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A nurse’s tale: The Spirit leaves the body

In our EndNotes column two weeks ago, Cathy answered this question: "Does anyone really know when the human spirit or soul departs from its physical body?"

Her answer generated the most feedback yet here at EndNotes. We heard from a lot of  aetheists who wondered why we didn't reflect the viewpoint that there may not even be a soul or spirit to depart.

Others told stories of holding bedside vigils and sensing the lifting of a soul or spirit. I received this beautifully written letter last week from a nurse named Karen:

I am a registered nurse. and more than 20 years ago, I had an experience that is still fresh in my mind. I was working in the intensive care unit at (a local hospital), and one of my patients was a young man who had been injured in a car accident one that was not his fault. He was on life support. HiIs parents had agreed to organ donation and we were waiting for that process to start. His mother and I stood, early in the morning, on each side of his bed, looking down on this beautiful young man who just appeared to be sleeping. As his chest continued to rise and fall, I felt -- rather than saw -- an odd change in the quality of light in the room. A pink mist then seemed to manifest over his body, where it hovered for a moment, then lifted off into the room and faded to nothing. The ventilator continued to push air into his lungs, nothing really changed, but it seemed as if his body had hollowed out, becoming a flat shell. There is no real scientific proof of a living creature having a soul, but at that moment I felt as if I had just witnessed that soul leaving its body.  

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.