Tag Archives: afterlife

SEPTEMBER 18 — ✨Signs✨

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Over the course of writing my book these past two years, I asked the question that a lot of grieving people ask: “Does consciousness survive death?”  It’s a question with no definitive answers, but what has really stood out to me is just how much research has been done by people of science.

One book that impressed me was “Surviving Death,” by investigative journalist Leslie Kean, a book that is dense with in-depth examinations of claims of various phenomena and includes 400 end-notes. Leslie also wrote the New York Times bestseller, “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record.” (Earlier this summer, you might have read that New York Times story about navy pilots and their observations of flying phenomena they could not identify. Leslie was one of the co-authors of the article.)

This past summer, I was working on final revisions of my book. One late night in June, I sent a little prayer into the universe before I closed my eyes. “Caitlin/ guides/ whoever” I said, “if you’re really out there, please send me a sign that I’m on the right path with this book.”

In the morning, I checked my email and this was the first thing I saw.

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I didn’t remember signing up to receive notifications from Laura Lynne Jackson, and had never before received one, but I knew who she was–a certified, highly respected medium who is so in-demand that she closed her waiting list once it became years long.

I’d read Laura Lynne’s first book, an autobiography called “The Light Between Us,” and found it to be well-written, intelligent, enlightening, and comforting. Now she had a new book out called “Signs.”

I went down an internet rabbit hole that week, and saw that both Leslie and Laura were going to be part of a panel exploring the science of consciousness and the afterlife at the Omega Institute in upstate NY in September.

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The panel piqued my interest. It would include two scientists I’d read about: Julie Beischel, Ph.D, and Mark Boccuzzi–a husband-and-wife team who run The Windbridge Research Center in Tucson.

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When I eventually publish my Caitlin book and speak to its many themes, one topic I want to address is the current state of research in the field of after-death studies.

So I registered for the three-day Omega conference, which occurred over this past weekend.

Friday was a gorgeous late summer day and I really didn’t feel like leaving home. I’d recently been to some very disappointing events, and I really hoped this was going to be worth my time. As I drove west on the turnpike, I decided to talk to the universe again. “I really want this panel to be useful,” I said. “I want it to help me be able to spread some of the messages in my book. Spirit guides, Caitlin–if you’re really out there, please be in Rhinebeck with me.”

After a little while, I saw that a ten-wheeler up ahead of me had a big image of a bear on it. As I passed it, I saw that it was a logo for a company called Brown Bear Moving Company, which I’d never heard of.

Huh, I thought. I’d once been told my spirit animal was a brown bear and even though I have no idea if spirit animals really exist, the idea of the bear always felt right. Caitlin had even needle-felted me a little brown bear in 2014, who sits, always, on my desk. I am looking at him as I write. He’s my little mascot.

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About an hour later, I pulled into a rest stop out in western Mass. When I came outside, I stopped short. The truck was parked, long-ways, right in front of my eyes.

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Okay… Maybe it was a sign, a good one.

When I arrived at Omega, I parked my little car which I call my snazzmobile, and which looked ridiculously snazzy in that rustic environment. I also had an embarrassing amount of luggage for two nights (But it was supposed to rain on Saturday! And my cabin was in the woods and would probably get cold at night! And I am currently taking a class and might have needed my computer and books! And I’d read that their linens left a lot to be desired so I’d hauled my own!)

I checked in and made my way to my little cabin, past smiling, relaxed, natural-looking folk. A young woman with flowers in her hair and around her neck. A man on a porch playing a guitar and singing.

I felt out of place and texted a friend. “I don’t fit in anywhere,” I wrote.

She wrote back: “You don’t have to!”

So simple, but revelatory. I don’t have to fit into any neat slot. I never have.

 

✨ The Panel

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LLJ, Leslie Kean, Dr. Beischel, Mark Boccuzzi

The panel met over three days and was as informative and well-run as I’d hoped it would be. Not one moment dragged. The Windbridge people talked about the challenges of working as scientists in a field that lacks regulation and about their efforts to run lab studies with repeatable results, to publish in peer-reviewed journals. They emphasized that their aim is to “reach the people who would approach through an intellectual door.”

