I’ve recently had discussions with various family members about what they think will happen to us after death.  Specifically, we wondered about the part of us that makes us “us” ~ our soul.

I understand that those of you who have faith believe in the afterlife, that different faiths have varied versions of a Heaven. For you this must be very comforting, especially when close to the point of death, to believe in something “more”. My question is though ~ and I  am curious and not intending to be rude ~ where there is a Heaven then I assume there is a Hell. If God forgives all who repent their sins does this mean that even the evil members of humanity go to Heaven? Or is there a place such as purgatory for all religious faiths ~ where those who falls short of grace have to be measured by trials to decide their fate?

Now, although I am not a religious person anymore ~ which I discussed in a previous blog post, I feel I am spiritual. In the past I felt that if you said that you were spiritual then people automatically felt you must therefore follow a religion, not so..

“Religion and spirituality are intertwined but quite different. … However, as it is understood today, spirituality gives the individual autonomy over his or her interpretation of the soul or spirit, whereas religion implies participation in a communal practice and interpretation of divine belief and worship.”

I believe that somehow our soul lives on beyond the life of our body. Although that is about as far as I have got with it, I still can’t work out what exactly happens and where it goes.

In my nursing days, both in hospital and in nursing homes, I stayed with many patients and held their hands whilst they took their last breathes. On many occasions I saw their face become peaceful as they told me “x” (a person they knew who had passed) had come to collect them. It comforted them and they passed away.

On the moment of my mothers passing I saw a purple mist come from her body, swirl around myself, my sister, brother and dad. It gave me what felt like a warm, firm last hug and a sense of mum being all around me, then dissipated. I know my sister saw and felt it too but dad and my brother didn’t. I can’t explain it but to my mind that was mums soul leaving her body then moving on to a journey beyond, to where I have no idea.

I believe energy left behind by these souls can cause what others call supernatural occurrences, such as haunting. I also believe that the souls can be contacted by those who are genuinely psychic and that this is something to not be played with and that souls should be left alone once they have left their body.

I feel those who have passed around me sometimes, guiding me by showing small signs when I need it most. I know many people will say that this is just wishful thinking and my mind sees what it wants, if it is then I am happy with that too ~ it comforts, it helps and it suits me to believe it to be true.

I would love to know what you think about the soul/spirit and what happens to it on the point of death. I am sure we all have very different perspectives and thoughts on the matter.

This video, narrated by Morgan Freeman is fascinating ~ “Is there life after death?”

I enjoyed watching this video and like the thought that there is something “more” once our bodies are no longer part of us. That our soul/spirit moves on to another place.

A theory as set out by Dr Hameroff, says..

“According to Dr. Hameroff, in a near-death experience, when the heart stops beating, the blood stops flowing, and the microtubules lose their quantum state, the quantum information in the microtubules isn’t destroyed. It’s distributed to the universe at large, and if the patient is revived, the quantum information can go back to the microtubules. In this event, the patient says they had something like a near-death experience, i.e. they saw white light or a tunnel or floated out of their body. In the event that the patient is not revived, “it’s possible that the quantum information can can exist outside the body, perhaps indefinitely, as a soul,” he said.

The Orch-OR theory of consciousness remains controversial in the scientific community. Many scientists and physicists have challenged it, including MIT physicist Max Tegmark, who wrote a paper in 2000 that was widely cited.

Still, Dr. Hameroff believes that “nobody has landed a serious blow to the theory. It’s very viable.”

I believe we are constructed from energy, and that when our body dies the energy of our soul leaves our body and moves on. It’s where it goes that I want to know.

Whilst searching for answers I came across this article published by the Telegraph, it talks about a study carried out by the University of Southampton, who have spent four years looking into near~death and out~of~body experiences to determine if a continuation of awareness in some form continues after death, when the brain has completely shut down. The scientists examined in excess of two thousand people who had suffered from cardiac arrests in a range of fifteen hospitals around the UK, in the US and in Austria.  Recall of patients when they were resuscitated was found to be detailed in many cases, describing events that had gone on around them when they were technically dead and had no way of knowing, other than if they had a “soul” and had watched from outside of themselves. What is fascinating is many times these descriptions were verified by the medical professionals tending the patient.

“Dr David Wilde, a research psychologist and Nottingham Trent University, is currently compiling data on out-of-body experiences in an attempt to discover a pattern which links each episode.

He hopes the latest research will encourage new studies into the controversial topic.

“Most studies look retrospectively, 10 or 20 years ago, but the researchers went out looking for examples and used a really large sample size, so this gives the work a lot of validity.

“There is some very good evidence here that these experiences are actually happening after people have medically died.

“We just don’t know what is going on. We are still very much in the dark about what happens when you die and hopefully this study will help shine a scientific lens onto that.”

In May of last year the Telegraph published this article, “Indian specialist Dr Himanshu Bansal, working with Biotech companies Revita Life Sciences and Bioquark Inc, has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.” 

I am keen to see the results of this study, the trial participants will all be people who are clinically dead but being kept alive by machines on life~support. The whole topic of what happens inside our brains and in turn after death is controversial and intriguing. Who knows what this study will uncover and what medical breakthroughs it will bring in turn. So I will keenly watch and wait.

Whilst discussing this topic with my family I remembered reading about a study by a doctor who weighed patients on the point of death and noted that they all lost a specific amount of weight which he claims is the weight of a soul and they lose the weight as the soul leaves the body.

I thought I better check it out to see if it was true first, and so checked with Snopes, my go to for fact checking, it confirmed that the study had been conducted.

snopes

I know that this study was surrounded by controversy and rubbished but couldn’t remember the details, so searched for it and this is what I found..

