Musings on the Pandemic, Grief, and Death
Posted on 13 April 2020, 17:55
While watching the movie The Lost City of Z on Amazon last week, I pondered on the “adversity” we are experiencing with the current pandemic quarantine and thought about how much worse conditions could be. The movie is about Percy Fawcett’s exploration of the Amazon during the early 1900s. It left me appreciating the comforts of my home and wondering why Fawcett would leave his comfortable home in England to endure the hardships of the Amazon jungle, not once but three times, the first two expeditions lasting around two years each. He had to deal with extreme heat, starvation, wild animals, snakes, piranha, deadly insects, and attacks by primitive natives in his search for a lost civilization.
The movie producers did a good job in depicting what life was like in England before electricity. Even though Fawcett lived in a nice home in the English countryside, it was dark and dreary during the nights, with only candlelight and not much more than a book to pass the evening hours. It was nearly as dismal during the day, as the sun, when it occasionally peeked through the overcast, offered little light in the home. It seemed just as gloomy in the office and boardroom of the National Geographic Society in London as Fawcett discussed his expedition plans with board members. And there were many days and nights he endured in trenches in France during the Great War. Pondering on all that, I could begin to understand why Fawcett chose adventure and light in the treacherous jungle over monotony and darkness in his home.
Many of us are guilty of not appreciating how soft our lives have become over the past century. Think about how our ancestors lived before electricity. There was little to do during the leisure hours beyond sitting in front of a fire place or on the front porch while knitting, whittling, or staring at the stars. As I have suggested here before, I believe there was better mediumship back then than there is now because they had so much quiet time. I can recall sitting in front of fires on quiet evenings 70 or so years ago, before television and computers, and experiencing something of a hypnotic effect, and I can remember gazing at the stars in the still of the night while wondering what life is all about. I have no difficulty in believing that a more sensitive person can go beyond that hypnotic effect and open him- or herself to another dimension, to the spirit world.
In her 1946 book, You are Psychic, Sophia Williams, (below) whose direct-voice mediumship is described by researcher Hamlin Garland in his book The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (available from White Crow Books), wrote that it took her four years of sitting quietly each day while learning the art of relaxation and complete detachment before she began to develop as a medium. Williams went on to explain that the first spirit voice coming through her mediumship was weak and difficult to understand, but the voices became clearer as she continued to sit in silence. She added that the voices came through in many different languages. She stressed the need to achieve absolute relaxation as a first step and then sit in a state of expectancy with the mind cleared of all conscious thoughts and memories. “Conscious thought must be avoided – consciously trying not to think is thinking,” she pointed out.
“I am certain that much of the information and phenomena I receive comes through intermediaries, those personalities who exist in another space dimension or function at a higher rate of frequency,” she wrote. “It is apparent to me that when these personalities pass into the next dimension they carry with them all of the habits, faults, and ideas, which they retain until they learn to progress.”
While thinking about the “hardships” of my confinement, I also thought about Mary Lincoln, the widow of our sixteenth president. After his assassination, and following the death of her son Tad, she lived in a downtown Chicago hotel for $45 a week, including meals. Think what it would be like sitting in a dark hotel room day and night before electricity and electronic gadgets. What does a person do to avoid complete boredom? Mary found something of an escape from it all by browsing in nearby shops. Being gregarious, she probably got to know some of the merchants fairly well and felt obligated to make purchases now and then, even if she had no need for the item at the time. Shopping was a way to assuage her grief and despair. While a man might choose refuge at a local saloon, that option was not available to respectable women.
Indications were that Mary was living within her annual income of $8,000, a significant sum at the time. However, her only surviving son, Robert, had her confined to a lunatic asylum after testifying in court to her unsoundness of mind, the primary focus being on her unwise spending, including sitting with some mediums. With the help of friends, especially one Myra Bradwell, a Spiritualist friend who had a law degree but was not allowed to practice law because of her gender, and her husband, Judge James B. Bradwell, Mary Lincoln was released from the asylum after just three months and three weeks of confinement.
