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The Key to Overcoming Grief

Posted on 26 February 2018, 15:15

As I understand it, today’s “grief counselors” encourage people to get over their grief from losing a loved one by putting the past behind them and living in the present.  Less nicely put, it means pretty much forgetting the loved one as quickly as possible and getting on with life. Based on my survey of a number of websites dealing with grief counseling, the survival of the deceased loved one in another realm of existence is a taboo subject.  If the grieving person brings it up, he or she should be referred to his or her pastor for guidance.  But the “heaven” of orthodoxy usually seems more like a punishment than a reward, at most a very boring fantasy land, so that does little to mitigate the grief. 

Over some 80-plus years, I have seen many friends and relatives struggle with the grief that follows the death of a loved one, and it is not nearly as simple as the mental health “experts” who make up the grief counseling rules seem to want to make it. Underlying the grief of nearly all of those in deep despair at the loss of a loved one is what author August Goforth calls an “existential bleakness” – the inability to find any real meaning in death…or in life.  Moreover, living in the present, as the grief counselors advise, so often unfolds as hedonism – eat, drink, and be merry. It involves escaping into seemingly meaningless and mundane activities in order to overcome it all and move on. 

Goforth’s recently released book, The Risen: A Companion to Grief, opposes the mainstream approach of avoiding talk about the survival of our loved ones.  “Achieving awareness of our immortality will lift our minds above the temporary chaos of humankind and connect us with a greater reality that is infinite, and which means there is no final ending,” he explains, going on to say that we should be able to find comfort with grief rather than from it. 

In addition to being a New York psychotherapist, Goforth is also an intuitive-mental and psychophysical spirit medium who knows with certainty that this life is a small part of a much larger life and that we will be reunited with out loved ones again.  There is no reason to bury them in the deep recesses of our mind as garden variety mental health experts would have us do.  Once we have the conviction that we will see them again, we can overcome the grief by embracing them rather than by forgetting them.

After reading Goforth’s 2009 book, The Risen, I had the opportunity to interview him for a publication I then edited.  He informed me that Timothy Gray, a co-author of that earlier book as well as this book, was a New York City writer, editor and photographer who transitioned to the spirit world during the early 1990s, and then, about two years after his physical death, began communicating with him, providing his own experiences in the afterlife as well as information given to him by “The Risen Collective,” a group of more advanced spirit entities who use Timothy Gray to relay information to Goforth.

As Goforth explains it, the members of the Risen Collective once lived on this Earth and much of what they advise comes from emotional states they experienced when incarnate as well as from emotional insights they have discovered in their present state of existence. As they see it, grief is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a doorway that is meant to be passed through.  The key to getting through that doorway, Goforth says, is to surrender. 

“Surrender is getting into a neutral zone after letting negative momentum subside,” he further explains.  “Once in the neutral zone – or mid-pendulum – we can begin to consciously choose to raise our vibration higher and higher by looking for better ways to use our mind, such as focusing on the miraculous fact that our Risen Loved Ones are still alive and moving about in ways that are certain to overwhelm but then soothe our old ways of thinking.” 

A message that has come through many mediums over the years is stressed by The Risen.  That is, our grief is disturbing to our discarnate loved ones.  “If we continue to feed our grief and maintain limiting beliefs about it, the resulting feeling will reach out and connect to our Risen Loved One but in discomforting ways – usually by exerting a feeling of pulling them back to the Earth,” Goforth offers.  “This pulling feels shadowy and substandard to them because the Earth is no longer their natural habitat.” 

The Foreword of Goforth’s book includes a short story from a 1918 book, The Light Beyond, by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who won the 1911 Nobel Prize in literature.  He told of visiting an old friend, a widowed woman, who had lost her son in one of the battles of the Great War.  He hesitated as he knocked on her door, expecting to find his friend in a state of hopeless grief and impervious to any words of comfort that he might attempt to offer. “To my great astonishment, she handed me her hand with a kindly smile,” Maeterlinck wrote. “Her eyes, to which I hardly dared raise my own, were free of tears.”

The old friend continued the reunion in a cheerful tone, and it seemed to Maeterlinck that her voice had grown younger.  Maerterlinck said that he had heard of her sorrow and was about to offer his condolences when the friend interrupted him and said that “he is not dead.”  Confused, Maerterlinck sought clarification.  The old friend showed him a picture of her son’s grave and went on to explain that she had been in communication with her son since his battlefield death. 

“Yes, his body is over there; and I have even a photograph of the grave.  Let me show it to you,” the old friend continued.  “See that fourth cross on the left, that fourth cross; that is where he is lying.  One of his friends, who buried him, sent me this card and gave me all the details.  He suffered no pain.  There was not even a death struggle. And he has told me so himself. He is quite astonished that death should be so easy, so slight a thing.”

