Why I Believe in an Afterlife?

The bonds of love are what connect us to the other side.

John Edward 

Is there an afterlife?  Most Americans seem to think so.  In fact, according to a 2014 CBS poll, three in four Americans believe in some form of an afterlife.  Some closed-minded skeptics will tell you that those who believe in life after death are naïve and desperate to be reunited with their loved ones.

IMG7708_retouchThese same skeptics will say that the evidence for survival after death is merely circumstantial and subjective.  However, many who have had a near-death experience and still more who have had other forms of spiritual experiences strongly disagree—myself included.

Recently, I had dinner with a friend and we chatted about my research and the afterlife.  My friend who I would describe as an open-minded skeptic told me that she is open to the possibility of an afterlife not because of what I write in my books but rather because of who she knows I am as a person.  In her words, “I knew the person you were before your experience.  I know how much it changed you and I also know you would never make this up.”

She’s right, of course, I would never just make this up.  Interestingly, some atheists argue that there is no evidence for a heaven or an afterlife.  But for many of us who have had near-death experiences (NDEs) and other spiritual experiences, these phenomena are indeed proof.

Numerous people around the world who have had an NDE report being conscious after their body ceased functioning.  My book Visits to Heaven highlights many such accounts from around the globe.  The following are excerpts from two examples:

I knew that I had always known him as he looked at me and simply asked, “Are you ready to come?” I then exclaimed in surprise, “Already?” At that moment I remembered that my soul chose to come to Earth. I remembered who I was before I was born and that we are not here by random accident nor are we here as victims.  We come here not only to learn and grow but also to give and to receive love in the physical and so much more.

Martha Cassandra St. Claire, MA

I remember slowing down, without my choice, at the entrance to this beautiful lighted place and was amazed to discover my mother and grandmother standing to the right and greeting me with so much love.  They communicated to me in some way, certainly without words or hearing, but clearly inside my mind.  I was astonished to see them healthy, happy, middle-aged, and so full of love and recognition for me. . .

I then passed into the place of Light: rolling hills, grass, flowers, and blue skies vibrant with color. What amazed me were the intensity, brilliance, and clarity of the color. It seemed to be coming from within each aspect of the landscape.  The grass glowed green. It was so beautiful. It was so very beautiful.

Joyce Hawkes, PhD

In addition to NDEs, countless others have reported deathbed visions, divine interventions and afterlife communication accounts.  My book Visits from Heaven highlights the story of one mom who recounts hugging her deceased daughter.

One night just before her sixteenth birthday, I walked into my room and sat at the edge of my bed.  When I looked up, Tanya was there! She didn’t say anything, but her eyes expressed so much love and she had the most beautiful smile.

Tanya wrapped her arms around me.  I put my right hand on her left arm. She was cool yet not cold, solid but not quite hard. My hand did not go through her, but it was just so different; it felt kind of like touching “Jello-O.”

The texture of her skin startled me. There are no words to describe what her arm felt like.  I drew a quick breath, and then Tanya gave me the most beautiful loving smile.  She just backed away and was gone.  I can’t even begin to convey how much her “visit” meant to me.

Carol Rhodes

In 2003, my husband’s deceased friend and former boss came to me in a vivid dream with a message for his grieving wife.  The message was confirmed by his family leading me to research the possibility of life after death.  At the time I was a young, happy mother of two toddlers and I was admittedly not thinking about the afterlife or whether or not I would see my loved ones again.

In fact, I had never even met my husband’s former boss and had no reason to have such a dream.  So to the skeptics who claim that those who believe are gullible and biased, nothing could be further from the truth.  I believe in an afterlife not because I am afraid of death.  I believe because my experience gave me a glimpse of the afterlife and now I know.

Stephen Hawking once said, “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail.  There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”  Everyone certainly has a right to their own opinions.  But luckily I, too, don’t believe in fairy stories and I’m not afraid of the dark.

If you have an NDE, afterlife communication or other spiritual experience to share, please feel free to contact me at josievarga@comcast.net.  You are also welcome to visit my website at http://www.josievarga.com. Thank you! 

Lucid Just Before Death?

Death may simply be an alteration in consciousness, a transition for continued life in a non-material form.”  Edgar Mitchell

We’ve seen it again and again.  A terminally ill patient has been unresponsive for days yet just before his death he suddenly becomes lucid and is able to communicate.  Is this just a coincidence or is there something more going on?