They spoke of the complications of proving theories of consciousness–materialist, brain-focused versus non-local theories. They reviewed evidence for survival of consciousness obtained from remote viewing research. They pointed out that part of the problem of testing, which their experiments must account for, is the existence of psi capabilities (as in perhaps a medium is telepathically obtaining information from a living person or other source as opposed to from a discarnate).

What was clear is that many many people have experienced unexplainable phenomenons. “There is a whole suppressed world out there,” Dr. Beischel pointed out. “People with experiences they feel they can’t talk about.”

Leslie Kean spoke in detail about children with provable memories of former lives (which the University of Virginia has been studying for decades), after-death communication experiences, and mediumship readings.

Julie and Mark described how they developed a protocol to test mediums through a five-fold blind process.

And Laura Lynne Jackson was there. It was clear that since her newest book hit the New York Times bestseller list this summer, a lot of people were there for her. She explained that she rarely does group (gallery) readings, and only does three private readings a week, because for her, doing a reading is like taking the LSAT and running a 5K on the same day.  Mark pointed out that she would not be giving any private readings but at the end of the session on Saturday, she would do a gallery reading for one hour, and on Sunday would lead a guided meditation for all.

As far as mediums go, since Caitlin’s passing, in addition to the signs that come to me nearly every single day, to the point of comedy, I’ve had a couple of experiences with mediums that were powerful and remarkable (Karissa Eve D. & Sirry Berndsen). I also happen to have someone in my own family, Caitlin’s Irish cousin Sinead, who has clairsentient abilities and has exhibited them since she was a child. I am fortunate to be able to know, for sure, that such people exist, even if I can’t explain it.

I have also come to believe that, like all things human, some mediums are really really good at what they do. Others wish they were so good. And some don’t even try. They cheat. No question, there are frauds out there. There are people on YouTube who will gleefully explain how they have duped people. A recent New York Times article examined a teams of professional skeptics who debunk the fake psychics and mediums they call “grief vampires.”

But to date, two institutions in the United States have laid out protocols for blind-testing people who identify as psychic mediums: Windbridge and an organization called Forever Family, a non-profit organization “whose aim is to further the understanding of Afterlife Science through research and education while providing support and healing for people in grief.” From the Windbridge site:

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Laura Lynne Jackson is one of the few mediums on those lists. In fact, she’s on both lists. She has donated a lot of time to grieving families via the Forever Family Foundation.

My gut sense told me that Caitlin would never come through a group, gallery-style reading, for two reasons. 1) Caitlin was essentially pretty private  2) She would be all about letting someone who might be more in need get one.

Plus there were 80 people there and they all wanted a reading.

But as the weekend progressed, even though I knew it was unlikely that I would get a reading, I increasingly really wanted one. On Saturday it was raining and as I looked out at the leaves, dripping with dismal rain, I thought, Caitlin, you need to come through and validate this book for me. Just this once. After all, I’m grieving as much as anyone.

Saturday, 4pm, arrived. Time for the gallery reading. Laura Lynne began to speak. She is intelligent and very well-spoken, a former longtime high school English teacher who is comfortable and in control in front of a group, emitting an energy that is focused and warm at once.

First she spent about 15 minutes describing how she worked–explaining that she has no control over who comes through and that when she’s pulled in one direction, it’s not a mistake, it’s not meant for someone on the other side of the room. She emphasized that  if a person didn’t get a reading, it didn’t mean that his people didn’t love him, or weren’t there. She said we are all capable of communicating on our own, if we are open to it—she was adamant about that, and explained that she would share some techniques to do so the next day.

Finally she began, and did a very good reading for one attendee, which took about 15 minutes. Then she went to the very back of the room and spent another 15 minutes doing another powerful reading. Both were obviously very healing for the people involved.

It was now twenty minutes to the hour’s end and the idea of me getting a reading was now really a long shot.

But I did.

