Dec 20, 2013
I am continuing to relate some of the strange events surrounding the death of my beloved wife, Roxanne.
If my own sense of it is correct—which the Emergency Room doctor seemed to confirm—that when she collapsed in my arms, she was gone within seconds; then I place the time of her death at 6:30 on Thursday evening, September 5th. It was well after midnight when I arrived home from the ER and climbed into bed emotionally numb.
At the ER, the medical personnel were all very respectful. But while I was there, so much had to be done despite the fact that one is numb and in shock. I had two consultations with the ER doctor. During the latter meeting he gently let me know that I needed to make a decision concerning which funeral home they should contact to have them come and pick up her corpse (even now, I feel reluctant to use that word, corpse, as it seems so blunt).
I had been doing the very difficult task of making phone calls to our son and daughters (and others) from inside the little room where I was sitting next to her lifeless body. And now I had to suddenly choose a funeral home! Who wants to think about that now! But one must.
Of course, in the shock of the sudden loss, there is no time (or desire) to “shop and compare” and make a rational decision based on the normal parameters of purchasing goods or services. So I chose one on the basis of…who knows? I don’t remember.
Fortunately, they turned out to be excellent across the board. No complaints. In fact, I found myself apologizing to the director assigned to our service for “getting huffy” with him an hour before the memorial service when it was not at all necessary. It was my own emotions causing me to “fly off the handle” at him.
When I did erupt, he was kind and gracious and a few minutes later when I apologized, he told me he fully understood. Obviously, he had experienced such incidents many times before from distraught and grieving clients. I share all this because it relates to “the book.”
I did not sleep much that night, and naturally, when I awoke on the next morning, Friday, September 6th, I awoke to grief… great, ponderous, stifling, inescapable and overwhelming grief. And that is when I saw the book…on a cushion on the floor under a window, with the morning light streaming in upon it—as though Divine Providence were directing my attention to it. As I came close enough to the cushion to be able to read the title, I immediately broke down in a massive torrent of tears (even as I am doing again as I compose this). The title of the book was Awakening from Grief !
What was that doing there!? Why was Roxanne reading it now?
We had lost our eldest daughter, Sarah, at age 13, in November 1990. After her death, whenever I would meet someone whom I had not seen in a while, and they would ask something like, how are you holding up, James; I would choke up with tears of sadness and grief. It took over five years until I could speak about Sarah without choking up.
Long ago, Roxanne had told me, in essence, that she did not grieve for Sarah as much as I did and when she explained at least part of her reasons, I understood. The whole story is given in much more detail in my two-CD message. (Footnote 1)
So if Roxanne was not still dealing with the grief of Sarah’s passing, what was she doing with that book? Her mother had died of cancer in 2004, but I cannot see her mother’s passing as the reason she would have been reading this book. And she had been reading it; it wasn’t just lying there never having been opened.
As my tears stopped sufficiently to allow me not to drip on the pages, I opened it up and looked at the passages she had marked with sticky tabs. Those passages, plus three loose-leaf pages of written notes tucked inside the book offered no clue as to who (or what?) was the cause of her grief.
And while I do see it as a little sign from my heavenly Father, I am still not certain what it means—unless it was simply to reassure me that her death was meant to be—but I knew that and I accept His sovereign plan for Roxanne and me. Or perhaps, it was a sign that while on that Friday morning I awoke to grief, that there would be a time when, as the book’s title was telling me, I would be Awakening From Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy.
I understand what the author (John Welshons) means by the subtitle; but to me, it is a non-sequitur. Because as believers in Jesus Christ, and in His and our own future resurrection, we do not need to find our way back to joy. We have it…or at least that is the ideal of the Christian life. That we can experience joy even now in the midst of our trials and tribulations, including grief.
But perhaps I am being too hard on the author’s choice of titles. Because, do we have it? Really? All Christians know from our own life experiences that seldom are we able to live up fully to the Christian ideal, including joy in the midst of tribulation (in this case, grief). Otherwise, Christian teachers such as myself would not be teaching about it. Coincidentally (i.e., Providentially), when Roxanne passed away, I had been in the midst of writing in these blogs about the fruit of the Spirit called joy.
As I have examined this book, it is apparent that it comes from a secular perspective. I probably won’t read it cover-to-cover, yet it is not without merit. One of the pages that Roxanne had sticky-tabbed (there were only five scattered throughout the book) speaks to me now.
“[Our culture has] tried to remove all reminders of our mortality, and all reminders of how fragile our lives really are.
“The one ‘ritual’ we do have that can function as a welcome wake-up call is preplanning our funerals. The practice of sitting down with one’s spouse, or one’s family, discussing and making the arrangements with a funeral director and/or cemetery for the disposition of one’s body when one dies can bring an amazing new aliveness to a marriage and to family relations. It may provide the first real opportunity for a couple to look in each other’s eyes and consciously acknowledge that they will not be together forever—that there is no time to waste on pettiness….”
