One summer morning in 2002 I was playing golf with my friend Kenny, who had recently lost his wife to cancer. As we sat in the golf cart waiting our turn, he turned to me with a serious look on his face and said that he had to tell me something. He then went on to relate the fact that he recently visited a medium and was told very specific things about his wife that the medium could not possibly have known. I must have looked at him with a glazed look in my eyes, as he said “You don’t believe any of this, do you?” Despite wanting to support my friend, all I could manage to say was something idiotic like “not really, but who knows.” I remember going home that night and telling my wife that Kenny had snapped due to his grief, and I was worried that he was being fleeced by a roving fortune teller. Little did I know that my life would soon change in a way that I could never imagine.
I suspect that if anyone tells you that they have never contemplated the possibility of life after death they are most likely not being truthful. They might summarily dismiss the idea, as surviving death appears to be a preposterous notion to a logical thinker, but most of us have had the thought run through our minds. I spent most of my life scoffing at those who suggested such things. What could possibly survive physical extinction? My attitude was that if you wanted to believe in the tooth fairy that was certainly your prerogative, but please don’t bring me into your fantasy. Mediums, those that purport to talk to the dead, were charlatans, near death experiences were the product of a dying brain, deathbed visions were hallucinations, after death communications were simply wishful thinking, and reincarnation was an absurd concept. My thoughts about these phenomena are very different now than they were before.
Mediums were not invented when some high profile practitioners got TV gigs. They have been in practice since the mid -1800s, but one can argue that contact with the dead has ancient roots. The age of Spiritualism, the belief that the dead can communicate with the living, produced multitudes of mediums that sprung up across the globe from the mid- 19th to early 20th centuries. With an estimated eight million followers, it is easy to understand the appearance of tens of thousands of medium practitioners. Visits to mediums and group séances became centers of entertainment as the fascination with communicating with deceased loved ones was all the rage. The movement was further fueled when investigations of mediums were conducted by esteemed scientists, medical doctors, academics and those in the legal profession. Although substantial numbers of frauds were uncovered, the consensus of opinion was that some people, admittedly very few, can indeed communicate with discarnate personalities. Eventually the interest began to wane as materialist thinking and scientific advances took center stage.
I became interested in mediums, as well as other evidence for life after death, in 2002 after the death of my youngest daughter who was involved in a car accident. In the early morning hours on the day of the accident, my wife woke up visibly shaken and trembling, telling me that “something horrible is going to happen today.” Under normal circumstances I would not even give such a statement a second thought. However, since there were previous times that she had premonitions and visions, and they always played out exactly as described, logic told me to take this seriously. After checking on my three children constantly throughout the day, I eventually let my guard down by evening when the accident occurred. My son and daughter were involved in a horrific crash. My daughter did not survive the accident, and my son was airlifted to a hospital with severe brain injuries.
About a month later, when it became clear that my son would survive his injuries, something hit me like a ton of bricks. How did my wife know about the accident before it happened? Clearly she did, but could not identify the specifics. Was this a case of precognition, or as difficult as it was to imagine, could someone have been sending her a message? This began a constant search for answers, and eventually I helped to start a not for profit foundation that educates the public about evidence for life after death. Mediums are a striking example of such evidence, but there is a catch. In my opinion, based upon data collection and witnessing hundreds of medium readings, roughly 85–90% of all practicing mediums today cannot do what they claim. Since 2005 I have been overseeing a Medium Evaluation Certification process in which we statistically analyze the evidence that mediums communicate. We use a pool of trained sitters (people that receive readings) and the sessions are conducted under controlled conditions. Five different scoring methods are utilized as we evaluate the evidence. Mediums meeting the minimum proficiency guidelines are offered certification. Since 2005 only 12% of the participating mediums have been granted such certification. Among the 88% that failed to meet the guidelines, yes, some were frauds that use cold reading techniques such as reading body language, asking leading questions, repeating general information that could apply to most of the general population, etc. However, the majority were simply well meaning people with some degree of intuitive ability, but woefully inept or undeveloped at talking to the dead. Unfortunately, there is today an epidemic of practitioners who should not be sitting with and collecting money from the bereaved.