CallfromHeavenCoverTerminal lucidity is a term used to describe the unexpected return of mental coherence and responsiveness in a patient who was previously incoherent.  Family members and even some medical personnel may see this as a sign of recovery only to find that death is imminent. Is there a logical explanation for this phenomena and how can this be explained to the patient’s grieving family?

First off, it is important to understand that terminal lucidity is nothing new.  In fact, one of the most incredible cases on record occurred in 1922 with a woman named Anna Katharina Ehmer (1895-1922).  Ehmer was severely disabled and lived in a mental institution located in central Germany.  Reportedly, she never spoke a word her entire life until the day she died when she suddenly began singing for about 30 minutes before she passed. Since then many such cases have been reported and science is finally starting to study the phenomena.

While working on my book, A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side/New Page Books, 2017, I had the honor of interviewing Professor Alexander Batthyany, PhD who is conducting a study on terminal lucidity involving patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  His findings have thus far suggested that normal cognition can occur despite a nonfunctional brain. Batthyany is a professor at the University of Vienna in Austria where he teaches courses in the behavioral sciences and philosophy.

As you may know, Alzheimer’s disease kills nerve cells in the brain and patients eventually lose normal brain functioning and suffer from memory loss.  Yet, in many cases, many become coherent right before death with no known changes in the brain.  The nerve cells, for example, don’t suddenly become alive allowing patients to say their final goodbyes yet these cases of terminal lucidity are clearly happening.

Thus far, science has no explanation for this.  Professor Batthyany has called these deathbed phenomena “close to a miracle,” however, he admits, “I am not sure whether miracle is a good word but it is deeply mystifying given what we know about the relationship between mental function and brain integrity.” (A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side/page 26).

But maybe the answer is not a scientific one but a spiritual one.  Perhaps a higher source is allowing those on their deathbed to bid a proper goodbye to their loved ones.  Regardless of which stance we take, we cannot deny that these deathbed phenomena are taking place.

One of the most recent cases on record involves a doctor by the name of Scott Haig in New York.  An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Haig wrote about a patient named David who passed from lung cancer which eventually spread to his brain leaving him both motionless and speechless.

David’s brain, he explained, was completely destroyed.  Yet just before his death, David suddenly woke up and was able to converse with his family.  He said his final goodbyes and after about five minutes he went comatose again and passed within the hour.

Interestingly David’s wife was a nurse at the same hospital and witnessed the occurrence.  Doctors may not understand how these cases of terminal lucidity are taking place.  We also don’t know why many experience it while others don’t.  But of more importance is the fact these cases are happening and are, in fact, very real.

A biologist named David Searles once said, “Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of ocean.” It may look like the end when we are looking at the horizon because that is as far as our eyes can see.   But when we die we will all come to know that death is only a transition.  It is not an end but rather a new beginning that is not limited by the constraints of a dying body.

As an author and afterlife researcher for over 15 years, I have been asked many times if dealing with the death of a loved one is easier for me given my stern beliefs in an afterlife.  My answer is always the same.  Yes, it’s easier but, no, it’s not easy.  Losing my loved ones hurts but I do find comfort in the knowledge that life continues.  I do find comfort in the knowledge that the bond of love is the one thing that transcends death.  Nothing is stronger.

Connecting with Your Loved Ones

Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.”  Emily Dickinson

People have been communicating with their deceased loved ones since ancient times.  The Ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that the world between the living and the deceased was actually very much connected.  And what’s more they believed their loved ones on the other side could intervene with the land of the living.  In fact, they even wrote letters to their loved ones with specific requests.

backyardskyIn modern times, inventors Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison were both known to have attempted to create an apparatus which would allow for communication with those on the other side.   People are always asking me if it’s possible to communicate with their loved ones or how to initiate communication. And if it is possible, then why haven’t they received any signs.

First off, yes, it is very much possible.  They communicate in a variety of ways.  You don’t have to be a medium to communicate with your loved one.  Going to a reputable medium can certainly make it easier but it is not necessary.  Just yesterday, I was facing the mirror in my bathroom when I suddenly saw an image of my Godmother Lucy in my mind.  In my mind, I could see her standing behind me.  I turned around to look in that direction and could sense her presence.  I spoke to Lucy out loud and then proceeded to go down the stairs to my kitchen.

