Upon seeing my deceased husband’s face on Netflix

Jim Macartney, my sweetheart of 35 years, died on August 1, 2020. Recently, I’m emotionally in a fairly stable place, and thus able to participate in life and work without major grief attacks putting a halt to just about anything. Wait—you don’t know about “grief attacks?” Yea, it’s a thing, and as suggested by the word: attack, it comes un-bidden, and often with no forewarning. Sometimes there is a trigger event leading up to the attack—a dream, a memory, a piece of mail in his name, an anniversary, or cleaning out a closet with his items in it…. But I never know what might set off the storm of tears and deep grief until I’m in the middle of it.

As mentioned, though, I’ve been feeling stable lately: I’m getting used to Zoom sessions with clients. I even felt ready to teach Zumba Gold from my kitchen again—kind of a big deal for someone who didn’t think she could muster the joyful attitude it requires. Life was—and is—good.

A few days ago, a small flood of messages, texts and emails appeared in my inbox. The content of the messages was either an inquiry: “Was that Jim on Netflix?” Or a statement: “I saw Jim on Netflix!” Or, this message of the day: “What a shock to see Jim in the first episode of the show!” The show she was referring to is a Netflix documentary, Surviving Death, and it’s currently in the top 10 viewed shows on Netflix. It’s well done—especially the first episode on Near Death Experiences.

Backstory:

In September of 2019, I drove Jim to a meeting of the Seattle Chapter of IANDS: International Association for Near Death Studies. An incredible organization that supports the study of Near Death experiences—NDEs—and is also a great source of support for ND Experiencers, their loved ones, people in grief, or folks curious about the phenomena.

Jim is an NDEr: In 1997, I witnessed his death in bed from a Grand Mal seizure/cardiac arrest. I also resuscitated him, and lived to tell the tale–and hear him tell the tale of his profound experiences on the other side of this reality.

Jim was asked to be interviewed for a documentary “on consciousness”—or so we were told at the time. Well, if you knew my honey, the word “consciousness” was huge in his world, and he was all for talking about it. After the meeting, our life became increasingly chaotic with a major move, his failing health, and hospice care, so I didn’t think about it.

Fast forward to his September memorial service on Zoom: One of the friends in attendance is the director of Seattle IANDS. We’ve known Kimberly Sharp for many years– both Jim and I have attended and presented at meetings and conferences. She announced that Jim was interviewed for what she could state is an upcoming Netflix documentary. That said, she wasn’t aware of what would make the final cut, but shared how pleased she was that this was up and coming.

I forgot all about that announcement too, until I read an announcement on the homepage of IANDS, followed by the flurry of messages in my inboxes.

So I made time to tune in. Sure enough, in two very brief segments, there was Jim. During the second Jim-sighting, he spoke on his experience of becoming a drop of water dissolving into the ocean. I hit the pause button. I caught my breath. I rewound to his brief appearances before I watched the rest of the show in a daze.

The next day was a work day, so I did my best to pull myself together, but when I fell into my easy chair that evening, I did one of the many crazy things one does when one is in grief: I went back to the Netflix show, fast forwarded to his appearance and paused the frame. I felt myself go into shock. Staring through tears, it was like seeing a ghost. Plus, I relived his 1997 death all over again—the shock of hearing him scream, finding out that his heart and breath had stopped, the frantic resuscitation attempt , the screaming at his spirit/soul—seen on the ceiling of our bedroom, “Get back in here! You’re not done with life yet!”, and the start of the rest of my life with a brain and heart-injured man.

Let the grief storm begin.

I didn’t stop crying til 8:00 PM the next day. I powered through a Zumba Gold class. I walked a sad, slow walk in the rain. I sought support from my bereavement counselor, and attended a grief support group—thank goodness for these resources! I made it through.

As mentioned, I’m in a good place now. I’ve discovered that every time I dive into a grief attack this deep, I always emerge on the other side clearer and more able to be in life. I can be present for clients and friends and family.

I continue to emerge into my new self.

I watched the entire first episode of Surviving Death last night. I hit the pause button briefly, and said to Jim’s image: “Honey, I’m proud of you.” And I am proud because he, Mr. Consciousness, made his contribution to the study thereof. We are but a drop in the ocean that is consciousness, and though we experience a pretty full life as that drop, the eventual return to the Source is in all of our futures.

After posting this, I’ll walk to a seaside view spot to acknowledge Jim and his place the greater Universe. I’ll send some love your way, ok?

