Life, Death and the Afterlife

Golden Tunnel of Light

Dear friends,

I have neglected my blog for a while as I have been consumed by material world of surviving of surviving financially but that obsession was rudely interrupted with the intrusion of life threatening illnesses of a close family member and a dear friend. A couple of weeks ago my brother Peter rang to say he had been diagnosed with colon cancer and I had the typical knee jerk reaction that one has when one hears the word cancer thinking the worst that it means a death sentence. Of course it is more than that it presses our mortality buttons – oh I wonder if I should have had a a check up for that etc. Anyway, in my brother’s case the news wasn’t as bad as first thought as a complete body scan revealed no sign of any cancer in the rest of the body and he had to have surgery which removed a part of the bowel followed by chemo. He will need to have an annual check up.  My sister and breathed a sigh of relief.

However, my next test came when my dear friend Ann aged 77 rang a few weeks ago to tell me she has been diagnosed with liver cancer  the medical terminology is metastatic neuroendocrine tumour and is having further tests to see if it has spread to the bones and to locate the primary cancer. She told me she was very calm and accepting of her fate and that if it was her time she would accept that. I have known Ann for 37 years and met her a year after my father died and I have always referred to her as my spiritual mother as she has nurtured me through many challenging events in my life. She has never judged me, just gently and with humility imparted her wisdom and insights to me. She has seen me through some very traumatic relationships and what she has taught me plus my own experiences have enabled me to share with friends and clients alike. It made me think of other wonderful friends whom I have lost over the last few years – one in her 80s my dear friend Erica whom I met around at the same time as I met Ann at the same club. Erica who belonged the gracious olde worlde of Europe was a most gentle person, very talented as an artist and musician and many years ago even painted my portrait. She remained  very sprightly right up until the end when she succumbed to leukemia. I wrote a poem in tribute  to her after she died.

Two other wonderful friends who were inseparable whom I met around the same time in the mid 70s in the same club were Betty and Ralph. Ralph was unique – he was highly intelligent and gifted musician. As a young man he had gone to USA to seek fame and fortune and had composed music for MGM. Betty was the most intelligent selfless person who despite poor health worked tirelessly for the environment. Betty didn’t last much longer than Ralph – they were both in their late 70s.

Another friend Doris who died a most terrible death at the hands of her mentally ill son who stabbed her to death. At the time of her death I had fallen out with her as she had been projecting her own unresolved issues with men onto me. I was terribly shocked as I had known her since I was in my late teens when she had been a mentor to me and a friend of the family and I had known both her sons since they were born. It was like some Greek tragedy being played out in a modern setting. At the time although I was deeply shocked my resentment against her prevented me from grieving properly for her until just recently when a bullying issue at work reminded me of how she had been very supportive of me in the past and I had a complete catharsis with the floodgates being opened washing away the resentment which had blocked me from being able to grieve for her death.

Another dear friend of mine Neil and former head teacher of the languages dept where I worked shocked me with his untimely death at the age of 64. I still remember the circumstances as if it were yesterday. It was on New Years Day 2010 when I was just making an omelette for lunch – the phone rang and the voice said this is Nancy, Neil’s sister, informing me of Neil’s sudden death. She told me that Neil had celebrated Xmas lunch with his family but had been found dead by his boarder a few days later. I remember just crying into my omelette. It was bitter sweet as I had rung Neil just before Xmas to wish him a happy Xmas and suggested we should meet up in the New Year – he said he was going to Phuket on January 8 and when he returned we would meet up. I suggested that we have a meal at Sue’s place in her newly renovated kitchen and I also suggested we could also catch up with some other former colleagues. To both suggestions he said I would like that but that was the last time I heard from him until my psychically gifted friend Irene passed on messages to me from beyond. In this message from beyond Neil was his funeral. The funeral service was packed with students that Neil had taught – it was like a scene out of the movie Good- bye Mr Chips. I spoke with his friend and former partner Damien who told me how Neil was struggling with alcoholism. Neil had a heart of gold and I stayed with him in his house in Cammeray in transition period when I moved back to Sydney after living in Melbourne for a few years when recover from my Mum’s death. I have since heard of another friend a baby boomer like I am who has inoperable liver cancer.