Picturing Percy Fawcett (below) in his dark, dreary home and visualizing Mary Lincoln in a bleak hotel room with little to occupy themselves, I was able to better appreciate my current confinement. It made me wonder what life would be like without electricity and electronic gadgets to entertain ourselves. It made me think how it might be if we are ever hit by a hurricane and lose electricity for weeks or even months. I’m living in luxury now compared with how bad it could be. Moreover, we have no fireplaces in Hawaii.
Before writing the last paragraph, I took time out to read Bob Ginsberg’s blog, Beyond the Five Senses. Bob mentions that Chris Cuomo, a popular CNN newsman, was doing his show a few nights earlier from the basement of his home while in the deep throes of the Covid-19 virus. Cuomo related that he was running a consistently high fever, causing him to shiver so much that he cracked a tooth. He then reported that during the night he saw his deceased father sitting on the bed next to him, and even engaged in some conversation with him. However, Cuomo dismissed it as nothing more than a hallucination brought on by the high fever.
Ginsberg, who with his wife, Phran, heads up the Forever Family Foundation, thought of an alternative explanation. He wondered if the deviation from normal brain process might have opened Cuomo up to reception of information that was normally filtered and never made it to his consciousness. After all, the true definition of “hallucination” is “an experience that does not exist outside known reality.” Just because mainstream science cannot grasp that other reality does not mean there is not overwhelming evidence supporting its existence.
Consideration was given by Ginsberg to reports by near-death experiencers, mediums, and meditators who have had clear and lucid thoughts of talking with deceased loved ones while in an altered state of consciousness, experiences that went beyond the norms of lucid dreaming.
All that brought to my mind the fact that so many of the renowned mediums of the past reported developing as mediums only after suffering a serious illness, one that probably involved a high temperature. I have not kept a record of them, but I recall that both Etta Wriedt and Leonora Piper, possibly the two best mediums of the past, were in this category. Of course, there were many more diseases around then than there are now and that may contribute, in addition to the greater quiet time, to an answer as to why there were more good mediums in the past than there are now. The bottom line here is that Cuomo may have heard from his deceased father, but since science doesn’t recognize spirits or spirit communication, it couldn’t have been “real.”
It is especially sad that so many of our mental-health “experts” subscribe to such a mindset. In her March 30 column for The Atlantic, psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb tells of the great grief she experienced at the recent passing of her 85-year-old father. The grief was compounded by the fact that she opted not to visit him on his deathbed because she had a cough and was concerned it could be the coronavirus. Her grief was so painful that she saw her own therapist to help overcome it. Nowhere in her column is there any indication that she believes that her father’s consciousness survived his physical death. I inferred from her words that she is a total nihilist in that regard.
When I read about such grief, I wonder if I should feel guilty about not more seriously grieving the deaths of my father, mother, brother, and other loved ones. I don’t know how grief can be measured, but my grief was minuscule compared with that reported by Gottlieb, and I doubt that it has anything to do with loving the person less than she loved her father. With each death I have experienced, there has been a conviction that the person still exists and that I’ll see him or her again some day. Such conviction significantly mitigated the grief. If I’m wrong, which I’m confident I’m not, I’ll never know it and my false conviction saved me much grief and the cost of a therapist.
Next blog post: April 27
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.
As a person who has made a careful study of life after death I was very pleased when my father and mother left their old physical bodies behind. It is at Christian funerals that people get really upset. I would have also been in a terrible state if I thought that my mother and father were having to ‘rest in peace’ in the ground waiting for a far off Judgement Day before anything can happen.
Michael Roll, Tue 28 Apr, 09:05
I was just rereading your April blog, Musings on the Pandemic…. and going beyond the hypnotic affect of gazing at the stars and opening to another dimension, to the spirit world…
I believe we can all do that to a certain extent through meditating. I am certainly not a medium; however, I used to draw what I visualized—saw in my mind’s eye, when I meditated most days as soon I first woke up. This was a part of an exercise that Dr. Gregor, one of the members of Andrew Overlee’s spirit family who speak through him, had me working on. As I relaxed in a chair and listened to my own breathing I would feel my fingers tingle almost as if they were asleep. Sometimes I saw colors, scenes or things/places that I knew, or images that seemed to be part of my imagination. When the alarm I had set for 20-25 minutes rang I would open my eyes and sit for a few minutes then go for a walk, to ground myself and think about what I had visualized, often recalling colors and images I had seen. I would then draw one of my most vivid recollections. My drawings were rather primitive and varied both in content and color.
