This weekend is the twentieth anniversary of 09/11.  Kayla was four years old. Shayna was not even one. I was grateful that I didn’t have to explain any of what happened to the girls. But, I didn’t know at the time they would both grow up in the shadow of an event that shapes our lives a score of years later.

This was not a day for me to look back at the events of 09/11/2001. This was a day to celebrate and remember Shayna by participating in the Shamrock Shuffle halfway to St. Patrick’s Day race.
March of 2020 we gathered in the house for the race, as we normally do. It was to be the fifth race since Shayna’s passing. We got word on Friday night that the event had been canceled for Saturday due to COVID-19.  Then, we were told it should be a few days or weeks before we’d get back to normal. Here we are a year and a half later, still struggling.

In spite of the pandemic still going strong, the race was on! There was a smaller crowd, for sure. However, having the race in early September, we had perfect weather. Normally, we are all bundled up because it’s cold, or raining, or both. This year it was shorts and t-shirts weather.

The first couple of years, I ran at least parts of the race. I turned 60 in May. It’s time for me to give up that nonsense. I trained to fast-walk it. My course, of course, is the neighborhood where I get in the equivalent of 38 flights of stairs on my morning walk. The weeks prior to the race I worked on speeding up my gait to try to bring my time down.

At race time, I didn’t push to the front to go with the runners this time. It was a little sad hanging back. But, Father Time gets us all. As I got to the Start/Stop line, I queued up my playlist anchored by Van Halen’s “Right Now” and I was off with the piano, guitar, bass, and drums opening banging in my ears.

The runners pulled away from me. I paced myself by keeping up with the stragglers and passing them as they slowed to a walk. No one walking passed me. Soon after making the turn for home at the halfway mark, I passed the other members of Shayna’s Shining Stars still heading out. I quickened my pace pushing hard for home.

As I was crossing the two-mile marker, a race official running backward on the route approached me and asked me why I wasn’t wearing the official green tee-shirt of the race. I had to remove one of my Airpods to hear her. I told her I wear the penguin shirt for Shayna and I love this shirt because the irony is penguins are flightless birds. I bought it shortly after Shayna passed. I told her Shayna’s story. She gave me a pat on the back and said that today I was flying for Shayna. I quickened my pace again.

My goal was to cross the finish line in under 45 minutes. Based on my training, that seemed easily doable. I didn’t think I could do 40 minutes. 40 minutes for a 5K is a 13-minute mile. I had been training in the 14.5 minutes mile range.

I crossed the Stop/Start line again at 40:03. I knew no one walking had passed me and I didn’t see anyone who walked the entire time in front of me. I didn’t know I was in first place among the walkers though. I placed as #1 Male Walker, not for my age group, overall. Not too shabby for 60 years old. Elisabeth Carter won a prize as a top female (runner) finisher. Shayna’s Shining Starts showed up!

Some people believe Near-Death Experiences are hallucinations, hoaxes, or even tricks of the Devil. But, Near Death Experiences line up with what the Bible tells us awaits us and who we truly are. Near-Death Experiences are evidence of the Bible’s veracity.

Pastor John Burke is an author and the founding pastor of Gateway Church in Austin Texas. He’s written six books including “No Perfect People Allowed” and “Soul Revolution.”

His latest book Imagine Heaven hit number 1 on Amazon and was a New York Times bestseller. In this interview we discuss his interviews with over 1,000 clinically dead near experiences and their descriptions of what awaits us. Pastor Burke tells how we can all benefit from this amazing information brought to us because of modern methods of resuscitation.

For more about Pastor Burke, visit:





Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we’ve been buried. But what if, like a seed we’ve been planted, and having been planted, to grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey, everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I’ve got with me, john Burke. And john is an author and he’s a founding pastor of gateway church in Austin, Texas. He’s written six books, including no perfect people allowed and soul revolution. And his latest book, which we’re going to talk about today is called imagine heaven. And hit number one on Amazon is a New York Times bestseller. So with that, I want to keep the introduction short, because I want to have a conversation. Let him tell his story, his own words, so that I want to welcome john Burke degree to growth. Thanks, Brian. Great to be here. Yeah, yeah, you just froze. Okay. Yeah, we’re back. Yeah, it’s, I’m really looking forward to having this interview with you today. As I was telling you earlier, what I really want to do with with the show with grifter growth is give people hope and understanding. And I know your latest book, imagine Heaven is about near death experiences, which I find to be one of the most hopeful things that people can can kind of cling on to. But I know some Christians have some difficulties with it. So I want to get into that later on. But before we get there, I’d like to talk to you about what led you into into the ministry in the first place. What led you to what you do?

John Burke 2:00
Yeah, well, interestingly, it began, it began with grief for me, I was an agnostic, I was skeptical. You know, of all the God Jesus stuff, you know, had a little church growing up, but kind of walked away from it and just doing my own thing, party and you know, living for me, and my dad got cancer. And as he was approaching death, someone gave him the very first research on near death experiences. The Moodys life after life. And I saw it on his bed stand his dresser. And I picked it up and I just started, I began reading it and couldn’t stop. And I read the whole thing in one night. And I said, Oh, my gosh, this God, Jesus stuff may be true. And it opened me up actually to. Because, you know, I, like I said, I studied engineering, I worked in engineering before going into ministry. And to me this was evidential. It was it was part of what I was looking for. It’s like how do you know, this isn’t just you know, cross your fingers, wishful thinking. And here you have testimonies of people. And what I’ve discovered since all over the world, saying common things and what what I ended up doing, I mean, that began 35 years ago. And it led me actually coming to faith in Christ. As I started to read and study the Bible, along with I’ve studied over 1000, near death experiences. And so what I ended up doing was writing, taking the observations and the commonalities that I’ve found in over 1000, near death experiences and showing how this is actually what God has been telling us all along. And so I tie the two together, you know, what, what the Jewish prophets and what Jesus was saying we should expect, and what that kind of paints, you know, like to liken it like a, a black and white drawing of the life to come. And these near death experiences, just color it in. And so by the end of imagine Heaven, you feel kind of like you’ve been there because you’ve seen what the Bible is saying, but you see it through the eyes of people who have had near death experiences who have clinically died, and come back. And yet, you know, they’re they’re showing you what it’s saying all along. And so, you know, for me, yeah, that it’s been a long journey. And I wrote, imagine heaven for two reasons. One, I wanted people who are still skeptical like myself, to see this is evidence. This is scientific, medical evidence that life goes on. After this life. This is the temporary life this is not the one we were created to live in and the one to come is The one we were created to live for. And there is great hope in that. And the second audience I wrote for were Christians, because I do think it’s been an incredibly misunderstood what I think is actually a gift from God, I think the church in, in the early days of it coming out, not understanding the mystery of it, or how it ties pushed it away. And I think it did damage I think it It kept people from seeing really the hope and the beauty of of this gift that I think God’s given now to our global world to show that the afterlife is real. God is real. He loves all of us. And and he wants us to have no fear at all, but hope.

