Expect a Three-week Debrief

My sister said to me the other day, “I just want to know where Dad is.” I still feel like I can call him and visit him down the street. He’s definitely not there. I could consult religious texts about this question of where one goes after life. Heaven, I hope. With an online search, I found myself reading a post on a blog about this subject. What else is new? The post went on to some length with a detailed description of what comes after death. Commenters of this particular post wanted to know how the blogger could possibly have the answers to all the questions. “How do you know this stuff?” Many asked this.

I might be asking that exact question except that some of the stuff she said was the exact same stuff that a friend of mine told me not long after my Dad died. “Oh,” she said, “He’ll be having his debriefing of his life soon. It will take about three weeks.” The blogger said the same thing. My friend considers herself to be a spiritual person, often aligning her beliefs with Native Americans, although she has had a Christian religious upbringing as well. My point is this wasn’t based on any particular religion. My friend went on to say that in this debriefing period, my dad would get an overview of his life. I reasoned he could see what he did good, what worked, how he screwed up, how he spent his time and with whom. The whole shebang.

The analysis could be discussed on a couch in the sky or perhaps a Dickens’s Christmas Carol spirit takes you by the hand and, together, you observe your life of the past, present and…the future, I guess we can rule out. It sounds reasonable enough that an angel might sit with you and just talk it out. Perhaps it will be a deep sleep where we dream it all. Perhaps, something that we can’t describe. I just hope there’s food because everything is better over a comforting meal. I don’t see why the talk/analysis can’t be done over a leisurely seven-course dinner with wine, and dessert and coffee.

He’s ready for the debrief. Are you? (Source:  Flickr)

All kidding aside, what I found illuminating was that this blogger, who knows everything, said that in the debriefing you will look at all the good you’ve done in your life and the ripple effect of those positive actions. You would then feel this goodness wash over you. Likewise, in ways that you hurt or caused pain, you get to feel that, too. This part made sense to me.

Lately, I’m more aware of the mindful choices that I can make each day. We do have choices about how we spend time in our lives, at least in our leisure time. I’m pretty certain that when we do the debrief we won’t care about how much money we made or spent, what we wore or what our hair looked like. Appearances won’t mean a thing. Most likely, all that will matter will be who we spent our time with.

I wondered if I could get a midterm life grade, a kind of check-in. I suppose this might only be available to those who have the near-death experience. Most of us don’t get this opportunity. I’ll admit, I actually don’t really want it. I will take my chances with the three-week debrief.

It’s said after the debrief is complete, you walk through a cleansing ring of fire. Later, you can do the whole life thing over again and give it another try. A future after all.

The truth is we really have no idea. I just thought it was funny that my friend and this random blogger both mentioned a three-week debriefing as a matter of fact. Since this blog post is six years old (here it is) and my friend doesn’t blog at all, they couldn’t have collaborated.

Hopefully, no matter what, we get to fly.

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50 thoughts on “Expect a Three-week Debrief

  1. I have chills and tears reading your words, especially the last line.

    Death has a way of getting us to laser in on what’s really important in life. Not cars, houses, money, looks. But how we treat each other. Compassion and love. That is it.

    I remember writing in my diary over and over again, “Dad, where are you now?” Since then I think I’ve read every book on death and life after death in the world. Along with books on reincarnation, hypnotism, past lives. I used to be afraid of death but now I realize it’s merely a transition and this life, this world is a temporary reality, more like an illusion. I know my dad will be there for me when I leave it and we’ll both fly away again together. Just like you and yours.

