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What Happened When I, a Sciencey Skeptic, Got a Medium Reading to Help Manage Grief.

Left with no idea of what to do with myself minute by minute, let alone how to move forward, I took a desperate shot in the dark and Googled to see if there was any valid possibility of an afterlife.

The weirdest thing was that this woman did not look weird at all. She had short brown hair, was dressed like any other late-middle-age, suburban mom with young adult kids. In fact, she looked like many of my friends’ moms.

“Hi Liz. Nice to meet you. I hope you didn’t have any problems finding my place.”

She even introduced herself the way anyone else would.

That was not what I expected from a medium! Where was her turban and crystal ball? Yes, I, a logical-minded atheist who was raised on Stephen Hawking and Bill Nye, was seeing a medium. 

I took a seat across from her at her “very normal’ dining room table right in front of shelves filled with floral plates, tea cups, photographs and other personal touches that bring character to a home. 

So how did I end up giving a medium, something I had always assumed was pure nonsense, a try? About six months ago, in the midst of things going really well in my life, my dad passed away. Left with no idea of what to do with myself minute by minute, let alone how to move forward, I took a desperate shot in the dark and Googled to see if there was any valid possibility of an afterlife. Was there anything that offered a hint at an afterlife that would not require “faith” or “belief” in anything like a “supernatural deity” or fantasy cloud floating paradise? 

I expected nothing but a bunch of woo. However, I found one shocking “non-woo” thing after another. First, I discovered a child psychiatrist named Dr. Jim Tucker who studied cases of kids who had past-life memories. I mean if our brain can create a consciousness making a “me” one time, why couldn’t it do so again. Right?

Second, I stumbled across the research of Dr. Julie Beischel at The Windbridge Institute. Dr. Beischel is a trained pharmacologist who founded a science-based institute that researched mediums! Yes, mediums – the ones who claim to communicate with dead people. Her experiments included up to quintuple blinded studies of mediums and seemed to be getting positive results. 

What the fuck?! How was this possible?

 After a few months of nonstop reading of books, blogs, and scientific research studies, I had to at least consider that the laws of the universe might be very different, and much better, than I could have ever dreamed. With all this research I had to take the risk and see for myself. Was there really anything to this research?

So, here I was at a dining room table with a stomach full of butterflies, face to face with a medium. Testing in person if there could (possibly? did I dare hope?) be any validity to something that would exceed my wildest dream: The chance that we were more than brains. That death had not eradicated my dad. That death would not one day eradicate me and everyone I loved.

I had taken proper precautions –  I used a fake email address, a VPN when emailing her, and I paid in cash. I gave my real first name because real first names had been given in Dr. Beischel’s experiments. So maybe if this was true, that was needed for her to umm, I guess . . . connect? 

“I can’t promise the person you want to talk to will come in or even if anyone will come in,” she warned me. 

What did that even mean exactly. To have my loved one “come in”?

I nodded and watched in both anxious anticipation (to put it mildly considering the very possibility of life after death was at stake) and fascination as her head began to sway back and forth.

Medium: I have a K initial. Who is K?

That was my father’s first initial!

Do I say so? Is that giving away too much?

Me: My father. 

Saying that, acknowledging that that was the reason I was at a medium, that my dad had passed away, was like ripping off a blanket on a freezing day. I felt my throat tighten as my eyes teared. At the same time, my brain was evaluating – did an initial really mean anything? What were the odds that a person’s name would begin with a “K?”

Medium: K – your dad is standing to your right side.

I felt a strong chill move along my right side and stay there for a few minutes.

Yes, I KNOW about the power of suggestion, but I felt this chill strongly and the experience was more powerful than logic in that moment. 

She then asked what had happened on March 10th. Was it significant? A date someone had passed? A birthday? An anniversary?

I felt a sinking wave of sadness and disappointment. There was nothing about March 10th that meant anything. So of course this was not real.

Medium: I am seeing 310 and he is not letting it go.

Was this a tactic? Some trick? To insist no matter what? That did NOT seem like a very slick tactic. 

Then it hit me. I felt a huge chill and little bursts of excitement push away the sinking disappointment.

Me: OMG. 310. That was the building number I grew up in. My dad always referred to our building as 310. 

Of course. Our apartment. Where I grew up. The apartment he lived in. Raised me in. “310 – I want to go back to 310, I was just at 310” – what he had said daily and often incoherently while in the hospital.

Medium: That is it. He is laughing like he can’t believe it was so hard for you to get that.

That is exactly how he would have responded.

Could she have googled that with the information she had? But in that case wouldn’t she have gone for gold and given my full address?

