Never Too Late:
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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."
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."
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.
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
"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."
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
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
It is to those who perceive
that the angel makes himself known.
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
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."
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
"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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.