Death of Icons 

And now the spectre of death is stalking us again with the tragedy in Norway and the untimely death of British pop icon Amy Winehouse.

Amy Winehouse

A mid-twenties African American man wearing a sequined military jacket and dark sunglasses. He is walking while waving his right hand, which is adorned with a white glove. His left hand is bare.

Michael Jackson

John Lennon

Diana Princess of Wales

How do we deal with death on an individual level and on a collective level? We will all rememberthe collective outpouring of grief when Diana the people’s princess was killed in a car accident in the Pont de l’Alma road tunnel in Paris. We can always remember what we were doing at the exact time  we heard of the tragic death of people we idolised. I remember a news flash on the TV screen announcing the assassination of John Lennon and was shocked and hoping that it wasn’t true. And again when I turned on the TV  to watch the Sunday programme only to find out that Diana Princess of Wales had been injured in a car accident in Paris and not long after she was confirmed dead. These celebrities seem larger than life as we the public project all our feelings onto them. We imbue them with the status of deities – they seem immortal to us so it is doubly shocking that despite their wealth, fame and talent they are mere mortals after all and in fact their fame is a double edged sword and more often than not contributes to their death as in the case of Diana pursued by the paparazzi and in John Lennon assassinated by a madman etc. 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross – On Death and Dying

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 One source of inspiration for me was the late Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross born in Zurich, Switzerland, on July 8, 1926.  Kübler-Ross studied medicine against her father’s wishes, at Zurich, later emigrated to the US in 1958 and becoming a US citizen in 1961. Her experiences at the end of the Second World War, including the aftermath of the Majdanek (Maidanek) concentration camp at Lublin, Poland, as a member of the International Voluntary Service for Peace, was influential in her dedicating her life on the humanistic perspective of death and dying.

Her seminal book ‘On Death and Dying’ was published in 1969, in which she explained the process of dying in which she first described her now classically regarded Five Stages of Grief. The book, and the supporting publication of her ideas in Time magazine, achieved wide circulation, so that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross soon became known for her pioneering work with the terminally ill, and for her ideas in the counselling and support of those affected by death and bereavement.

Kübler-Ross spent much of the 1970s disseminating her ideas in workshops and speaking to audiences, which quickly gained popular appeal and general acceptance among the caring professions, and which had significant positive influence over the development of hospice care and attitudes towards death and the care of the dying. 

Alice Bailey

Death the Great Adventure – Alice A. Bailey

 In my natal chart I have the Sun and Mercury in Cancer in the 8th house the house of death trining Jupiter in Scorpio in the 12th so it is not surprising that I have a deep interest in the topic of death and afterlife. I remember attending a workshop in the 80s called Death The Great Adventure a name referring to a compilation of extracts of 24 books of esoteric philosophy by Alice A. Bailey.

Near Death Experience

Near Death Experience

Near Death Experience
The workshop included such speakers as Dr Cherie Sutherland  a sociologist, who changed her life after she “died” had a near death experience during complications giving birth 32. “I was 23 and had my life as a wife and mother planned. Then I died,” Sutherland says. Recovering from her brush with death heralded the start of a new life for her. “It changed everything,” Sutherland says. She immediately became a vegetarian, split with her husband, enrolled in university and began studying others’ near-death experiences.Now, as a qualified sociologist with a PhD and having published several book, she found during interviews with hundreds of people that those given a second chance at life following a serious health scare reacted in similar ways.“People told me over and over how much more appreciative they were of life, how they wanted to learn, to be of more use to society as a whole, and often (they) had changed beliefs about religion tending more to a sense of individual spiritualism, rather than organised religion,” Sutherland says.She found that one of the most profound changes for many people was a sense of purpose. “They feel that if they didn’t die after coming so close that they must be here for a reason – they just needed to find out what it was.”

Karma and Reincarnation – Peter Ramster – Past Life Regression

Another person whom I first heard speak on the topic of karma and reincarnation at the Australian Psychics Association in the 80s was Peter Ramster. I then saw the documentaries he made on reincarnation and met some of the women whom he had regressed to past lives who featured in the TV documentary. 