When I had accumulated a number of drawings, I brought them along with me to a session with the Overlees. With Andrew in trance, Dr. Gregor, in spirit, speaking through Andrew, told me the significance that each of the drawings I held up had to my life, my beliefs, my feelings… It was extremely interesting and revealing, bringing up parts of my life I had not thought of in years. Certainly these were events that neither Andrew or Tamara had previous knowledge of. It was such a great experience… I must get back into meditating, the more I did it the better I felt. Now with the pandemic closures and staying at home I certainly have the time… who knows what I might see and learn…
You mentioned Sophia Williams and her direct-voice mediumship and Hamlin Garland’s research revealing her four years of, “sitting quietly each day while learning the art of relaxation and complete detachment before she began to develop as a medium.” In her book, The Truth of Life From the World of Love and Spirit, Tamara Overlee says in the Foreword:
“In May of 1989, Tamara Overlee began a venture of having a book written through her by her friends and loved ones in spirit.”
Before the book would come through Tamara’s hand, she needed to be developed in order to contact and work with her friends
in the spirit world. She was told to ask a question about life every day for a year, a commitment she wholeheartedly honored,
and the answer would be given to her through her writings. During this time, Tamara became aware of her spirit family, consisting
of doctors, philosophers, teachers, and healers, who have offered their contributions toward the devotion of this book. In each
chapter, they will show and design a positive outline for the life that you wish to fulfill.
The knowledge within these writings can change the course of your beliefs, dogmas, and self-allowance of false visions or illusions
that may take you from your own reality…”
Tamara’s work is true automatic writing, which I understand is very different from inspirational writing which many mislabel “automatic writing.”
I always read metaphysical books that my Uncle Bill, the one who introduced me to Joy of Healing, gave me, and therefore came to believe that the soul does not die when we leave our physical bodies. Having experienced Andrew and Tamara’s work for myself and talking with spirit that speaks through Andrew, I am convinced this is true. Therefore, it is still sad to lose someone near and dear to us; however, they do continue on learning lessons much like we do here on the earth plane. I have been taught that obstacles and challenges are opportunities for us to learn and grow. The afterlife is much like a school where we have the opportunity to learn the lessons we did not master while we are here.
Years ago, after my husband passed, his adult children wanted me to attend a “grief encounter”. This I did, largely to appease them. It was a revelation to see how people who had lost loved ones so many years ago were still distraught, something I thought would dissipate gradually with time. Even when I experienced my own health issues with painful, debilitating fibromyalgia, it wasn’t death that I feared nearly so much as the horrid pain that just kept getting worse. I even prayed for my own death, anything to stop the pain. I am forever grateful for Joy of Healing and the unique work of the Overlees which helped me to recognize and overcome the numerous unresolved issues in my life that were making me so very ill.
After my experiences with Andrew’s and Tamara’s mediumship and spirit, I still shed tears when someone passes, be they human or animal, simply because I miss their presence, yet I know they have merely moved on spiritually and if we both choose we will have the opportunity to reunite when I pass.
Sorry to have expounded at such length, Mike.
I always enjoy your informative and thought provoking blogs and look forward to the next one.
Take care, and stay well,
Janet Komanchuk, Mon 20 Apr, 18:36
Hi, Michael & Co
Please not for comment section, but I tried to Kindle “Glimpses of the Next State” by Moore, I believe, and got a “sorry no page” link in its stead. I’m eager to buy the most recommended among the White Crow e-books and hardly wish to be a pest, but would appreciate a link if possible. It just works easier with my current health situation to use devices vs physical books.
So grateful for your expansive coverage of all things afterlife - especially during difficult days.
All blessings to you.
Brett, Wed 15 Apr, 15:29
Let me just point out that the picture of Sophia Williams (medium) is beautiful. She has a wonderful spiritual energy around her head (open 7th chakra).
I work as a palliative care nurse and have no doubt that there is life after death. Why elso could deathbed visitors help in the dying process?
Also, I have learnt from the Swiss medium Pascal Voggenhuber that dead persons do not want us to feel grief about their leaving us.