Brian Smith 5:48
Yeah, yeah, I completely agree with everything you just said. And I think I think at the end is kind of like a kind of a little glimpse, a little peek behind the veil. But I was so excited to hear about you. And I was looking at your website earlier. And I saw that you’ve got other Christians that are talking about nd ease, because I know there’s for some people, they get pushback. I personally know several people that have had indies and are scared to talk about it in their church have been been told by their pastors that it’s either hallucination or it’s of the devil. Right?

John Burke 6:19
I know. And I think the reality is, I mean, I’m kind of shocked by it, but I get it too. Because, you know, like I said, My, the beginning of my journey, I was opened up to the reality of the spiritual by looking at the first research of nd ease. Then I was invited into a, you know, small group Bible study in the home. And I was still a skeptic. So I was like, Hey, you know what, they’re not they’re gonna kick me out, because I got a lot of questions. I got a lot of doubts. Still, I did, you know, and, but that space allowed me I mean, because they said, Now, you know, your, your questions are welcome. By the way, it’s why we started gateway church the way we did I mean, our, our motto is no perfect people allowed, because there are no perfect people, you know, but also doubters welcome. I mean, we created a gateway for a place where skeptics and doubters can come and explore and we’ve seen people come to faith out of every imaginable religious background, and, and agnostics, atheists, atheistic engineers, like me, lots of them in Austin. And but but what I find is when you give people the space to explore, with no condemnation with no judgment, but just to question and ask and wrestle, I mean, the evidence is there. And what I discovered it’s there, even without in the East Indies are just, they’re kind of icing on the cake. There’s a lot of historical evidence as well. And that’s what wrestling with it brought me to faith in Christ. But during that time, and I’m talking about the 80s, and 90s, more and more was being written on, on near death experiences, but But what was happening is, people would talk about it, and then they would feel it wasn’t well known. And so they would get people saying, Well, that was probably the drugs you had in the operating room, or you were just hallucinating. Or Oh, yeah, pat on the head, you know, I’m sure. You know, I’m sure that was a, you know, a hopeful dream you had, and it’s a sacred experience to people, right? Because Because what I found after, you know, interviewing so many face to face is they’ve never experienced something more real in their lives right. Now, how do you explain that? And actually, I, I’ve come up with an analogy. It’s not completely mine. It actually comes from a book I read called flatland. But I think it helps understand. So imagine, if this three dimensional, you know, we live in three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, right? So imagine if we’re living this life, but it’s actually being lived on a flat two dimensional black and white painting in your room. Okay. And death means separation. So when we die, our spirit separates from our body. So imagine at death, then you’re ripped off that two dimensional painting, and you’re brought out into this three dimensional room. That was always all around you. And now you can look back and you can see your flat two dimensional world for what it actually is, but now you’re experiencing I mean, you’re yourself. But you’re experiencing new dimensions of time and space and, and color. And in your world. You only knew black and white. Now, imagine getting Press back into that flat painting, you have to come back to your two dimensional life and explain in two dimensional language and black and white terms, what three dimensions of color is like,

Brian Smith 10:12
right? Right.

John Burke 10:13
That’s what I’m convinced that these people are trying to do that, that truly Our world is a limited version of life limited to three dimensions of space in one dimension of time. But in the world to come, it’s many more dimensions of space and time. And as a result of that, you know, people are having to, they’re reporting what they experience, but they’re also all of them having to interpret it as well. And they’re interpreting in their own framework, right. So in the early days, I think what was happening is people were having these experiences, there wasn’t much known about it in Christian circles, there’d been no attempt to do what I did, which is to understand well, what would we expect from a biblical view of the afterlife? And then how does it align or differ? And, and so as a result, people would interpret their experience. So they would say things like, well, I left my body, but I was up in the room, at the ceiling. And, and I was watching what was going on, and I felt this incredible peace. And, you know, this brilliant god of light was there with me. And I saw my, my family members, and everything was great. And then I went, you know, I went back. And, you know, Christians wouldn’t Connect necessarily that there’s anything biblical there. They would have a lot of different maybe theological paradigm, but but it’s actually not a correct one, I believe. Yes. And here’s why. You know, a couple of reasons. For instance, I believe the Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament actually had a near death experience. Yeah. So so you know, Paul, if you don’t know about him, he was Saul, he was a ferrosi. So he was he was one of the Jewish elite religious leaders who ended up having Jesus crucified. You know, so, you know, Jesus is an all pro religion, sometimes religion, you know, many people are like, I’m not into religion. Well, you know, there there are, there are religious tendencies that you know, will try to kill even God. And exactly, and it’s an important thing to remember, don’t throw up just because religion goes astray. Don’t throw out God. Right. Right, Jesus. So anyway, Paul, is actually persecuting Christians, because he believes that, you know, Jesus was this demonic false messiah. When this brilliant god of light appears to him, sound familiar? Yeah, you know, on the Damascus Road, and he says, Who are you, Lord? And he says, um, I’m the one you’re persecuting, um, Jesus, yeah. That Jesus doesn’t tell him. He doesn’t preach at him. He doesn’t tell them the gospel and tell him what he’s got to do to be saved. He doesn’t tell him any of that. He says, just go to the city. And then Jesus sends Anna nyas to help Paul understand what Jesus did. And by the way, Paul still had a freewill, right? Just because you have a near death experience, you still have a free will. And you can come back and you can seek the God of light and love or you can go do your own thing still. Yeah. But But here’s the cool thing. So Paul, then, years later, he’s now a follower of Jesus. He goes into the city of Lisandra. In modern day, Greece, I believe, maybe it’s Turkey. And he ends up a crowd turns on him and it says, they stoned him to death. I mean, piled stones on top of them till he was dead, dragged him out of the city and left him as dead. And all his friends rally around them and start praying for him. And he gets back up and goes back into the city and tries he can. Yeah. I mean, personally, I wouldn’t go back into the city that just stoned me to death. Right. Right. But but then Paul in Second Corinthians 12, I think is reporting on that when he says 14 years ago, and he’s talking about himself 14 years ago, whether in my body or out of my body, I don’t know. But I was taken up into heaven and saw and heard things inexpressible. Now, why did he say in my body or out of my body? I don’t know. Well, because as Paul then later writes in First Corinthians 15, when we die we’re buried our natural bodies but we’re raised to life is spiritual bodies were buried in weakness, he says, but were raised in power.