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    1. You nail it, Darla. Compassion and love. That is all that matters. I’m touched by your words. It’s funny I keep asking about where he is as he’ll answer me. One of his neighbors just called me tonight to tell me that she keeps hearing my dad’s whistle outside her door. He used to visit her and whistle as he walked up the stairs. Oh! I found it all very comforting, actually. The same friend I mention in this post has told me that he is an earth angel! I’m good with that. I like the thought he might be hanging around with us for a while. I can totally understand all the soul searching. I haven’t read a lot yet, but I’m very interested. I’ve considered past lives before. I’ve had people tell me I’m an old soul and that I’ve done “this” many times. I’m really open-minded about it all. Maybe we are just constantly transitioning or this life is the transition. And we will fly, yes. 🙂

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      1. Wow, that is amazing about hearing his whistle! Yes, while some may say we’re just trying to comfort ourselves by imagining signs, I’ve experienced too many real signs from my dad over the years to count. Some of these signs my own husband and my brother experienced right long with me too. I know what’s real and I know what I experience, see, hear and feel of my dad is genuine. It doesn’t matter if no one believes me or not. My dad is around me all the time and I know I will see him again. Of course I take great comfort in that as well I should. But guess what? It’s also the truth. Much peach love and comfort to you, Amy.

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      2. I totally believe in signs, Darla. You know deep down that it is a sign. Our instincts kick in. In the case of the whistling (how cool is that?!) other people heard it, too. May you dad continue to sends you signs. That’s wonderful that you know that he is with you. Peach love sounds good to me! xoxo

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      3. I could write a book on all the signs he’s sent us. And some have been pretty incredible. It took some time before I got my first feeling he was there so don’t fret if you don’t sense him right away or all the time. These things are so personal and different for everyone

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  2. I think that’s one of life’s biggest mysteries: what’s it like after we die. I’m a Christian and I believe in heaven but it’s so beyond our experience that I think even descriptions of it in the Bible are just metaphors, the best our languages can do to describe something indescribable. I just hope I can be creative in some way or another. And yes, I hope we can fly. 🙂

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    1. I kind of hope heaven is indescribable. Oh, what will we do up there? We will have no words for it. A writer who has no words. Well, David, that wouldn’t be a first for me! But probably for you. You always have words. I know wherever you are you are creative. You have that gift. Thank you.

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      1. Thanks, Amy. Actually, I have been without words many times. I find I’m much better at fiction than real life. My sister has a gift for writing very moving things about her children and other family members and I think, “I could never write that.” I express myself better through metaphors and things that have never been.

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  3. Each of us handle the passing of someone close in a different way … and conversations like that between you & your sister are normal. I’ve never encountered the three-week debriefing … and to come across it here twice … simply wow! Nonetheless, I’ve got the feeling your dad is doing just fine … so keep smiling!

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    1. Frank, that is very true. All of us handle death in a different way. I totally respect that people grieve differently. You do what it takes I suppose. Isn’t that strange that I came across this debriefing thing like this, in such a short amount of time, too? I just had to do a post about it. I’m searching for a little bit of lightness and it made me laugh. A friend of my dad’s keeps hearing his whistle right by her house. I bet he is just doing fine. It’s good to hear you say that. Thanks.

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  4. Having endured twelve years of Catholic schooling in my youth, Amy, I hover between atheism and agnosticism. I have never felt remotely spiritual in the entirety of my life. I highly doubt that I will have some death bed conversion where I find God, something that has eluded me practically from birth. That said, I consciously try to live my life as a decent and fair-minded person. I make an effort to treat others with civility and respect and that includes respect for others who are religious/spiritual. Even Milton believes in God. I know that I could be wrong and there could be something “out there”. If thinking that your dad is going through a three week debriefing gives you comfort over how suddenly he shed his mortal coil, I think that’s wonderful. Do what you have to do to get through this tough time in your life so you can attain acceptance and peace. A terrific science fiction film that came out last year that struck quite a chord with my sister and I after our father’s death was Interstellar. It was very moving to me and it posits ideas about what might be “out there”.

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    1. Oh, fellow Catholic. I see why you don’t go to church. 🙂 I don’t either now, although I did for decades. I still feel that despite not going to church, I am a spiritual person. I feel like there’s something more, that there must be. And, of course, now V, science has proven there’s the afterlife. You think it would be front page news. I haven’t read up on it, but supposedly they have information now. I wonder if they know about the three-week debrief?! I am just looking for some lightness, because it is so heavy. I did see that film Interstellar, actually. It was one of the few films I saw last year. It was pretty trippy! I like their presentation of time in that one room…that was pretty mind blowing. That’s for the rec. I agree it’s a great film!