She turned and walked down the center aisle, her arms outstretched, hands clasped, fingers pointing in my direction. She said it was someone’s child, female, she was being shown a crab, that might mean Maryland?  I shrugged. It might have been me, it might have been the woman behind me who had also tentatively raised a hand. Then she said, “SpongeBob?” and I started to laugh. SpongeBob was a very big long-time joke between Caitlin and me, ever since we saw Bob l’eponge movie posters all over Paris in 2004.

Laura says she “sees” on screens inside her mind and although she was looking at me, her eyes were focused inward. Then she came around and stood in front of me.

We weren’t allowed to tape the gallery hour, for obvious privacy reasons, but two very kind strangers took notes for me during my reading.What they and others remarked on, later, was how Laura’s manner transformed, and in an astonishing way.

“Did that seem like your daughter?” one woman asked. “Because her whole manner changed!”

“I felt like I saw your daughter, like now I know what she was like, how wonderful she was,” another woman said.

Laura did seem to embody Caitlin. The feisty, funny, “okay, I’m here to take charge” Caitlin.  In fact, as Laura relayed information to me, she used the same mannerisms and way of speaking that the other medium, Karissa, uses when “Caitlin comes through.”

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✨ The Reading

Here are a few of the things Laura Lynne said:

She’s very very intelligent. Very high level. Classy. Impeccable manners. Very high level. And this is not bragging.

She has a deep appreciation for art.

She speaks 3 languages.

There’s someone with her… very old. A family member. An LN name? (I say that Caitlin’s grandmother Ellen, nicknamed Eileen, just passed in August.)

You’re brave. She’s watching you. You are challenging yourself to be open. You’re opening your heart and mind but you’re a critical thinker. You’re analyzing all this–she knows this medium thing is out of your realm.

She would not normally come through in a group like this. And she’s saying she does not need Laura to come through to you. She’s doing Laura a favor by coming through. (Laura laughs.) You can do this yourself yourself, you know. You’re a medium.

This will all be known. You will write about it. You’re here to get her message out.

You have a plan. Something will come from this. Something you’re working on.

You will be interviewed on TV. There’s more to come with this.

She’s interested in poetry, literature.

She has 2 degrees? (She had plans to study for a master’s, I say.)

Well she’s done it on the other side. We all have jobs on the other side.

She’s thanking you for taking care of her. She had an illness. A progression. Does this make sense?

I love you. This is not goodbye. Your soul taught her soul a lesson. (Laura’s eyes well up at this point, and she says she does not usually cry.) She did suffer at the end and you might ask why did she have to suffer? But at the end, she let go of her pain. There was beauty at the end. You taught her a lesson of unconditional love. And that took so much strength.

Okay, she’s saying she’s done now, and there’s someone she wants to thank.. a J name. And again, she is saying I’m lucky she came through.

At this point, Laura sort of strutted toward the podium. “And now she’s doing a mic drop.”

Laura mimicked the mic drop and everyone laughed.

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A funny thing is, I have an emoji Caitlin made of herself doing a mic drop. I even used it on this blog once.

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SO!

That was really good. Felt good. It was now five o’clock and as I walked back to my cabin, talking to another woman, we encountered a groundhog. Right by our cabins. Not even budging when we got close. I started to laugh. “Groundhogs are very significant in our family,” I said. “I’ve never been so close to one. This must be a sign?”

The groundhog stayed right there, at our feet.

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Later, I ran into Laura at the bookstore. I didn’t want to be one of those people who crowds her but I did say, in passing, “Thank you again, that was great.”

She said, “Can I give you a hug?” She hugged me and said, “Your daughter’s on a mission. She’s got big energy.”

That’s what I keep hearing.

 

✨ Notes:

There are 26 mediums listed on the Forever Family Foundation website. There are 17 on the Windbridge site.

Certification takes resources that are in short supply, and neither organization is currently testing mediums, so although not being certified does not mean that a medium is not legit, do your research if you book a reading somewhere.

I also recommend not using your real name and keeping the reading as blind as possible. That way, you’ll allay your doubts or skepticism.

Also, Skyping and phone calls work as well, and often better, than real life. Laura Lynne says that she prefers to do readings on the phone with her eyes closed.

