Most sports fans are familiar with the scenario. An athlete loses a relative or close friend and then goes on to deliver an exceptional performance, stating that he/she felt the presence and heard the encouragement of the deceased loved one. Of course, the media takes advantage of these emotional events, soothing both athlete and fans with the conviction that the dead individual is "looking down" with pride.
No doubt, those who experience such a loss often imagine that they receive communication from their dead friend or relative. After all, we are emotional creatures and many retain hope that death is but a temporary separation. As a naturalist, I believe that death is the final event of life and reject the mysticism that feeds these public stories. Nevertheless, I do accept the fact that the advice, encouragement and emotional support offered during one's life has a lasting impact on those who survive them.
In my mind, this is the lesson to be learned from such stories. During our own life, it is important that we express our love, acknowledge our pride, extend our kindness, offer our support and share our philosophy with family and friends. Those gifts live on and will surface repeatedly after our death.