Sarah Smiles, Or, Turning Fear into Love

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A few ago I said goodbye to five different girlfriends in about twenty-four months’ time. They all passed from completely different causes, all were young, and one left behind two young children. To summarize: mediums are not spared grief. But perhaps our work gives us more familiarity with the probability of life beyond than many other professions.

One of the women who passed was my dear friend Sarah. She went to high school with a former beau I remained friends with, who knew Sarah and I would get along great. And for many years we did, sharing many get-togethers with friends, shopping adventures (our passion for black clothing was remarkable), and many long talks over coffee. Sarah was a wise and beautiful woman and we just got each other from the moment we met. In fact she was so wise that in good health she threw herself a big birthday party and gathered all her friends together to celebrate; I don’t know how many of them knew she wasn’t far from hospice at that point. And hospice was the last place I saw her, for a while.

Like me, Sarah was open-minded to whatever awaited her in the hereafter. But Sarah was really open minded. Although she had been raised in one major faith, she learned about many spiritual pathways during her life, so not surprisingly her hospice bed table was stacked with books about the afterlife from all of the world’s great religions and metaphysical practices. She also took this further while in hospice, and made arrangements for priests, ministers, monks, rabbis, and other religious leaders to come visit her and share with her their perspectives on the great beyond. In my last visit with her she asked if I’d provide her with a mediumship session, which I did. During this session, I brought through someone very dear to her with information that only the two of them had shared; this also brought her comfort and reassurance.

Among Sarah’s most remarkable traits was her great sense of humor and the ease with which she laughed. So naturally, before I left she promised me that if she was going to haunt someone from the other side, being that I am a medium I’d be first on her list – and she knew I’d welcome her anytime. We said goodbye “for now” and I left with a feeling of closure. But I also felt like I had some heart-work to do now, because you see, if I was going to ever hear from Sarah again, I was also going to stop blocking out my own loved ones in spirit, which frankly I’d been doing since I started this practice.

Sound ridiculous? An important part of this work for me is being able to tune in and out at will, so that I’m not going around seeing dead people all the time. So for most of the last twenty years, I’ve intentionally blocked communicating with anyone I personally know who has passed, restricting my work to client hours and professional trades. Frankly, the thought of being open to my “own people” suggested to me, for many years, that whatever “off” time I had in my mediumship would be compromised. In my heart I encouraged my loved ones in spirit to come visit in my dreams, and that would be enough until it was my time to join them.

Eventually, I realized this attitude wasn’t serving me. First, I recognized that despite all my efforts at “not bringing the office home”, it wasn’t quite as black and white as that. In fact, as my late mentor Dr. Karen Lundegaard had explained, “sometimes they show up early” – “they” being the loved ones of my upcoming clients, who for some reason would present themselves hours, days, or weeks before a reading, often giving me a clear picture of who they are, or bringing my attention to an object or a sign that will come up later when I’m meeting with their survivors. And I never minded these early visitors because it was so obvious someone wanted to ensure a successful communication with their loved ones on Earth.

Second, even in my client hours, I would frequently become aware of the presence of my own friends and relatives in spirit. So I knew they wanted to reach me, and although it wasn’t the same as how they would come through to another medium when I was the sitter, it was enough for me to recognize them quickly, and get on with the session. The idea that perhaps they wanted to assist was furthest from my mind, but again, I had put in decades of work on this wall.

That’s when I realized how much energy I was wasting blocking off that…love.

The wall came down slowly. And I discovered I wasn’t bombarded with spirit contact at all, rather, just as infrequently as a person who believes afterlife communication may from time to time get a sense of a loved one’s presence or sign. It was no different from that and I found it a joy. This said when I think about it now I do wonder why noticing their presence in these casual times takes no effort on my part, but when I work I do have to make the effort at tuning in. Well, that’s another story.

In any event, Sarah fulfilled her promise. Not long after her passing I was in my office meditating, eyes-closed, in an upright chair prior to a client session, facing another empty chair. It was a particularly good meditation and I was particularly relaxed. And I was particularly startled to open my eyes and see Sarah sitting there, pretty much like the way you’d see a hologram projected in 3D. Sarah looked healthy and radiant, attired in a white flowing dress that did not reflect her New York black-on-black style that we had so carefully crafted together. I was smiling and giddy and the first thing I could think of to say in my mind to her was “Uh, why all the white?” In my mind’s ear I heard a thick Brooklyn accent reply, “Well, ya think I wore enough black already, right?” Love and laugher filled the room; my heart was aglow, and my smile stretched from ear to ear.

The contact faded after that. It was enough to reassure me she was fine, and that her sense of humor had crossed the pearly gates completely intact. It was also the experience that helped me understand why you rarely hear people asking deceased loved ones who “show up at the foot of their bed” any interview-type questions about the afterlife. The experience itself can be so surprising, so otherworldly, so loving, and so complete – that we’re too caught off guard to ask all those questions. It’s about as much “being in the moment” as we’ll ever get on Earth.

Since then I’ve seen Sarah a few more times, and I’ve heard her a lot more, usually doling out quick bit of advice or commentary. And I could feel her presence quite clearly as I began writing this article, taking the chance of writing something quite personal in the hopes I could convey some of the very human experience of being a medium, especially in terms of how we personally relate to the afterlife.

My advice to you from this experience is simply to challenge your fears about communicating with your loved ones in spirit, and to see how accepting their love might be a better way to carry on. After all, for all the times we here on Earth reach out to the other side, who is to say they’re not trying to reach out with just as much love. Even when we’re least expecting it.