Dannion Brinkley Points His Father Toward the Light


Dannion Brinkley

Dannion Brinkley is a passionate guy, and I’m grateful that I could interview him for my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything. He told me the poignant story about his father’s last days on earth. Here are excerpts from his story, beginning with his bio.

Brinkley, who survived two lightning strikes, open-heart surgery, and brain surgery, which was followed by a grand mal seizure, wrote two best-selling books about his near-death experiences: Saved by the Light and At Peace in the Light. In his third book, Secrets of the Light, co-authored with his wife, Kathryn, Dannion describes his third near-death experience and offers spiritual strategies for raising consciousness and empowering daily life. An early crusader for hospice and palliative care, Brinkley cofounded The Twilight Brigade, one of the largest end-of-life-care volunteer programs for dying veterans in American history. Click here to visit Dannion’s website.

I was with my mother when she passed in 1984. She trusted what I told her about the experience of going home, but she was still terrified. She said to me, “Don’t let them hurt me anymore.” She also said, “Take care of your father.” I protected her and held her in my arms as she took her last breath and left this world.

I committed my life to those two things. The first—Don’t let them hurt me anymore—is palliative care, or alleviating pain at the end of life without prolonging suffering. The second—Take care of your father—led me to begin taking him to the VA.

My dad was really active until he was in his eighties, but he started getting really sick in 2004. He had arrhythmia in his heart and his lungs were giving out on him. He was a great guy—tough, but a great guy—and one of the hardest-working men who ever was. He went into a coma, and they put him on life support for thirteen days. The doctors told my brother, Jimmy, my sister, Becky, and me that our dad would probably not awaken from his coma, and that if he did, he would not be able to breathe on his own again. I looked at our dad lying there and said, “We can’t leave him like this. This is nonsense. This is not our dad.”

I went and found the doctor and said, “Please take my father off life support, turn him loose, let him go home.” When the doctor pulled the last plug, my dad flatlined. My sister and I started to cry, my brother grabbed my sister, and we were holding each other. Suddenly, my father woke up from the dead and said, “Do any of y’all have a job?” We just looked at him. We couldn’t believe it. When we were kids working in my dad’s grocery store, the three of us would often just stand around talking to each other. He’d walk up and say, “Do any of y’all have a job?” Because in the grocery business, there’s always something to do.

As we all stood there incredulous, I realized what had happened. From my work as a hospice volunteer, I knew that sometimes dying people regain consciousness near the end. They literally return from the brink of death, and their loved ones think they’re going to get well. But I know better; I’ve seen it too many times.

I went to get the doctor, and we moved Dad into a different room. That night he ate a full roast beef dinner, watched the Braves play baseball—his favorite pastime—and we made sure every family member we could find was there to enjoy his last moments. My Dad held court that night. Around seven o’clock, he decided he needed to rest. He went to sleep, but woke up hurting and struggling. He was so scared of passing, but my brother, sister, and I gathered around him and said, “Daddy, it’s okay. It’s time for you to go to the Light. We love you with all our hearts.” He smiled, squeezed our hands, and said he had had the best day. He looked at us with a loving look, took two breaths, and headed down the tunnel.

We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, and knew that we had just experienced one of the best days with our father that we’d ever known. The sacred sense of trust the three of us shared that day was incredibly powerful. We all knew we did the right thing, at the right time, in the right way. And most importantly, we did it together.

Click here to view all my posts related to my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.


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