The Last Crossing
Gladys Osborne Leonard
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Pages (PDF): 130
Publication Date: 1939
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Gladys Osborne Leonard was a British trance medium, renowned for her work with the Society for Psychical Research. This book discusses not only the after-life but also the point of death itself. Chapters include: The One Thing We Fear; Our Two Bodies; A Way Of Escape From The Web Of Life; Decay And "Whole-Ness"; When Death Approaches; "Rolling The Stone From The Grave Away"; "Every Calvary Has An Olivet"; Practical Methods Of Helping The Dying; The Last Hours; Fear Of Being Buried Alive; A Strange Experiment; Important Scientific Corroboration; Animals And Their Etheric Bodies; The Half-Way World; and more.
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THERE is one thing in Life that the majority of men and women fear. One inescapable, inevitable event that each one must face. We cannot guard against it. We may perhaps delay its coming and gain a brief respite, but eventually we have to face it. Indeed, it is probably its inevitability that appalls us, because man instinctively desires to put off the unpleasant or fearful thing as long as possible. There are some people who regard-as Blake did-our human lives as only a "mortal stage of which death happens to be a part." Yet even these more fortunate ones may feel some qualms about that last journey into the Unknown, either for themselves or for someone whom they dearly love.
Who can blame them? Death, as we have known it, is shrouded in mystery, which man instinctively hates and fears. His whole life, from childhood through maturity, is spent in endeavouring to simplify and clarify whatever problems daily existence may bring. Consciously and subconsciously he resents mystery, and as far as possible he only comes to grips with what appear to him to be normal events, such as a career, marriage, the coming of children, holidays, etc. Even illness is looked upon as an ordinary happening in most people's lives, because there is usually present the belief in recovery, and resumption of every-day life again in a comparatively short time.
Holidays are prepared for joyfully; even great changes, such as setting out on a long journey to some far-off country where we will begin a new career under entirely new conditions, are viewed with equanimity, because, as in sickness, there is always the probability of a return to old friends and circumstances.
But Death-that dread word-seems to be an ending to all the known and accustomed things-to work, to love, and interests. So, many of us avoid all reference to it-all contemplation of this strange and terrifying phenomenon.
Even to those who believe that "death is a door with two sides-and the other side of it belongs to immortality"-shrink from certain aspects of death. For themselves, the fear of long-drawn-out suffering which may cause them to be a burden and trouble to those whose task it is to care for them, or in the case of someone who is near to them-a husband or wife, a dearly loved relative or friend-there is the terrible heartache occasioned by watching the suffering, and perhaps the struggles, that precede the actual transition, combined with the feeling of helplessness to relieve their distress.
As R. C. Trench says:
When we are doomed to stand inactive by,
Watching the soul's or body's agony,
Which human effort helps not to make less-
Well, we feel then we would give anything in the world to be able to do something that might help that dear sufferer to relinquish his hold on the tired-out physical body, quietly, normally, and peacefully.
Medical science provides us with merciful physical aids for intense pain, but there are many who shrink from the use of morphine and similar drugs, either from moral scruples, or because they have found by personal experience that these drugs, far from acting as a sedative or pacifying agent in their particular case, are worse than useless, because they excite and irritate. These unfortunate cases may be comparatively few and far between, but personally I have known several such, and it is in the endeavour to make the act of dying easier that I am going to give some information regarding very simple methods that I found helpful in cases where drugs and medicines failed entirely. Indeed, so simple is one important treatment that some people may doubt its efficacy. There is an underlying, but as yet little understood scientific reason for its use, as I shall endeavour to show later. In addition to the purely physical side of death, there is the spiritual and mental aspect, and we can give help to the one who is preparing to face this great change, so that he can meet it with peace, and even joyful interest.
We can enable ourselves to rejoice that our dear one is being released from the limitations of the physical life; we can be glad that he is doing so, providing we know or understand something of that new condition of existence which he is about to enter.
In order to provide such information as I can give on these two important aspects of the case, I am drawing principally on my personal experience, and also from some first-hand experiences related to me by other people which support and substantiate my own conclusions.
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