And that’s in fact exactly what near death. experiencers talk about. You Yeah, that they, they still have a spiritual body but with heightened senses Not, not five senses more like 50 senses. And, and I found all of this is is in the scriptures. It’s all there. But I mean, you know, not many people have really studied it. Let me give you one for example. Okay, so the heightened senses like telescopic vision. So in the ears talk about on the other side, they could see, you know, miles 1000s of miles away every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree in this beautiful place, you know, heaven. And, and so, you know, again in the early days I think Christians would say, well, that’s weird. That’s spooky. I don’t get it, push it away. Yeah. But in fact, john in the book of Revelation, so john was one of Jesus disciples, the end of his life, he’s exiled to the island of Patmos. And it says, Jesus appears to him. In fact, this brilliant man of light, right? Same as what people experienced all over the world. And he’s taken to heaven. And he’s given a vision of heaven. And he says, he’s taken in the spirit up to a very high mountain. Now I’ve, I’ve had in the ears report, have seen this, this landscape of these incredibly high mountain ranges higher than the Himalayas, looking down at the City of God, this the New Jerusalem, and john is describing that. And he says that, you know, he describes the wall and the gates and all this and over on the archway over him are written the names of the 12 apostles. How did he read the names of the 12 apostles from up on a high Himalayan mountain?

Brian Smith 16:54

John Burke 16:56
heighten telescopic vision? Yes. And there are all kinds of things like that communications, you know, almost a telepathic, it’s more than telepathic. Communication on the other side is pure, perfect. It’s, it’s full knowledge of everything that I’m thinking, but also what I’m feeling and what you are, and so there’s no misunderstanding between us imagine, you know, and yet, that’s exactly how, you know, in the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah and Isaiah 65. When it’s talking about the new heavens and earth, what’s to come? And how before they even speak, I will hear before the, the the thought is on their tongue, I will answer. Yeah, it’s this pure thought to thought, Heart to Heart communication.

Brian Smith 17:46
Yeah, absolutely. You know, everything you just said, I just, I so resonates with me. And it’s funny, because I have written in my notes, I was gonna ask you about Paul on the road to Damascus, because I do believe that Paul had had what we would, it’s kind of like a near death experience. But I remember speaking with a friend of mine, and he’s, he’s a former pastor still in a really into Christianity. Now, Sam, you know, I get so much comfort from studying in these. And his thing was kind of like, well, everything I need to know is in the Bible. And I don’t believe these are real. And I’m, like, I kind of do, because I said, I gave an example, Paul. And I said, so you believe what Paul reports, right? You were with Paul reporter about being taken up to the third heaven, you believe the story about the road to Damascus, seeing the light being struck blind, hearing a voice that sounds a lot like an N D. And I know someone that just went through that like last week, and I can talk to them. And so why do you think we give more credibility to a report from somebody 2000 years ago, than from somebody that we could literally speak to right now? Well,

John Burke 18:52
that’s a big question that I mean, I can’t answer for everybody. Sure. But I think so let me say this. I think that I think like I said, indie ease color in what I think that God has been revealing all along. So there’s another there are two sides to it. Right? So one is, why would you believe that? Indeed, he is, which are fairly recent. I mean, there have been there been near death experiences Plato wrote about them. You know, I’ve got some imagine heaven from the 1800s. So it’s not like these are brand new, but they have come to light with modern medicine, modern resuscitation techniques. I you know, and so we become more aware. But why would we think this god that people encounter all over the world, which is the same God and it’s amazing, they know it, and he’s this god of brilliant light of unconditional love. Who knows them intimately personally? and loves them, regardless of all their junk, right? And so why would we think that that God has only revealed anything about Himself to us and our last 50 years? Yeah,

Brian Smith 20:20
yeah, hasn’t. Right. Right.

John Burke 20:23
So that’s, that isn’t an equal like to throw away what God has been revealing all along, which like I said, Before, I found great historical evidence. In fact, I couldn’t help myself. But in the appendix of imagine Heaven, I put the historical evidence because I put a whole appendix on what actually convinced me about Jesus revealing the God of light and love. Because God said, historically, look, here’s what I’m gonna do. And we have proof evidence that we found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, that it was written before it actually happened. Because we have we have copies of 38 out of 39 books, the Old Testament, predating Jesus, one is the entire book of Isaiah, the entire thing. It’s amazing. I won’t get off on that, because it’s a different subject. But I geek out on it, because it convinced me in my engineering mind, oh my gosh, okay. God told us how we could know it’s really him. And he wrote it into history. And this is verifiable history. Yeah. So that convinced me that, okay, Jesus really did come to reveal the heart of God, in a form we can relate to. And the reason is, and this is the biggest, I think the biggest misunderstanding of God is when people think that what God mainly wants is our moral obedience. Now, don’t misunderstand me he does. Because when we go against God’s will, we’re going against the will of love, and the only one who understands how it all works together. Right? And yet, God does allow that he allows all kinds of evil in this world, all kinds of brokenness. So the question is, why? Because if, if what he wanted is just for us to do what he says he could make us. Right, right, good. He’s God, right. So Why? Well, because God is love, and what he wants more than anything, for children who love. That’s what he’s actually doing. I believe in this world, he’s creating a family of freewill, spiritual creatures, who get the taste for a short amount of time. And by the way, remember, we were created I believe, with 50 to 100 senses, he’s limited to five, for a season for a time, 70 100 years at best. And we are born into the knowledge of both good and evil. We experienced both we experience a taste of heaven, we experience a taste of hell. And it’s a time of choosing. And I believe choosing will we seek God, will we love God, will we follow God? Or will we play God? And by the way, I think every cent in every act of evil, I think the Bible says this is that it’s all rooted in me wanting to play God rather than let God be God. Okay, yeah. So and by the way, this is a struggle all of us have still, I mean, I’ve been a pastor, you know, almost 30 years now. And I still struggle, waking up every day, just thinking about what I want. What I want to get done, how am I going to get my will done? How am I going to get everyone else to do my will to? Yeah,

Brian Smith 23:55

John Burke 23:56
And how much do I think about Well, God, what’s your will in this situation? What do you want? Right? And am I willing to be willing and and follow your guidance? And and that’s a struggle for all of us.