With love from this side of the veil,
Elke

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Elke Macartney

18 Comments

  1. Annie Coleman on January 15, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    What a wonderful post Elke, thank you for sharing it helps much more than I can ever express.

  2. Patricia Francisco on January 16, 2021 at 1:17 am

    Beautiful. Love you Elke, you are such a light for the rest of of us.

  3. Meredith Ann Murray on January 16, 2021 at 5:01 am

    I can only imaging the shock, grief and joy – and you write so well about this experience. Thank you for sharing. Jim is such an amazing man. I finally had a bookcase made and it arrived today. As I unpacked the few books that made the cut to move to Mexico with me, there is Jim’s wonderful book, “From Crisis to Creation.” I have shared it with people going through rough transitions. Blessings! <3 Love, Meredith

  4. Fred Farris on January 16, 2021 at 6:17 am

    Oh Elke, this really touched me. I didn’t know Jim or his NDE story. I can relate to the fury of grief and how it can rush you when you least expect it. Sometimes someone will catch me amidst a pool of tears and want to help take it all away. I have to explain how necessary these moments are to me and how much more peace I feel on the other side. It’s as if I had a visit from Keaton and now can continue my march forward. I’ll never forget you and your healing words and touch during the darkest time in my life. Sending you Love and Light ❤

    • Elke Macartney on January 17, 2021 at 6:43 pm

      Dear Fred, What a profound realization it has been to acknowledge that grief is a natural process–not depression or an illness in any way. I see and hear you, fellow griever, and send peace to your heart.

  5. Donna on January 16, 2021 at 6:39 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It is very profound. I’m glad he was able to share his experience in this documentary. I have watched all the episodes and it has reaffirmed many things I have believed. I’m grateful that these stories and opportunities for enlightenment are now available to help and heal. Sending you hugs 😊🙏

  6. Kate Phillips on January 16, 2021 at 7:20 am

    I honestly didn’t know until reading this that Jim was gone… But I have wondered, just noticed he seemed “missing“ lately.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Although I did not know him well at all, I sense that he was a wonderful man who left the world so very much.

    Big hugs to you!

  7. Daniel Wise on January 16, 2021 at 7:40 am

    Thank you so much for sharing Elle. Much love to you from snowy London. x

  8. Keek on January 16, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    This is beautiful, Elke. Thanks so much for posting it. Dive deep into those healing grief attacks. They do heal. I love that Jim’s experiences and knowledge have been immortalized. And that you got to hear him once again. Hugs. Keek

  9. Nancy Ashmead on January 16, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    Oh MY!! What an experience, and extraordinary life, and a beautiful sharing this is. Thank you for who you are and continue to be dear friend. Love, love, love…

  10. Laurie Reynolds on January 16, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    A really tender account, Elke. I was with you, word for word. Thank you for your generous share. I feel sure that Jim’s reappearance for you is a roundabout reminder to you that he is, indeed, just on the other side of the veil. Sending love. <3

  11. Vicki Wantland on January 16, 2021 at 9:57 pm

    How wonderful it is to have this memory of Jim which you can revisit at any time. Good to hear you are transitioning well!

  12. Krysta Gibson on January 16, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing – I watched the first episode but wasn’t aware that was Jim – will rewatch it now….glad you are doing okay. It is so difficult to lose our main squeeze…..angels all around you. Krysta

  13. Beth Fairchild on January 17, 2021 at 12:48 am

    How amazing and wonderful. What a lovely gift to leave behind for others. My own experiences have led me to a similar place what I am ocean of love. I too have and do experienced grief attacks. I love you and your authenticity which inspires others.

  14. Anthony (Zumba) on January 17, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Big Hugs of appreciation and celebration of his “whisper” of reminder love to you.❤

  15. Rochelle on February 8, 2021 at 1:42 am

    I thought of you when I saw him. So glad you have an amazing support system. Thanks for sharing 😊💚🙏 All the best!

  16. Anne Macartney Brooks on March 13, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    I remember Jim, Jimmy as I have called him for about the last 50+ years, telling me last summer at his 70th birthday here in Chelan, weeks before his death, that he was going to be on this documentary. WOW, how wonderful to see and hear him in this presentation. He would be so pleased. I am proud of him, his accomplishments, his impact on our world, our special brother/sister relationship and friendship.

    • Elke Macartney on March 13, 2021 at 5:13 pm

      And I so appreciate that when I married your brother, he brought with him a “package deal’ of a wonderful sister and family.

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