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  5. I don’t know anything about debriefings, and admittedly, the pragmatist in me is skeptical, but I like the idea of being able to come back and give life another try. Then again, we could end up in a heartbreaking and difficult life, and I’m not sure there’d be any takers for that.

    So many mysteries of life we’ll never be able to know.

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    1. Carrie, that wouldn’t be a good deal to have to come back to something miserable, would it? I wonder if we get choices. Do we draw straws? So many people believe in past lives. I’d like to think that’s a possibility. The difficult thing would be if you made the same mistakes over and over. But, I’m all for second chances. We will never know, although some people seem to have all the answers. To me, it’s all a mystery, but I like to entertain different ideas and wonder about it.

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  6. I’ve not heard of the debriefing either… it did bring a smile to my face, though.
    My father’s been gone two years next month and I still go to pick up the phone to tell him something. Mick’s been gone four months now and if there is some kind of debriefing, well, he’s got them all confused and is playing with them. They’re partying it up and have totally forgotten it’s only supposed to last three weeks!

    Death does give us a chance to look at our life. Are we happy with the way we are living it? No? Well, it can be taken away in the blink of an eye so might as well start living it to the fullest and with the most authenticity because it’s all we have while we are here. I can tell you I don’t waste time any more on the little, stupid stuff that used to get my knickers in a knot. So not worth it. I surround myself with the ones who want to be with me and with whom I want to be.

    You sound like you’re doing just fine. Taking the time to laugh, to share, to ponder, but not to wallow. That gives us nothing! xoxo

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    1. It made me laugh, too, Dale. Who has any idea if it’s true! I find it funny that they can be so sure about it. Well, but of course, there’s a debriefing. It did made reflect on things, which is typical these days for me. I think it’s a good and, as you say, so long as it’s not wallowing…I’m trying not to do that. Honestly, I’m feeling okay. Still sad, and I know I will always miss him. Going forward, I know that life is more precious. It does end. Even though I knew that, it’s different having the experience, as you well know. I’m with you…we don’t have time to waste on stupid stuff, so not worth it. I hope you are doing well. You are in my thoughts. xoxo

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  7. Amy,
    I feel that wherever your Dad is, he’s more than fine. While I don’t know for sure, I suspect that “on the other side,” time and space are not such an issue as we experience in this dimension. I’ve had many dreams where my (deceased) Mom has visited me and shared her wonderful wisdom, and I get the feeling that there’s no worry or fear in that place where she dwells now. I agree – we really don’t know – but I do think our beloved friends and family do visit us and they do try to comfort us about the “not knowing.” Maybe giving life another try? I hope so… Another ride on the ferris wheel – it’s a fun idea, don’t you think?
    Hugs to you,
    Cathy

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    1. Cathy, I think time certainly must be different on the other side or in the other dimension, just wherever it is where we go. I thought it so funny that this idea of the three-week debrief, especially since they seemed to be fairly certain about it. I hear about loved ones coming back in dreams a lot. Thanks for sharing that about your Mom visiting you gave you comfort. I think just having that general feeling that they are at peace would be good enough for me. I wouldn’t need to know the specifics. A friend of my Dad’s tells me that she has been hearing whistling outside her house. He always whistled when he came to visit her. Who knows, right? I found that comforting even if I don’t know if it’s true. People only whistle when they’re happy. 🙂 Another ride on the ferris wheel, sure why not? Thanks, Cathy. xoxo

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  8. I read this on my phone while getting dinner together tonight and at the end I shivered. And I don’t even know why. So much of this touches on things I don’t believe in, but at the same time, it touches on the big, eternal question. One of my best friends died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 30. Ever since — for 20 years now — some of the questions that pass through your head have passed through mine about my friend. For a long time, it was the feeling that I should still be able to pick up the phone and give him a call and talk about the things we talked about. And now, even though I don’t really believe in these things, when I think about him, I imagine that he’s out there somewhere. He’s keeping his eye on things.