Brian Smith 24:07
Yes, yes, it is. swedenborg calls it the love of the South and the love of the world is it these are the two things that lead us to it’s the love of the material and the love of you know, basically worshipping myself over putting myself above everyone else. Yeah, and I it’s really interesting as I listened to your your story and how you came to Christianity, it sounds like you were an adult when you came to Christianity pretty much is that correct?

John Burke 24:31
I was young. I mean, I was still young. I was I was, you know, when I was really, you know, when I was still skeptical, like I came to a point of Okay, I think this Jesus stuff is true. But I was still in my engineering days. I still have a lot of questions. And so I was wrestling wrestling and trying to understand how does this really make sense?

Brian Smith 24:55
Yeah, I guess what I was gonna get at because I was I was my grandfather was a pastor and As parents or pastors, I was raised in the church and we were taught not to question. We were taught just to take what we were told. And the Bible is all you need. And so that’s, that’s the background I

John Burke 25:12
come from. Which is funny because I mean, if you read the Psalms, if you read Lamentations, they are full of like, God, where are you? What are you doing? Are you just gonna let evil pile on me? When are you gonna bring me justice? You know, it’s like, john the baptist, right? Like, he says, oh, here is the Lamb of God who is going to take away the sins of the world. Speaking of Jesus, right? I must become less while he becomes more. Okay, great, great, great, john. Then he gets put in prison, and he’s facing being beheaded. And he’s doubting. He’s doubting everything, and he sends his, you know, his disciples did Jesus and goes, so are you the one or should we be expecting someone else?

Brian Smith 26:00
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

John Burke 26:02
How about Jesus? Oh, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? How about Jesus struggling that was on the cross? How about Jesus in the garden? Like Keno? I don’t want to go through this. Yes. And that’s the, that’s the hope, really, is that you know what near death experiencers experience is this God of love. And the love is unconditional? Well, how can God’s love be unconditional when there’s so much injustice and evil in the world? I mean, he’s either in he’s either not just or he’s got another way of taking care of it. Right. And that’s what he was claiming to do. In Jesus, that, that God would reach his arm. In other words, Jesus was not the full revelation of all there is of the infinite God. I mean, Isaiah, you know, in Isaiah 53, is a prophecy, like I said, written before it ever happened. And he says, the arm of the Lord. You know, Jesus is the arm of the Lord reaching in, and it it foretells everything that is going to be crucified for our sins, because all of us like sheep have gone astray, and that he’s going to be buried with the thieves and robbers, but also with the rich, Joseph erema, Thea Rich faricy gave him his tomb. That’s why it was buried in a tomb, which was a wealthy man’s grave, and that he would see the light of life that he will be resurrected. It’s all in Isaiah. proof positive written before it ever have been the Jesus. Now, I think the whole reason God did that, is because if we’re honest with ourselves, we all know we screw up. We’re all screw ups. I mean, just stop and think about it. Like, have you ever said I’ll never.

Brian Smith 27:53
But you did. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

John Burke 27:56
So I don’t even keep my own moral law. So why would I think I keep God’s? And by the way, interestingly, the moral law is what all the religions of the world have in common have studied all the world’s religions. And when when people say, Well, don’t they basically say the same thing? Yes, they do. about right and wrong about the moral law. The problem is, what does that mean? So we’ve always known basic right from wrong and yet look at the history of humanity. Right for for all history, we, we we go against what we know is right and wrong. The question is, well, what does God do with that? Hmm, and too many times I think we believe the lie of evil witches, that God hates you. God is judging you is condemning you unless you get your act together, and prove you’re good enough. You know, you’re cast out, right? But Jesus came to tell us the opposite. That No, God actually understands. He understands every temptation, he understands every struggle, and he’s actually in it with you. And he has paid the price to forgive us. Everything we’ve done wrong, past, present, and future. Now, I’ll tell you, when I first heard that, my thought was, well, that’s not fair. Like, that doesn’t make any sense. You’re saying a murderer can just like say, Hey, I believe in you and be forgiven. And yet, you know, a good person not I mean, where’s the fairness in that? And again, I think we’re missing the point is that what God has actually done is remove every barrier between every person and himself, except one, our pride in turn, so if we want to be self sufficient and say, I don’t need God, my will be done. I think I think it breaks God’s heart. But I think ultimately says, Okay, I’m not gonna force you. And by the way, hellish indie ease actually validate this.

Brian Smith 30:09

John Burke 30:10
Well, I mean, you know, there have been multiple studies done and in one done by ions 23% of people who came forward reporting in the ees actually had hellish ones. A more recent study has indicated could could be even more. Now, what does that mean? Well, I’ve spoken with people who in Jesus presence were, were shown both. And it breaks God’s heart never has what Jesus said, you know, hell was not created for people. It was created for angels. In other words, angels are just, they’re just another species of God’s creation, right? is God’s incredibly creative if you think about he’s created. I mean, we’ve only categorized I think 2 million species on planet Earth. But we have a feeling because of how many we find every year new species that they’re probably 7 million. Yeah, yeah. That’s crazy. Creative. Angels are just another species just like us that God created. They’re eternal, though. They’re not not born into this world. But they had a freewill. And so they were created to love and experience God with a free will. And in Love is the highest of God’s creation, because God is love. And yet it says that some of the angels turn from God and decided, I know best my will be done. Now, you know, in the Bible, those are evil spirits. But they’re angels. They’re just they’re not they’re not God, like Satan isn’t like God is created. God’s allowing it for a time. Now, here’s an interesting thing that I realized with near death experiences, is just about every near death experience or that encountered angels knew that they had to usually guardian angels. And those angels weren’t only there to, to protect them or to minister to them. They were also there to record their lives. So many of the life reviews that people got, like Jesus would say to the angels, like I’m thinking about Howard storm, who, who actually was a college a 10 year college professor atheist, who did have a hellish experience. But in it, he cried out to Jesus, to rescue them. And into this outer darkness comes as brilliant.of light that grows brighter than the sun, arm’s reach out, grab him, take him, pull them out of there. And then he said, the angels showed Howard his life. So they showed what the end so this panoramic reliving, like a life review, by the way, I’m making assumptions that a lot of your listeners know a lot about this,

Brian Smith 33:13
or they probably do. Yeah. Okay, so

John Burke 33:14
stop me. I can explain more. Yeah, what’s the life review? But that the angels are recording that. And here’s why I believe because those angels are still innocent. They’re like innocent little children who have not they’ve not been damaged by evil yet. They haven’t been become distrusting and calloused and cynical, they are completely innocent. But the Bible says angels long to look into these things. Well, what things? Well, the redemption of humanity. In other words, we start with the knowledge of good but you know, God’s good gifts of love and joy and kindness and, you know, selflessness and beauty and you know, every good thing but we also experienced the the breakdown of that.