Suddenly, my home alarm began to chime for no reason.  In fact, it did so three times in a row.  My alarm was not on so the motion sensor would not have been activated.  However, the alarm does sound when someone either opens the door or certain windows regardless of whether it is on or not.  At first, I panicked thinking someone entered the house.  But when I checked my doors and windows, they were all closed.  I realized then that this was a sign from my Godmother Lucy acknowledging her presence.

However, signs from our loved ones are usually subtle and it is unrealistic to expect communications such as these all the time.  Since they no longer have the benefit of a physical body, they will communicate by using their energy.  When this happens, they will most often make their presence known through thoughts.

I don’t mean thoughts that you would expect.  For example, you are looking at a photo of your loved one and your mind is full of thoughts of them.  When our loved ones communicate, the thoughts seemingly appear out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore these thoughts and when they do they often miss the message.  At my godmother’s funeral, I clearly heard her (by thought) tell me to put a picture of my two daughters in her casket.  I was so sure of what I heard that I did what I was told.  A few years later, a medium told me that my godmother wanted to thank me for the pictures.

If you want a sign, just ask.  Talk to your loved ones.  You may even choose to ask for something specific.  Obviously, you won’t always get a response but our loved ones on the other side can and do hear us.  Once you ask, pay attention and try not to expect too much.  I was once given a reading by a friend who is medium.  I was given a message for someone else.  I was told that this person wanted to acknowledge the Lazy Boy. When I relayed the message, I was told very cynically that while there was indeed a recliner, it was not a Lazy Boy.

I mention this because while it’s important to be skeptical, it is also equally important to be open minded.  If you are too closed-minded, you will frequently miss the signs when they do occur.

As I’ve said many times, dreams are the easiest place for our loved ones to visit us.  Our subconscious is relaxed and open and we are not overwhelmed by the everyday distractions of our conscious mind.  Before going to bed, talk to your loved one or hold an object of theirs in your hand.  This can often help you to connect with their energy or even receive messages by thought.

There is a beautiful Eskimo proverb that states, “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”  And perhaps those stars are always within reach.  We need only wish upon them.

You CAN Hear Your Loved Ones and They CAN Hear You!

Love is the vital core of the soul.  And of all you see, only love is infinite.” Rumi

Celine Dion lost her husband Rene Angelil to cancer in January 2016. Since then, she has publicly stated that she can still feel his presence, still talks to him and can even hear him at times.  I recently read an article which noted that her remarks often prompted ridicule and referred to these experiences as bereavement hallucinations.

It went on to explain that between 30 and 60 percent of the grieving experience such hallucinations.  hearingWhile I agree that the grieving have such experiences, they are not hallucinatory.  These visits from heaven or afterlife experiences are real.  The first year of death, it is reported that the bereaved are 75 percent more likely to receive a sign from their loved one.  In fact, another recent study reported that 80 percent believe in the afterlife or heaven.

I would love the opportunity to sit down and talk to Celine Dion because I would certainly tell her that she is not hallucinating.  It is possible to hear those on the other side and what’s more, they can hear us.

Just last night I spoke to my sister’s friend who lost her husband 18 years ago.  The subject turned to my books and I asked her if she believed in spiritual phenomena.  She went on to tell me that she has often sensed her husband’s presence and will never forget one night in particular.

“After my husband passed,” she told me, “I would often pray for protection since I was living alone.  One night I was sleeping and clearly heard in my head, ‘Get up. Turn on the lights.’ I was startled at first but just stayed in bed and brushed it off.  I then heard it again, ‘Get up.’ At that point, I wondered what was going on but still did not get out of bed.

“Then suddenly, I heard very loudly in my head, ‘GET UP.  TURN ON THE LIGHTS.’  I then quickly jumped out of bed and started turning on all of the lights in the house.”

She went on to tell me that nothing happened after that but she hadn’t sensed that it was her husband.  We spent some time talking about the experience and I reminded her that she had said that she prayed for protection around the house.  As she told me the story, I sensed that the source of the voice was an angel or spirit guide.  There had to be a reason for this sudden warning.  Since she explained to me that her home is in a secluded area, I told her that there may have been someone on her property and turning on the lights scared them away.  Of course, there is no way to know for sure.

Many have come to me with their experiences over the years.  In one case, a woman had recently lost her husband and was sleeping.  She suddenly clearly heard her deceased husband’s voice telling her to close the garage door.

