Considering Death — Week #5 of “A Brief Pause”

Cai Emmons
6 min readNov 16, 2022


This week’s post is written by Nancy Hopps. I will return next week to tell you about the second mushroom trip I took yesterday, wearing these ruby slippers!

Death Can Be “Just Fine”

by Nancy Hopps

I’ve always had a profound curiosity about death. As a philosophy major in college, I devoured others’ treatises about our blink-of-an-eye mortal existence and how we humans fit into a much Bigger Picture. I’ve always been extremely curious to find out what comes next — though I’m not in any hurry. I am deeply committed to being as fully present and learning as much as possible in each moment while inhabiting this human form.

But I absolutely know, in the depths of my being, there is more to life than just this one physical existence. How do I know that? Isn’t it merely a belief, you may ask? Perhaps. But to me, it’s a deep, definitive knowing.


Several decades ago, Wendy, the daughter of a friend of mine, died in an automobile accident. She was sixteen at the time. Driving home from the Oregon coast on a dark, rainy night, she took a slick curve too fast and was killed instantly.

About a week after her death, I was driving home from teaching a night class at a community college. We’d ended class with a guided meditation, and though I was wide awake and fully alert, I also still felt very “open” as I coasted down the long hill that led back into town.

In this relaxed but alert state, I suddenly, totally out of the blue, felt a powerful energetic sensation move through my body and heard a clear voice — Wendy’s — in my head. It was as if some sort of electrical current whooshed through me, bringing with it a corresponding feeling of absolute peace and bliss. I simultaneously heard Wendy say, very simply, “I’m fine.” Then, just like that, her presence and the current of bliss energy were gone.

In that brief instant, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that “she” still existed in some sort of nonphysical form.

It was clear to me that I was to relay this message to her grieving mom. (What grieving mother wouldn’t want some kind of reassurance that her daughter — wherever and in whatever form she might now be — was okay?) Apparently, I was a convenient conduit for that message.

Please understand that things like this don’t happen to me all the time. Especially back then. I grew up in a very intellectually oriented family. My dad was a metallurgical research engineer. If something was not explainable within logical, rational constructs, it simply wasn’t worthy of further consideration. At that point in my life, although I was curiously exploring other world views, I was still primarily a born-and-bred skeptic of anything “woo-woo.” Which made this odd experience all the more convincing — I’d certainly not been trying to conjure up Wendy’s spirit!

No, as blissful and natural as this “transmission” had felt in the moment, this first little foray into the afterlife actually freaked me out a bit. The fact that what had happened was beyond my rational understanding and, perhaps more importantly, beyond my egoic self’s control was … unsettling. I was, after all, my father’s daughter.


Fast-forward about 35 years…

I now have more context for (and hence more comfort about) this and subsequent transcendent experiences. In the several decades since this occurrence, I’ve had the sublime honor of assisting a bunch of folks at the time of their physical deaths. These experiences have further solidified a deep knowing that we are so very much more than these physical forms. What before had been a hope, a belief, is now, to me, an irrefutable truth.

Being with my own father at the time of his passing was the most profound of these experiences. A longer version of this story appears in my upcoming book, All the Courage Love Takes. I offer this excerpt now to reinforce my point that life is so much more than we can ever logically or rationally comprehend.


Sunday morning, I’d been told, “Don’t bother coming … you won’t make it in time.” So, it was a major challenge to stay calm as I sat there, stranded, in the Denver airport until after 8:00 p.m. I knew every moment of delay could mean not seeing my dad alive again. Yet, I also felt a deep sense of peace and trust that it would all be okay.

Finally, mechanical problems resolved, I boarded the plane and arrived in Phoenix at 10:30 p.m. Abandoning my delayed luggage, I quickly picked up a rental car and drove to the hospice center. I’d been keeping everyone abreast of the delays, and Dad had continued to refuse additional morphine so he would be lucid when I arrived. We had a precious half-hour or so before I insisted he let them ease his pain.

During that final conversation, my dad, the ever-logical engineer, said to me, “I wish I’d taken all this [spiritual] stuff more seriously before this.” A bit later, as he began to drift in and out of consciousness for the last time, he said, “Well, I don’t know what the hell’s supposed to happen here, but I guess we just go with it.”

I smiled and squeezed his hand. “Yep, Dad, I think we do.”

I assured him he would not be alone, that I’d be right there with him, and I was certain there would be assistance on other levels that he’d be experiencing very soon. I told him he didn’t have to understand it all. Just be open to it.

Mostly unconscious by then, Dad had a fitful night. I did my best to calm and guide him. At one point, he began tearing at his IVs and clothes, in obvious distress. Bernice, the attending nurse, went to get more morphine. While she was gone, Dad and I were alone in the room. I spoke to him verbally at first, then found I was better able to communicate and calm him telepathically. It was a fascinating, yet very natural, transition to “meet him” on the level of consciousness he was beginning to inhabit; he was more attuned to this other, nonphysical dimension now. Our connection was clear and unquestionable, and he calmed considerably.

By the time she returned, I was able to tell her, “I don’t think he needs the morphine.” Bernice observed him for a moment, then smiled. “You’re right.” Placing her hand on her heart, she said, “He seems more … settled.”

My sister and I sat with Dad throughout the rest of the night. During those final hours, I served as a sort of “spiritual midwife,” telepathically coaching him through the transition.

As dawn was breaking, I felt my spirit, my awareness, begin to rise out of my body; I nonverbally called to Dad to do the same, telling him it was okay to let go. As I continued to guide him, a brilliant, all-embracing White Light appeared, and I felt Dad’s spirit leave his body.

I opened my eyes to confirm the physical signs of death. The Light I’d seen and felt was also apparent to me with my eyes open, and the feeling of … Grace … that filled the room was indeed “amazing.” I felt a pull back down into my body, while at the same time was able to stay in a very expanded state of awareness for several more moments.

A bit later, I had the opportunity to share my transcendent experience with Bernice, who nodded knowingly, saying she’d experienced the Light in the room as well, as she often does when patients make their transition. She gave me a solid but gentle hug, then pulled back just enough to make eye contact.

We smiled. We both knew Dad was just fine.

NANCY HOPPS is an internationally recognized healing and performing artist. Her award-winning Relax into Healing recordings have benefited over 100,000 listeners worldwide. Of the many healing modalities she integrates into her life and her work, Nancy maintains that “the greatest of these is Love.” Her new book, All the Courage Love Takes, is due out in Spring 2023. (



Cai Emmons

Cai Emmons is the author of 5 books of fiction, most recently the novel, SINKING ISLANDS. Two more of her novels will be published in 2022.