Announcer 34:08
We’ll get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach. If you’re grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to Ri E. The number two we have g r o WTH dot txt grow ever a tr o? Because it’s 3199 it’s interesting,

John Burke 34:47
right? Yeah, podcast people talk about how time just worked differently. Yeah,

we’ve got for eternity. e W dot p choose to love comm slash GRC Love, you can’t have love if you don’t have free will. Let’s say you’ve come to love someone, I love this woman, right? I want her to love me and marry me. I can’t force her though, right? I mean, you know, I could I could hold a gun to her head and say, marry me. And I could make her go through the parrot the motions, but we all know, if I’m forcing her freewill. It’s not the real thing. Right. Right. And I believe that is why God, you know, he, he gives us good gifts. But even his good gifts don’t necessarily lead us to follow him. You can’t force love. And so that’s why God, I think it remains a bit hidden in this time as well. We are learning why and how the will and ways of God and His love is the best way. Yeah. So we’ll forever choose that.

Brian Smith 35:54
So let’s let’s talk about a couple of these these concepts. I do want to talk about, like, what, what does happen, like what awaits us and I want to frame this in terms of I’ve known people that have been in church their entire lives, and they’ve read the Bible, and they they read things like milk and honey, and they’re like, I don’t like milk and honey, I’m going to sit on a cloud and play a harp. I don’t know where they came from. It’s not in the Bible. But we all think that right? Eternity is a long time. That sounds boring. So yeah, yeah. So what can we learn from the end D about what it’s really like?

John Burke 36:29
Yeah, and I mean, that is exactly what I was trying to do in imagine Heaven is show that, in fact, many Christians don’t know what the Bible says about what’s to come. And these indie ears what they are commonly reporting fits perfectly. I mean, I, I came up with 43 descriptors from India, ease of the life to come. The Bible talks about 43 of them. Wow, wow. Yeah, I mean, it’s there. It’s there. And it’s incredible. So yeah, so let’s talk about a typical indie, right. So they leave their bodies. They, they’re still themselves, right. So they’re sitting there, and they’re watching everybody work on them. And they know, I’ve died. But they’re not panicked. Because it’s like, I feel better than I’ve ever felt before, on more myself than I’ve ever been before. And then many times, they’ll have deceased loved ones, meet them. Right? They recognize each other. You know, it, it’s life. You know, sometimes they’re wearing, I mean, I think about this bank president, I interviewed Marv bestimmen. And he said, I was I was dressed in my favorite golf, shorts, and, you know, t shirt. And, and he said, You know, they’re at the gates of heaven, He sees people from every tribe, tongue and language, and some were dressed in their, you know, native garb from their culture. And so, we’re ourselves. I think that’s one of the big fears people have is, you know, I’m not going to be myself. No, the whole point of this earth is we’re learning something to take with us into the life we were intended to have. So we still have our memories, we hug we kiss. Except it’s deeper. It’s it’s more than what that means here on Earth. We communicate with one another, like we said before, but it’s pure communication. You know, we we struggle in this life because our minds go four times faster than our words can go so you know, you’re listening to me but you’re thinking about three three other things with my wife. And so you know, I wish what I could do is just put all the things I have in my head I’m trying to get out through my words directly into your mind right? Well guess what? In heaven you can and and and so there’s there’s pure communication so there’s no misunderstanding and all of it is connected with with the love of God know people then often travel and some talk about traveling through some call it a dark tunnel some it’s a light tunnel, some it’s not a tunnel at all. Some it’s like a pathway through space back they can look back and see the earth going away behind them. And you know, it seems like they’re they’re going through physical space but in another dimension. So the travel is different. Sometimes people are just boom, instantly there. But they they come to a place that is not unlike Earth. It’s gorgeous. Mountains and trees and flowers and grass and fields and palm trees and and by the way, all this is in the Bible The Book of Revelation, you know, it says john is looking at in heaven. And it says that people from every tribe and tongue and nation and language, so think about that they’re all there. Yeah, somehow God got them all there. Right. Yeah. And they are holding palm branches. You know, and and waving puffle palm trees and heaven. Yeah, yeah. And I had a blind kid that, you know, reported his experience and blind people, when they die, they can see, right, and he was talking about these gorgeous palm trees outside this wall with light coming out of it. Now, here’s another fascinating thing. In, in heaven, it’s this beauty.

Just like Earth, but unlike earth to like far beyond it. So for instance, people around the globe talk about light, the light of heaven comes out of everything comes out. So Vicki is another blind person that I wrote about in imagine heaven. And she said, you know, light was coming out of the grass and out of the trees and out of the birds, and even out of the people that came to greet her in this beautiful garden light place she was in. Now again, so in the old days, Christians not really studying about this might go, Oh, that sounds New Agey, people of light and all this and they would just push it away. Right? Right. Right. But check this out. So first of all, in Daniel, chapter 12, I believe maybe chapter seven. Daniel has a vision with an angel there. And and the angel says to him, that in the last days, people when when when everybody has died, they will be raised. And those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars in in the heavens. Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 13. He said, then the righteous will shine like the stars in the kingdom of their father. Stare, right. So people that this light comes out of Now check this out. In Isaiah chapter 60. So remember, Isaiah is a Jewish prophet writing in 680 BC. Okay, now john is a disciple of Jesus writing the book of Revelation and about 100 ad, right, we’re talking about almost 100 years apart, right? And yet, john, and Isaiah are saying the same thing. So Isaiah says, in heaven, there is no sun or moon, for God is its light. This is Isaiah. And then john sees the same thing. And he says, there was no sun or moon, for the glory of God was its light, and the lamb was its lamp, Jesus, the lamb was its lamp, and the nation’s will walk in that light. This is revelation 21. In that light, meaning the the light is, is coming out of her now what is the light? The light is the glory of God. And what does that mean? I mean, and quite honestly, this is where near death experiences helped me understand some of the things in the Bible, the Bible said, but I had a completely different understanding. Right? Right. So glory, it’s like, I don’t know, you know, but But here, here’s what it is. The glory of God is the love and life and light of God. That gives light and life and love to everything, everything is created. And that light comes out of everything. It fills everything. Yeah. And it makes complete sense of when Paul said, you know, in Romans chapter eight, he said, I believe that what we suffer in this life is nothing compared to the glory we will experience to come. And he said, we will share in the glory of God. If we share in his sufferings, yeah. Yeah, think about that. That means imagine the love and life and joy of God flowing out of you. Right? It’s what we all want.

