The Heart Of My Grandmother’s Death: A Story Of An Unparalleled Shared Death Experience

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During the summertime last May, I felt the liberating emotions of exhilaration, elation, and eagerness. I had finally earned a very yearned for status of alumna of George Mason University after four years of arduous academic work, and I was on my way to earn a Masters at Syracuse University beginning the following fall semester.

Just weeks after graduating, on a humid, but homey Sunday afternoon in Vero Beach, Florida — in the presence of my mother, her sister, and my grandfather in our living room — my aunt on my father’s side, Linda, called my mother to ask me if I could aid in a momentous need of hers.

My grandmother, Sanna Offutt, had lived with my Aunt Linda and uncle for the past five years in Port St. Lucie. After Sanna’s husband, James Offutt, passed away in 2016 from Alzheimer’s, my grandmother moved in with my aunt and uncle in their quaint periwinkle house. My grandmother originally lived in a house with her husband just a block away from my aunt’s house, but after her husband passed, both Nanny, what my cousins and I called my grandmother, and my aunt believed it to be best that they would be in closer proximity together in case an emergency would occur where Nanny would need my aunt’s loving assistance quickly.

My aunt had graciously taken care of my grandparents since the year 2010. She had been a caretaker for her parents for more than a decade. Both Nanny and Poppy had been in an out of nursing homes, and, eventually, my aunt had helped them move into their own little home near my aunt’s house in Port St. Lucie.

It was only last summer that my aunt requested for someone else to help her take care of Nanny. Of course, her husband, Charles (my Uncle Chuck), helped her as often as he could, but was not able to be with her as much as my aunt needed.

When my aunt phoned my mother that afternoon in late May, asking her if I, her daughter, would be interested in helping her to take care of my grandmother, who I wasn’t able to form a deep connection with for all my life due to being a nomadic military dependent, I was reluctant to say yes. I had a plan to attend Syracuse, and, initially, I wanted to say no, as I wanted to prioritize my education.

But as my mother helped me consider the impact I could make on my aunt’s situation — as Nanny was already 91 and in need of more help than my poor aunt could offer — the choice was crystal clear to me. I would move in with Aunt Linda next week, learn everything I needed to in taking care of Nanny, her schedules and routines — and then, come mid-September, I’d move with them to Greensboro, North Carolina, as my aunt and uncle desired to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

From June to early September, I learned the ins and outs of taking care of Nanny. Making Nanny her favorite orange marmalade and butter toast every morning with her medium-roasted coffee, bathing her, helping her get dressed, helping her use the restroom, taking her to her health appointments, and spending the best quality time with her as possible as an unintentionally estranged granddaughter.

Advancing into early October, three weeks after moving into the new house in Greensboro, my family and I regrettably witnessed Nanny’s health and vitality declining. My aunt and I recognized that there was now a need for both of us to be there with her — from the second she woke up, to bathing her, dressing her, and helping her on her wheelchair to make it to the dining table for breakfast. Nanny wasn’t able to stand up on her own any longer. She requested for us to help her into her bed rather than to watch the television with us during early afternoons. Her appetite and thirst slowly declined. For ten days, from October 1st to the 10th, she ate nothing, but drank water with a straw from the glass cups we would frequently refill for her throughout the day.

On the night of the 11th of October, around 6:00 PM, my family — my father and sister, who flew up from Florida a few days earlier, Aunt Linda, and her two daughters were chatting amongst one another in Nanny’s room. They surrounded her as they sensed the end was near. As Nanny was lying in bed, my cousin, Sanna (Nanny’s namesake), noticed that she seemed to be in distress, although she lost her ability to communicate in order to describe what she was feeling to us.

Feeling compelled to help, Sanna silently prayed for her and played quiet music on her laptop. She heard my sister tell us to look at Nanny’s eyes. Her eyes were completely wide open — wider and bluer than ever before. She appeared to be looking straight up at something. Her skin was turning white. Sanna soughed “She is seeing God!”. Sanna got Aunt Linda and my father, who were in the kitchen, to come and see what we were witnessing.

Nanny’s eyes remained fixed on something above her as though she was receiving a message. We received an overwhelming sense that we were in the presence of godliness, and although we couldn’t see what Nanny was looking at, we sensed it was either God or an angel. Sanna noted that it seemed to have a male persona, was very tall, gleaming a bright light, but saw no visual representation to confirm it. The entity that sought my grandmother was authoritative, and she was to follow. Its authority was all powerful, otherworldly, but kindhearted.

The sense of exhilaration and joy was overwhelming. Her upper body seemed to be elevated, and she began some gentle movements, opening and closing her mouth, which indicated that she was most definitely dying.

Moments later, she was gone, and her little limp body laid peacefully on her bed. We shared a brief moment together in a communion with God. This energy was never directed towards us, but we caught a glimpse of the promise that awaits us after this life.

It was a celestial, seraphic shared death experience. And although none of us were physically dying aside from my dear grandmother, we felt the death of our own human reality evaporate before us, transforming into a reality filled with immense love, joy, and unity.

What is your take on near death experiences? Have you ever experienced one or known anybody who has? Please share!