Thursday, May 28, 2009

The White Dove of Death

Harbingers of Death, some animals have a tendency to show up just prior to the passing of

some terminally ill patients.

Many times it is a domesticated animal such as a dog or cat. In some supremely paranormal incidents it can be a family pet long since deceased. It is as if the old familiar friend had come back through the veil to escort its old master into the other realm.

Emma recounted to me that when her Uncle Leonard died of cancer in the mid 90's such an incident happened to him. When she was a young girl it seemed like Uncle Leonard was always accompanied by his little terrier Scotchy. After the death of his wife they were inseparable, the little dog was his constant companion. He would lay at his feet all night while he watched TV and guarded the bedroom door as he slept. But eventually old age caught up with the little terrier and Scotchy died at an old age of 16 years. Of course her Uncle was visibly moved and he never seemed to be the same after the death of his little companion. Emma's mother tried to buy him a replacement but the elderly man insisted that he would rather have no dog than a replacement for his old friend.

Within a few months her Uncle Leonard was diagnosed with lung cancer and he quickly passed. In his last days he wished to be at home and so they aquired the assistance of a hospice nurse to care for him. They quickly bonded and the nurse was a friend as well as a caregiver in Leonard's last days. At the funeral she came to give her condolances to the family. As they talked after the service the nurse asked what would become of Leonards little terrier now that he was gone.

Emmas family stared at her in confusion. "What dog?" Emma's mother asked the young nurse.

The nurse recounted that on the last few days of Leonards life she noticed his little black terrier in the house who would curl up at on the old man's bed with him. Whenever the dog came into the bedroom it seemed that Leonard would come to consciousness and smile, calling the dog's name. In fact the night he died the dog seemed extra nervous and attentive, as if the animal knew what was about to transpire.

"I don't know how I missed that little cutie for the first few weeks I was with Leonard, did he keep Scotchy in a special room or something? I did not see him when I first tended to Leonard. I hope he has a home." she said with caring sincereity.

Emma and her family just nodded and smiled, not knowing what to make of the story. They searched the house the next day, there was no other dog in her Uncle's house. Did Scotchy come back to usher his old master into the afterlife? There are many other stories I have heard over the years of spectral animals visiting their former master's before thier death. It is as if the bond lasts beyond death.

But once in a while a wild animal will make a dramatic appearance just before the death of a loved one as well. Many find it a coincidence, but others sense there was some meaning to the strange visitation.

Author Patty A. Wilson in her new book, "Totally Bizarre Pennsylvania"tells of a common belief by the early settlers of Pennsylvania concerning such a harbinger of impending doom... The White Dove of Death...

"Within the Germanic people who first settled in Pennsylvania there was an old superstition that an omen or token of death would often appear. The omen most often associated with death was a white dove that would appear on the windowsill or in the room of the terminally ill and forewarn the family of the impending death. From along the Schuylkill region comes the following story. The names have been lost to the mists of time, but the story of the omen also ironically called “the happy bird” speaks for the belief.

One particularly cold winter a nurse was summoned to sit with an elderly woman who was seriously ill. Her family had tended her for days, but at length the local doctor had insisted that a night nurse be hired to watch over the woman.

A cold night vigil with the ill is a long and tedious affair, and so the nurse, a kindly and Godly woman, picked up the ill woman’s Bible one long night and sat down to read it by the light from a single lamp. The winds howled outside and the snow fell softly. For perhaps half an hour the good nurse read the Bible verses, but at length a slight tapping as if on glass caught her attention.

The nurse looked about for the source of the sound and quickly checked her patient who seemed to be sleeping soundly. She finally raised her lamp and suddenly caught a glimpse of movement on the windowsill. She observed a plump white bird perching on the second storey windowpane, pecking gently at the wood with its beak.

As soon as the bird realized that it had been observed, it took flight. The nurse had heard stories of birds coming to herald a death and she realized at once that this bird was an omen of her patient’s impending demise. Rather than feel sad about the woman’s death, the nurse saw the bird as a sign of coming comfort. The old woman was being called back home to Heaven and would soon end her suffering.

The nurse roused the entire house. She told them the story of the white bird that had perched upon the windowsill of the sick room. The entire family realized at once that this was an omen of death and hurried to the sick room. The family was with the old woman when she passed over. Perhaps the bird was sent so that the family would have time to say their good-byes and to be able to spend the last few hours with their aged loved one before death.

For many this is merely a superstition, and if the bird did appear they would claim that it was just a coincidence. Furthermore, some would argue, white doves would probably not be out in the middle of a brutally cold night. However, most superstitions were born of some fact and this one is as well. It is known that snow owls would occasionally stray away from their normal territory in the far north during brutal winters. Perhaps a snow owl did appear on the windowsill rather than a white dove, drawn by the light within. Perhaps the snow owl tapped upon the pane because it saw motion or a reflection. Perhaps the origin of the story is that simply to explain Or perhaps a white dove was sent from the spirit world to warn of a death and to lead the departing soul into a new land."

You can find more fascinating tales from the ancient hills and vales of one of America's oldest States in Patty's book, "Totally Bizarre Pennsylvania" available here at Amazon:

And you can read another one of her stories on my Examiner site Here:

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope


brypie said...

Love it! thanks pastor swope :)

Anonymous said...

My mom tells a story that in the old days people believed that if an owl showed up near someone's home that was dying, that there was some type of evil around.

cryptidsrus said...

The same stories are told about ravens.
My favorite magical bird was the Caldrius. Could diagnose ailments and magically absorb one's sickness and fly away near the sun where the bird would scatter the malady to the winds. Great story overall, Swope.

Anonymous said...

It is 1 am and there is a white dove perched on the corner of the roof of my house...

Alejandra Lopez said...

I had a white dove show up in April. I actually called him Turkey. He came every day to the house, we thought it was because we fed it. My mom passed away on 11-24-12 here at my house. Turkey left at the same time my mom did and never came back.

Alejandra Lopez said...

I had a white dove show up in April. I actually called him Turkey. He came every day to the house, we thought it was because we fed it. My mom passed away on 11-24-12 here at my house. Turkey left at the same time my mom did and never came back.

Anonymous said...

I have seen White Doves appear when a difficult time in my life occurs. When I could not get pregnant and was distraught after a Doctor visit, a white dove landed on the hood of my car and I got pregnant right away. Again I saw a white dove in my backyard 2 years later, had a dream I was pregnant and found out that it was true within days. Yesterday I saw a white Dove and Black Dove sitting on a telephone wire together after a really bad day. not sure what that means.

kary k said...

Omg :( now I'm scared that something may happend to my family. This year in June 4th a dove came to my house and I fed it so now it keeps coming every morning and stays all day in my porch but when night comes it just dissapears .

Eirina Gkini said...

I hope there is a different meaning too, like maybe a message from a dead loved one? A gorgeous white dove tried to come in a few weeks ago. It just stood there for a good quarter of an hour before flying away! I don't want anyone in my family dying!

Unknown said...

I have found a white dove under a box in my yard,my daughter put that dove in a box and it's safe there,I watches this dove everyday after work and we give food.Must I leave that dove to fly away?