my mother would have felt drawn to it, and not be afraid. I also felt it was a message from her mom and brothers on the other side letting me know she would be okay.

With my girlfriend’s friend, I know in my heart of hearts someone from the other side was whispering to her heart saying, C’mon it’s time to get up and come home. I also feel that people can choose when they die, whether people are in the room or not. I have heard so many stories of people saying they waited and waited for their love one to die. They wanted so much to be there at the time of death. Then they stepped out to use the restroom or take a walk and they pass away.

Death is a mystery. I do feel strongly from my own experiences at the bedside, that at the time of death there is someone or something there.  They are not alone on their journey home, they will get where they are going safely and surrounded by love.

I wish you peace in your journey of grief.

Nina Impala

NINA IMPALA is a highly intuitive multifaceted individual. This she combines with professional education in the End-of-Life Field. Certified by The American Academy of Bereavement for Spiritual Facilitation for the Terminally Ill, Nina also holds a BA in Human Services, is a graduate of Mueller College of Holistic Studies, Author of Dearly Departed What I Learned About Living From the Dying, and a Reiki Master Teacher. Currently she is the Bereavement Coordinator and Counselor for Gentiva Hospice in San Diego, California. For well over 19 years Nina has worked passionately in the hospice field using her gifts visiting the dying and educating families. In addition to working with hospice patients and their families Nina has also assisted families through tragic deaths. Nina works passionately helping them to understand that as much as we would like to have all the answer to the big questions accepting that we don't can be a big hurdle. Nina feels,finding peace in these situations is the greatest gift you can give to another human being. Nina lives in the San Diego area and can be reached at

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