Five Things I've learned from 50 years of living and working with death and dying and near-death experiences by Dr Deborah Forrest

1. Grief is a learned process.  We learn how to grieve a death – or not grieve – from the people around us. 

2. Grieving is a process for the Living.  It is about letting go.   The loved one who has transitioned/ died/ crossed over/ passed on is free of the challenges of living life on this earth.

 3. Grieving takes as long as it takes.  There are no rules about how and when is ends.  With that said, some sage advice given to me over the years has proven to be helpful.   For example, DO NOT MAKE ANY MAJOR LIFE DECISIONS after the death of a loved one for at least one year.  DO NOT LET OTHERS tell you how to manage the personal effects of the loved one you have lost.   [e.g. it took me two plus years to come to a place of peace about the death of my husband.  It took even longer to donate his personal effects to charities and others who would benefit from receiving them.]

4. The Heart has ears.  It can “hear” when the brain cannot – even in people with dementia.  It has nerve endings that carry messages to the brain from words spoken to the heart.

5. The only thing that truly matters in this life are the relationships that we have with other humans, animals, and living things.  This was in a message given to me during my own near-death experience in May 1993.


Dr. Deborah Forrest trained with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and is a pioneer in the field of spirituality and dementia. She’s now a public speaker, author, Registered Clinical Psychologist, Registered Nurse and Certified Shamanic Practitioner. 

Her academic training in death and dying came from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross MD, Catherine Sanders PHD, and Inge Broverman PHD.  Her personal experiences with death and dying and grief work began at the age of three years when she attended the funeral of her great-aunt.  It has continued over the decades with the deaths of her parents, two sisters, her husband and multiple aunts and uncles and cousins and dear friends.  

Her two books Symphony of Spirits: Encounters with the Spiritual Dimensions of Alzheimer’s and Touch the Spirit: Connecting to the Inner World of Dementia were international best sellers.  Her latest book Seven Open Windows: These Moments in Time is an inspirational book that explores the human spirit’s growth and development over time as it flows through this river of energy, we call life.