I gave up writing novels last year.
I had tried since the early 1990s to write a novel and each time I had failed.
So I finally admitted that I was simply not cut out for that. And moved on.
It was a relief.
It was the right decision.
Now … as we were on the train home today, Char and I, from visiting my parents over the New Year, I was thinking about death.
I tend to do that a lot. And I’ve, well, learned to live with it.
So that’s not the problem.
What struck me as a problem was how I was going to explain it to our son, when one of my parents would die – presumably before me. His grandmother or grandfather.
My niece had already had a hard time dealing with it at age 4 when my father-in-law died from cancer in 2015. Not unnaturally hard, I suppose. But just … hard.
Then I thought of using the stories about near-death-experiences to comfort my son. At least here we have something you can’t argue with, like you can argue with faith.
NDEs (as they are acronymed) are probably not as fragile to the Western 21st century mind as ‘faith’ – although I still appreciate the latter a lot.
I figure my son could go to school and some teacher or adult or other kid would tell him that “Heaven is just a fairy tale for the superstitious” – or some variation of that.
To be helpful, without really thinking it through (adult).
Or just plain mean (as kids are wont to be to each other).
But NDEs are so extremely and irrefutably well-documented that there would be something to the power of their experience, even if you can always theoretically dispute them …
Something like the next level of comfort to grieving kids.
Not just “I believe grandmother is in Heaven now” or “grandmother is in Heaven”
… but …
“I read this story about somebody whose grandmother died – for a little while.”
“Her heart was not beating. She was all cold.”
“But then she came back and said she had seen a Great Light.”
“And that It had told her it was not her time yet.”
“To go into that Light. And stay there.”
“She came back and told that to her grandson, whom she missed very much.”
“Then some years later she did go. She did die. She did not come back.”
“But the little boy who was her grandson knew that she had gone in a good place.”
That’s something I could say to my son, when one of his grandparents die.
When my father or mother dies.
When Char’s mother dies.
When somebody else dies, whom he cares about.
I could tell him a story about a real experience about death.
That would not take away all the hurt. Nor should it.
But it would give him something to hold on to.
Something that could not be taken away from him as he got older.
Like “just superstition” or “a story your parents made up to comfort you”.
Not when studies suggest that between 4-15 per cent of the populations in the US, Australia and Germany has had one.
And that thousands upon thousands of these experiences are extremely well-documented, including in – but not limited to – peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Of course, he won’t know about that until he gets much older. Science won’t mean anything to him.
Only the stories. Stories which his parents tell him.
But I like to tell stories that are strong. Stories about experiences and not faith.
You can always say that those thousands and thousands of experiences are fake and point to nothing real. Many have done that.
But it becomes very hard to dismiss entirely and not try to investigate it for yourself, when you get old enough to know that these are not just stories daddy make up to comfort you.
You get older and find out about the lies of organized religion or the loads of humbug on the shelves of the spiritual super market.
But the number of well-documented stories about experiences just keeps growing.
The only question is whether or not you will grow with them and choose to investigate them, or dismiss them outright.
But back to the book.
I was thinking that there should be one.
One with illustrations. For children. About NDEs.
And now I have searched Amazon, the book lists on the website of Near Death Experience Research Foundation, and the International Association for Near-Death Studies.
There may be some children’s books about NDEs out there. There should be.
But I have not found them yet.
So perhaps I should try for another book.
If all goes as it usually does, I will need it – sooner or later.
I guess I can do a children’s book, after all. Heck, I can even draw myself if need be.
Most likely it will get read by many adults as well.