She had no idea what to make of it at first because in her mind her garage door was already closed.  Feeling her husband’s presence, however, and certain that she had heard his voice, she got out of bed to investigate.  Lo and behold, the garage door was wide open.  An intruder could have walked right into the house.

So, again, these so-called bereavement hallucinations are not illusions or fantasies.  While I cannot say that every afterlife experience is real, I will say that many if not most are.  The two experiences I mentioned above are known as clairaudience (clear hearing) which basically means the ability to hear spirit, intuitive information or those in the higher realms, such as your loved ones.

I have received many messages in this way over the years which I have always found so fascinating.  As many of you already know, I have had bilateral hearing loss since birth.  Recently I paid a visit to an audiologist who fitted me with digital hearing aids.  When I put them in my ears, I was completely confused because I was hearing sounds I had never heard before.  Even the sound of my own voice was different.

Having said this, can you imagine what it’s like for me to get messages from spirit clairaudiently and have no doubt whatsoever in what I am hearing?  Whenever I receive messages from spirit, I hear it so clearly despite my hearing impairment.

The question that I often get is what exactly does this sound like?   Most of the time it sounds like your own voice.  In other words, you hear it internally as if you’re thinking to yourself.  This is also known as telepathic communicating and is most often soft and subtle.  Our loved ones and others in spirit form do not want scare us.  However, in the case of warnings like those mentioned, it can be strong and blatant.

Although hearing with your inner ear is more common, it is also possible to hear a loved one’s actual voice with our outer ear.  For example, I was once told a story about a woman who lost her husband.  A few hours after his death, she heard her husband’s voice as though he was standing right next to her telling her to check his coat pocket.  The voice was very clear and she did as she was told.

She soon discovered that there was money in her husband’s coat pocket.  Apparently, he had gone to the bank that morning to withdraw cash and wanted to make sure his wife knew where the money was. Again, she heard his actual voice.

If you are anxious to hear from your loved one, put the intention out there.  Talk to them and let them know that you want a sign from them.  Keep in mind, however, that you will not hear anything if you are not truly listening.  I’ve found, for example, that I am most apt to hear spirit when I am more relaxed and not trying to do a million things at once.  Remember, three simple steps:

*Ask/Set the Intention

*Quiet Your Mind

*Be Open and Listen

Last night as we were discussing my research and my books, I told my sister’s friend how difficult it was for me in the beginning.  I explained that I was often ridiculed by my family, friends and colleagues.  In response, she looked at me and asked, “How were able to get passed all of that and still do what you do?”

I wasted no time with my response, “Because I know what I experienced was real.”

Hello from Heaven: Ask and You Shall Receive

Smile… heaven is watching.”  

 African Proverb

You are watching television but all of a sudden you could swear that you saw someone from the corner of your eye.  How many times has this happened to you?  Seeing a glimpse of a person in spirit or even seeing a shadowy figure are actually very common.  Our loved ones do not want to scare us by appearing full on so this is their way of being subtle and non-aggressive.

angelcardAlthough our loved ones will most often appear to us in our dreams, they do appear to us when we are awake.  Clairvoyance means clear seeing or the ability to see beyond our ordinary perception.  There are different ways that this can happen.  For example, you may see an ethereal figure or mist.  You may even see an orb.  Often times, these orbs will present themselves in photos.

It is easier to receive messages from spirit clairvoyantly or in other ways when you are relaxed and not distracted.  Recently, I was in California visiting a good friend of mine.  My husband and two daughters decided to spend the day at Universal Studios while I spent the day with my friend.  That morning as we waited at the hotel for our rented vehicle, a dragonfly kept flying back and forth in front of my face.

As I watched it, I told my husband that I felt this was a sign that my friend’s deceased sister was going to be there with us.  Later in the day in my friend’s apartment, we decided to take out a deck of angel cards that had belonged to her sister.  I shuffled the cards and asked her to focus as she randomly reached for a card.

She handed me her chosen card and I read it aloud.  The card mentioned that she needed to pay more attention to signs from her loved ones and trust in the signs that she was receiving.  As I continued to read, I suddenly saw a glimpse of someone walk passed me on my left side.  Shocked, I stopped reading and asked my friend if she had just seen what I saw.  She had no idea what I was talking about.

