Nothing, No One, Is Ever Totally Lost

Fall is in the air, in the way the mornings smell and feel, in the crackling cry of the Clark’s nutcrackers. These noisy birds are annoyed if I come too close and interrupt their pinon harvesting. It’s too early for them, isn’t it? I’m not ready for fall yet. Does this all portend an early frost? Will the flowers be felled before what I perceive to be their time?

My drying peppermint. Note the afternoon rain on the window.

I harvested the peppermint this morning and hung it in the sunporch to dry. This is a late summer task, not a fall one, but still that word “harvest” bothers me.

What I’m really not wanting is what follows fall—winter, snow, ice, cold. Yet these cycles teach me about how nothing ever stays the same. The grape hyacinth and crocus are the first to bloom in spring and the first to fade. All through spring and summer beauty shines, then disappears—lilacs, daylilies, the tall yellow yarrow I love so. Our irises are still impacted by last year’s army of voles who also killed most of the rhubarb. We have not yet finished clearing away the branches that were broken off by our heavy, late spring, snow.

Hail clattered everywhere last Sunday. I held my breath, remembering the baseball-sized hail that crashed through roofs and totaled cars in Colorado Springs last August. Sunday’s hail passed through without doing more than knocking off a few flower buds and petals.

Miscarriage, birth, life, death, illness, injury—they are all reflected in nature. If I can’t be present with change, I will suffer constantly. My garden and yard, the seasons, the moods of the sky and the mountains remind me of this at every turn. I don’t mourn the sun when it sets each night. I did not mourn it when it eclipsed on my birthday either. Why? Because I know the light always returns.

Last week I noticed a new volunteer hollyhock, not two feet tall, blooming a brilliant red. Another gift to be grateful for until the frost takes it away.

I look back at a journal entry about the despair I felt six years ago as I approached the first anniversary of my daughter Randi’s death—before her time. There have been so many steps and stages since then. Tears still arise unexpectedly as though from a bottomless well, yet even then I feel astonishingly blessed by life, and amazed and pleased that I can feel so blessed despite her death. I still often and regularly sense her presence to remind me that nothing, no one, is ever totally lost, totally gone.

This October 6th, the seventh anniversary, will include a new quality, since that’s when Hampton Roads is publishing my book. I think of this as bringing light to the darkness of that hellish day. Interviewing for and writing this book supported me through the winter of my grief and into its spring. I composted my sorrow and used it to nourish and feed my project. Now it is about to come into full bloom.

My prayer is that The After Death Chronicles will nourish all who read it, just as so much and so many have nourished me and it. Isn’t it ironic that I shrink away from fall for fear of the winter that will follow, when fall is my favorite season?

If you have after-death communication stories, I invite you to share them with me at Just click “Share A Story” in the menu and follow the instructions. If you’d prefer to tell me your story verbally, let me know and we can arrange for that.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released by Hampton Roads on October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.


More Ways our Beloved Dead Come to Visit

Today I continue the series I began last week on the myriad ways that our dead beloveds can visit us.

I’ll start with a mini-story. When Thelma (not her real name) inherited her father’s home, she moved into it temporarily and felt his presence nearly constantly. His garden had been his favorite place. I love that he once pointed out to her that a particular tree (I believe it was one he’d planted.) needed watering. I could use that kind of help, since I often fall behind on my watering. Thank goodness for this rainy August.

Practical info is just one way dead beloveds can participate in our lives though. They may also assist us in much more significant manners.

If we’re struggling with a difficult decision, a solution may arrive with a memory of the person or just a sense that we’ve been helped by them.

If we have a particular route we usually travel, a nudge to go a different way may come. Sometimes we’ll never know why. At other times we might hear later that a bridge had collapsed or an accident or a crime had occurred just when and where we would have been had we not changed our route.

We may ask for help from our beloved with an important transition like a divorce or career change or move, receive advice that defies logic, follow it, and have it work out just as our beloved had suggested.

If a nudge or advice or solution comes in a voice, we may hear words either inside our heads or externally in the person’s voice. Sometimes it simply feels like our own thoughts.

Our dear beloved may give us a message—directly or in a dream—that we’re unsure we should deliver. When we do, it may be received with joy and gratitude and tears.

