Doug Tales 44: Doug as an Empath, Part One

In November 1999, while dealing with his daughter’s recovery from a coma and near-death experience, Doug Mendenhall was given briefly the spiritual gift of personally feeling the emotions of others. He felt even more God’s love for himself, his family, and those around him. He describes those experiences of first feeling as an empath in My Peace I Give Unto You (2001), pages 73-77:

The phone rang and for once I found it where it was supposed to be, in the kitchen.

“Hello…well. Mike, how are you? …great, it’s my afternoon off.” Dianne and I had begun to take turns staying with Denise in the hospital. After that first week we realized that one of us needed to be available to our other kids and try to maintain some semblance of normalcy. “…Yes, I’m due back up in just a couple hours…Sure, I’d love to stop by…Ok, I’ll see you in just a bit.”

“Deon, I’m going to go by Mike’s on the way to the hospital. Can you handle things here for a while until Mom makes it home?”

“Sure Dad, I’ll keep them in line.” She smiled menacingly but with a twinkle in her eyes. “Hey, does it matter what I fix for dinner?”

“Only to your brothers and sisters, they’re the ones eating.” I replied. “Seriously, you can fix whatever you can find. I’m sleeping at the hospital tonight so I won’t see you until tomorrow morning.” I gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and headed out the door to rendezvous with Mike.

Although I first met Mike last August we had become fast friends. We shared many common beliefs and ideas and I always enjoyed our conversations. Since the day Denise had gone into the coma, he and his wife had become very supportive of us, helping us in any way they could. We felt very blessed to have them as friends.

Mike and Ruth were both home when I arrived. They invited me in and served up a relaxing conversation. Mike figured I needed a break from reality and suggested I watch a movie. He highly endorsed one that he had just rented and said it was just what I needed. I looked at my watch and realized that I wasn’t expected at the hospital for almost 2 hours, so I agreed to the diversion and made myself comfortable in front of his large TV.

To my surprise, Mike and Ruth had no intention of sharing the movie with me. Right after he started it, Mike quickly excused himself and Ruth. Before I could say much in reply I heard the garage door close and they were gone to run errands.

The movie’s name escapes me but it was a story about a group of strangers who find that their lives become all interconnected until they find themselves sharing a beautiful moment on the rim of the Grand Canyon. After just a few minutes I started to see things implied within the movie, things that were not purposefully put there by its creators, but things that struck a familiar cord within me.

I found the movie portrayed certain ideas and thoughts that I had. I found it shouting out to me that God really is in all things. It helped me see Him in and through everything that was my life. I saw His hand in the world’s events that I was familiar with. I saw Him everywhere and in everything and was overwhelmed by His presence around me. The movie ended. I sat stunned as I tried to process what I had just experienced.

I closed my eyes to concentrate on the emotions and feelings that were surging through me when all at once I found myself somehow floating, floating in a sea of energy. I was no longer sure I was in my body. The sensation intensified and I recognized the feeling as a love. A love akin to what we experience daily from those we care about, but far greater, more mature, complete, tangible, perfect and palpable. It was unconditional, it existed everywhere at once—it was Him.

And through that love, that energy, through Him I could feel everyone at once. I was immersed, no, I was a part of what I floated through and so was everyone else. And because they were a part of it I could feel them, their emotions, their pains, as if I were them, too. At once I understood and accepted what I was experiencing. I knew at that moment that the weave of my life had been forever changed.

I opened my eyes not knowing if the experience would cease or not. I felt pain as my eyes adjusted to the light around me. How much time had passed that my eyes would need to get readjusted to the light? I looked around to the wall clock but had a hard time focusing in on it. The love I had floated in still encompassed me and I enjoyed it.

I finally decided that I had better go, Dianne would be waiting for me and I didn’t want to be too late. As I opened the front door I caught sight of myself in a hall mirror. I turned from the door and stared into the mirror. Staring back at me was my face but the eyes were different. I peered closer and then it hit me. My eyes were dilated as if I had gone to an optometrist. That explained the pain of my eyes adjusting to the light.

I left the house and drove to the hospital. My mind was racing with the wonder of what I was experiencing. I purposefully parked at the back of the hospital lot. The walk outside in the cold night air seemed very appealing all of a sudden…

My first sight inside the doors was of a little boy and his mother sitting on a bench to one side of the lobby. I sat on a bench on the opposite side of the lobby not far from the boy and his mother.

I looked at him and wondered what it must feel like to be him. All of a sudden, I knew his happiness at having his mother at his side and I knew of his fear at having cancer. I could acutely feel the discomfort of the IV attached to his arm and the burning sensation the solution caused that he was receiving. The field of love I was attached to coupled me with that young boy in a way unexplainable by words. I knew of him because I was him.

“Mommy, I don’t like this medicine, do I hafta have it?” We said to his mother. We were seeking for comfort from mommy.

“I know dear, but it will make you better. It will kill the bad cancer cells that make you sick,” she replied. We were satisfied at the answer. Somewhere in us we found again the hope that had momentarily faltered. Comfort mingled with pain encircled us.

I closed my eyes in an attempt to disassociate myself from the little boy. It worked and I again felt separate from him but still attached. I stood and went directly to the elevators. Dianne and Denise waited upstairs for me.

As I entered the elevator I became aware of a different sensation, a connection with all those around me in the elevator, one where if I looked at them I could share that moment of their lives with them. I became a party to their joys, pains, hopes and aspirations. I also became aware of thousands of “tiny pinpricks” beyond the elevator doors and I at once knew it to be the other people within the hospital. I knew also, though I don’t know how, that the stronger “pinpricks” came from the sick children, those whose experiences were more severe and intense. I was sharing in the physical pain of some, the emotional anguish of others. There was hope and resignation throughout everything. There was desperation and anxiety. There was immense pain and blessed numbness.

And through all those sensations was love. Love and acceptance saturated everything I felt.