Thank you for your highly interesting post.
Gaby Kessler, Wed 15 Apr, 14:18
What do we really do with our ‘leisure hours’ now?
In the past people read, quilted, crocheted, knitted, whittled, did wood working, sang, played musical instruments, wrote fiction or poetry, gardened, cooked and canned what they grew, played card and board games, played croquet , horseshoes and other outside games in the evening, roller skated, ice skated, rode bikes and more. More often than not those leisure hours were spent in the company of and relating to other people.
What do we do now with our extra time? Sit, and watch television. Sit, and look at the computer; Sit, and read (maybe or sleep), Sit, with an iphone and tell Siri or Alexa to do things for us. Eat!
Often we are alone or our attention is directed inward when we do those things. Who is to say what is a better life; one of almost unlimited ease and convenience as many of us have now or one of effort, activity and camaraderie? - AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 14 Apr, 21:33
You should be able to find the book on Kindle in the US here.
Jon, Tue 14 Apr, 20:26
Thanks to all for the comments so far. Please keep them coming.
Peter mentioned the communication coming from Percy Fawcett through mediums. I was going to mention this, but that’s a subject in itself. It is summarized in “The Fate of Colonel Fawcett” by Geraldine Cummins, published by Aquarian Press in 1955. Much of it came through Cummins’s automatic writing mediumship, but messages came through others. They were not all consistent with each other, but indications are that Fawcett and his son survived but were unable to return because the chief of the tribe they lived with made him promise they would not leave. The chief was concerned that other white men would come if Fawcett returned. If they had attempted to leave, the chief would have killed them. At some point, after a few years, Fawcett’s son and the third member of their party decided they wanted to leave and they were killed by the chief, who was concerned they would face a more brutal death by other tribes if they attempted to leave. Or so the communication through Cummins reported.
As to Brett’s question about the Garland book, I will leave that to Jon Beecher of White Crow Books to answer.
Concerning Michael Newton’s books, yes, I read all three about 18-20 years ago. I was impressed with them, but I tend to avoid discussion of reincarnation here because I prefer to believe in the group soul idea of it, i.e., that the person’s total personality does not reincarnate, only a small fraction of it. Thus, it is a very convoluted subject and does not easily lend itself to language.
I’m confused by Jim Hunt’s comment. It sounds like his brother became involved with cult that it not really Spiritualism, per se. There are different brands of Spiritualism, just as there are of Christianity.
Michael Tymn, Tue 14 Apr, 19:36
As always your writings and musings…provide great insights and wonderful historical information.
My Spiritist colleagues, friends and family who have fully embraced we are spirits that continueon and find death as only a natural transition, can appear quite cold-hearted to others who don’t share our belief system… We tend to speak when we are together of death quite casually.
My husband died at our home of colon cancer and while his body was still in his Hospice bed in our living room, I was asked by a relative (a non-Spiritist) why I wasn’t crying. At that very moment, I could only just look at them.
I did write to him, later on, explaining my belief system.
I was very close to my Grandmother, exceptionally close to my father (a spiritual mentor and collaborator) as well as my husband… all who made their transition, one after the other, within just a few years of each other.
To me, they are all very much alive, and I periodically express my love and gratitude to them when I say my prayers.
Fortunately, and I am so grateful, they also visit on occasion and communicate via the mediums at our spirit sessions.
How wonderful when the peoples of this whole world realize these spiritual realities that give so much comfort,calmness, and hope…of their loved ones and of our own future!
For me, I feel such awe and reverence of the Creator - ALL LOVE - and the Divine Laws.
Yvonne Limoges, Tue 14 Apr, 19:04
Spiritist Society of Florida
A brilliant blog. Just a few comments. On Fawcett:
Peter Wadhams, Tue 14 Apr, 09:19
1. It was the Royal Geographical Society (UK) that supported his exploration, not the National Geographic Society (that’s US). 2. He was a fine author and wrote a book about his early explorations called “Exploration Fawcett”. He disappeared in the Mato Grosso, and there is a long series of supposed communications from him through mediums, which inspired search expeditions, though none found him, either alive or dead. 3. I (and probably he) would object to your characterisation of “primitive natives”. In fact they were quite advanced, and practised a form of soil improvement where they used what we now called biochar to produce platforms of fertile soil in the swampy forest land where they could grow crops. Re. apparitions: I agree with the possibility that it is the lack of peaceful silence that hampers paranormal communication these days. Another theory, held my old Cambridge friend Tony Cornell, is that it is the growth of microwave communications. Whether we like it or not we are being ceaselessly blasted by high powered microwaves (and are about to get the more powerful blast of 5G) which may inhibit the subtle energies required for an apparition or manifesttaion from the spirit world. Cornell used this argument whenever anyone asked him “Whatever happened to ectoplasm?”