“Arranging one’s own funeral can be an excellent way to remind ourselves, and our loved ones, to use every moment of this precious life.” [p. 58]
One would think that having lost our daughter and having been through that ordeal once before of suddenly having to select a funeral home while in the midst of shock and grief, that I would have been better prepared, if not for my own sake, then for Roxanne’s sake.
By “for Roxanne’s sake,” I mean, what if it had been the other way around? What if I had suddenly passed away? Then she would have had the dreadful task of making that decision in the first few hours after my passing. Preplanning a funeral does not mean that one must pay the funeral expenses up front. Given that understanding, I quite agree with the author in the excerpt above. I regret not having done the preplanning. I will not make that mistake again. As I purchased the plot for Roxanne’s burial, my daughters insisted that I allow them to purchase an adjacent plot for me. That much is done and I will have a “sit down” with them soon to at least orally convey to them my wishes for my funeral.
One final thing in regard to “the book.” In terms of strange things in connection with Roxanne’s passing, “the book” might also refer to another book in my house. On the morning that I discovered her book, there was also a book on my nightstand.
Of course, I was well aware of that book being there because it had been there for at least a year. For some strange reason, I never could bring myself to begin reading it. The title is Science and the Near-Death Experience by Chris Carter. It is strange because usually when a book winds up on my night stand it is because I have the intent to read it very soon.
It is also strange because I have had no particular aversion to reading books along those lines. I have always been interested in such things. I have read many such books over the last four decades. Some of them turned out to be bibliography material. (Footnote 2)
I have much more that I plan to share about Roxanne—many even stranger things, which when you hear them, you will marvel, especially when I get to what happened at our Feast of Tabernacles Conference in Kansas City. But there is much more between here and there. Am I teasing you to “stay tuned?” Of course I am, but you won’t be disappointed.
1. Regarding the death of our daughter, Sarah, a 2-CD message: Could You Forgive God? My Personal Testimony on Forgiveness. The CDs are free for the asking (but please include $4 for shipping and handling). I presented this very personal story in 1996. They are unlike any of my “regular” lectures. I do not intend to post these audios online. If you want them, you must ask for the hard copies. Ask for it by title or by CD #s 257 & 258. (See Ordering Information below.)
2. Bibliography material for my series entitled The Wheel of Reincarnation (audio), Near Death Experience and Out-of-Body Experiences (video). The album includes 4 CDs and one 2-hr. DVD. Includes CD lectures #503, 504, 505, & 506, plus D-115. A-122 Album package price : $25 + shipping and handling. (See immediately below.)
The Wheel of Reincarnation, Near-Death Experiences & Out-of-Body Experiences
An Audio & Video Lecture Series by Dr. James W. Bruggeman
Those who enjoyed our series From Inner Space to Outer Space [ISOS ]will especially enjoy this one, because in ISOS we left hanging the idea of multiple time dimensions. We video-recorded the last two lectures in this series in order to explore that idea.
CDs# 503, 504, 505, 506 The Wheel of Reincarnation: A Biblical and Common Sense Analysis. Lectures 1 – 4.
Here are about four hours of teaching on a subject in which a shocking percentage of nominal Christians believe. I once believed it myself—when I was a Rosicrucian and an avid reader of the Edgar Cayce material. To many people, reincarnation seems to offer a comforting alternative to what Christian doctrine offers. In fact, there are a number of Bible passages which appear to support the idea of reincarnation. But do they really?
We take on those “proof” passages and show the correct biblical interpretation and how the gospel of Christ—correctly understood—cannot possibly teach reincarnation. The true comfort lies in the truth of the Bible—truth which church orthodoxy has twisted to the point that Christians begin to look elsewhere—to reincarnation for a better alternative. How sad! Hearing these lectures will build your faith in the truth of God’s Word. Closely related to reincarnation is the concept of Near-Death Experiences and Out-of-Body Experiences (see next).
D-115 Near-Death Experiences and Out-of-Body Experiences(DVD only, c. 2 hours.) Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) refers to when people are very close to death (e.g., having a heart attack, undergoing life-risking surgery, during traumatic injuries such as in an auto accident, etc.) and they apparently seem to “go to the other side.” There they sense the presence of other beings (whether God/Jesus, angels, relatives who have passed away). These beings give the NDE-er information. “On the other side” they travel down a tunnel of light, or sometimes darkness; and for one reason or another they recover and can recall much of what they experienced.
Out-of-Body Experiences (OBE’s) refers to the apparent transfer of one’s consciousness outside the physical body, whether during NDE’s or other traumatic experiences. We relate the OBE of one friend and fellow teacher whom many in my audience will recognize. Without doubt, there are biblical passages in which saints went out-of-body.
Therefore, people say, “Don’t NDE’s and OBE’s prove that life goes on immediately after death?” Not so fast there! Let’s examine the whole context of saintly OBE’s and then factor-in the possibilities of multiple time dimensions. What could God do with that?!
The Wheel of Reincarnation, NDE’s and OBE’s
Album set A-122: four CDs + one DVD: only $25
Ordering Information You can order either of two ways:
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