Intriguing. That’s just one out of several apt adjectives that can be applied to bizarre or strange deaths and their traditionally presumed after life or other world consequences. Curiously, out of several interesting questions surrounding strange deaths, perhaps the most intriguing is one that is centred on contrast. For instance, what happens if you’ve  lived a good, comfortable life materially or if you’ve lived it more or less on your own terms most times and then suddenly, you die a strange death?  Does the strange death and its suddenness prevent the soul  from proceeding to the other world? Does the strangeness of such deaths combined with their out of the blue nature form an insurmountable barrier for the affected spirit or soul, condemning it to remain trobled and earth bound inspite of a slew of special measures to release such souls from bondage of any kind? Questions like these and others acquire exceptional relevance because there are in fact many strange deaths on record and more likely to take place in the future. The deaths vary from those caused by freaky accidents to others consciously chosen for being strange to yet others where the person faced with a strange death had no choice in the matter. Incidentally, Wikipedia carries an extensive chronological list of strange deaths of both humans and animals. The last entry, dated 18 February 2020, states: “Hoong Leong, 37, was struck in the shoulder by a falling gas cylinder whilst walking home during stormy conditions near The Rocks in Sydney, Australia…  Leong died upon arrival at hospital .”

In my experience, the maximum number of strange deaths have occurred due to a tree falling on a person passing under it or sitting under it and I’ve written about most of them. There was one in Delhi some years ago on Siri Fort Road when in a split second a tree came crashing down  on a young man passing under it on his two wheeler and crushed him to death instantaneously. Like so many other cases of strange deaths, this particular young man’s spirit too has been unable to or is not willing to come to terms with meeting such a death and continues to live with his family .

According to stories handed down from generation to generation and promotional material publicised by haunted tours  operators – presumably after authentic research, ghosts of those who died strange deaths  are still around even though long spells of time —  in some cases more than hundreds of years — have elapsed.  One such high profile case which goes back a long way in time is that of George Plantagenet, the 1st Duke of Clarence, “a 15 th century English nobleman who was executed by allegedly being drowned in a vat of Malmsey wine.” Clarence was secretly executed in 1478 in the infamous Tower of London .” ‘Ancient Origins’  states further that he was a member of the House of York and played an important role in the Wars of the Roses , a series of civil wars that was fought between the two rival branches of the House of Plantagenet . George was also a cousin of the English king, Henry VI, who belonged to the House of Lancaster. “Although it is unclear as to how Clarence was executed, the most popular version of the story is that he was drowned in a butt  –a unit of measurement equivalent to 570 liters / 151 gallons — of Malmsey wine. When the duke’s body was exhumed it was found to be intact. In other words, he was not beheaded, which was the traditional method of executing members of the nobility at that time. Therefore, it is possible that Clarence was indeed drowned in wine.”

Another view, clarifies ‘Ancient Origins’, is that the duke’s drowning in wine is merely a rumor.  “Clarence was notorious for being a heavy drinker and it was thought that this joke about his manner of execution would have been appropriate considering his fondness for drinking. Alternatively, it has been suggested that his body was preserved in wine while being transported to Tewkesbury Abbey for burial thus giving rise to this rumor.” That because of his fondness for drink his ghost continues to haunt a pub may or may not be a rumor, but it is certainly a fact that Shakespeare made Clarence’s ghost famous and in recent times, painstaking research by Dr. John Ashdown-Hill,  the acclaimed historian and prolific writer who the BBC described in his 1918 obituary as “The historian who played an ‘absolutely pivotal role’ in tracing the remains of Richard III” kept the spotlight focused on Clarence’s strange death and its aftermath.

In India, in January 2018 there was the strange death of a young man who was sucked into an MRI machine in a hospital. The UK Guardian wrote that an Indian man died in a freak accident in which an oxygen tank he was carrying was sucked into an MRI machine at a hospital in Mumbai.  “Rajesh Maru, 32, was yanked towards the machine by its magnetic force after he entered the room carrying an oxygen cylinder, MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, machines use a powerful magnetic field to produce images of the body’s organs. Objects containing ferrous metals are pulled towards it and must not be carried into the room…In 2001, a six-year-old boy undergoing an MRI scan in New York was killed when a metal oxygen tank flew towards the machine and crushed his skull…”

Obviously, part of the reason for the spirits or souls of those who died strange deaths remaining greatly troubled is the distinct element of tragedy attached to the last moments on earth coupled with the inability of a spirit so rudely evicted from its body to immediately comprehend what has happened. Later, after the recognition and reality of death has been absorbed by the spirit and in some cases explained by spirit guides who arrive to help the soul, the ‘why did it have to happen to me’ sentiment tends to exert a blinding hold on most victims of strange deaths, preventing them from moving on to the other world even when help and guidance to do so  are extended to them. In simplistic terms, they can’t get over the ‘why’s’ and ‘wherefore’s’ of the way they died. It may be more than a century ago that Samuel Butler, the celebrated British author  wrote: “To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead,”  yet the last part continues to hold true even today. However, if the victim’s spirit is strong and prescribed measures to expedite moving to the other world are carried out in time, the strangeness of such deaths combined with their out of the blue nature need not form an insurmountable barrier for the affected spirit or soul.