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Natural Awakenings Fairfield & Southern Litchfield Counties

Grief and After Death Communications

Oct 30, 2021 09:00PM ● By Elizabeth Raver
As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, grieving can be extremely painful. Traditional grief therapy maintains that it is healthy for mourners to break their relationship with the belated in order to emotionally detach from grief. Mourners thereby “get on with it” by focusing on other areas in their life; not letting go can result in pathological grief. A number of bereavement researchers believe that this perspective demonstrates modern cultural values, which emphasizes the individual.

Analyses of bereavement data indicate that mourners behave quite differently than Western protocols assume. Research indicates that it is normal for mourners to maintain a “continuing bond” with the deceased. By integrating the deceased into their everyday lives, mourners can facilitate healing and even enrich their lives. Relationships with the deceased can and do continue after death, albeit in a different form, according to research in Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief.

In the book Induced After-Death Communication, authors Allan Botkin and Craig Hogan describe how many researchers refer to continuing bonds as “inner representations of the deceased,” thereby sidestepping the question of life after death. However, the term “After Death Communications” (ADCs), coined by Bill and Judy Guggenheim in the popular book Hello From Heaven!, is now being openly used by a growing body of bereavement researchers.

Research indicates that ADCs are common experiences. For example, a random American telephone survey found 62.6 percent of people have had ADCs in the form of “dreams, sounds, feeling a presence and having conversations”, as reported by Craig M. Klugman in a 2006 article, “Dead Men Talking: Evidence of Post Death Contact and Continuing Bonds”. A Pew Research Center survey found 29 percent of Americans report having had ADCs and that 74 percent believe in life after death. In an analysis of 35 ADC studies by Jenny Streit-Horn, the top five strongest papers indicate that an average of 34 percent of people have experienced an ADC. A study reported by James A. Houck, “The Universal, Multiple and Exclusive Experiences of After-Death Communications”, found that 75 percent of surveyed Americans mourning the loss of someone from cancer, AIDS, suicide or a sudden and unexpected death, reported having sensed the presence of their belated loved one. This study also indicated that ADCs are experienced by people of all ages, genders, religions and educational backgrounds, regardless of the type of death or how much time has passed since the death.

However, science still struggles to accept ADCs as normal and healthy. Consequently, many mourners dare not speak of ADC experiences to counselors, therapists or doctors; patients fear ridicule, undermining or a mental illness diagnosis. Fortunately, attitudes are beginning to change.

In their book Loving Connections, research counselors Jane Bissler and Lisa Heiser describe a patient who had lost his wife and daughter. To treat his grief and ADCs, he was prescribed an anti-psychotic medication which produced “terrible” side effects. He stopped taking the drug and found a counselor open minded toward ADCs. “She and I spoke at length about the afterlife and she assured me my experiences were entirely valid. She encouraged me to embrace the experiences and not be resistant.”

Some religious groups still insist that ADCs are the work of the “devil” or “demons”. Some view it wrong for a deceased grandparent to communicate to a grieving grandchild that he/she is happy, healthy and living in a beautiful place. Ironically, many religions that consider ADCs unacceptable, encourage communication with Saints, according to Spiritual Medium Janet Nohavec. Such outdated perspectives are inconsistent with Streit-Horn’s research, which indicates that grieving could be greatly facilitated if professionals were more aware of the healing effects of ADCs.

One explanation for professionals’ reticence in accepting that ADCs are normal and beneficial, is that the greatest skeptics have themselves never experienced an ADC, also known as “Exceptional Experiences”.

Louis E. LaGrand, author of the study “The Nature and Therapeutic Implications of the Extraordinary Experiences of the Bereaved”, noted, “I know several professional counselors who harbored grave doubts about the veracity of extraordinary experiences as reported by clients—until they were suddenly face to face with the extraordinary after the death of a husband or family member. The nature of their professional practices took an abrupt turn as they began to see the therapeutic value and personal meaning that the contact could have on the grief process.”

ADCs occur in numerous ways. A “spontaneous” ADC could be a widower waking up one night to see his wife standing at the foot of his bed, bathed in light and smiling gently at him. “Requested” ADCs can be experienced through intent, prayer or meditation. “Induced” ADCs require a professional specifically trained in certain protocols like eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) or Loving Hearts Connections. “Assisted” ADCs require a skilled medium acting as an intermediary between clients and “spirit people”.

Laboratory experiments using research certified mediums indicate that information received from mediums is valid—as reported in a 2015 study, “Anomalous information reception by research mediums under blinded conditions II: replication and extension” and a 2011 study, “An Investigation of Mediums Who Claim to Give Information About Deceased Persons”.

Science progresses by pushing the boundaries of what is “normal”. For centuries, Western culture believed that the solar system and universe revolved around a flat earth. Today we understand that a round earth revolves about the sun, the sun is part of a galaxy and the galaxy is part of the universe. Similarly, a growing body of research supports the idea that ADCs should be taken seriously, are not a form of mental illness and that mourners should be encouraged to talk about them in order to facilitate the healing process of grief.

Elizabeth Raver, PhD, is a certified Spiritual Intuitive Life Coach and evidential medium in Fairfield County. She offers online sessions and classes via clients’/students’ homes; phone or in-person 
meetings can be arranged. Connect at 203-400-9212, [email protected] or  See ad, page 4.

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Elizabeth Raver DeCesare, PhD - NA, Trumbull, CT

Elizabeth Raver DeCesare, PhD, is a medium, energy worker, clairvoyant and trance worker. With her inner circle guides, Dr. Randolph and Daisy, she finds great joy in bringing messages fr... Read More »