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Lori Henshey-Eads

It's Never Too Late: Communicating
with Our Departed Loved Ones.

by Lori Henshey-Eads

The wish for reunion with loved ones lost to death is among the most poignant and insistent of human desires. The desire taunts and saddens us with a litany of what ifs and if onlys, and mournful pleas for only five minutes more.
--Dr. Raymond Moody, Reunions


This story is not based upon complicated, scientific studies conducted within sterile, controlled laboratories of prestigious universities or organizations. My observations are plucked at random from the rich arena of spontaneous human experience we call life.

I have, for example, spoken with a woman whose 10-year-old son and only child had died of cerebral palsy. She was understandably grief stricken by her devastating loss. One night she dreamed that a rainbow-colored bubble floated down from heaven, bounced down onto the couch where she lay sleeping, then popped open to reveal her son. She was so delighted to see him! She said, "Come here and give me a hug!" They hugged and talked at length. The boy told his mother "they keep me pretty busy in heaven," and that his job was to help ease into heaven other children who had died of cerebral palsy. This dream gave sustenance to the woman’s soul.

Consider my friend Lisa who lost her grandmother several years ago. After her death, Lisa’s grandmother appeared to her in a dream. In her hands she held a bouquet of her favorite flowers: white roses. Lisa, a preschool teacher, was surprised the next morning when one of her students rushed into the room and handed her a single, white rose. Lisa stared, speechless, at the velvety, ivory petals in the palm of her hand. The child’s mother spoke up. "I have no idea why she brought you that rose. We were in the car pulling out of the driveway when she called out for me to stop. She ran and picked the rose from the bush, insisting she must bring it to Ms. Lisa!" My friend had the good sense to accept that precious and comfort-filled gift without question. If you ask her about it she will emphatically insist, "I know that was a sign!" 

Some readers no doubt will ascribe these stories to wishful thinking and coincidence. That’s okay with me, for others will find meaning here. The words may strike a chord of memory in their minds, spark a flame of hope in their hearts and, if I have done my job well, lend a measure of peace and comfort to their souls.

While writing this introduction, I thought about something I read in Dannion Brinkley’s wonderful book, "At Peace in the Light," which he co-authored with Paul Perry. While attending a conference of the National Institute of Health in Washington, D.C., Dannion overheard a doctor telling a colleague near-death experiences were nothing more than wishful projections of a dying brain. Dannion objected, strongly and out loud. 

"The M.D./PhD. turned toward me and adjusted his glasses," Dannion writes. "He looked at my name tag…With the exception of my name, he could see that the tag was empty. 

"‘I failed to get your credentials,’ he said, clasping his hands together. 

"I thought for a moment. ‘I am Dannion Brinkley, D.O.A.’"

"If experience provides the best schooling," Dannion adds, "then you have to believe that I have its toughest degree. D.O.A. stands for ‘Dead on Arrival,’ which is what I have been. Although you won’t find a D.O.A. on any university degree, having one does mean that I have a rare form of expertise." 

Indeed! We have not all had a near-death experience; yet, is there one of us who has not experienced grief? Personal experience is an invaluable teaching tool. I do not intend to imply that academics have no place in such topics. Rather, I believe the best solution is to blend both empirical study and personal human experience into a well-rounded investigation.

Grief: An Altered State

Intense grief is by nature an altered state. It is a frighteningly disorientating place, wherein long held perceptions of reality blur. Someone in the forefront of our life is suddenly gone, and we wonder where. These are people whom we have spun the web of our earthly existence around. They are so tightly knit into our very being it’s difficult to untangle the threads to see where they stop and we begin. We are shocked and confused. Shock buffers our pain, but has negative effects too. We move about in a

self-induced stupor. We are unable to concentrate on simple tasks. We find ourselves in places and without remembering how we got there. We divide our lives into segments of before, when that person was with us, and now, when that person is not.

As this shock wears off little by little, we, for fractions of time, actually forget our loved one is gone. This is followed by heart wrenching recall that they really are not here after all. All of these feelings are incredibly stressful on our body, mind and spirit. Sometimes such stress can escalate into depression, stretching the gamut from mild to suicidal.