The old friend noticed the puzzled look on Maerterlink’s face and said she had assumed he would understand, since he had written extensively on the evidence for survival and spirit communication, his 1913 book, Our Eternity, which has become a classic in the field of survival, consciousness, psychic phenomena, and mysticism. “I do not explain the matter to the others,” she went on.  “What would be the use? They do not wish to understand.  But you, you will understand.  He is more alive than he ever was; he is free and happy.  He does just as he likes.  He tells me that one cannot imagine what a release death is, what a weight it removes from you, nor the joy which it brings.  He comes to see me when I call him. He loves, especially, to come in the evening; and we chat as we used to.  He has not altered; he is just as he was on the day he went away, only younger, stronger, handsomer.  We have never been happier, more united, nearer to one another. He divines my thoughts before I utter them.  He knows everything; he sees everything; but he cannot tell me everything he knows. He maintains that I must be wanting to follow him and that I must wait for my hour. And, while I wait, we are living in a happiness greater than that which was ours before the war, a happiness which nothing can ever trouble again.”

Maeterlinck understood completely.  His surprise had to do with the fact that his old friend had so perfectly converted and adjusted to his way of thinking.  His sympathy now took on a different form. “Those about her pitied the poor woman; and, as she did not weep, as she was gay and smiling, they believed her mad.”

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 12




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An Afterlife Story of Undying Love & Devotion

Posted on 12 February 2018, 8:49

Arthur James Balfour (below) is most remembered as a British statesman, primarily as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905, but he is also remembered for one of the most intriguing love stories on record, one documented in what is called the Palm Sunday Case.  With Valentine’s Day upon us, it seems like a good time to recall that case from the annals of psychical research as recorded in the archives of the Society for Psychical Research in England (SPR) and further discussed in some detail by Professor Archie Roy in his book The Eager Dead and by Professor David Fontana in Is There an Afterlife?


The other half of the love story was Mary Catherine Lyttelton, who went by the name May. Arthur and May met at a ball at Hawarden Castle, the home of William Gladstone, then the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, at Christmas time of 1871. May’s fiancé had recently died from tuberculosis and, although Arthur was immediately attracted to her, he hesitated to intrude upon her grief.  They became close friends, however, and shared many interests over the next three years.  It was not until about January of 1875 that Arthur declared his love for May. He had plans to propose marriage to her on his next visit when she died of typhus on March 21, 1875, Palm Sunday, at age 24.

While Arthur lived another 55 years, transitioning in 1930 at age 83, he never married, and he is said to have spent every Palm Sunday visiting Lavinia, May’s sister, and her husband in a day of remembrance. 

Balfour, often referred to as AJB, was born in Scotland, received his M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, and was the 1st Earl of Balfour.  He held a number of government positions before serving as prime minister and then as foreign secretary from 1916 to 1919.  He was a fellow of the Royal Society and its president in 1904.  He served as president of the SPR in 1893. His obituary in the New York Times read:  “Lord Balfour was a statesman almost in spite of himself.  By inclination he was a philosopher ... the thinker, the cultural gentleman of leisure, spending his life among the books and music he loved and knew so well.”  He wrote several books or essays on philosophy.  In a letter to a friend whose son had been killed in the Great War, he wrote:

“For myself I entertain no doubt whatever about a future life.  I deem it at least as certain as any of the hundred and one truths of the framework of the world…It is no mere theological accretion, which I am prepared to accept in some moods and reject in others.  The bitterness lies not in the thought that those I love and have lost are really dead, still less in the thought that I have parted from them forever: for I think neither of these things.  The bitterness lies in the thought that until I also die I shall never again see them smile or hear their voices.  The pain is indeed hard to bear, too hard it sometimes seems for human strength.  Yet, measured on the true scale of things it is but brief.” 

As for May, Dame Edith Lyttelton, her sister-in-law, wrote:  “Not an exceptional beauty, but love and sympathy streamed out from her.  She was one of those people who charge the atmosphere with life when they appear.”  She was said to be an accomplished pianist and enjoyed the musical evenings that were a big part of Victorian family life.  She especially took delight in joining those who sang Handel’s oratorio songs or lighter pieces. 

