Reflections On The Death Transition: What I’ve Seen, What I Feel

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As a physician, I’ve had quite a few experiences with patients who were dying, as well as patients who had near death experiences and told me about them.

In medical school, I had an attending physician who had a heart transplant. He said as they removed his heart on the operating table, he went somewhere totally different than earth. After putting his new heart in, the surgeon shocked it to get it to start beating again. He says he felt that shock and felt himself feeling pulled back into his physical body and when he woke up… he was so damn mad. Angry to have to be back on this heavy painful earth.

Although he very much loved his wife, he loved his kids, he loved his job… whatever side he was on for the brief moment he was on it was infinitely better. The last thing he wanted to do was leave it, not even to come back here to his family.





I had a patient in the ICU who was dying, and as the veil lifted she started seeing her mother (who had died decades ago) sitting bedside with her. My patient would not let anyone sit in that chair, because that’s where her mother was sitting… so I stood nearby and listened as she talked to her mother.

She was so joyful and expressive and illuminated when talking to her mom, she laughed often and she gestured freely with her arms. She had not seen her mother in 40 years, and you could literally feel her light up at seeing her again and simultaneously relax into knowing it was all okay and that she was not alone during this death transition.





My very own grandfather woke up after having heart surgery in his mid-eighties, and told my father that he saw his dead wife (my grandmother, Grams) while he was on that operating table. He said Grams had told him to go back and eat — to finish his applesauce, specifically — and yes there was applesauce waiting for him back in the hospital room.




And on and on. And most recently, my best friend’s mom passed away. My friend told me that her mom started seeing energy — the light of souls that were in the room with her. She first started seeing them at the hospital she was in, and when she was able to come back home on hospice care, she told her daughter that she now saw the lights in her home too — and that they were colorful. Uplifting. Positive.

Watching people as the veil lifts between the two worlds — the living and the non-living — has always been my favorite thing. It’s so comforting, to know no one dies alone. Think of all of the billions of souls that have lived and gone before you, that not only make you who you are biologically but who have crossed over, and wait for you still, on the other side of that veil.

People you know and loved, people you never met, all knowing exactly who you are and welcoming you home. Row after row after row of beautiful soul energies, lighting up as they come to greet you.


I love that image so much that I painted it.


And I thank my best friend’s mom for telling us about those beautiful colored lights and giving me the inspiration to put this down on a canvas.

(This is actually the third painting I’ve done after someone passes away. The first one I painted and blog about here and the second one I painted and blog about here.). But this one is by far my favorite.

I call it, As The Veil Lifts and it’s my expression of how the earthly world (represented by the foreground, the land and foliage) dims as the spiritual world emerges. Loved ones waiting.

All that’s left is to take one step in front of the other as we journey to the other side. I hope you love it and find it comforting, like I do.

(Sorry about the watermark, but I always see my art pop up on social media channels with no credit to me as the artist… now I’m forced to watermark the image but if you want to order Giclee archival prints of this piece, there will not be the watermark on those fine art prints!)

Let me show you how I created it!


As The Veil Lifts


Here’s how I painted it, after envisioning a rough idea of it in my mind.

First, I dropped soul energy circles of color all over the top third of the painting, on a backdrop of gold paint:



Then, I took a squeegee and pulled the paint circles down towards the bottom of the painting:



Then I went in with white paint and painted haloes of energy radiating out from some of the souls:



Then I started creating a foreground for the earthly realm, landscaping it with a few hills:



I then used liquid gold leaf to paint a path we are all journeying on… towards the beyond:



I texturized the entire painting by sanding it lightly:



Then I started putting some details onto our path, lovely leaves and bushes and ferns that we simply clear our way through as we are drawn away from the physical world and focus more on spirit… souls literally becoming visible to us as finally the veil lifts:



I shaded the foreground to show that as our physical eyesight dims, the spiritual realm brightens and comes into focus:



A few minor details added and here we are:




If you love this image, if you find comfort in this image, if you know a loved one who would be uplifted by this image, you can order custom prints of it here. I personally paint a layer of gold leaf onto the path to ensure that even the prints have a path that will guide you home.



I want to end this blog post with my favorite prayer, which I hope I captured the essence of in my painting.

Probably my favorite prayer/meditation of all time, I actually tore this prayer out from the book (With Open Hands, by Henri J Nouwen) and framed it, and have it in my bedroom to read every night before I sleep… it’s that powerful to me.


Dear God,

I do not know where you are leading me.

I do not even know what my next day,

my next week,

or my next year will look like.

As I try to keep my hands open,

I trust that you will put your hand in mine

and bring me home.

Thank you, God, for your love.

Thank you,




Laura Koniver, MD