Facing Grief

There are many ways to deal with grief, some more or less effective, depending both upon the individual and situation. Bereavement counseling and support groups are two good examples. In this article, however, I will discuss an incredibly powerful and perhaps more mysterious, way to work through our grief: through contact with our departed loved ones. In her book "Healthy Relationships With Our Deceased Loved Ones," Dr. Doreen Virtue writes:

"Our relationships with our loved ones don’t end with their death. The relationship merely changes form. As a psychologist and clairvoyant medium, I help my clients to maintain healthy relationships with their loved ones on the other side. Healthy post-death relationships are important for the sakes of souls on both sides of the veil of death.

"Grieving survivors have mixed emotions that they must sort through following the death of a loved one. The survivor probably feels a great deal of sadness, loneliness, and confusion. These are feelings that we expect of someone who has just lost a friend or family member. However, survivors sometimes feel anger or a sense of betrayal toward their deceased loved one. These feelings are difficult to work through since most survivors don’t like to admit they are angry with someone who has passed away. It doesn’t feel ‘correct’ to hold resentment toward someone who is gone. 

"Yet, admitting these perfectly normal feelings is an important part of healing from a loss. After all, our deceased loved ones are completely aware of how we feel and think about them. We can’t hide anything from a person on the other side! We can only hide feelings from ourselves – but at the expense of our peace of mind. When we deny our true feelings, we block our own happiness and also the spiritual progress of our deceased loved one."


Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth;
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep."
--John Milton

The Most Beautiful Dream

My friend Jane begins her story with a warning typical of her humble nature: "here goes…am not sure if this is what you’re looking for…." Jane’s story was sad, though not unique. Her mother had been a severe alcoholic for most of Jane’s life. She had thrown Jane out of her house when Jane was 18, and Jane had never returned. Jane’s mother had sobered up over the past year, and wanted desperately for her daughter to move back home. Jane refused. Mother and daughter had been embroiled in a terrible battle of wills for more than a year. 

Somewhere, deeply locked in Jane’s very hurt heart was the hope that they would reconcile and even become friends. That was not to be. At the bottom of that year of conflict, when Jane was only 19, her mother was killed in a stunningly tragic automobile accident. Jane reacted with rage at her mother for dying, and guilt with herself for not telling her mother "I love you" one last time. 

This overwhelming rage and guilt for many years led Jane down a dark road of self-destruction. The death of a mother is an incredibly traumatic experience in itself. When regret and anger are added to the mix, it can truly become devastating. For years, Jane herself abused alcohol, neglected her own health, slept in the city streets, and, finally, attempted suicide. That would change one night with a dream Jane describes as "incredible, the most beautiful dream, that even to this day I remember with such clarity.

"My mother came to me in that dream," Jane said. "I remember distinctly smelling her, her smell, it was a certain perfume. We touched, I touched her face and I was crying and hugging her and she was comforting me! Every time I tried to tell her I was sorry, she said, ‘I know, don’t be sorry, you did nothing wrong.’ Several times, I said ‘I love you!’ and she said, ‘I know.’ 

"Then she went to leave, to walk away, and I had not had my fill of her yet! I begged to go with her. I pleaded. She said, ‘No, you can’t go with me,’ which made me sad, but fulfilled, finally. I woke up instantly from that dream, wide-awake, and I could still smell her perfume on my clothes! And what’s more, I felt whole again!" 

Jane is now a wife and mother, and the last time we talked her horse had born a new foal. Jane’s dream did not fix everything in an instant; her grief, in its entirety, can never be erased. The dream did enable Jane to build a life for herself. "Whether or not that was my mother or an angel coming to me, or just a wonderful dream, I don’t know," Jane said to me, "but the feelings invoked after that dream, no amount of therapy could have ever resolved."

The Will

Joe told me this story, which happened when a cousin and his wife were killed in an automobile accident. Because Joe’s cousin had died a few moments after his wife, he had legally inherited her estate. None of the family, however, knew where to find a will or if, indeed, one even existed. Florida law mandates when an estate owner dies and has left no will, the assets of the estate are sold and the proceeds distributed among the heirs. There were several sentimentally precious heirlooms that the couple’s children wanted desperately to keep, but as the day of the sale grew closer, still no will had been found.

