Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the Mysterious Visitorby Ann Frazier West on 07/04/15
It was the late 1980s, at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK and the audience was waiting for our famous speaker, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, to arrive. Attendees began checking their watches and a young man finally stepped onto the stage and explained that Dr. Kubler-Ross had a flight connection delay and asked us to be patient. She arrived 30-40 minutes later. Breezing across the stage, gasping for breath, she apologized for her delay and her attire (jeans, sneakers and her shirttail hanging out over her jeans). The audience loved her! She was authentic and had broken the ice and created a truly relaxed and empathetic atmosphere - no pretense. Her focus quickly shifted to the topic of the lecture. We were mesmerized by her mastery of knowledge about death and dying, by her charm and by her obvious sense of mission.
Dr. Kubler-Ross, a medical doctor, psychiatrist and thanatologist, known for her work with children and AIDS patients, shared an experience that night that she said had made the afterlife a reality to her, a professed skeptic. She was presenting seminars on death and dying at the U. of Chicago and was at a point of making a decision to leave the university. While talking with a colleague in the hallway at the university, she noticed a woman standing in front of the elevator. She recognized the woman but couldn't recall how she knew her. Her colleague entered the elevator and the woman walked over to Dr. Kubler-Ross and said, "Dr. Ross, I had to come back. Do you mind if I walk you to your office? It will only take two minutes." She then recognized the woman as Mrs. Schwarz, a woman she had worked with and who had died ten months earlier. Mrs. Schwarz opened the door for Dr. Kubler-Ross and said, "Dr. Ross, I had to come back for two reasons: One, to thank you and Rev. Gaines - to thank you and him for what you did for me. But the other reason is that you cannot stop this work on death and dying, not yet."
Dr. Kubler-Ross had trouble making sense of it all. She knew Mrs. Schwarz had been buried for ten months, and this went beyond the comfort zone of her belief system. She then found herself touching everything real to her - her desk, her chair, her pen, but the woman was still there. She was real, too. The scientist in her wanted proof that Mrs. Schwarz was in actuality there in front of her and she said, "You know, Rev. Gaines is in Urbana now. He would just love to have a note from you. Would you mind?" She handed Mrs. Schwarz a piece of paper and a pencil. Mrs. Schwarz took the paper and wrote a note. Then she got up and on leaving said again, "Dr. Ross, you promise." She didn't want her to give up her work just yet. Dr. Ross promised, and Mrs. Schwarz disappeared. Dr. Kubler-Ross kept the note to remind her of her personal proof of the reality of life after death.