Yet Another Letting Go

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Randi’s Estate and Taxes—Toss January 2019”  I’d written on the top of the box. On the side I’d taped a blown-up photo of a monarch butterfly, so I wouldn’t have to read that sad reminder every day in my closet. I’m quick to sort and shred and toss; I don’t like things hanging around beyond their useful life. The accountant and the lawyer had told me when these records could be tossed and I needed the space in my closet, yet sorting—what to shred, what to recycle—made a thousand tiny paper cuts in my heart. I didn’t cry, but I ached, as if it were my daughter Randi I was letting go of, not a stack of outdated papers.

From conception to death we continually cling and let go. In the womb we cling to the umbilical cord, letting go at birth to breathe for the first time on our own, when we still must cling to our mothers in order to survive. There is a letting go when we leave our childhood homes, but the urge to cling challenges us the most around our own deaths and the deaths of our beloveds. CHAIR 1.31.20

This winter a new challenge has emerged for me. The chair I had long ago placed in the backyard to honor Randi as a symbolic invitation for her to visit (see my very first blog, A Chair for the Dead, May 8, 2017) is slowly disintegrating. First one slat loosened, then another and another, now the first two have fallen to the ground. Each morning, I study the chair to see what has changed overnight. The paint’s been peeling for years. The seat has warped. None of this makes me cry, but that ache comes once more. It seems I thought this chair would last forever. Why do I cling to a warped wooden chair that’s been rained, hailed, snowed, and sleeted on, not to mention bombarded with our intense high desert sun, for more than eight years? Of course, I could repair it with glue and screws and paint, but wouldn’t that just be another way to cling to sadness?

Standing together at the window I tell my husband, “I know the chair’s a mess, but please don’t toss it.” I stop myself from adding yet. At what point will this symbolic object become trash? Unsure what I will do with it when it is rubble, I simply watch my reactions to its decline.

As I write I imagine one of the neighborhood mourning doves on the chair and it crosses my mind to write that I’d seen one, when I had not. After all, there’s bird poop on the seat, so it makes sense, but I’m mortified by my unethical thought. This blog is not fiction, it’s reality. I get up to wipe that dumb idea away with some hot ginger tea. On the way back to the page, just as I glance out the window, a mourning dove lands on the chair and I gasp as it preens in the sun and ruffles its feathers.

You would think with all the after-death communication experience I’ve had and heard and written about, I would get that this is Randi, but I don’t at first. I am crying though and suddenly joy-filled, because I know what to do with the chair. In the spring, I’ll put a birdbath on it or on its remains. I’ll get to watch birds playing in the water, shaking drops from their wings, scuffling, and splashing. It is now that I finally realize this is Randi making one more visit—the only one I’ve ever seen on her chair. I laugh aloud at the play on the word “mourning,” and at how she, and so many of the dead, love puns and word play. Without a single word, my daughter has reminded me to focus on playfulness rather than cling to pain. BLUE BOTTLES 2_20200217_082521

The next few days are particularly sunny and warm for February. I keep going into the backyard, finding pretty objects to put near the chair. I discover a way to mount my blue bottles there, smiling as I recall how Randi and I share a love of cobalt blue glass. Now in the morning, when I open the curtain, my eyes are drawn first to how the sun casts shadows on the blue bottles. I notice I often don’t even think to check the chair. I am letting it go.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veilin bookstores, throughwww.AnnieMattingley.comand through the following sites:
Barnes & Noble:
Indie Bound:
Hampton Roads/Red Wheel/Weiser: the link to the video of a panel discussion, with me and three others, on the question: “Is There Life After Death?” We have since formed a group, Women Who Know—Death is Not Final, available for keynote talks, panel discussions, and workshops. For more on this, contact me through

Nine Ways Our Beloveds Make Contact After Death


Roxanne’s deceased mother made a sound to alert her that her little dog had slipped out an open door and was at risk from coyotes. Willy’s deceased friend showed him where to spread her ashes. When my daughter Randi visited me so often after her death that I expressed concern I might be keeping her from her own tasks, she assured me—verbally—that such human limitations didn’t apply where she was. She could be with me and doing her own work at the same time.

Each of these contacts allows us to be sure, as all such contact does, that our beloveds are okay. This doesn’t stop our grief, but it gives us a container for our pain so it doesn’t consume us.

Click on “9 Ways Our Beloved Reach Out from the Afterlife to Bring Us Comfort, Guidance and Wisdom” the first of four podcast video conversations I had with Margaret Manning of to hear about the many ways our deceased beloveds make contact. Then let me know at if you have an after-death communication story you’d like to share with me.