On the Saturday night preceding the Monday morning court hearing, Joe’s uncle had a dream. His departed cousin was standing in the living room of his own house, his hand resting on a cabinet built into the wall. The next morning, Joe’s uncle went to his cousin’s house, searched the cabinet and found the will pressed into the pages of an old photo album. No one had noticed the album until now. On the particular page where the will rested was a photograph of Joe’s cousin with their grandmother, who had died several years earlier. That night, Joe’s uncle had another dream. His departed cousin and grandmother were posed exactly as they were in the photograph, and they were smiling at him and nodding their approval.

Out-of-Body Experiences

Don’t Be Afraid

Sometimes contact can occur during an out-of-body experience (OBE), when the soul or consciousness for some reason separates itself from the physical body. OBEs often occur spontaneously during near-death experiences, or at critical times when a person is highly stressed and/or in imminent physical danger. Sometimes they happen during deep meditation or sleep.

Josie’s experience occurred after her grandfather’s death and on the anniversary of her departed father’s birthday. She told this story in a letter to a mutual friend, whose loss of her younger brother to an extremely premature heart attack had caused her to wrestle with her own spirituality. 

"Yes, there is life after death," Josie wrote. "I know this from a personal experience. One night, I went to bed as usual and it was at the stroke of midnight when I arose from bed. I looked down to see my body still lying there. I went into my mom’s room to lay a kiss upon her cheek, and I did the same to my sister. I started to leave the room when I noticed my hallway was no longer the same, it was like a school corridor. I began to walk down this corridor, and as I did so I could clearly hear my heels hitting the ground and echoing. I went through the double doors as if I was to enter a small stairwell, but as I went through these doors I was in a room that had a lot of flashing lights, all different colors and also bright white. I went through another door, and I was in a room where I saw everyone I have ever known in my entire life, and they were all dead. Right then and there, I realized I was dead, too. 

"I went through another door and there was this most beautiful and bright white Light and smoky floor. This Light made me feel at peace. I heard a voice. It was far away, and then it came nearer and nearer. Soon I was able to recognize it. It was my dad and when I called out to him he appeared!

"I hugged him, I cried in his arms, I felt him and he was real! I could smell his cologne. My dad told me I had to go back, that I could not stay because I had to finish what he could not here on earth. I begged him to let me stay but he said, ‘No, you must go now. They are calling me.’ I asked him who was calling. He said, ‘The angels are, sweetie.’ 

"My dad said one thing that made me come back. He said, ‘I am always watching you and I am always with you. Don’t be afraid, for I will always be there.’

"I said goodbye and he started to disappear and I began my journey back the same way I came in. I walked back into my room where I could clearly see my lifeless body there on the bed. I sat down and began to lie down, and the second I laid down I awoke feeling as if someone had taken my breath away. By this time it was 6 a.m. I could still feel my dad’s hugs and his kisses on my cheek, and, above all, my nightgown reeked with my dad’s cologne, as did my bedroom. 

"Now, from time to time I can smell my dad’s cologne, especially when I am in danger. I know he is with me. So, you have to believe, and, above all, try not to cry too much or be depressed because it makes them suffer. Keep a candle lit or a little nightlight on for him. The light will illuminate his way."

Near-Death Experiences

He Held My Hand

Since the publication in the 1970s of Dr. Raymond Moody’s blockbuster book Life After Life, the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs) has received more and more attention. People, who experience clinical death and are resuscitated back to life, often report similar experiences during NDEs. Some of these are traveling very fast through a dark tunnel, meeting departed friends and loved ones, and seeing a brilliantly shining Light, which does not hurt their eyes and is filled with peace, compassion, love, understanding, and even humor. Many perceive this Light as God or Jesus or an angel. They bask in the unconditional love of this Light, and want to remain within it forever. They come back to life, however, themselves and yet profoundly different. Many report an increase in psychic abilities, most change their lives for the better, feeling they now have a "mission" to accomplish, and all, to my knowledge, have lost their fear of death.

Becca’s experience has some characteristics of a typical NDE, but is also uniquely her own. It occurred when a scheduled three-hour surgery to remove a cancerous lung lasted instead eight long and dangerous hours. Becca’s blood pressure dropped so low that she was considered clinically dead. Fortunately, she was revived and survived the surgery. 