I told her that I could sense her sister’s long hair and felt she was there with us.  Still stunned, it was my turn to pick a card.  In my mind before picking the card, I asked her sister to tell me if that was really her and, if so, asked her what was the message she wanted to share.  I then randomly reached for a card picking the “Hello from Heaven” card. It was a message from Archangel Azrael.  It read:

“Your loved ones in Heaven are doing fine.  Let go of worries, and feel their loving blessings.

“Your loved ones aren’t far away; in fact, they’re quite near.  In your quiet moments, you can feel their presence.  These really are true visitations, and I ask you to trust your intuition.  You may notice dream visits from deceased loved ones.  Know that your loved ones are happy, free of all suffering, and want the same for you.  Your loved ones want to work with your guardian angels to help you be peaceful, so watch for other signs from Heaven.”

I told my friend that I wanted to pick another card.  Again, I randomly reached for a card.  In my mind, I then asked what the angels would like me to know.  This time, I picked the clairvoyance card with a message from Archangel Raziel.  It read:

“I’m helping your spiritual sight to awaken fully so you can clearly see Heavenly love.

“Your clairvoyance may come in different forms: as fleeting mental images in your mind’s eye; as dreams; as recurring sights in the physical world; as auras and energy; or as apparition experiences.  All of the facets of clairvoyance are beautiful and varied.  Enjoy and trust them.  Hold the intention of seeing only love, and that is what you’ll see.”

We both sat there looking at each other both stunned and amazed.  Is everything a sign from a loved one?  No, absolutely not.  Do I believe her sister was really with us that day?  Yes, I do.  Do I believe her sister and the angels were communicating with us?  Yes, again!

What is important to note here is that the signs were both timely and specific.    That morning, I encountered the dragonfly outside of my hotel.  Dragonflies are known to symbolize the afterlife. Later the first card drawn by my friend encouraged her to trust in the signs that she was receiving.

At that same time, I saw a quick glimpse of her sister on my left side.  However, I was questioning whether or not what I saw was really her.  So I drew a card asking her sister if she had a message to share.  I then randomly choose the “Hello from Heaven” card.

Stunned and wanting more proof, I then choose another card asking the angels if they have a message for me.  This time I randomly choose the “Clairvoyance” card. This card encouraged me to trust what I was seeing.   Again, these signs were both timely and specific.

One of my favorite Bible passages is “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (KJV)  Our loved ones are much closer than most of us realize.  They want us to know that they are OK and they want to help us in any way that they can.  All we have to do is ask.


“Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:10 NRSV)

The first time, I had a reading with a psychic medium, I was understandably nervous and had no idea what to expect. I was put almost immediately at ease, however, when my deceased cousin Lina came through.  The medium gave me several validations which indicated that it was indeed my cousin including mimicking her personality.  But one thing he said has always stayed with me, “She said to tell you, ‘Boy, wait until you see how beautiful the afterlife is. Heaven is beautiful.’”

The day was December 28, 2007. I have never forgotten about that reading and, truthfully, so much has changed.  For one, I believe in the afterlife and the existence of heaven more than ever before.

At the time of the reading, I was in the midst of doing research for my book, Visits from Heaven. Since then, I have continued my afterlife research and have written several books.  One of the main and most difficult questions that I consistently get is what is heaven like? It’s difficult not because I’m not sure of its existence but rather because it has proven to be indescribable in so many ways.

Fortunately, I’ve interviewed many who say they have been to heaven and back over the years. And who better to answer this question than someone who’s been there?  There was something about Steven Musick’s story that really struck a chord in me.

After having a severe reaction to the swine flu vaccine while he was in the Navy, Musick died, went to heaven and even had a conversation with Jesus. As remarkable as that is, it’s not what drew me to his story.  Truthfully, I’ve heard it all before when speaking to NDErs.  What intrigued me was his claim that heaven is much closer than we think.

Steve-MusickWhen asked what heaven is like, Musick admits it is extremely difficult to describe the vitality of “That Place” but equates it to super high-definition TV on steroids. In his book, Life After Heaven, he describes seeing green meadows, rolling hills, billowy clouds and bright sunshine.

“The light is brilliant, beyond description,” he writes. I can see no roads or other construction. I am surrounded by a profound sense of abundance. Of completeness. Of perfect being.”  He goes on to describe heaven as a place of “explosive peace” and pure joy.