The study was about finding out the weight of the soul by using a specific scale to measure them.. “dying men, at the very moment of their decease, have been placed on delicate scales that have recorded their mortuary degravitation.” (Evans 1946)

It further says..

“ORIGINS: Most of those of a religious bent believe in life everlasting for the faithful, a continuation of the life force that reaches far beyond the limitations of mortal flesh. In such belief systems, death is not an end but a transformation: though people shed their corporeal selves at the moment of demise, that which made them unique beings lives on to rejoin the Creator. We call this intrinsic personness “the soul,” an entity described in the dictionary as “The immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life.”

Yet as much as we believe in the concept of “soul,” this life spark remains strictly an article of faith. As central as it is to our perception of ourselves, it can’t be seen or heard or smelled or touched or tasted, a state of affairs that leaves some of us uneasy. Without the soul, dead is dead. But if it could be proved to exist, a great deal of anxiety over what happens to us when we die would be vanquished.”

I agree, it would be good to really know ~ but does this really prove anything if the weight changes? Could it just as easily be due to total cessation of body function?

It was Dr Duncan MacDougall from Massachusetts (cue Bee Gees song) ~ who suggested that the soul was measurable and had mass, therefore you would see a change in weight at the moment of death as the soul left the body. Supposedly the idea of the soul having being detectable was postulated earlier than the 20th century, but the experiments regarding recording of specific weight was attributed to Dr MagDougall in 1907.

The article continues..

“Dr. MacDougall, seeking to determine “if the psychic functions continue to exist as a separate individuality or personality after the death of brain and body,” constructed a special bed in his office “arranged on a light framework built upon very delicately balanced platform beam scales” sensitive to two-tenths of an ounce. He installed upon this bed a succession of six patients in the end stages of terminal illnesses (four from tuberculosis, one from diabetes, and one from unspecified causes); observed them before, during, and after the process of death; and measured any corresponding changes in weight. He then attempted to eliminate as many physiological explanations for the observed results as he could conceive.”

The experiment was conducted as follows..

experiment

He then, it is said, repeated the experiment using dogs, fifteen in total. His results, he claimed were all negative with the animals because it was his belief, and his experiment proved it, that dogs/animals did not have souls. This experiment caused controversy because he used 15 healthy dogs and poisoned them as he claimed he couldn’t find any sick ones for his experiment.  Also, for my two~penneth worth, I believe that all living creatures have souls ~ a purpose driving their being. I know many will also disagree with this ~ but that’s the beauty of our various beliefs ~ none of us can prove anything until we pierce the veil and pass through to what lies beyond. Once there we can’t very well return to tell everyone left behind on earth where they have gone, if they have gone anywhere at all. For all we know there may actually be a big nothing ~ death and then that’s it!

The results of the experiments on the six patients were as follow..

  1. “[S]uddenly coincident with death . . . the loss was ascertained to be three-fourths of an ounce.”
  2. “The weight lost was found to be half an ounce. Then my colleague auscultated the heart and found it stopped. I tried again and the loss was one ounce and a half and fifty grains.”
  3. “My third case showed a weight of half an ounce lost, coincident with death, and an additional loss of one ounce a few minutes later.”
  4. “In the fourth case unfortunately our scales were not finely adjusted and there was a good deal of interference by people opposed to our work . . . I regard this test as of no value.”
  5. “My fifth case showed a distinct drop in the beam requiring about three-eighths of an ounce which could not be accounted for. This occurred exactly simultaneously with death but peculiarly on bringing the beam up again with weights and later removing them, the beam did not sink back to stay for fully fifteen minutes.”
  6. “My sixth and last case was not a fair test. The patient died almost within five minutes after being placed upon the bed and died while I was adjusting the beam.”

So, out of six tests, two had to be discarded, one showed an immediate drop in weight (and nothing more), two showed an immediate drop in weight which increased with the passage of time, and one showed an immediate drop in weight which reversed itself but later recurred. And even these results cannot be accepted at face value as the potential for experimental error was extremely high, especially since MacDougall and his colleagues often had difficulty in determining the precise moment of death, one of the key factors in their experiments. (MacDougall later attempted to explain away the timing discrepancies by concluding that “the soul’s weight is removed from the body virtually at the instant of last breath, though in persons of sluggish temperament it may remain in the body for a full minute.”)

Dr. MacDougall admitted in his journal article that his experiments would have to repeated many times with similar results before any conclusions could be drawn from them:

Good old MacDougall didn’t continue with anymore of these experiments for four years when in 1911 he reappeared claiming he could show the soul on x~ray as it left the body on point of death.

The second experiment was this..

2nd experiment.jpg

It would seem after the second experiment cycle that Dr MacDougall did not make any further inroads in proving his belief. He died in 1920 but the legacy of his experiments live on ~ and cause many lively debates on the subject of whether the soul does indeed have a specific measurable weight.

“Nonetheless, his legacy lives on in the oft-expressed maxim that the human soul weighs 21 grams. (At the moment of death, MacDougall’s first test subject decreased in weight by three-fourths of an ounce, which is 21.3 grams.)”

I find this topic completely engrossing and if you search there are so many different opinions from a wide variety of sources. Scientific, religious, spiritual, agnostic and so on ~ whatever your bent I think it is a subject that could cause a long and lively discussion.

I hope to not have to find out first hand for a number of years yet, but would love to know your stories, thoughts, experiences on this matter.

Life is a gift, one I intend to make the most of, but how reassuringly comforting would it be to know that there is “more” for us beyond this life?

I leave you with this..

2_Subtle-body-after-death

x~X~x