When we’re unsure whether after-death communication is even possible, a book on the subject might fall off a library shelf at our feet. (Yep, this really happened, as all these incidents did!)

The sense of someone we’ve lost connection with may be felt so vividly we search the Internet for news of them and, to our shock, come upon their obituary.

We may hear our dead beloved’s happy laughter.

Looking at what was happening or being said at the precise moment that lights go off and on without discernable cause, may reveal meaning.

A hug or a kiss in a dream may feel as real on awakening as if the person were right there in the physical.

Of course, these contacts are comforting. But when we discern levels of meaning within them, the comfort is deepened, because meaning reveals an unseen order we yearn for. Little feels more out of order than death. Each time we discover meaning we straighten the house of our grief by one small increment.

Watch for more examples in upcoming blogs.

If you have your own stories I would love to hear them. I invite you to share them with me at Just click “Share A Story” in the menu to write about your after-death communication. If you’d prefer to tell me your story verbally, let me know and we can arrange for that.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released by Hampton Roads on October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.

Lighting the Stage Beyond Death’s Scrim

Scrim: In the theater a scrim is a curtain that appears to the audience as an opaque backdrop at the rear of the stage. When a scene is lit behind this backdrop, the scrim becomes transparent.

After-death communication lights up the scene beyond the scrim that separates life from death. In a flash, it can dispel any illusions we have that nothing exists beyond death (or that what exists is somehow unfortunate), dispelling both our fears about death and our concerns for the welfare of our deceased beloveds.

Today’s blog begins a series on the enormous diversity of ways in which our dear dead ones can light up the scene beyond that scrim. Each experience (and I include a few that happen prior to a death) has actually occurred and has revealed meaning to those involved. In his book, The Map of Heaven, Eben Alexander calls “…meaning, the language of the spiritual world…” These
contacts speak the language of meaning and sometimes require translation to be fully understood.

Here goes…

We may receive contact as sensations in our bodies, or as goose bumps, which I like to call “truth bumps.”

If we meditate, do mantras, or pray—Our beloveds may arrive in any manner while we are engaged in our spiritual practice.

If we’re doubters—We may experience contacts so profound our worldview is transformed.

If we’ve been unable to attend a funeral, we may receive any kind of contact—a dream or an experience in nature—that reassures us the person holds no grudge.

A car may be flooded with someone’s scent when they’ve not been in it for months.

Our cell phone may flash the number of our dead beloved as though they had called.

If we’re in danger without our awareness—A verbal warning like “Slow down” or “Watch out” may come just in the nick of time.

A message may come from lyrics or the timing of a meaningful song on the radio. Music may bring on awareness of someone’s presence.

After a death, a clock may stop repeatedly at a time which, when examined, has personal meaning. Once that meaning is understand, the clock may never stop again.

I would love to hear how your dead beloveds have lit up the scene beyond the scrim. I invite you to share your experiences with me at Just click “Share A Story” in the menu to write about your after-death communication. If you’d prefer to tell me your story verbally, let me know that and we can arrange a phone call.

To be continued next week…

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released by Hampton Roads on October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.

Vera, a Mystical Film

Blog. Blogger. Blogging. How many times did I hear these words before I had any clue what they meant? Blog made me think of glop and glop took me back to eggplant glop, the name my family gave to a gooey, cheesy dish my daughters would beg me to make when they were young. Yet here I am writing a new blog every week, so who says an old dog can’t be taught new tricks? I refuse to describe myself as a blogger though, any more than I was a glopper back then.

In the early 2000s, when I first saw the film Vera  ( presented by its Mexican director Francisco Athie at the Taos Talking Picture Festival, I was mesmerized. This visionary film depicts the journey from life into death of an old Maya man. He is a miner who dies in an accident, though neither the old man nor I realize this for quite some time. Lest he lose his way on his journey, a guide—Vera—appears to escort him across.

Vera is so ethereal, so unearthly it’s difficult to get that she is actually played by the living, breathing Japanese actress and Butoh dancer, Urara Kusanagi, rather than by some being created in an animation department. In a boat that slides silently through underground passages, Vera transports the man from the mine into the land of the dead with the utmost gentleness and love. One could never hope for more supportive assistance.