Heaven is a very real, physical place. In fact, he writes, it is more real than this world.  It’s a beautiful place that commands you to be present in the magnificence of the moment. Although I’ve never had a near-death experience, I understand full well what Musick is saying.  I’ve seen the vibrant colors in the visits from heaven that I’ve received.  I’ve felt that peace and the magnificence of the moment.

I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like, however, to actually be in the presence of Jesus. While walking with Jesus, Musick said he was given a life review. At that time, he understood that nothing in life is without purpose—both the good and the bad.  “He made everything that happened to me make sense,” said Musick.  “There is no real vacancy.  God was and is always there.”

Although he wanted to stay in heaven, he was told that he had to go back. When he did, he found that he had been in a coma for five weeks and his body was now weakened with 60 percent damage in both lungs along with a heart murmur.  His body once fit to join the ranks of the prestigious Navy SEALs went from 195 to 126 pounds.

He explains that his recovery was painful and the very act of breathing became an inconvenience. All that changed when he was allowed to visit heaven again. He experienced a miraculous healing while attending a church service.  He passed out on the floor of the Denver Vineyard church and found himself in the presence of Jesus once again.  This time, Jesus tells him, “Things will be different now.”

When he came through, he was able to take a full breath of air for the first time in 10 years. He felt whole once again.  Things were different; very different.

“When Jesus said, ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,’ he wants us to experience heaven here on earth. We should all experience more of the kingdom of heaven than we do,’” he explained.  We do this, he points out, by taking advantage of what he calls bubbles of heaven. These bubbles of heaven are, according to Musick, indicators of God’s profound reality in our lives.  They are opportunities to feel God’s presence in the here and now.  They are opportunities for us to spread joy and good in this world, love others and share God’s message.  They are profound moments when we can make a difference and heaven literally shines through us.

Musick shares examples of his own bubbles of heaven in his book. In one case, he confronts a stranger who was physically abusive to his wife.  The encounter ended with the man shedding tears of repentance.

Love, he says, is the language of heaven. “The economics of the kingdom of heaven are upside down: giving is better than getting, death can be life, life as the world sees it can be death, loss can be gain, gain can be loss,” he writes.  “God’s kingdom often flips the way we do little things upside down.”

The kingdom of heaven he notes is closer than we are led to believe but in order to notice it we have to allow it into our lives. When these bubbles of heaven arise, he notes, they need not be miraculous or paranormal. Sometimes they are seemingly ordinary events with the power to transform everyday lives.

His mission, he pointed out, is to share his experience and help people take full advantage of these moments. “My mission in life is to bring the message that the kingdom of heaven is closer than we think,” he said, “and everyone should experience it.”

For more information about Steven Musick or his book, please visit www.stevenmusick.com.

“Heavenly” Cigarette Smoke

“Everyone is psychic to some degree, and really successful paranormal investigators even if they do not realize it are using their own psychic ability to sense the environment.”

Rosemary Ellen Guiley

SRJD2 (2)

Stuart James-Foy (left) Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Josie Varga and Dean James-Foy

Trust is vital to all relationships. In fact, without trust there can be no relationship. Trust is the basis from which all relationships begin. This includes our relationship with spirit and our ability to communicate with the other side.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a spirit circle with Stuart and Dean James-Foy, two accomplished mediums from England. The event was hosted by leading paranormal expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley and psychic medium Karl Petry.

Spirit circles are basically small open or gallery type readings. The psychic medium draws on the collective energy of the group and there is no telling what can happen as I later found out. At the start, we were told to focus on someone we wanted to come through. My mind immediately went to my brother-in-law John.

On September 5, 2017, John passed from lung cancer. He smoked cigarettes and cigars for many years. My sister is really having a tough time and I hoped to bring her a message of comfort from her husband. Suddenly, I began to hear the tune to My Girl by the Temptations in my head.

My brother-in-law loved Motown music and this song always reminds me of him. Once when we were at my brother’s house, John began singing and dancing to My Girl. So while he was on his deathbed, I sang part of the lyrics to him as my sister-in-law joined in. Another time when I was alone with him in the hospital, I hummed the song to him. So it’s easy to see why this song is so significant.

However, as I heard the song in my head that night, I began to doubt what I was hearing. Trust involves believing in something you can’t see and with that often comes uncertainty.