Brian Smith 44:35
Right? Right. And the thing is, and this is what in the years tell us why think it’s so important when you hear their messages, because they will tell us everything no matter how bad it looks here, everything is okay. Everything is it’s all going to be okay. It’s all going to be worth it. You just just hang in there. It’s going to be okay. And sometimes it’s, it’s hard or in this world to realize that, but someone that gets that little peak and gets them Look ahead a little bit and come back and tell us. Yeah, everything this is saying is real. And I love the fact that you’d not only allow people to have questions, but you encourage people to question I went through. I told you I was raised, like, Don’t question but then I went through a real crisis of faith. And I’m an engineer, too. So I want to know, yeah, my, my degrees in chemical engineering. So I always want to know, how does this work? You know, how does it work? And I saw shut up and don’t ask doesn’t work for us? Not at all. So I was looking at your page earlier, I saw Lee Strobel had written you know, a endorsement of your book. And I read lead struggles. But you know, years ago, when I was going through this, and I, and I studied, and I read, I read a guy who was a cosmologists, you know, writing about things I read pure. Yeah, yeah. hubris. And I read out of you. Yeah. Oh, gee, okay. Yeah, we’ve spoken together and stuff at conferences. So yeah, I wanted to break all this stuff down, I really wanted to know, and it’s come to the point I mentioned swedenborg. Earlier, there’s a guy named Emanuel swedenborg. And swedenborg really helps me to understand what does the Bible really mean when it says this? And so I’ve come to a different understanding of the Bible than a traditional Christian has. But to me, it’s just become much more rich, you know, and then I just said, I read Paul’s account now, on the road to Damascus. And I’m like, that’s how I like an NDA. To me. You know, that Paul had this experience where it was like, that sounds just like what an NDA is. So it all ties together. And you mentioned earlier, the, the moral thread that runs through the legend, CS Lewis called it the Tao. And he says, the towers, it’s older than the Bible. It’s and it’s universal. It is. So all of a sudden, it’s just like I said, it’s really exciting. And I’m really excited to talk to someone who can tell people it’s okay. to question. It’s, it’s not only Okay, God gave you a brain for a reason, you don’t have to check your brain at the door when you walk into church.

John Burke 46:52
Now, and and in fact, now, cynicism and skepticism can also become a faith. Yes. And that’s an important thing to realize, like, you can get your identity from, I never land anywhere. But that means you’re just landing with self at the center. Right? That’s a dangerous place to stay. But that doesn’t mean questioning and doubting, and wrestling to try to say, Okay, I mean, look, ultimately, we all have to trust in something. Otherwise, we’re God, we know everything. You know, so so even to an atheist, I would, I would say, Okay, let’s just say that on this table, you know, say we’re sitting at a table on this table represents all the knowledge of the universe, everything you can know, about, you know, how every system of the human body works, everything you can know about the millions of species we haven’t even discovered yet on planet Earth. Everything you know, about life throughout the billions of stars and galaxies of the universe, you know, and how it all fits together. So all that knowledge is on this table. How much of that just draw a little circle or a big circle represent how much of it you understand currently? And if you know, unless they’re crazy, they put a dot,

Brian Smith 48:17
right, right.

John Burke 48:19
And I said, Okay, then Isn’t it just possible and I’m saying just possible, that outside your realm of knowledge, in all the knowledge of the universe, God does exist? And I mean, it, it quickly moves atheist to at least agnostics like, Well, okay, maybe I just don’t know. And that’s more honest. Right. Right. And, and I actually I respect agnostics who say, you know what, I just don’t know. And quite honestly, I don’t care. I mean, at least you’re being honest.

Brian Smith 48:53
Right? Exactly.

John Burke 48:54
It’s like, okay, so it doesn’t really matter how much evidence there is, You don’t care? Well, that’s, that’s a different deal. Right?

Brian Smith 49:03
Right. Well, I don’t, I’m just thinking how can you honestly say you don’t care about who you are, where you came from, and where you’re going to? I mean, there’s like, the most well,

John Burke 49:12
but see, I think, you know, and having wrestled with this myself, and then tried to help so many skeptics and doubters over the years, here’s what I’ve come to is we do care, that’s part of the issue, right? We, we are always seeking our identity, like, Who am I prove myself prove my worth, prove I’m lovable, proven valuable. And so we get very rooted into those things. And it’s terrifying to let go of them. Yeah, you know, so So, you know, for many years, I mean, I was an I was a magnet kume lawdy engineer, you know, who could make my way and I was gonna start my own company and you know, all the material trappings. To prove I’m valuable, I’m worth something. Right? Well, I’ll tell you, you know, when I started this, when I first I started to realize this is true. And nothing’s more important. It’s what gives context and make sense of all that we’re going through in this life. Right. But then I had an internal battle going on, because my identity was all wrapped up in other stuff.

Brian Smith 50:25

John Burke 50:26
And, and quite honestly, that was a, that was a long, when I, when I felt like God was saying to me, I created you to teach others what you’re discovering, not just for yourself, hmm. And that meant, you know, and I tried to do it while doing engineering, and I was just burning myself out. And when I when I sensed him saying, No, I want you to do this, it was terrifying to me. And so my point of all that is, it this is an important lesson in the years come back with right is many times, all of a sudden the material things, all the proving yourself to other people things, all that doesn’t matter anymore. Right, they have a real clear sense that God is love. And what matters most to God is how we love one another how we treat one another. And then how we use all the gifts and resources we’ve been given to, to make a difference, you know, for humanity. And so many indie ears come back, and they’ll change professions many times into more of a, you know, a healing or a care profession. Now, that doesn’t mean always It doesn’t mean those other professions are bad. Right now, I have friends who were CEOs that went through near death experiences, and they came back and they’re still CEOs, but it really changed their view of what they were trying to do. In other words, instead of just running this company, and using people to make more and prove, you know, a great CEO, suddenly they started to care about the people and realize, well, the company’s there for the people, not just my ego. So it does you know, it, it changes our perception of what are we here for and what, what really are we trying to do?