Medium: Now I have an older woman here. She is two generations above you. She keeps saying I am just like her. And pointing to you.

Me: Oh my grandma. I have been told my whole life we are very alike.

I should have just said yes I know who that is, but the chills were strong and I was not expecting correct information after correct information to keep coming in.

Medium: And she has a small child with her. One who is around two.

 Me: Oh my god! Yes.

Okay this was WEIRD!

She had lost a small child. Her daughter died when she was only two. That happened when my mom was a baby so my mom did not remember, but she had of course known about it.

Could this actually be real? I felt more intense spine tingles but all over my body.

Medium: Your grandma said you have been living with your mom since your dad’s passing. But she says it is okay you are doing that for awhile, but eventually it will be time to get back to your real life.

Me: I have been.

More chills poured all over me once again, very similar to when a movie suddenly has a highly unexpected plot twist. (think Sixth Sense)

How was she doing this?

Medium: Is your mother a psychiatrist?

Me: Yes!

Medium: And she is incredibly successful? Your dad is showing me a couch and this Rx sign for prescriptions which means to me she is a psychiatrist, And then he is showing her as the best in the field. One of the most renowned world-famous ones.

If you believe she was honestly talking to my dad, this was incredibly sweet and touching, as well as evidential.

Yes, my mom is a psychiatrist. And while I think she is great and her patients love her, she is far from world renown. But to my dad (and all of us) she is the best. My dad always would brag about my mom, saying she was the best in her field, and according to him that was the 100 percent truth.

Medium: Your dad wants you to know that your dog, the one who just died is with him. He has your dog.

Me: Wait, what?

Yes, shortly after the loss of my dad, I also lost my dog. Thanks universe. And go fuck yourself too for that one.

Medium: (calmly as if the reason I had said WHAT so intensely was because I had not heard her) Yes your dog who just died. The one who just died. Your dad is taking care of it. He says it is the playful, funny one.

Yes, this dog was exceptionally playful and funny. My dad would often comment on that and laugh about it.

Had I told her my dog had just passed away when I came in?

I didn’t think I had, but maybe I did. I know I had not posted about it on social media either. I had disappeared from posting since the loss of my dad.

How was this woman remaining so calm as she seemingly defied the laws of the universe? She continued to get more information that made sense. It was not as good as if she was speaking on the phone, but definitely better than I could have ever imagined, especially since I had disguised so much information.

I then felt a chill move along my left side. 

Medium: Okay your dad is leaving now. Which is kind of sudden. They are not normally so sudden. He went around to your left side and gave you a hug.

I had just felt that chill build up and linger on my left side before she said that. This was really so weird!

Medium: He is a nice person. He also stopped to thank me for connecting us. They don’t always do that. He is so considerate and thoughtful.

Yes that would be something he would do.

The medium was quiet for a second and then she laughed a little.

Medium: As your dad was leaving I asked him if he wanted to say anything to you, such as that he loved you. He responded: “She knows what I think of her.”

That was exactly how he would have responded.

We had had numerous conversations where I ended with a “Love you.” Which was met with, “Okay. Goodbye.” In the way you can only really reply to a parent I often did not let that go. “Dad! I said I love you.” He would reply with some variation of,  “Of course. You know I love you. I don’t need to say it every time.”

If someone who knew him very well was to create a script of how he would act with a medium that would be it.

Then the session was done.

I was absolutely stunned. I felt an odd combo of shaky and astounded in one sense as a wave of tingling poured over me, and calmer than I had felt in months in another sense. A level of physical ache in my stomach was lighter and felt replaced with this warm tingly feeling.

 Maybe I could come to her weekly? But she explained she would only see clients once every six months. She essentially turned me down as a regular paying customer? Then instead of trying to sell me an expensive crystal, as I had been on guard about, she gifted me one.

Here was some tangible evidence, my own personal experience that was seeming to point towards my greatest hope – that our consciousness could continue after bodily death. Maybe my dad was with me and I would be with my own kids and grandkids someday. 

The next day, once the high wore off, my logical mind began to tear down everything. I did give my real phone number, so I could not trust she didn’t get information that way. Had I told her my dog just died when I came in? I must have. Had I gotten so swept up in a few astounding moments that were actually just tricks she used to disarm, that I missed the catch – the way magicians distract. Misdirection?

Nevertheless, there was still the possibility this had actually happened, and if so I had uncovered some small clue in the biggest mystery of all of humanity.

_____

*This is an excerpt from a full book WTF Just Happened?! due to be published in 2020. It has been edited for brevity and clarity for the sake of the article.

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