The reemergence of mediums began when certain high profile mediums started to be recognized by the media. Best-selling books were written and TV shows were developed. Of course reality TV shows, especially those featuring mediums, are anything but true representations of the mediumship process. Hours and hours of filming are done for each episode containing twenty minutes of actual content. Do you think that the finished product will show you the “hits” or “misses” that the medium communicates? Viewers come away with the perception that the medium is god-like, infallible and a direct conduit to the world beyond. In addition, the general public believes that all mediums, by the nature of the work they do, are essentially the same. Over the past twenty years throngs of mediums and psychics (there is a difference) have been popping up on every street corner and flooding social media. Many among the bereaved can’t get enough and are willing to endure long waiting lists and exorbitant fees.
I understand why. Those who mourn the loss of a loved one will go anywhere, do and pay anything for the chance of hearing from those no longer in the physical. Traditional grief therapy encourages separation from the deceased as one moves on with their life. But what could be more effective grief therapy than the thought that your loved one still exists in some form? Authentic mediums offer third party confirmation, assurance from an “expert” that there is an afterlife. It differs from faith based belief as it results in evidence that the person can perceive with their physical senses. However, what we are now seeing are addictions to mediums. Grievers crave their next reading, feel anxious when appointments are not secured, and their sadness gets worse in the time between medium readings. Although significant improvements in grief often occur from a medium reading, unfortunately temporary fixes most often do not result in lasting grief transformation.
The media attention to the paranormal aside, we are now living at a time when Baby Boomers are coming of age and starting to question their own mortality. The organized religion concept of living in the afterlife with a harp on a cloud just doesn’t cut it. Besides, the religious stuff comes with major strings attached to afterlife existence. Many are starting to seek some meaning in the chaos of the physical realm and wonder if there is some purpose to this blip of existence. Let’s face it, there appears to be an increase in hostility towards one another, more frequent natural disasters, wars, famine, climate change and general disruption. One can argue that it has always been like this, but there is a difference. With the daily advances in technology we are becoming automatons. We spend the bulk of each day in front of screens, and information is obtained instantly. The need for independent thought and human interaction is quickly vanishing. We can barely communicate with those in our physical realm, let alone use our intuitive ability to gain information from non-physical sources.
The fact is that our ancestors, as well as the founders of today’s organized religions, were entrenched in the mystical traditions where there was little separation between the physical and non-physical world. Physical death was viewed as a birthing into the next realm of existence, and the boundary separating the two was very thin. Communicating between the dimensions was a natural part of what we were, part of the design, and certainly nothing paranormal. Shamans were often the go-betweens, but direct communication was frequent. People grieved less because the thought of finality was absent. They provided a blueprint for us to follow. If one can change the way they think about death, grief transformation is possible.
Research has shown that the elite mediums, the 10% that can communicate with discarnate consciousness, are the real deal. They have the ability to provide great comfort and hope to someone in grief. What I am suggesting is that, for this lightness to be sustained, it most often must be accompanied by a foundation of knowledge about all the evidence. Direct personal experiences are occurring every day to a huge percentage of the population. They are not often discussed, but occur nonetheless. The addiction to mediums can be ended only when we embrace such possibilities and relearn what our ancestors once knew. At the same time we must be diligent in recognizing that the “wannamediums” are a growing scourge on society who take advantage of those among us who are the most vulnerable.
Today, when people give me the same condescending look that I gave my friend Kenny that day, I understand where they were coming from. I was one of those people. On the subject of mediums, for some the discussion of good vs. bad mediums is irrelevant as they believe that all mediums by definition are frauds that prey on the bereaved. I get that. When I engage such people I simply relate what I have learned about scientific research into non-physical phenomena, and my own personal experiences. For several years after my daughter’s passing I fought the very notion of life after death, as if such a belief somehow diminished the depth of my grief. I had an incredible reading with a medium in 2003 that left me scratching my head trying to understand what had just occurred, but I still resisted. I went on to have profound personal experiences, after death communications, that one could not logically dispute, but yet I found ways to dismiss them. I journaled seventy five “dream visitations” from my daughter, tactile visits where I would talk to and embrace her, but I still questioned. I met with scientists all over the country, participated in research, and learned everything I could. I read hundreds of books on the subject on consciousness and things considered to be paranormal. The evidence was overwhelming, but I still had lingering doubts. Until one day I relented, as even a left brained dunce like me had to succumb to the magnitude of the evidence.
The knowledge that our consciousness survives physical death has enabled me to transform from someone who wanted to just curl up and die, a shell without meaning or purpose, to one who lives a purposeful and very meaningful life. The evidence from both mediums and scientists can be powerful and life-changing….we just need to be diligent in our search.