Coming soon: The Power of Rituals

Who Stops at a Green Light?


When I was a kid, my folks, who had each nearly died as children, researched everything pertaining to health. My father planted his first organic garden in 1951 when DDT was a common household product. He lowered his blood pressure with garlic. We took vitamins—some of which I threw away because they made me burp a foul-tasting white cloud of bone meal. Soon after our town began fluoridating its water, five-gallon bottles of spring water were being delivered to our door.

Glass manadal pexel 2After my recent move from a home with delicious well water, I discovered that my new town fluoridates its water and my nice under-sink water filter didn’t remove fluoride. I added replacing the filter to my to-do list, but my mother, dead since 1984, wasn’t satisfied. She showed up the next morning, not with her usual tingle up my right side but with jackhammer force, to urge me to deal with this quickly—for both my health’s sake and my husband’s. That day we began buying water. If I have learned nothing else from after-death communication, it is that our beloved dead look out for our well-being and it’s best to heed their advice.

Sometimes our beloved dead can be lifesavers: Both Calvin’s daughter and his stepson had died. Two months after his daughter’s death, while driving, his wife heard their daughter’s voice tell her to “slow down to a stop.” She slowed, then stopped at a green light, only to watch in shock as a large truck ran the red light. She knows her daughter saved her life.

Green lt pexel 1What happened to Calvin two years after his stepson’s death was not quite so clear-cut. Coming from the gym late one night he chose the long way home, one he wouldn’t choose “ninety-nine times out of a hundred.” Then he heard his stepson’s voice say, “Good choice, Dad.” Was it he who nudged Calvin to take this route and did this prevent catastrophe? He may never know, but his wife’s experience had taught him to trust this as a possibility. To encourage such support this is a good point at which to acknowledge it with an audible thank you.

Thanks pexel 2Calvin added a story of synchronicity, telling me that twenty-five years ago, he dreamed of one of his children—he couldn’t tell which one—in a casket; in the dream it was 4:44 am. Much later, and eighteen years apart, the calls to inform him of his daughter’s and stepson’s deaths both came at exactly 4:44 am. Where do we file such events? Do they occur just to jolt us out of the narrowness of our blinkered everyday view into the great mystery of larger possibilities?

At times it’s our emotions that are “saved” by contact, rather than our lives. When her slightly older sister died of leukemia, nineteen-year-old Muriel needed reassurance. Soon after the funeral, her sister visited twice, in two identical dreams, to say she was “okay, happy even, light, free” and to give her a long, deep hug. Muriel shared these dreams with me forty-six years later, saying they still bring her joy.

Being proactive can draw exactly the contact we need, though it may require patience. In The After Death Chronicles, I write about Dr. Lynn, who still hoped, after his distant father’s death, to heal their unsatisfying relationship. As Dr. Lynn began a new and important project, he especially yearned for paternal support and asked for it in meditation; his father visited for the first time, thirty-five years post-death, saying, “I never knew what you wanted. Now I do and I will be supportive.” Of course, it helps that Dr. Lynn was already a proficient meditator, so his mind was trained to be receptive to Spirit’s messages.

When communication crosses the bridge between life and death it arrives custom fit to our needs. Muriel received a lifetime of reassurance and joy. Calvin’s wife’s life was saved (who stops at a green light?). Calvin’s dream opened him to questions he still ponders. These voices and dreams may alter our lives, leaving us with gifts we get to open again and again over years.

Gifts pexel 1To access my podcast conversation on after-death communication with Connie Whitman, Architect of Change, click on:  There’ll be another one coming this fall.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil in bookstores, through and through the following sites:
Barnes & Noble:
Indie Bound:
Hampton Roads/Red Wheel/Weiser:

Love’s Magnetic Pull

Love is as essential to us as food and air and water and shelter. Without love well-fed babies fail to thrive and often die. Without love the lonely elderly wither away. We are born on this earth to learn how to give and to receive love, yet each love bears within it a dark seed—that of potential for the future loss of our beloved.

The phone rings. It is my husband’s brother. His wife is in hospice. They have lived with her cancer off and on for sixteen of their fifty-five married years. We pack hurriedly and drive 400 miles in hopes of seeing her while she can still speak. We are too late. We tell her we love her anyway, believing she can hear us. Her husband sleeps (badly) overnight in a lumpy cot in her hospice room, as does her son, sometimes her sister, perhaps her other son will too when he returns. Her jaundice fades. Her face softens until she appears nearly child-like. We joke that she would have loved how smooth her skin has become. I’m tickled that her finger and toe nails are perfectly polished red. We are told she’s been seeing her deceased mom, a sign of how close death is and of the support she is receiving through the veil.

