Rick Riordan, Author (1964 – )
Snobbery! I love the word! Merriam-Webster defines snobbery as “Snobbish conduct or character” and “Snobbish: being or characteristic of a person who has an offensive air of superiority and tends to ignore or disdain anyone regarded as inferior.” 
It has been my clinical and personal experience that those individuals, who are “snobbish” in their behavior, typically have difficulty with change. Looking down upon others throws up a barrier which says, “I will continue to see my own ideas as superior, because I don’t want to be challenged to change.”
Snobbery serves a purpose. Simply put, if you come to me with an idea, lifestyle, religion, experience or concept which forces me to re-evaluate my position, beliefs, faith or creed, chances are one of my first reactions will be fear, laced with a good dose of anxiety. These are very uncomfortable emotions. Many of us become extremely uneasy when confronted with opposing ideas. Wanting to stay emotionally within our own comfort zone, we can fight like a warrior. In doing so, snobbery might be one of our weapons of choice.
For me my own emotional comfort zone is sort of like the secure feeling I get when curled up on my Victorian couch. After a rough day at the office, my afghan comforts me as I snuggle up on my pretty sofa. Enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire in the fireplace the sensation reminds me of a mother’s hug. At that moment not only do I feel safe and protected, but in control of my surroundings. All is right within my world. If someone were to say to me, “That chaise longue of yours is a horrible color!” with much snobbery I might reply, “Well, you just don’t appreciate fine antiques!” I’d need to protect my comfort zone!
Anytime we experience a change in our emotional zone we will feel “dis-ease.” If we are rigid in temperament we may then fight this emotional, intellectual, physical or spiritual change with everything we have. In doing so we may even degrade the ideas, beliefs, needs or desires of others, especially those challenging us. Empowering ourselves with a sense of superiority or “snobbery,” we then fool ourselves into believing any opposing changes presented to us are unnecessary or not worthy of our attention. Sadly, such stubborn behavior not only hurts us, but can hurt others. Such obstinate inflexibility is especially true in much of the healthcare, mental health and clergy industry.
For the last 30 years I have been investigating the Departing Visions of the dying and those who love them. For decades, I’ve listen to my therapy clients share how they were visited by a departing loved one in a dream, or an “a wake” vision, shortly before a passing. Those at the bedside of the physically dying have reported watching a “vapor,” “light,” “cloud,” “mist,” or “fog” leave the physical body at the moment of death. I have also been at the bedside of those in the process of passing. As they carried on animated conversations with invisible deceased relatives and friends, angels and religious icons, I’ve seen how medical caregivers, mental health workers and the clergy react. Many of these caregivers continue to look for traditional explanations for the Departing Vision experience.
We must look at how death and dying is currently dealt with in our society. When faced with our own physical mortality fear can override all thinking. Denial and avoidance become dysfunctional coping skills. Once illness or old age sets in banishment to hospitals and nursing homes can take place. In centuries past, the sick and elderly continued to be part of the family system until physical death. Fear of aging and dying was a not an overwhelming societal issue.
Today, when loss occurs with the passing of a loved one, this sets the stage for depression and addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, work, food and more for the living. I see it in my office weekly. Western society has taught us to cut grieving short. In spite of this our feelings of loss stay with us. The emotions are then buried and healing can’t happen.
Release from the physical body was once seen as a spiritual occasion, but over the past decades, death and dying has become a very antiseptic event. This change in perception has greatly contributed to our current, overwhelming sense of age and death phobia. Because of this, over the next several months I will be addressing how our healthcare institutions react to the Departing Vision.
With this in mind, let’s start with the medical community.
