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Forever Family Foundation: Practical Bereavement

Posted on 27 March 2017, 8:48

When Bob and Phran Ginsberg (below) joined a support group for bereaved parents following the death of their daughter, Bailey, in an auto accident on September 1, 2002, they were informed that the subject of life after death was not suitable for discussion as it did not relate to coping with grief.  “We found that odd,” says Bob, a 65-year-old semi-retired insurance agent residing in Huntington, N.Y., “as we believed that the only thing that could provide comfort to bereaved parents was the possibility that their child still survived.”

 BobPhran

As the bereaved parents gathered in the parking lot after the meeting and shared what they had learned and experienced, Bob and Phran talked about the necessity for an outlet where people could discuss the survival issue “without being stopped in their tracks and without judgment.” And so Forever Family Foundation, an all-volunteer charitable organization, established in 2004, now with approximately 10,000 members and growing, was conceived. 

The organization’s mission statement explains that its purpose is to establish the existence of the continuity of the family, even though a member has left the physical world; to stimulate thought among the curious ...  to support the continued research into survival of consciousness and Afterlife Science; and to provide a forum where individuals and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one can turn for support information, and hope through state-of-the-art information and services provided by ongoing research…”

Bob vividly recalls that terrible day in 2002. “In the early morning hours, Phran sat up in bed, trembling, and clearly shaken.  She said that ‘something horrible is going to happen today.’ Ordinarily, I would not pay much attention to such things, as I was a left-brained individual firmly rooted in my materialistic thinking. However, there were several times in our lives when Phran had similar ‘dreams’ that played out exactly as she had described. 

So, even though I did not really believe in such things, the evidence told me that I should take this seriously.  Of course, the first thing parents think of is the safety of their children, and we checked on our three children throughout the day.  To make a long story short, I let my guard down at the end of the day, becoming reassured that Phran’s feelings were not based in fact.  After leaving a family dinner at a local restaurant, my son and daughter were involved in a horrible accident, and my 15-year-old daughter did not survive the crash.”

Jonathan, Bob and Phran’s son, was critically injured and for several weeks they did not know if he would survive.  “Eventually, when it became evident that he would recover, we moved from a state of shock to utter despair,”

Bob further recalls.  “I did not think it possible for me to survive the loss of my daughter, as I was trapped in a deep chasm of horror and utter hopelessness.  However, what kept me going was the fact that Phran continued to have personal experiences, after-death communication, that I could not explain.  Since the one thing in life I knew was that she would never lie to me, I had to take her at her word.  Outwardly, I kept dismissing these things, which resulted in quite a few arguments, but deep inside the possibility of survival was what kept me going.”

Bob admits that prior to Bailey’s departure from the earth plane, he hadn’t given much thought to survival, going about life “with all of the trappings of success – big house,
nice cars, and lots of toys.” 

Several months later, as Bob thought about Phran’s prediction, he began looking for answers, talking with several scientists and consciousness researchers. Phran, on the other hand, did not require any confirmation of her “inner-knowing.”  There were times, he remembers, when he contemplated meaning and purpose, but none of the answers he could come up with made much sense and often resulted in bouts of mild depression.  “I summarily dismissed the notion of survival of consciousness, as in my view we were our brains, and when our brains died, we died.”

One day, Bob and Phran had some time before a scheduled appointment with Jonathan’s rehabilitation doctors and visited a book store next to the medical offices.  There, Bob noticed Dr. Gary Schwartz’s book, The Afterlife Experiments.  “I bought the book, devoured its contents, and rest is history.  The immediate next step after reading the book was to seek the services of a medium featured in the book as I needed to determine for myself if this was simply a bunch of New Age BS.”

Arrangements were made to sit in a group of about 10 people with trance medium Suzane Northrop.  Initially, Bob thought about how ridiculous the whole thing was, but when the medium turned to him and gave him three pieces of extremely strong evidence, he began to realize that there might be something to it.  One of the three pieces of evidence had to do with the fact that about a week before the session, Phran was alarmed by the smell of smoke in the house, causing her to get out of bed and search the house.  “The medium said to me, ‘Your daughter is telling me that you will know she is around by the smell of smoke.’ Obviously, Phran’s experience was unknown to the medium.”

A second piece of evidence had to do with a little game Bailey (below) had played with her father when she would try to get him to say that she was his favorite child.  He would always reply that he loved them all equally, but Bailey would just wink.  “Dad,” the medium said, “your daughter is making me tell you that she knows she was your favorite.” 