During May’s final moments, Lavinia was present and later reported that during a delirious outburst, May imagined herself at the pre-Christmas Ball at the Gladstone’s house at Hawarden, where she first met Arthur.  “Her fevered brain telescoped that meeting into a confused collage of memories.  ‘Oh, he does interest me more and more…I do wish he had a little more backbone – perhaps it will come with age.  He has so many good qualities but also such peculiarity…Oh to see him in a ballroom is a sight in itself.’”.
May’s dying voice struggled on while she hung on to life.  “I love this exhibition…the people the crowds, the pictures, even the worst of them…But I love everything now for I saw him at Latimer…I know…I know his feelings towards me.”  A look of bewilderment on her face and then she says, “But still he does not speak.”

To Lavinia, it was clear that May and Arthur were meant for each other. She saw that, in spite of his hesitancy to propose, his whole heart was May’s and that May was prepared to return his love. 

Arthur was heartbroken.  He wrote to his friend Edward Talbot:  “I used to dream, knowing the sad story of her life, that perhaps with me her wearied heart might have at last found rest…but God has provided a far more full and perfect calm; and I do feel how selfish are the longings…for the ‘might have been.’  In the meantime, I think – I am nearly sure – that she must have grasped the state of my feelings toward her…and now, perhaps when she watches the course of those she loved who are still struggling on earth, I may not be forgotten.”

It was on Palm Sunday of 1912, 37 years after May’s death, that Winifred Coombe-Tennant, an automatic writing trance medium, received a message indicating that May was attempting to let Arthur know of her continued existence.  (As a magistrate in her county and later as a British delegate to the League of Nations, Coombe-Tennant kept her mediumship a secret from all but a few people, using the pen name “Mrs. Willett” in her automatic writing ventures.)  The communicating “intelligence” writing through her hand revealed that May had unsuccessfully attempted to contact Arthur through several other mediums, as early as 1901.  The other mediums included those well known to the SPR and investigation by SPR researchers resulted in the so-called Palm Sunday Case, one in which fragmentary bits of information through seven different mediums were pieced together, all pointing to attempts by Mary Catherine Lyttelton, referred to as the “Palm maiden,” to communicate with Arthur James Balfour, referred to as the “Knight.”

Most of the spirit communication came from deceased researchers, including Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, and Henry Sidgwick, the three men credited with founding the SPR, in what have become known as the “cross-correspondences” – various messages when pieced together resulted in a complete and sensible message.  The purpose of this, it was explained, was to offer evidence that overcame the telepathy and superpsi theories often suggested to defeat spirit communication.  May was cooperating with them in the experiment and found it difficult to make direct contact through Mrs. Willett. 

When Arthur received word of the communication, he was reluctant to sit with Mrs. Willett and very skeptical.  However, at the urging of his brother, Gerald, he did visit Mrs. Willett and became convinced that it was indeed May who was communicating through her.  Especially evidential was mention by May of a silver case that Arthur had made in which to keep a lock of her hair.  May even cited the inscription on the case, taken from 1 Corinthians about the mortal putting on immortality.  Reference was also made to a photo of May holding a candlestick which Arthur treasured.  Arthur deemed it highly unlikely that Mrs. Willett would know anything about the silver case or the photo.

On February 15, 1958, 28 years after Arthur’s death and two years after the death of Mrs. Willett, Geraldine Cummins, perhaps the most famous of automatic writing mediums, was receiving messages for a couple who had known Mrs. Willett and were familiar with the story of Arthur and May.  Mrs. Willett told them through the hand of Miss Cummins that she had encountered a friend of Arthur’s on that side who was in contact with Arthur and May, who apparently were at a higher level than they were.  “I am free to tell you of their intrinsic inviolable unity,” Mrs. Willett communicated.  “They shared the one anti-self, while consciously separated by her early death.  So many years parted after her passing. An emptiness, a dissatisfaction continually then for him. No joy.  He merely put in time with hard and varied mental work.  Such faithfulness, such patient waiting.  Then at last, after sixty years, or fifty by the clock, the meeting at the other side of death when his old age dropped from him like a ragged garment.  But oh!  It was well worth while to wait so long for that event.  If they had not been parted by her death, he would never have worked with that industry, that brilliance that made a name for him.  Work was his escape from intolerable memory. Oh! He was so idle before she passed.

“If she had lived, she would have been his all-absorbing playmate, life brilliant in the sunshine of just being, instead of doing, instead of a rough path each followed solitarily of struggle, and in his case of fine achievement.  But hers was also fine; they tell me that she remained waiting, waiting at the border for him, returned from the higher level, at what sacrifice!  A world so tempting beckoning, but she ignored it.  She put all that away from her so as to meet an old man’s soul.  Therefore it need hardly be said that she was the first to greet AJB when he came home to her.  A lonely man throughout his life until then.  They have gone to that other level together.  Happiness incomparable for them, they now and then, I am told, they come back, as he feels still a responsibility for Britain.”

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:  Feb. 26



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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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