Peter Ramster is a clinical psychologist, hypnotherapist, film maker and published author based in Sydney Australia. For over 35 years Peter has conducted research on the unconscious mind. It was in 1983 that he produced the remarkable documentary for television on the use of hypnotic regression that I saw. In the documentary four women from Sydney, who had never previously been outside of Australia, gave detailed accounts of life times in western European countries. In 1981 Peter Ramster visited the locations across Europe described by the four women and researched with local historians the names dates and details they have given while under hypnotic regression in an attempt to verify the details as accurate information. Village and hamlets names given were found hard to validate but with further research some of the names appeared on old maps. Once the general location had been identified each of the women were brought over to Europe to see if they could recognise anything from the locations that the historical researchers believed may have been the area that they had talked about. One of the most striking cases was that of a lady called Gwen McDonald who recalled the name of Rose Duncan who had lives in Somerset, England during the 18th century. While under hypnosis in Sydney she described details in England that appeared to be correct when the research was conducted. The investigation of the McDonald case during the making of the documentary in England was witnessed by Dr. Bail Cottle of Bristol University. You can google Peter Ramster and you will find the videos of these documentaries.

Doris Stokes

doris stokes

One of the first psychic mediums I remember hearing about was Doris Stokes whose books my sister and I gave our elderly mother to read to help her come to terms with her own death which she feared.

One of the first psychic mediums I remember hearing about was Doris Stokes whose books my sister and I gave our elderly mother to read to help her come to terms with her own death which she feared.

Doris Stokes was one of the most renowned and influential psychic mediums of the twentieth century. She was born on January 6 1920 and died may 8 1987 after battling many illnesses. Her down to earth, practical manner helped demystify mediumship and brought belief in death survival to the masses. She filled the Albert Hall to capacity and Sydney Opera House three nights in a row. She made many television appearances and toured extensively despite her own illness and personal tragedies she was determined to bring hope and succour to as many people as possible.

Allison DuBois
Allison DuBois Psychic Medium

Patricia Arquette the Actress who plays the role of Allison

TV shows such as Medium and Ghost Whisperer have popularised the concept of life after death with the mediums’ ability to see and commune in spirit with the dead. About 4 years ago I attended a talk given by Allison DuBois sponsored by the Sydney Theosophical Bookshop and briefly met the author Allison DuBois when she signed her book ‘Secrets of the Monarch’ that I had bought. The subtitle of this book is What the Dead can teach Us about Living a Better Life. The Monarch alludes to the monarch butterfly which Allison explains on the back cover: “Like the monarch butterfly, which takes several generations to complete its yearly migration to ensure the survival of future butterflies, we can live good lives to ensure the happiness of future generations.” Two of her other books I have read are ‘Don’t Kiss Them Goodbye’ and We Are Their Heaven: Why the Dead Never Leave Us’.

 I have recommended her books to friends and clients who have lost loved ones as they are both comforting and inspirational in enabling the reader to gain a glimpse of the afterlife and how our loved ones always remain close even though they are no longer on the physical plane.

James Van Praagh

James Van Praagh Medium & co-Executive Producer of Ghost Whisperer

I was fortunate enough to attend a public session of James Van Praagh at the Sydney Town Hall in February 2010 when my dear friend Irene who had purchased a ticket for herself was not well enough to attend so donated the ticket to me. I had long been a fan of Ghost Whisperer and had seen James many times doing readings on TV and had also seen a screen play of his autobiography which traced the development of his gift as a psychic medium able to communicate with people on the other side. He did not disappoint he was very entertaining and very warm and informative and very generous of his time in answering questions from the audience. He said his mission was to teach and heal and I came away feeling very uplifted by the experience. James’ wish is to reach as many people as he can with his message of survival evidence and he says, ” My greatest satisfaction in doing this work is witnessing an instantaneous change in people.”  

  John Edward

John Edward, crossing over

John Edward – Psychic Medium & Author

Another well known psychic medium who has contributed to the topic of the afterlife is John Edward who has been popularised on his world tours including Australia and the TV programme Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country. I have read his book ‘Crossing Over: The Stories Behind the Stories’. John was born of Irish and Italian parents in Long Island New York on 19 October 1969. As a child he could communicate with family members who had passed over or predict future events. John trained as a health care professional and even taught ballroom dancing before a meeting with famed psychic Lydia Clar who act as a tremendous catalyst re his life direction and career. She said that he had strong psychic abilities and she could see him working full time as a medium and that his life’s work would be teaching about it. At first he was in denial of his gift and resisted his destiny but shortly after, the demand for him to undertake personal readings became so great that he had to give all his time over to it.

Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams – Psychic Medium and Spiritual Healer

Lisa another of the psychic mediums popularised on TV,  was born in Reddich in Birmingham in the UK on 19 June 1973.

Although Lisa Williams has been aware of her psychic abilities since the age of seven, it wasn’t until her grandmother’s death in 1996 that Lisa fully embraced her “second sight.” Frances Glazebrook, Lisa’s grandmother, had been a renowned psychic medium, reading for politicians, royalty, pop bands and businessmen in her native England. She was also a “secret weapon” in the arsenal of many American CEOs.

“When I was 19,” Williams remembers, “my grandmother told me I would continue her work when she passed on.” Over the next few years, Lisa found herself telling total strangers about their lives and what was in store for them. She saw their family members and friends who were on “the other side” and brought comfort to the living by transmitting messages. She also was helping with police investigations.

Blessed with a fine voice, Williams had been lead vocalist with a band and a “Red Coat” entertainer at the famous English vacation camp Butlins. As a young single mother, she supported herself with a variety of office jobs and sales positions. It wasn’t until her extensive waiting list of people asking for private consultations was six months long that she felt she could devote herself full-time to her spiritual calling. She continued to develop her gifts, which also include Reiki and crystal healing. Like her grandmother before her, Lisa also began to read for senior members of the international business community and high-profile celebrities worldwide.

When the late Merv Griffin heard about the remarkable English clairvoyant from a friend, he asked her to join the panel of a show he was developing. “She came onto the set looking very ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ with her spiked hair, her Worcestershire accent and her infectious grin,” Griffin said. He went on to say, “The audience responded to her totally, and suddenly my entire concept for the show changed. The result was ‘Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead.’”

Williams has tried to explain what happens to her during her encounters: “I allow the spirit of the departed to come close and enter my energy. If I walk into a place that has some activity, I can define who and what is the energy, as well as what happened there. When it’s needed, I will clear that spirit over to the other side. Often, this enables a grieving family to finally say goodbye and feel at peace.” Lisa also says she can find anything that’s lost, using messages she gets from the departed.

Although I believed in life after death in theory, this was my first personal experience of it. She told me that her name was Joy Cliff  her maiden name was Atkinson but she used her partner’s first name. Without a second thought I made an appointment to have a full reading with her the following Tuesday at 11am. One of the first things that Joy asked me was if Dad wore braces because he kept putting his thumbs on his chest in a humorous fashion. I replied that he didn’t wear braces but that it was one of Dad’s mannerisms especially when he was singing at parties held at home. Soon after the first session with Joy I dreamt that Dad put me on a chair at a desk, adjusting the light at the best angle so that I could get on with my writing.

The next reading with Joy was a few days before my mother’s birthday and what my father and maternal grandmother had to say on this occasion shook me to the core. My father began by saying how proud he was of me and how unhappy he was that his life was taken when  he didn’t want to go, that he wanted to be with the family. He then dropped the bombshell that he didn’t like the lack of communication between Mum and me and he wanted me to clear this up. He said that it was Mum’s birthday in a few days and he wanted to be there to share the family happiness. He reiterated that he dearly loved Mum but there had been a lot of conflict between them – many things didn’t come up to Mum’s expectations.