My sister-in-law possessed the strongest drive to live of anyone I’ve ever known. She kept her sense of humor through mastectomies and radiation and chemo, through falls and broken bones and reconstructive surgery, every ignominy illness and modern medical science could bring. Her hair fell out? “Freedom,” she proclaimed. “No more blow-drying! No fussing! Now I just pop on my wig.” Whether with cane or wheelchair, she traveled, took cruises, never missed a single summer of arranging an adventure she dubbed “Kids’ Camp” for herself and her husband and their grandchildren. When the cancer started in one breast and she was told it would most likely migrate to its next-door neighbor, she said, “Take ‘em both off. Give me new ones.” Checking in to her last hospitalization on a Tuesday, she told the doctors, “I must be out by Thursday. I’m going to Las Vegas.” Her failing organs canceled that trip. Beloved of all the medical personnel who treated her, when she went into hospice at home, her oncologist made her first ever house call. Her transfusion nurses visited after she transferred to the hospice facility.

She’d been reading my book and we’d talked of how she might contact me after her death. I regret that we’d never finalized our plan. He tells me he’s read my preface. I hope it helps him to recognize at least the possibility of after-death communication’s gifts. I hope he comes to understand that our essential nature continues. For now he has the love of his friends and his family as sustenance. That is the one helpful thing we have to offer—our love. There is no fixing his pain, no easing it except with temporary distraction.

Now death’s tender enigma has drawn her through its veil. The serenity of her face belies the suffering of those around her. Had she screamed in agony maybe there could have been an element of relief when body and spirit split in two, but all that remains is grief and the loneliness in her husband’s eyes. Does he look at his older brother with envy because I, his wife, still live? The grateful look my husband gives me approaches awe. I am her age. Someday our turn will come. Will it be him or me attempting sleep on a lumpy hospice cot?

We hug. I think back to our first hug, our first kiss, our first whole night together. We were not that young, in our forties, old enough to have loved and lost, yet we gave little thought to this distant future likelihood that one or the other of us would be left to the stark emptiness of our last years.

She dies on Thursday morning. Her husband tells me he will do some work on Monday so he doesn’t have to think about it. I imagine he means, so he doesn’t have to feel it, and I understand. Large grief must be doled out one drop at a time. He would drown if he felt it all at once. Yet it must be felt. If not, it eats us away from the inside out until our hollow shell crumbles and breaks, as my father’s did so swiftly following my mother’s death.

I do not fear this fate for my brother-in-law. He is making plans. His house is too big. He may move closer to us. If so, his son says he will follow. Love’s magnetic pull will be his healer. The memory of his wife’s strong drive to live will remind him to live. I’m told Kids’ Camp at her sister’s house had been discussed, because it would be closer to home, easier on her failing body. I hope the grandkids do gather in four months. Their resilient nature will help with the healing. I imagine them, two by two, huddling tearfully in corners. In between they will share fun stories of their grandmother, and laugh, remember, and play.

You may buy The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil in bookstores, through and through the following sites:
Barnes & Noble:
Indie Bound:
Hampton Roads/Red Wheel/Weiser:

Grief Poem #5

(inspired by Canto de Obsidiana by Gerardo Suter, MACO exhibit, 2013)

Obsidian Shard

In the length of a phone call
it entered my flesh
pierced my chest through and through
my world torn off its axis
skin, muscle, ventricle, auricle, tissue, vein
penetrated by needle-thin volcanic glass.
I do not make peace with it.
I do not accept it.
There is no resolution, no closure.
I allow. No thing more.
By now its presence is not felt
until the sound of violin, tenor, or harp
splinters its strange reality
and fills me with old shadows.

Afterward, as if melted by memory’s furnace
it re-forms into the most slender of slivers.
In the night, I caress it for comfort.
Like a genie in a bottle
rubbed the right way
it brings the precious history
restores the unbroken umbilical cord.

I begin and begin again
and in her ending my beginning
grows fiercely forward
like the saguaro grows taller, stronger from lack.
I shed my black mourning, receive the sun. 

© creativecommonsstockphotos / Dreamstime Stock Photos

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound. Find out more on my Book page at