 Bailey


The third piece involved the medium telling Bob that Bailey was glad that all of her writings had been found. The fact was that Phran and their other daughter, Kori, had discovered a storehouse of Bailey’s writing in her computer sometime after her transition and later had it published in a book entitled Hidden Treasures.

After forming the FFF in 2004, Bob and Phran hosted discussion groups, set up a website, began publishing a newsletter, developed a medium certification program, started a weekly radio show, and held various conferences, events, retreats, and demonstrations. Needless to say, unlike the support group they first attended, discussion of the survival issue was encouraged.  They even hosted a talk at a local university about the afterlife, which drew a standing-room only audience of over 500.  They have since discontinued the national conferences, as they have found that they can reach more people with weekly webinars.

“Some question how we are able to run such an organization with no traditional grants and free membership,” Bob remarks.  “Phran, who is the Director of FFF is a savvy MBA, but she will readily tell you that the universe has a hand in our success.  Whenever she has concerns that funds are running low, an unexpected donation or opportunity always presents itself.  The Foundation has a Scientific Advisory Board, an Academic Advisory Board, a Medium Advisory Board, and an Auxiliary Board.”  He adds that the Auxiliary Board is made up of discarnates with whom they seek guidance about running the foundation.  Parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, one of the world’s leading experts on psychic experiences, is currently serving as president of the organization.

Bob is quick to point out that they do not act in the capacity of mental health practitioners or other such professionals, nor are they solely about mediumship.  Their primary objective is to support the bereaved through information, including mediumship, near-death experiences, deathbed visions, reincarnation, instrumental transcommunication, other psi phenomena that show that the mind can act independently of the brain.  “If our consciousness – mind or soul if you prefer – is not dependent upon the brain, surviving after the brain is no longer there becomes not only plausible, but logical,” he states. “Of course, nothing can be more convincing than direct personal experience.  However, many times the foundation of knowledge must come before one becomes open to recognizing personal communication.”

While stressing that the FFF does not provide professional services, Bob is not afraid to take issue with the mainstream bereavement advice that one should get over it and get on with life as soon as possible, with no mention of the survival issue.  “We believe that those who believe in survival do better in their bereavement than those who believe in the finality of death,” he says, mentioning a study by The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, “and professionals in the field are becoming increasingly aware of this fact.”

For more information about Forever Family Foundation, check their website at foreverfamilyfoundation.org or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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.

 


Next blog post: April 10

 


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Reincarnation:  Doing It All Over Again?

Posted on 13 March 2017, 10:06

There was a time when I enjoyed reading books about reincarnation.  I was fascinated by the story of Bridey Murphy from the 1950s and by the research carried out by Professor Ian Stevenson, as reported by in Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, and by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. in Many Lives, Many Masters.  I was intrigued by Jenny Cockell’s Across Time and Death, by Dolores Cannon’s They Walked with Jesus, and Marge Rider’s Mission to Millboro.  My library contains about 40 books dealing with reincarnation, but at some point the idea of coming back and doing this all over again did not appeal to me and I stopped reading about reincarnation.

If I could start another life at age 20 or so in a fairly comfortable setting with everything I now know, I’d probably opt for another lifetime in this physical realm, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I fear that I may elect to come back as a severely handicapped child to help his or her parents learn from the experience. It’s something of a Catch 22 situation – hoping to be advanced enough to be so heroic and yet hoping not to be so advanced. 

As much as I don’t want to do it again, the evidence set forth in the recently released book, I Saw a Light and Came Here, by Erlendur Haraldsson, Ph.D. and James G. Matlock, Ph.D. and published by White Crow Books, suggests that I will have to do it again, unless of course, I have reached the point at which we don’t have to come back and we continue the evolution of the soul in another realm of existence.  I feel I still have a lot to learn and so I am not optimistic in that regard. 

I decided it was about time to read another book on reincarnation and this book, subtitled Children’s Experiences of Reincarnation, seemed to be a good choice. The authors offer some very interesting and evidential cases from their extensive research in past-life studies.  The book is divided into two parts – the first authored by Haraldsson and the second by Matlock.  Haraldsson draws from nearly 50 years of field research, including approximately a hundred cases in Sri Lanka, Lebanon, India and Iceland, while Matlock is more of an “armchair” researcher, investigating accounts of reincarnation primarily by email, instant messaging, and Skype.  Both authors frequently link their findings to the research of Professor Ian Stevenson, considered “the father of reincarnation research.”
 