After telling my sister what Dad had communicated through Joy we both made a special effort to make Mum’s birthday a memorable one. We played all Mum’s and Dad’s favourite records and I passed on Dad’s message of love to Mum. My going to see Joy acted as a catalyst for Sue to go for a reading. My father came through in spirit asking Sue for forgiveness for not wanting Sue when Mum discovered she was pregnant with her. He said he was worried about the financial situation, having another mouth to feed when they only had one salary coming in. When Sue was born he loved Sue. He also apologised to Sue for not paying enough attention to her. Joy also mentioned that Mum wanted to see our brother, Peter, settled. His infidelity and broken marriage had opened up Mum’s deepest wounds so that she relived the pain of Dad’s infidelity – family patterns repeat themselves

I continued to have regular readings with Joy over the next couple of years to continue the guidance to clear up the rest of the family karma. Dad always came through larger than life, telling Joy that he enjoyed taking his dog to the pub and reading Shakespeare to the locals and he didn’t care what people thought of him. One word of advice that my father gave me that I have never forgotten is that I should not take things personally and it has indeed become a mantra for me whenever I feel hurt by someone. Positively, it was noted that Mum was starting to change by not living so much in the past. Joy pointed out that now that the family was progressing that Dad could also progress. In one of the readings with Joy it was mentioned that I would be guided to do a counselling course which proved to be true. Peter’s changed attitude toward Mum was helping to heal Mum. Joy predicted that all the family problems would clear up by the by the time I’m forty two – that I’m like the little Mother looking after all the family.

I felt greatly comforted by the presence of my maternal grandmother in spirit. Joy said Nan was very strongly with me and was saying, ”You’re my girl – I understand you and you can lean on me.” Joy correctly described my Catholic maternal grandmother as religious, short, big busted and she saw her put a cross around me. Joy said that I was being blessed by my grandmother because I promote others rather than myself. Dad also came through saying that I was his little girl and that he could not express his love for me when he was alive but I was supposed to know that he loved Mum and me. He apologised for the way he died when I was still quite a young woman. Joy summed it up that I was Daddy’s girl and Sue was Mum’s girl.

 Sometimes when I’d go for a reading Joy would be smiling, recounting how Dad would be winking and smiling at her and telling her to call him Al as it was more friendly. Joy said that Mum was still playing funny buggers with me because she felt insecure. Joy predicted that if Mum held up my progress too much she would be taken by the age of seventy six. However, if Mum survived an illness at age seventy six she could live until eighty six. Dad said he was waiting for Mum to join him on the other side. Joy’s prediction was correct. Mum passed away on January 9 1991 at age seventy six after her emphysema became intolerable during the humidity of summer.

 The final reading I had with Joy was on February 2 just three weeks after Mum’s death. This reading like all Joy’s reading this was of enormous comfort to me when I was still grieving for Mum. Joy passed on messages from my maternal grandmother who called herself Bessie as a more friendly version of Elizabeth. She said she was coming to me as a motherly figure to express her love for me in my bereavement and was putting the sign of the cross and her rosary beads over me. Joy conveyed my grandmother’s message that I was not to worry about the past and that my mother has been very much received. Joy continued that Mum comes to me in my dreams but that she is not yet at peace in spirit. My having this reading is uplifting in helping to heal Mum. Joy then brought through Dad whom she described as up to his usual antics, winking and showing a scene of himself at the pub with his dog on the stool. Dad admitted that he never believed in all of this when he was alive. He said that I am the apple of his eye. He said that I was doing everything that he wasn’t able to do i.e. write and give lectures etc. Joy then described the appearance of a trinity of my two grandmothers and my father. Joy said that Mum has passed on to set us three children free which will bring about a change of personality in the three of us. Joy correctly predicted my move to Melbourne where I lived from October 1991 until April 1996. She also correctly predicted my appearing on radio, doing lectures etc.

However, one of the most wonderful testimonies to the healing and transformation of the whole family after my father’s intervention via Joy’s mediumship was beautifully expressed in a letter from our cousin, Simon, after he visited us while Mum was still alive. An excerpt from Simon’s letter which was written less than a year after the family healing process was set in motion by Joy’s reading.

Dear Anne, Aileen and Sue,

Just a brief note to say thanks very much for your wonderful hospitality. It felt like the first time I’d really got to know you all, and I enjoyed your company immensely.

Perhaps it was only because I had more time at Pine St, but I did feel as if, somehow a cloud that seemed to exist in the living room had lifted, it seemed a happier lighter room than I remembered it. It was an active not a passive one.

It has struck me a few times, in different places how some rooms, some houses/homes, even some localities can seem active or passive – some invite stillness, quietness, inactivity or inertia, or reflectiveness – others promote activity, creation and motion/music. I think a change has swept through No. 10 – I think it’s good!




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