    But, no, I don’t believe in that.

    So, why did I shiver?

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    1. Well Mark, I certainly don’t have the answers as to why you shivered. I suspect that somehow deep inside you know something about this. Past life? I really think anything is possible. I’m pretty open to different ideas. I totally understand wanting to pick up the phone. Like why not? Your friend left quite suddenly, too, right? I think when it happens so fast there is this feeling of disbelief that they’re gone, even when you know without question that they’re not here. It’s a weird feeling. A friend told me she hears my dad whistling outside her apartment. I can’t help but think it’s true and I have that feeling, he’s watching and trying to help us all right now. So, it’s okay with me if you want to believe that!

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  9. I’ve heard a lot of things, but I don’t remember a three-week period. Time is non-linear on the other side, and in the grand multidimensional view of things…it’s complex enough as it is.

    There’s plenty of evidence to know it’s real—there is an afterlife. But a debriefing, I’d imagine, wouldn’t be like sitting down and having coffee. A spiritual existence isn’t a physical. The “other side” is pretty broad…what suits the individual from what I gather. And for that, only he really knows where he is. But no pain and suffering of his own.

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    1. Adam, you seem to have lots of answers, too. The idea of time being multidimensional blows me away. I imagine it is complex and it is hard to wrap my mind around it. I trust that it is complex. As far as the three-week period, I just found that amusing because they were so certain. Like you, I think time would become non-linear, almost as if not existing at all.

      Oh, you should do a post about the afterlife. I want to hear all the evidence! Know I’m just kidding this, but kidding aside, a seven course meal would be nice. It’s not life I ever get to have that here! I wouldn’t complain. Truly, I think it would something much better.

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      1. I didn’t say time was multideminsional… although time may approach other dimensions in translation approaching absolute zero, where matter is particularly fluid…drifting…uhm, no one would read that through. The quantum physics post of a while back wasn’t well-received. Or entirely reliable. Hmm…

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      2. Hmm…well, I think it’s fascinating. Of course, this doesn’t mean I understand it. That was probably the case for your readers, I’m guessing. I’d like to read it. Can you send me the link? Thanks, Adam.

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  10. We can never know what happens after we’re gone. Solving the mystery of death is the root of all organized religions. They all have their version of what happens to you after you die. You could go to heaven or hell. You could be reincarnated. You might even meet 1,000 virgins. These are stories made-up to comfort people in their desperate times. Nobody likes uncertainty. But the truth is we can never know, and the people who say, “Oh, I know with 100% certainty what happens after you die” are snake oil salesmen.

    I thought the post title meant you were taking three weeks off.

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    1. So true, Mark. No one knows what happens when we die. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they? I just found this funny since my friend told me about this and then I read about it on a random blog post. Ha ha. I couldn’t resist. You know, scientists are sure that the afterlife exists. I haven’t read that article though. I’m going to go find it now. I think it is about having some comfort as you say, especially after losing someone. You just hope they’re ok. I have a feeling my dad is doing fine. I’m told he’s an earth angel. That one made you smile, didn’t it?

      Nope! I hope you’re not disappointed. So far, I still have posts I want to write.

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  11. Hi Amy. I’m typing this with tears rolling down my cheeks… I agree with Mark – when I saw your title I thought you were taking time off! You’ve opened up a forum for some really thought-provoking comments here, and I love reading other people’s thoughts on this – especially bloggers who I know and respect. I’ve never heard of the debriefing, but it sounds like the concept of the judgement day found in both Christianity and Islam. I tend to be more on the pragmatic side when it comes to spiritual beliefs, but believe strongly in respect for all different viewpoints on it. I certainly don’t have any answers. But I have seen life, death, pain, and suffering up close and personally. I have seen expressions on people’s faces that were not of a physical nature. I’ve come to believe that God, or whatever name or deity one attaches to their spiritual beliefs, is evidenced in things unseen – feelings like love, and music, and beauty, and the code written in DNA, for example – all things we can’t explain. I would like to believe there is a transition of some kind at the time of death, as well as the possibility of an after life – I guess it’s all just a matter of choice – and that’s what faith and free will is all about. I hope that as you search for your own answers, you are able to find some that bring you strength, peace, and comfort in the here and now. Sending hugs and love to you – Kelly