 

✨ Old emails from Caitlin:

8/13/2014 – Subject: Definitely worth the money 

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11/19/2014 – Subject: All I want for Christmas is this 

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JANUARY 24–The Price We Pay

We are home. We decided to fly out of San Francisco on Saturday. It was time; we need to get things done here. I was sorry to miss the marches, but as my good friend Ellen pointed out:

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I wasn’t sure I could go into the Boston apartment, never mind sleep there, but we did, and it was actually somewhat comforting. Also, by chance, my sister and brother-in-law were staying in Boston that night, and it was also comforting to spend time with them.

Random Thought: Barbecued Oysters

I really appreciated the notes from all of you who were grateful for the trip reports. It was  easier to grieve out there, close to that spectacular coastline and those ancient trees. Caitlin felt with us. Now, home, she feels very much absent again. We will work on that.

Our last day, Jess took us up to Point Reyes where we sat at picnic tables in the freezing cold and ate the most delicious barbecued oysters. If you’ve never had barbecued oysters,  you’ve got something to look forward to.

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Hog Island Oysters at Point Reyes

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Beautiful Jess

Random Thought: 2012

Five years ago it was 2012, and 2012 turns out to have been one of the most wonderful years of our lives. Viking was publishing Cascade. Nick and Caitlin and I took a relaxing winter trip that turned out to be one of our best. And that summer, after living alone in Paris for a little bit (a longtime dream), Caitlin met Andrew.

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Caitlin in Coral Gables, 2012

 

Yesterday, I found an old email I sent to my sister:

Caitlin really clicked with that boy. She said they talked instantly and forever, of ‘things’ and that he was very smart and kind. As she was telling me about him, she said “it’s like he was the male version of me,” and then her face went a bit white, and she said, ‘oh my god, that’s what the psychic told me. i would be the female version of this person i was going to meet.’

He felt the same. How lucky they both were.

Also, in 2012, Caitlin had been on a kind of wonder drug for a year. Kalydeco, invented by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, targets the specific genetic CF mutation that Caitlin had. Within hours of taking it for the first time in 2011, she felt better. She gained weight and had fewer lung infections. If Kalydeco had existed before her lung damage happened, it would have been as good as a cure. Although it ultimately came too late for her, she did enjoy a couple of relatively healthy, hospital-free years because of it, and enjoyed talking about her experience to a few groups, including Vertex and the Boston Business Journal. Drugs like this came about because of all the support for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and we all thank you for that support.

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Caitlin interviewed by Boston Business Journal

Random Thought: Hereafter

Yesterday was the first day I spent alone in the house. Nick went back to work and kept himself busy. I managed to take a shower, but mainly I cried all morning. The news was all horrible and the day was gray and reminders of Caitlin were everywhere. There is a mountain of cards here and we are so incredibly grateful for them. I tried to read one or two but couldn’t manage any more, yet.

I finally decided to watch a movie that I love, “Hereafter.”

Hereafter came out in 2010 but didn’t do well, mainly I think because people went to it expecting a disaster movie–it opens with incredible special effects that depict the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. But it’s not about special effects! It’s an intelligent, engrossing, and very well-written movie that ruminates on whether there is an afterlife.

Matt Damon plays the part of a reluctant medium very very well.

After watching it again yesterday, I realized that it was written by Peter Morgan, writer of The Queen and The Crown. No wonder it’s so good, I thought.

In Pittsburgh, Caitlin and I loved to watch series-type shows after dinner. Our last show was The Crown, and we finished it right before she went into the hospital in November.

At the time, I looked up some of the actual events that took place in the show, including the Queen’s friendship with “Porchie,” and came upon this statement she made after his death:grief is the price we pay.png

She was, in turn, quoting from Dr Colin Murray Parkes, a hospice pioneer:

“The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others cope with losses in theirs.”

With this quote in mind, I want to point out that we are always going to want to talk about Caitlin, even if our voices crack and our eyes fill up. The pain of our grief was definitely worth the price of our love, and we’ll be paying for the rest of our lives. That’s okay.

With much love for all of you as well,

Maryanne