Her story is incredibly moving, the tragedy of her situation almost unimaginable. Yet, not once have I heard Becca complain. She had undergone surgery for lung cancer, the same disease her father had succumbed to seven years earlier, and the same disease with which her brother was also stricken. When Becca told me her story, she was still recovering. She was thin, breathless and weak, and had only one lung left, but as she talked her enthusiasm never wavered.

"It was a humbling experience," Becca said. "I felt such peace! I saw my daddy, he was young and very handsome and he carried a violin. He had been a musician. He had on a black tuxedo, with a very starched white shirt with tucks in it. He had died ravaged with cancer, but when I saw him then he looked like he did when I was a little girl! He held my hand and stopped me from shaking."

Last time I talked to Becca, her brother had lost his battle with lung cancer. She understandably expressed great grief over this latest lost. Yet, Becca’s meeting with her departed father has given her rich reserves of comfort and courage she can call upon as she concentrates on her own recovery. Before her brother died, Becca told him about her experience with their departed father, saying "it had helped him a lot."


Butterfly Pins

It is to those who perceive through symbols…
that the angel makes himself known.
--Theodora Ward

My aunt Dee told me this story. It happened after her mother, my grandma, the rock and the matriarch of our family, passed away. Our loss seemed unbearable, and we each suffered our grief in different ways. My aunt, the youngest of my grandma’s four children, was truly the baby of the family. The first three children each were born a little over a year apart; Dee was Grandma’s late in life child, and there was a very sweet bond between the two.

After grandma’s death, Dee began acting strange. She dealt with her mother’s death by running from it, and the feelings quickly caught up with her. She had gone on bizarre shopping sprees, spending thousands of dollars on clothes she neither needed nor wanted; outfits still sporting price tags lined her closets. Her house looked like some sort of surreal department store. At one point, she had nine winter coats! Credit card bills had barely begun to roll in when she, quite suddenly, quit her job. Her teenage daughter, as teenagers tend to do, began to rebel. The two argued constantly. Dee became moody, restless and irritable.

In early spring, Dee underwent major surgery: a complete hysterectomy, followed up by permanent hormone therapy. She had barely left the hospital when problems cropped up with extended family members. Finally, Dee’s aunt, my grandma’s baby sister, died suddenly. It was just too much. Smack in the middle of summertime, Dee surrendered to very dark depression.

One day, Dee stopped short and looked around her. She had wandered into her daughter’s bedroom, but couldn’t remember getting there. She swept her eyes around the messy room, thinking halfheartedly of cleaning up. Her eye caught sight of a small, unfamiliar box perched on a shelf. Dee shuffled across the floor, as weary as an old woman. Box in hand, she shuffled back to the bed, sat down with a heavy sigh and flipped up the lid. There, in the box, lay a butterfly pin. It had been placed beside a plastic bag that held her daughter’s baby teeth. The bag was labeled "Cindy’s teeth," in the distinctive style of Grandma’s handwriting.

When my grandma died, I bought a butterfly pin to place on her burial dress. It was a lovely pin, gold with delicately etched wings. From the middle sprang a pretty spray of pearls. I chose the butterfly with great care for its symbol of rebirth, and it looked so nice nestled there among the pink ruffles of my grandma’s dress.

Grandma died in September, and for Christmas I bought each of her three daughters, my two aunts and my mother, a butterfly pin. It was important to me that each daughter had the exact pin I had bought for my grandma, so I searched for and found three identical pins. They were exact matches, right down to the designer.

At first glance, Dee thought the butterfly pin was my Christmas present to her. After closer inspection, she knew that was not the case. This butterfly pin was exactly identical to the pin I had bought for Dee: size, shape, metal, the same delicately etched wings. Yet, sprinkled in the middle of the pin was a spray of diamonds instead of pearls. The pin I had purchased bore a manufacturer’s logo. This pin had no logo at all!

Dee picked up the pin and turned in over and over in her hands. The delicate diamond spray seemed to leap up at her, and as she stared a thought played at her mind. It was a simple saying really, a sort of housecleaning mantra, shared between Dee and her mother: "If dust were diamonds, we would be rich." Dee recalled the butterfly sun catcher which sparkled in the sunlight of her mother’s kitchen window: Dee had always called it the "diamond butterfly." She touched her fingertips to her mouth; though wet with tears, it curved ever so softly into a smile of remembrance.