For our great-grandparents Departing Visions were part of the societal landscape and this eased grief for both the physically dying and the living. If a physician was attending a dying patient who was having Departing Visions, such experiences would be validated. The physician would know the patient was being greeted by deceased loved ones and this information would then be shared with the family. Being exposed to physical death and the accompanying Departing Visions took the edge off grief. Along with this, the fear of physical mortality was lessened. With each subsequent passing, the lesson learned was this; physical death isn’t the end. Sadly today, afterlife encounters are dismissed by most medical caregivers. Antiseptic, traditional dogmatic science has pushed spirituality out the door. To make my point, I recently came across this:
“American experts have explained the nature of visions before death. Dr. Lahmir Chawla … (George Washington University medical center)… think(s) that the dying vision (is) caused by a wave of electrical activity in the brain when the brain lacks oxygen…. As the oxygen level in blood drops and blood flow slows down, brain cells produce… (a last) electric pulse. This process begins in one part of the brain and the cascade extends beyond that and can cause sensory sensation in humans.” 
The author then states this lack of oxygen creates the sensation of being out of the body, seeing a tunnel and reporting visions of God. After reading this I thought to myself, “Should I scream now or later?”
Physicians often attribute these visions to a dying brain, oxygen deprivation, medication, and illness. The above investigation, based on just 7 patients, was one more example of traditional medicine looking for a traditional explanation for these experiences. Interestingly researchers have disproven the lack of oxygen theory in several studies on Departing Visions. In my latest books “Heavenly Hugs: Support, and Hope from the Afterlife” (2012) and “A Glimpse of Heaven: The Remarkable World of Spiritually Transformative Experiences” (2012) I go into this in depth.
Though many physicians attribute Departing Vision encounters to hallucinations, wishful thinking, stress or biological factors, how do they respond to peers who report similar spiritual experiences?
Once skeptical Harvard neurosurgeon Eben Alexander published his fantastic Near Death Experience account last year in the bestselling book titled, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. Aside from a heavenly excursion into the afterlife, Alexander also reported meeting a sister he never knew. Adopted as an infant, the neurosurgeon had no idea his spiritual guide during his NDE was his deceased biological sister.
Once he recovered from the meningitis responsible for his brush with death, he saw a picture of her and learned her true identity. One would think a Harvard neurosurgeon would give professional credence to afterlife experiences in general, but not so says known “skeptic” blogger and author Paul Raeburn. In a blog picked up by The Huffington Post, Raeburn says this;
“I strongly object to Alexander’s, and Newsweek/Beast’s and Simon & Schuster’s collusion in dressing this up as scientific evidence for heaven, golden-locked lasses, and out-of-body experiences. There is nothing scientific about Alexander’s claims or his “proof.” We are all demeaned, and our national conversation is demeaned, by people who promote this kind of thing as science. This is religious belief; nothing else.” In my own writings which have explored sophisticated, scientifically based research into the Departing Vision experience, I’ve found results from Ireland, England, Holland, Italy, the U.S. and more confirming Alexander’s account. Sadly, writers like Raeburn, who also reports to be a scientist, carry a lot of weight with traditional medical professionals. The mainstream media is quick to latch on to such individuals, using them as “experts” to dispute personal spiritual experiences like Near Death Experiences, After Death Communications, Departing Visions, precognition and other afterlife encounters. In reviewing Raeburn’s publications I found many of his writings in numerous prestigious publications. When I see closed mindedness like this I’m always tempted to send out accounts like the following group Departing Vision involving a team of surgeons.
Stunned surgeons watch dying man’s soul leave his body during operation
Stockholm—A team of surgeons, struggling feverishly in a futile effort to save the life of a plane crash victim watched in stunned amazement as the man’s soul departed his lifeless body!
The incredible drama which offers irrefutable proof of life after death, unfolded in a Swedish hospital.
And the vapor-like specter that rose from the victim’s mangled body was seen by three famous surgeons, an anesthesiologist, six nurses and four technicians.
“Everything happened so suddenly and quickly that I sometimes wonder if I just imagined it,” said Dr. Jan Lundquist, the anesthesiologist told reporters.
“But I didn’t just imagine it. We all saw it—a dazzling misty-blue light that came right out of the body. It floated upward and then just seemed to dissolve like a stream into nothing.