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    1. Kelly, I’m glad this post touched you. Nope, I’m still here! So many positive people surround me here and I feel lucky. Writing here has given me strength. I’m joking about this three-week debrief, but who knows, right?! It’s just as good a possibility as any. It seems as though there would be some kind of transition as you say at the time of death. Some kind of meeting of minds. I didn’t want to mix religion into this context here. I’m not overly religious, as I feel religion is responsible for so much strife in this world. It has made me want to reject all of them. Like you, I think there must be something more, with all the things you mention here, love, music, beauty, the code written in our DNA. Yes, I would agree there is a higher power. I probably will be thinking about this a lot more now. Death has that power, I guess. I want answers, but know I probably will never know. It is a matter of faith, most certainly. I guess that much we do know! Thank you for being here, Kelly. Thanks for all your warm thoughts you send my way. Love and hugs to you, too. xoxo

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      1. I’m so glad you’re not going anywhere! It’s so good to have friends like you to ponder these things with as well – there are many sharp minds I’ve been fortunate enough to meet online through blogging, and I’ve found there’s also a lot to learn from them. Thanks for being there as well. xo

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      2. Thanks, Kelly. It would seem by chance we all met here, but who’s to say? Maybe there’s a reason….Seriously, it is so great to ponder over these things with people who care about you. Thanks, dear friend. xo

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      3. I’ve often thought that myself! And bloggers, for the most part, are such intelligent, creative people to meet. So maybe blogging is the link that pulls all of us like-minded people together so we can write and discuss and laugh and bond. It’s really amazing to be able to do that with people all over the world as well, who we would have otherwise never had the opportunity to know. 🙂

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      4. Absolutely, Kelly. I definitely feel a bond with many people out here on the blogs. We are all here to express ourselves, so right off the bat, we have something in common. Many people here I would love to meet face-to-face. Maybe someday.

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  12. What a great post, Amy. This is something I ponder and go back and forth on all the time. I think it’s human to have doubts on whether there is or isn’t an afterlife–a place where our loved ones who’ve departed are–there are so many theories. What I believe is whether there is or isn’t, we’re meant to enjoy our lives to the fullest. Do good. Respect others. Do the right thing and we all know what that is. I don’t think God or whatever one chooses to call that omnipotent being, cares whether we believe or not. That being believes in us–and accepts all our human foibles. I love the thought of a debriefing though and maybe we get to choose a do-over–maybe we can go again with the whole life on this dimension–the joy and pains–or we can stay in that bliss place. Maybe we get to “graduate” and that bliss place is where all the love and sweetness is. This is what I think of when I do pray, when I do meditate–that God is benevolent and something that we can’t possibly fathom, but a supreme being who only wants the best for us. Free will and other things that happen we don’t understand come into play and put us in the life we’re in. What we choose to do with that, I guess, is part of the whole process. Still, I think there is something–I just don’t know what that is, but it’s good and it’s where your Dad is. Hey, maybe he’s met mine. Lovely, wonderful musing today, Amy. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Brigitte. It is something to ponder, indeed. Now, they say there’s evidence of the afterlife. But does it answer all are questions or does it pose more questions? I do like to think our loved ones are at peace, at rest with smile on their faces. I feel certain about that. I see a rest between lives. Or maybe after a time, like you say, we graduate and can really rest. It seems unfair we don’t know sometimes. Like, just give us the real scoop here. But that won’t happen. We must wrestle with it or just accept what we do know. I do feel there must be a higher power that wants the best for us and that we don’t get to understand all the pieces of the puzzle. It’s a whole process how we all fit together in this life. Doing good by each other, the right thing, is what it’s all about, no matter what you believe. Doing good can go along way. I try to think about this now. Maybe our pops have met! Whatever it is, I hope it’s where all the sweetness is. Thanks for your reassuring words and thanks so much for the visit.

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