This is the thrust of the story. You must see the film to feel its magic, the pace slow and lyrical as poetry. It is in Mayan and Spanish. There are English subtitles, but there is so little need for language they seem almost irrelevant.

Though the film is fictional, it aligns perfectly with accounts from the dying and from near-death experiencers. Vera is also reflective of the peace that emits from those dead who communicate through the veil that separates life from death.

I remember how cold my mother’s feet became and then her legs, hours before her last breath. She seemed to die from the toes up. Yet even before that, she lost her desire to open her eyes and look at life, to speak, to drink, to eat. To please my sister, she took one bite of her daughter’s homemade pumpkin mousse on Thanksgiving, but that she did out of love not hunger.

I was interrupted just now by a phone call with the news of the death of a distant relative in her late eighties, who had been failing for a while. She died at home, her family at her bedside. Last week, when she refused dialysis, her dying began in earnest.

Certain doctors, especially those involved in the cutting edge work of resuscitation medicine, are beginning to understand that the body’s last breath is only part of a complex process. Beloveds, as well as hospice workers—nurses, doctors, orderlies, and palliative care therapists alike—get to see before-death experiences where the dying address people unseen by others. Those who die briefly and are resuscitated tell of what lies beyond death. In the middle of this rich texture is that point which modern medicine calls the moment of death.

The whole process, emotionally draining as it usually is for those left behind, is a sacred one, replete with a sense of mystery that Vera ably portrays.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.

Three Reasons Why After-Death Communication Matters

We humans crave meaning in our lives. Contact with our dead beloveds can fulfill that desire in several manners. The most obvious way is that it relieves grief, but this is not its sole purpose. What I’ve found through my personal experience and research and interviews is that besides offering the bereaved comfort and hope, after-death contact can reduce fear of our own deaths and demonstrate that consciousness continues beyond the grave.

Hearing my daughter’s voice a few weeks after her suicide instantly released the hundred pound sack of worry for her that hung from my heart. She didn’t have to tell me she was okay. The very sound of her voice let me know she was all right.

Me and My Family at Park Guell in Barcelona

During the three fabulous weeks I just spent in Spain with my family I saw how often my great-granddaughter cried like she’d lost her forever when her mom left the room. She’s the one in the stroller in the photo taken at Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona.

This is exactly how we react when beloveds die, convinced we will never see them again. Our bodies ache, our hearts break, our minds dull. If we hear or see or feel their presence again, this process is not halted. But if we have some contact through the veil, the edges of our grief can be muted and softened once we grasp that on a non-material basis this person is still available to us.

This realization helps us to deal with a profound mystery: what will happen to us when we die? Most of us range along a continuum from nervous to terrified about that question. Do we simply fall into an abyss of nothingness? Is there a heaven or a hell? Are we worried that our flaws and mistakes will be judged? Will we be “sent” to that heaven or that hell?

Despite all the words of praise spoken in eulogies, our dead beloveds are most likely as imperfect as we are. When they return to tell us they’re okay, sometimes surrounded by a light so transcendent earthly words are inadequate to describe it, it helps us to understand that death is neither an empty abyss nor some horrific place to be feared.

Once we open ourselves to the possibility of death as a continuation, as another kind of existence, we are brought face to face with another large question: Who am I? Because we are so bound to our bodies, we are challenged to understand that we are more than physical beings.

I like to use the word consciousness to describe our essential nature, that part of us that does not die, that cannot die, that existed before birth and will exist after death, that part of us that does not require a physical body in order to be. You may be more comfortable using other words like soul or spirit to describe that essence.

Because I have seen these results manifest so profoundly in those who have had contact with dead beloveds, I view these moments as packed with possibilities. Whether we experience a single instance or, as I have, innumerable contacts, if we are willing to examine and explore the deeper meaning that underlies these experiences, we open ourselves to the mystical realms.

This can add a dimension of satisfaction and joy and relief from anxiety that frees us up to live life more fully. In these three ways—grief relief, less fear of death, and awareness of our essential nature—after-death communication can evolve into one of life’s great gifts.

The After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil. To be released October 6, 2017. Pre-order on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Find out more on my Book Page.