There was never any explanation for the pin. Not one of our family recognized it. I had searched the stores over to find three matching butterfly pins; I saw not one with a diamond spray. Maybe the butterfly pin dropped from the sky and fell into that box. Else, my grandma put it there.

A few days later, Dee drove to the drycleaners. As she piled the clothes onto the counter, she glanced up at the clerk. There on the girl’s shoulder sat a butterfly pin exactly like the one I had bought her. Swallowing her shock, Dee complimented the clerk on her pretty butterfly pin. "Thank you," she answered, lightly touching the pin. "I bought it for my mother shortly before she died."

Pausing, she added, "Something just told me to wear it today."

Non-Spontaneous Communication

Sometimes, though we desperately need to resolve an issue with a departed loved one, they don’t visit our dreams or leave symbols of their presence. Can we initiate the contact ourselves? I’ve looked over some of the options, which include prayer, meditation, keeping a grief journal and/or writing a letter expressing our issues to the deceased. Some say simply talking out loud to them is a very powerful communication tool, because by doing so we acknowledge their existence. Many people insist our own intense emotions of grief, anger, loneliness and regret become a barrier of negative energy between ourselves and our departed loved ones; this seems logical, since these feelings by their nature cause isolation. Others, such as Josie, offer the sweetly simple suggestion of burning a candle to light their way to us.

Dr. Raymond Moody has studied contact with deceased loved ones through an ancient method of divination: mirror gazing. He has revamped the art, which was widely used in different ways by various civilizations of the past up through the present. Moody calls his controlled environment a "modern-day psychomanteum." He discusses this project in his intriguing book Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones.

Another option is spiritual psychology, wherein a spiritual psychologist supplements traditional psychotherapy with prayer and other spiritual practices.


I have not tried to prove anything here at all. Nor do I claim to have any answers or explanations. Are these experiences real? Are they actual encounters with angels or spirits, or the human brain’s way of solving a physical and/or emotional problem? I don’t know. The truth is that while I’d like an answer for the sake of my own curiosity, I don’t think the reality of such an experience is even remotely as important as its positive impact. What is important is that it is never too late. Healing mind, body and spirit from anger, grief, guilt, regret and other negative emotions through contact with our departed loves ones is, in my opinion, the real miracle here. Dr. Virtue sums it up well:

"Your relationships with your loved ones on the other side can be wonderfully fulfilling. Many of my clients tell me that their post-death relationships with their loved ones are even closer and more honest than before their death. Death doesn’t mean an end to the love you have shared. Remember: love never dies!"

1. Brinkley, Dannion with Paul Perry. "At Peace In The Light." HarperCollins, New York: 1995.
2. Moody, Raymond with Paul Perry. "Reunions: Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones." Villard Books, New York: 1993.
3. Virtue, Doreen, Ph.D. "Healing Relationships with Deceased Loved Ones." www.angeltherapy.com/articles/a9healthy.html

1. Garfield, Patricia. "The Dream Messenger: How Dreams of the Departed Bring Healing Gifts." Simon & Schuster, 1997.
2. Moody, Raymond with Paul Perry. "Reunions: Visionary Encounters With Departed Loved Ones." Villard Books, New York: 1993.
3. Virtue, Doreen, Ph.D.
4. Woods, Kay. "Visions of the Bereaved: Hallucination or Reality?"

©Copyright 2002 Lori Henshey-Eads. All Rights Reserved. 

Lori Henshey-Eads
Lori Henshey-Eads has been a professional writer, editor and researcher for 20 years. She has been published in various newspapers and magazines, as well as on the Internet, and is now at work on her first book, Love: A Bond Beyond Death.

She writes on topics about which she is passionate. Some of these include grief recovery, after-death communication, angels, ecology, human and animal rights, environmental preservation, history and art, cultural anthropology, earth mysteries, holistic health and spirituality. This article evolved over many years and with the passing of many precious ones, most especially her beloved Granny. It is an attempt to understand and validate a natural form of grief therapy and to offer a small measure of comfort to all of us who grieve.

Lori holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in history and minors in art history and journalism. She began her own business, Easy Writer Media Consultant, www.easywriter-media.com, in 1997, and worked exclusively under contract with Wisdom Media, www.wisdommedia.com, until 2001. She now works as an independent media consultant. Lori can be reached by E-mail at lhenshey@aol.com.


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