Brian Smith 52:18
Yeah, absolutely. And I wanted to say something you mentioned earlier, skeptics and cynics and I always differentiate between the two because a skeptic is someone who takes a while to make to come to a conclusion, but they’re open to the evidence. a cynic is a different thing. a cynic is someone who says that’s impossible. I don’t care. I don’t believe it. And I and I think those people are often and I don’t mean to be judgmental, but they’re often caught up in themselves. And they don’t want to see that there’s anything greater than themselves. They don’t want to acknowledge that they don’t, that they don’t know everything. So they just say that’s, that’s impossible. And I found with myself trying to not trying to convince people because I can’t convince people of anything but present evidence to people. I’ve had people come to these cynics and saying there’s no evidence for any of this stuff. It’s just wishful thinking, you’re making all that up. And I’m like, go read this book, go read this book, you know, I said, I’ve read Lee Strobel, and all those guys, you know, many years ago, and now Gary Schwartz, who studied, you know, different things of the afterlife, there’s so much evidence there. And so when I hear someone say, there’s no evidence, I’m like, you’re just you just don’t want to see it. You. You literally do not want to say it. You’re just walking around with your fingers and your ears and your eyes closed.

John Burke 53:29
Well, and you know what i found? Brian, I’ve actually I’ve actually found a place of compassion for those people. And here’s why. Because those that did start out cynical, and and yet we’re able to actually start to address it and be honest and come out of it. What I found is at the heartbeat of it almost always is hurt. Yeah, yeah. They were wounded by evil. They were disappointed with God early on many times. And they never got over it. Yeah. And as a result, they built a wall around their heart to protect their heart and to make a life with without, without having to face the disappointment they felt with God. So they just write God off. And then and then find reasons to make sure this this worldview stays intact. Yeah, they would claim the same thing about us, of course,

Brian Smith 54:36
well, you know, a lot of times and it’s it’s the oldest, that is the theodicy argument. It’s like, if God is infinitely good, then there shouldn’t be evil in the world. Because if God were infinitely good, he would solve the evil in the world. So therefore, there must not be a guide because this stuff is happening, which seems on the surface, like a logical argument until us really start to understand what’s really going on.

John Burke 55:00
All right. And that’s exactly why I think what God did through Jesus is so important. Because if in fact, what Jesus was saying, and came to do with his true, God is love. He has given us free will. Because what he wants more than anything is a loving family. That that’s what Jesus was doing. He was paying for all the wrongs. So that all it takes for someone to be made right with God, no matter what they’ve done is just a heart turning back to them. Like how much more simple Kennedy you don’t have to jump through a bunch of religious hoops. You don’t have to prove you can get clean or sober or, and by the way, I mean, this is what this is what so many addicts have found, right? Who have who have gotten sober from I have a friend who had a 38 year meth addiction, one of our pastors 10 year Methodists addiction. But it was when they came to the end of themselves and said, I can’t do it. God helped me. And they turned to him. And they found the power to overcome. And that’s a Yeah, that’s exactly that’s. So it’s it’s all the same principles there. But you were just saying something that remind me what you just said, because I had a, I was going somewhere and I derailed

Brian Smith 56:22
what we were talking about the fact that these people have taken us on it kind of as an identity as a pride thing. So they decided that there can’t be any guide because there’s, you know, there’s evil and they’re just not gonna let go

John Burke 56:36
theodicy. Well, I mean, that neglects what God has been saying all along, because to Moses, the greatest commandment love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. So love is what it’s all about. That’s what he said, the 10 commandments are the first six are how to love God, the or the, the first four, how to love God, the next six are how to love people, you know, and he was just defining what love is not yet right, but help us love. So, you know, don’t, don’t hit your child. Okay, that’s a command. But that doesn’t keep the rage out of your heart that needs to be cured, so you won’t react and hit your child. Right? So what will help that? Well, if the problem, in fact is that we’re disconnected from the very source of love, and light and life, right, the glory of God, then that’s what we need. We need to be reconnected to the source. And this is exactly what Jesus said, Jesus said, You know, I have not come to abolish the law on the profits, meaning the Old Testament, and what was written there, I’ve come to fulfill it. What does that mean? Well, then he goes on, this is in Matthew chapter seven, and eight. And he says, you know, the law says this, but I say, and what he’s saying is, the law says, Don’t murder someone, but I, but I say meaning I’ve come to help you not even hate your brother, right? Not say Raka. So you know, cut your brother out. Why? Well, because you don’t murder someone, unless there’s something going on in your heart that would actually hate them to that point. And so Jesus is, his whole point was he’s come to reconnect us, to the God who loves us, and is always with us. And that’s what he said, I’m with you always. It’s what the IRS tells us, right? God, God tells him that message over and over, always be with you. And he’s there to help us in our time of need. And as we learn to walk with God, in this very personal way, he actually starts to grow our hearts from the inside out. And that’s what Jesus was saying. So, you know, he made it real simple as last night on earth. He said, Guys, look, I’m going away. But don’t worry, you trust in God, trust also in me, my Father’s house are many dwelling places, and I’m going to prepare a place for you. He’s talking about having, instead I’m going to come and get you. And you’ll always be with me where I am, and we’re going to eat and we’re going to drink wine. We’re gonna it’s life. I mean, it’s all it’s all life, but it’s so much more life. And then he said, I’m like the vine, and you’re like the branches. And a vine. All it has to do is stay connected to the trunk of the tree and fruit grows naturally. Right? disconnected from the tree, nothing grows. Right? And so he said, You stay connected to me, and you will bear fruit. And what do you mean? Well, he said, the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace, patience and kindness and goodness and self control, you know, faithfulness. And so that is at I think Christianity at the core, it’s not trying to be a good moral person. It’s not trying to do the religious deeds. It’s actually this incredible, beautiful thing of turning back to God and knowing that we’re not condemned, there is no condemnation. God’s paid for all our wrongs. So that we can just like, I mean, doesn’t mean we won’t do wrong. But when we do wrong, we start to realize why it is not God’s will, because it either hurts us or hurt someone else. So we don’t want to so we just reconnect, we stay connected to the source. And that I find is how people actually they actually grow into the kind of life giving people we all want to be, and we all want to be around. Yeah. Now the difficult thing is that there are a lot of people who sit in churches for years and, and they’re actually playing the faricy game. I wrote a whole book called unshockable love about this, because oh, yeah, because I’ll tell you, Brian, I mean, Ferris Aiko Christians almost destroyed this beautiful thing I saw God doing in our church, where people from every background of walk of life and struggle, you know, were coming and finding love and acceptance and freedom, and God was actually doing something and not just them, me and all of us, right? It’s this beautiful. But, you know, I did find not many, but Christians who would would grow up in a different culture. That quite honestly, what I did is I was just showing, here’s the culture of the Pharisees that crucified Jesus, here’s the culture of Jesus, are your attitudes and actions more like the Pharisees are more like Jesus? Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I mean, we’re the same people that, that we were back then at the core. Right,