“I wasn’t surprised at all that the patient died. He was in a terrible state. The surgeons did everything they could. But even as they worked, I knew we were losing him.
“Suddenly every vital sign ceased. All life signs just stopped. There was just a deep, hollow, moaning sound and I looked up to tell the surgeon that out patient was gone.
That’s when I saw an incredible shimmering light.
“Right before our eyes that glowing vapor rose. Somehow I was watching the soul leave the mortal remains of the man who lay before me.
Dr. Ulta Jurgenson, one of the three surgeons who also witnessed the miracle, said she tried to find some other explanation for what she saw.
But she said she is now convinced the misty phantom that rose before her eyes could only have been the dead man’s soul.
“I have been an atheist all my adult life,” the 53 year old surgeon said. “I have never believed in God or the hereafter.
“But now I’m not so sure. All I know is that I saw something that I cannot explain rise up out of the body of a dead man.”
Nurses and physicians all watch as a “dazzling misty blue” light leaves the body of a patient they are trying to save. Even those who are nonbelievers now find themselves questioning life after death.
For those of us who have witnessed a departing vision, we know we are changed forever. Experiencing any sort of afterlife encounter can tear down any misconceptions we have about the continuation of life. Such experiences force us to not only re-evaluate our spiritual beliefs, but every aspect of our lives. We now have a new paradigm for living life. Materialism takes a back seat to deeds of service and further spiritual exploration. 
When it comes to the dying process, traditional medical caretakers have a lot to learn. Many physicians and nurses believe they totally understand the psychological and physiological process of dying, but with new research into nonlocal consciousness (consciousness surviving outside the brain) long held medical ideas are now being challenged.
I often tell healthcare givers there is absolutely nothing wrong in admitting, “I don’t know.” Not having all of the answers opens us up to new possibilities. Breaking out of rigid dogma we can finally become explorers and seekers. Snobbery, stubbornness and a closed mind slams the door on progress and spiritual evolution.
So, my message to the medical community is this; there are those of you who have recognized that as the hour of departure draws near, something spiritually extraordinary occurs. Visitations from deceased relatives or friends come to gently take the dying to an afterlife existence. Angels, religious figures and glimpses of a colorful afterlife are also shared. When a passing finally occurs a vaporous soul can be seen leaving the body. You have been able to validate these encounters for those you serve, facilitating healing for both the physically dying and living. You are a blessing.
Then there are those of you who are unable or unwilling to hear what your patients are saying to you. Know you create unneeded grief when you are unable to hear these accounts. When dying patients along with their family and friends at the bedside realize you cannot hear them, there will be consequences. They will turn away in disappointment, anger and even shame. When you tell them any of the following, they will stop talking with you.
• “That’s just a hallucination.” • “It’s the stress of the illness.” • “You have an over active imagination.” • “What you think you saw was the result of a dying brain.” • “It’s just the medication.” • “Illness has caused this.” • “Wishful thinking for an afterlife is what this is.” • “Your relative is dying. It’s physiology.” • “I’m the doctor and I can tell you if you believe you saw something that isn’t there, maybe you need more medication.”
After such remarks, not only will patients and their loved ones no longer trust you, but because of such stubbornness you will be at risk for no longer evolving as a compassionate caretaker.
Instead of dismissing Departing Visions you can find another healthcare provider who is able to listen to these accounts. You can also say, “I don’t know much about these experiences but I have heard of them. Tell me more about your encounter.” Then just pay attention. You don’t need to share your opinion. Finally, if confused about these experiences, look into the research. Over the last few decades more members of the medical community have bravely stepped forward to embrace the Departing Vision. In exploring this phenomenon, they have assisted in reclaiming this facet of spirituality, reduced societal death phobia; shed more light on the find meaning of life, and on physical death. Like me I know they too are dedicated to continuing to do whatever it takes to be a shining example of the truth.