BEst wishes Peter Wadhams
I am an Anglican priest living in a retirement village in New Zealand and read about people hearing the mediums who tell what Stephen the martyr says, and see the comment of Karen about “love - the greatest energy in the world” and find it a safe study. Then I talk to my brother who went to America to be closer to a group who follow mediums who tell of souls like his and mine who choose the body into which they will be re-born and I see why we are warned against spiritualism. This leads to quite a different faith such as id found in India.
Jim Hunt, Tue 14 Apr, 03:50
I have the same problem where people think Im cold because I dont go into the false emotion of grief
I know (though years of meditation and working with mediums)that no one “Dies” only the body that we use while attending Earth school.
Unfortunately due to the mass brainwashing that we are exposed to (religion media ect) millions of people transition in a state of fear only to be surprised how earth like our next life is.
If you really analyze it grief is only about the person who experienced the the so called “Loss”
Bret Robinson, Tue 14 Apr, 01:07
People who transition are not lost, they are more at home than we are,with us still plugging away at Earth school trying to grow as souls.So much suffering due to souls on earth not finding the right information and finding the readily available truth (internet and GOOD mediums)it is painful for those of us that know the truth to see,but it is the nature of incarnating at earthschool.
Bret Robinson-Awakened Soul.
Great post as usual, full of insight. However, my favourite part was this one: “His forthcoming book, Musings on Life After Death: Overwhelming Evidence that Life Goes on, is due later in 2020”.
That´s good news on steroids, also known as excellent news. Especially in these dark times.
“Etta Wriedt and Leonora Piper, possibly the two best mediums of the past…”. Yes, they likely were, together with Elizabeth Blake and Gladys Leonard. A book should be written compiling the best evidence provided over the years by these four amazing women. Meanwhile, I cannot recommend strongly enough Michael’s Resurrecting Leonora Piper; N. Riley Heagerty’s The Direct Voice (on Elizabeth Blake); Usborne Moore’s The Voices (on Wriedt); and Oliver Lodge’s Raymond (with Gladys Leonard channeling messages from Lodge’s son).
As an extra, I was greatly impressed by George Bartlett’s The Salem Seer, Reminiscences of Charles H. Foster, a not very well known book on the astonishing mediumship of Charles Foster, written by a man who accompanied and advised him for many years. The evidence provided in the book is simply overwhelming, much of it in the form of articles published over the years on a number of newspapers by journalists who witnessed the wonders operated through Foster. Do not let the know-nothings of the Internet and the agenda-driven editors of Wikipedia shape your opinion on Foster. Read the primary sources and draw your own conclusions. The book is freely available in IAPSOP website, as many other jewels of yesteryear spiritualism and mediumship.
Sergio, Mon 13 Apr, 22:57
I think I understand your comment about grieving differently, I also agree it has nothing to do with how much you loved the person who has gone.
I can see my own grief process has been affected by my search for the truth of an afterlife. The missing presence is still painful though moderated by the anticipation that they are not far away and are well.
Paul, Mon 13 Apr, 22:32
This isn’t for the comment section, but I did try to purchase the Garland book via US Kindle and it said that it’s not available for sale. May I please ask if this will change soon? I’m quite curious, indeed. Btw if you’ve read Michael Newton’s book ‘Journey of Souls’, I’m interested in your opinion. I found it and its sequel to be very powerful and familiar, oddly enough, from memories I had in early childhood NDEs.
Brett, Mon 13 Apr, 21:58
Thanks again Michael.
