Eternity does not start with death. We are in eternity now.
- Norman Vincent Peale
When I first began in hospice care, I was doubtful when patients spoke to me about visiting with loved ones who had already died, hearing beautiful music and seeing angels when they were close to death.
As a nurse, I wanted to find concrete explanations for their experiences. But in short order, having heard them again and again, I started to really listen to these stories. Regardless of their age, spiritual background, experience or education, many people had very similar stories to tell.
They always described the angels as at least eight feet tall, male, very beautiful and voluminously dressed in a shade of white for which we did not have a name. The angels appeared at different times of day or night, and sat or stood nearby without saying a word; patients were always happy to see them and sad when they went away. When my own mother asked about the old man sitting in the corner of her room watching her, I suggested it would be just like her to have an old guardian angel. To which she answered, “That’s who he is” and was perfectly content with that thought.
One morning, the nurse who had been on duty the night before in our hospice center came to my office. She had been working for us for several months and had heard these stories from her patients a few times herself. She tentatively asked, “Has anyone ever told you they saw angels in the garden?” I told her I certainly had, from both nurses and patients.
She looked instantly relieved and explained that during the night, she had glanced outside at the surrounding gardens and was quite sure she was looking at many angels. Of course she questioned herself and looked out several windows to be sure she wasn’t just tired and seeing things. She said that they were lovely, seemed very peaceful and natural there and appeared to be just waiting.
When someone she had been caring for died during the night, the nurse felt sure that the angels she had seen in the garden were there to take the patient to heaven. What a wonderfully comforting thought and experience.