Shortly after this, Stuart and Dean led us through a meditation exercise. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think I would get anything. However, almost immediately I saw my brother in law. He was sitting on a large rock fishing as I sat next to him. He looked younger, thinner and content. We chatted as he fished always looking straight ahead. He never turned towards me so I never saw his face.

I felt like I was with John a long time but in reality, it could not have been more than a few minutes. When I snapped out of my meditative state, I noticed my husband John looking at me with this odd look on his face. “What happened?” he asked. I looked at him and whispered, “John. John is here.”

At that very same time, Stuart stood up in front of the crowd and asked if anyone had an experience that they wanted to share. The woman sitting directly behind me whom I never met before immediately raised her hand. “I don’t know why,” she told the crowd, “I smell cigarette smoke.”

I let out a loud gasp as the look of complete shock covered my face. My husband stared at me in disbelief. Noticing my reaction, Stuart asked me to tell everyone what was going on.

The week after my brother-in-law passed, I was bringing groceries into the kitchen and clearly sensed cigarette smoke. There were no windows opened as I had the air conditioning on. Also, no one in my household smokes cigarettes.

Clairscent is the ability to smell something associated with your deceased loved one. It can be anything that is associated with them. For instance, you may smell a certain perfume or flower. You can smell a food associated with them or even cigar or cigarette smoke.

I quickly yelled for my daughter Lia to come down the stairs. But by the time she did, the smell was gone. I told Lia, however, about the smell and explained that I felt this was a sign from her Uncle John.

A few days later, Lia told me that she was in the bathroom when the room suddenly filled with the smell of cigarettes. She told me she instantly knew it was her uncle.

Last month, my daughter participated in a parish fundraiser for the homeless. On this night, she slept on the sidewalk outside of our church with her sleeping bag.

The following morning, everyone partook in a mass inside the church. Lia went up to receive Holy Communion and then went back to her pew. She knelt down and closed her eyes as she prayed. As part of her prayers that morning, she spoke to my brother-in-law privately telling him how much she loved and missed him.

As she was talking to her uncle, her friend Meghan (kneeling next to her) tapped her on the shoulder interrupting her thoughts. “Lia,” she said, “Do you smell that? It smells like cigarette smoke.” Of course, there was no one smoking cigarettes inside the church.

Lia smiled knowing her Uncle John was with her and acknowledged his presence. Keep in mind that her friend Meghan did not know about our previous experiences with the scent of cigarette smoke. So why did Meghan smell the cigarette smoke at the exact time that Lia was telepathically speaking to her uncle? Going through Meghan, someone who had no knowledge of what happened, serves as a validation that it was really him.

Getting back to the spirit circle, this marked the fourth time my brother-in-lawpresented himself in this way. Once our loved ones know that we recognize and associate a sign as being from them, they will most often repeat it. As I shared my story that night, the crowd was equally stunned as we all witnessed yet another incredible validation from the spirit world.

My husband later told me that he knew something was going on as he watched me sitting with my eyes closed meditating that night. He said I was making minor movements with my body and would make slight sounds.

Keep in mind that I am not a psychic medium but I have received many incredible signs or what I like to call visits from heaven over the years. But I have to admit that this experience is in my top 10. So can anyone communicate with departed loved ones? Yes, we can. It comes easier to some than others but everyone is born with some level of intuitive ability. Some people develop or fine tune these capabilities and others don’t. However, the opportunity to part the veil is available to everyone.

The spirit world communicates in many ways. Most often they are not as pronounced as the experience I mentioned above but rather subtle. It’s important that we learn to trust what we are given. In Parting the Veil: How to Communicate with the Spirit World, (Visionary Living, Inc./2017) Stuart and Dean James-Foy talk about how all mediums naturally go through a doubting phrase. “You may think, ‘That’s not right,’ or, ‘No, it can’t be’ or ‘Is my mind making this up’? Messages are given for a reason. Trusting them builds trust with spirit.” The book highlights a variety of useful exercises to help people connect with spirit.

Trusting is not always easy, however. Your ego will often be there telling you something different. In my case, for example, I thought hearing My Girl was just wishful thinking. Even though intuitively I knew it was my brother in law, my ego got in the way.

Knowing the difference between the voice of your ego and the voice of your spirit takes practice and trust. But if you’re willing to take the time to listen, I promise you spirit will not disappoint.