Your timing, as ever, is uncanny: Seismologists measuring quakes around on our planet are seeing tiny quakes they haven’t ever been able to register before. Such are these days of subdued activity. How can such changed vibrational offerings not present themselves to our auric fields and psyches, as well? For those of us who have been sitting with no small amount of unease with our own psychic gifts, it’s a clarion call…
A hundred years ago when WWI, the Great Influenza Epidemic & Armenian genocide had taken place in a world with far fewer humans than we have now, what I call the Golden Age of mediumship occurred. (This was also before the Advent of worldwide technology which devour so much of our consciousness.)
Suddenly a great many souls who had crossed from battle, sudden illness and combinations thereof began to appear before loved ones, comrades in arms, commanding officers, etc. Concurrently, a great class of mediums came to the fore and, unlike modern times, a lot of people - oh all right, men - also surged curiously to investigate, with open minds, these great events.
Of course, skeptics were in their midst but at least their more credulous counterparts took time - many for decades afterwards - to discover extradimensional realities and the possibility of correspondence with same.
Now, as then, the vast comfort arising from the knowledge that we do not die is viewed as so much wishful pablum by the majority of the scientific community - unless they are doing a damn good job of hiding their belief.
I’m mentioning this because only a decade ago when I discovered my own mediumship abilities, I was shocked, naively enough, to frequently find myself the object of pity and scorn. Thanks to White Crow Books, Mark Macy’s historically important blog, the Metascience Foundation, Robert Monroe’s work,et al, I not only feel less alone, but in great company.
The last thing I want is for this pathogen to get the best of us earthlings - physically, mentally and especially spiritually. In that vein, here’s hoping that, in the often confused and unfamiliar silence and isolation that souls press from both sides to create new bridges.
I’m so grateful for your blog and constant reminders of real progress we can make when we open our minds and hearts to collective wisdom. Thanks to you and others working via their terrific documentaries, blogs and ITC work for keeping hope on the horizon.
Pax et lux 🙋
Brett, Mon 13 Apr, 21:49
I spent years reading books about reincarnation, NDEs, OBEs, ADCs, and the like, all evidence for our continued existence, not just after life, but previous to this one. Eternity is eternity. It has only been recently that I realized I don’t need more examples of all these things. I simply need to choose to believe I am an eternal being, have always existed and will always exist. The results are phenomenal. I admire your choice to believe your parents and loved ones who have passed are still around. What a difference it would make to have a significant number of people who simple took being eternal for granted! We should raise our children on it! I am an eternal being. I’m not putting off the pleasure of being such even a single experience longer.
Brian Anthony Kraemer, Mon 13 Apr, 21:29
I loved your blog.Very sensitive and perceptive handling of your topic with a nice historical slant to it.
Thanks for sharing it.
David P. Stang, Mon 13 Apr, 21:22
Mike, your final remark in this blog reminded me of a favourite saying of psychical researcher Professor Archie Roy, who used to declare: “If, when I die, I discover there is no afterlife, I shall be very surprised ! “. Thanks for telling me about President Lincoln’s widow, Mary. Your blog this time reminds me that some of us, me at least, have never suffered real hardship. The most difficult situation I endured was as a student, calculating whether I could afford a small beer. And that’s pretty small beer.
Keith P in England, Mon 13 Apr, 20:51
Robin Cutler, (PhD), Mon 13 Apr, 20:27
I made it to Oakland just in time for the virus to hit the Bay Area. Everything is locked down here and your blog post was very thoughtful and encouraging. (Cannot visit family.) There is so much we don’t know, but it is nice to contemplate your perspective and belief that we will meet those who have moved on once again. I wonder if we have any choice in the matter; maybe we don’t want to meet them all. Stay safe and well.
Mike I loved your comment “Just because mainstream science cannot grasp the other reality does not mean there is not overwhelming evidence supporting it’s existence.” I just had a “scientific” person ask if they could interview me about my book The Psychology of the Soul & the Paranormal even though my book is not scientific and is mostly derived from clairvoyant impressions. When and if the interview goes viral I’ll send you a copy. I wrote back and asked how in a scientific lab was someone supposed to recreate love - the greatest energy in the world- which causes people to have these “clairvoyant impressions.” I hope I do well when I’m interviewed!!! Blessings Karen
Karen Herrick PhD, Mon 13 Apr, 18:48
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