Haraldsson begins by summarizing several intriguing cases he researched in which children recalled episodes from an earlier life.  In one case, a Lebanese boy named Nazih was just a year-and-a-half old when he began telling his parents about his prior life.  He recalled carrying two pistols and four hand-grenades and being shot and killed.  When he was two-and-a-half, he drew a map of his previous house and said he wanted to go back there to see his children and retrieve his weapons and other belongings.  It was determined that his old home was about 17 kilometers from his present home, and when Nazih was five or six years old, his family finally took him there. He was questioned by his past-life wife and accurately answered a number of questions she put to him. He was even able to point to a cupboard in which he had kept his arms.  He further recalled giving his brother a somewhat rare kind of handgun before his death in the prior life and of building a wooden ladder, which still existed on his visit there.  He was shown a photo of three men from the prior life and identified each one by name. It was determined that he was killed in 1982 at age 57 when serving as a bodyguard for a spiritual leader.  In all, Nazih made 25 statements fitting the person he believed himself to be in the prior lifetime and only one statement that did not fit.

Haraldsson mentions that in a few cases, children spoke of memories from the period after they died and before they were reborn. Some claimed to have engaged in poltergeist activity after they died.  Many have phobias and fears related to their past-life memories.  A large percentage claim to have suffered a violent death.  Birthmarks are found in some cases to seemingly be related to wounds that led to the child’s death in the past life. Most children stop talking about the previous life by the age of six or seven.

Although most of the book is focused on reincarnation, Haraldsson devotes separate chapters to deathbed visions, near-death experiences and mediumship.

Matlock begins the second section with some history on the belief in reincarnation, dating back to Turkish tribal peoples and the Egyptians.  He goes on to note how early Christians, such as Origin and members of the Gnostic sects, believed in pre-existence of the soul and how it was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D. He provides details of cases from Canada, India, Brazil and the United States.  I found his chapter on xenoglossy (people speaking in foreign tongues though not consciously familiar with the language) especially interesting, as well as the chapter on suicide cases. 

While both Haraldsson and Matlock address the skeptical concerns relating to reincarnation, they do not discuss the “overshadowing” or spirit possession theories that some believe account for it all.  That is, the past-life memories are really the influence of spirit entities – possibly entities from a common group soul who actually lived those past lives – merging with or somehow influencing the child’s aura or energy field during the developmental stages, as the child’s soul occasionally vacates the body to be nurtured in his or her true home.  This school of thought holds that such influences are mistakenly taken to be the child’s past life.

Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, purportedly communicated through several credible mediums following his death in 1901. One of those mediums was Geraldine Cummins of Ireland, a trance automatist.  Much of what Myers had to say through the hand of Cummins is set forth in The Road to Immortality, first published in 1932.  Among other subjects, Myers discussed the group-soul and reincarnation. 

“While I was on earth, I belonged to a group-soul, but its branches and the spirit – which might be compared to the roots – were in the invisible,” Myers wrote.  “Now, if you would understand psychic evolution, this group-soul must be studied and understood.  For instance, it explains many of the difficulties that people will assure you can be removed only by the doctrine of reincarnation. You may think my statement frivolous, but the fact that we do appear on earth to be paying for the sins of another life is, in a certain sense, true.  It is our life and yet not our life.”

Myers went on to explain that a soul belonging to the group of which he was part lived a previous life and built for him a framework for his own earthly life.  The spirit – the bond of the group soul – manifests, he said, many times on earth.  “We are all of us distinct,” he continued, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.” He further explained that a group soul might contain twenty souls, a hundred souls, or a thousand souls.

“When your Buddhist speaks of the cycle of birth, of man’s continual return to earth, he utters but a half-truth,” Myers went on.  “And often a half-truth is more inaccurate than an entire misstatement.  I shall not live again on earth, but a new soul, one who will join our group, will shortly enter into the pattern of karma I have woven for him on earth.”

Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.  He further pointed out that there are an infinite variety of conditions in the invisible world and that he made no claim to being infallible. He called it a “general rule” based on what he had learned and experienced on the Other Side.

I much prefer to believe Myers’s version, but it is difficult to discount the more orthodox reincarnation belief when considering the birthmark evidence uncovered by Stevenson, Haraldsson and Matlock. One way or the other, survival is indicated and I’m inclined to believe that the truth of it all is somewhere in between the two schools of thought and for the most part beyond human comprehension, at least beyond mine. 

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.

 

Next blog post:  March 27 


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