Brian Smith 1:02:04
right. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, that’s actually the point. I just made just someone literally like last week, you know, and I and I’ve seen that I when I I used to have a blog and I called it the the church of Latter Day Pharisees there the coal piece. Because I unfortunately, there’s a lot there’s, there’s a lot is relative, there is some of that in Christianity day and a lot of people will read the Bible and they think they’re they were the cult of Jesus. They’re actually in the culture of the Pharisees. And that’s what’s turned a lot of people off. So I love I love your heart. I love your encouraging people to question I love the fact that you’re saying, no study these, these nd ease these will actually validate what the Bible says, they’ll bring it more to life. And I get so disappointed. I can say I was talking to a friend of mine, we said, well, everything I need to know is in the Bible. I don’t need to read in the other book, because I was asking, have you read this book? Have you read this? No, I just I read the Bible. And the Bible is great. But you know, it was written 2000 years ago. And there are things now God is still speak, I was part of the United Church of Christ for a long time. One of the things I love about them is to say, God is still speaking and never place a period where God has placed the comma, there’s guys still talking to us. And through these nd ease for whatever reason. You know, it’s we say it’s medical resuscitation, maybe it’s because we need it more, you know, maybe maybe God’s saying, You guys need some help. So let me give you these these messages. And I look at people have entities to me, they’re kind of like profits. I mean, they come back and they said, they’re like, you know, the guy that went to the mountaintop and looked over in the promised land and said, let me tell you, I’ve seen it. And it’s real. And it’s and it’s there. And we’re headed there. I think it’s, it’s awesome. So I applaud you for doing

John Burke 1:03:55
well. And I totally agree with maybe one caveat. And here’s the caveat is another commonality of indie ease, is that they experience a border or a boundary, they knew they couldn’t cross over and still come back to Earth. And this is incredibly common. And in some cases, God will tell them, like, what do you want to do? And they and they know and it’s interesting, because the border boundary is different for each person. It’s represented a different way. But they intuitively know that’s crossing into eternity. So what that means is, we can’t just study in the ease and get a full understanding of what’s beyond that border or boundary. Right? Jesus alone claims that he came from there to reveal things to us. So I do think I do think, start with Jesus. Start with Jesus and then work out from there. And as you study the indie ease, you know, the other thing you’ll realize is they there are They’re reporting again, they’re reporting something truly, like trying to talk about three dimensions of color in two dimensional black and white terms. Right.

Brian Smith 1:05:10

John Burke 1:05:10
So that means everyone is interpreting as well. Exactly. And their interpretations are not all the same.

Brian Smith 1:05:18
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So

John Burke 1:05:20
So anyway, that’s, you know, I like to think about it like the first question, really? And I say this, because of all the evidence is, who is Jesus? Did he really reveal God? In a form we can relate to? and answer that question first, and then work out from there. And you’ll start to see that, you know, one, don’t put them in a box. And I think that’s what you’re saying. Is that, yeah, I so I believe that God has really revealed what we the basic things we need to know about who God is who we are, and, and God’s characteristics in the Bible. I do. And it’s through history. However, there is way more truth to be known. God didn’t put every truth in the Bible. In fact, I think it’s Deuteronomy 2929. He said, you know, the laws been given, so that we can know and understand these things, but the mysteries of God have not been given. So there’s more truth, right? I mean, you know, we science has taught us. I was, I was a mechanical engineer and a geologist. So, you know, it’s like, I, when, when I hear Christians talk about things, like, you know, the Bible is all the knowledge we need, and they, they basically neglect to try to reconcile, okay, what is science, teaching us with? what the Bible teaches us? Well, I think we’ve got a history of bad mistakes. doing that. Yeah. Right. So I don’t think it’s an either or it’s, it’s all God’s truth, but not all of God’s truth and mystery is revealed in the Bible. And he says that,

Brian Smith 1:07:11
right. Exactly. No, I I completely concur. As I said, I think it’s, the Bible is fantastic. The more you study it, the more you understand the language, the more you understand the history, the more you understand what’s metaphor, and what’s to be taken literally, yeah, more powerful it becomes and then you take that and you take the end, the ease, which are also a partial message, as you said, it’s a glimpse, you know, it’s not it’s not a full picture of what it’s like, once you cross that barrier. And we but we add all these things together. And once you have the reconciled and no, even the person of Jesus, which I don’t have time to, to get started on that right now. But it’s fascinating to me how many people have no belief in Jesus, and they see Jesus in there and D. Tell you can I tell you one? Yeah, sure.

John Burke 1:07:57
Yeah. So um, you know, I told you, Howard Stern, but when I was I was on Megyn, Kelly, Fox, when when Megyn Kelly was big, and I have this lady reach out to me from Los Angeles, and she emails me and says, Hey, I saw you on Megyn Kelly, and I don’t know who you are. I’ve never read your book. But that happened to me. I was talking about, imagine heaven. And this, all this. She said, when I was 16. I grew up in a Jewish family. My father, and mother were atheists, agnostics. But when I was 16, my horse landed on me and crushed me. And I died. And Jesus was there with me. I’ve never told anyone that thanks. Wow, that’s what she said. Wow. And I was like, whoa. And so Heidi, and I started talking, she’s actually a hospice nurse now. And so anyway, we we started talking and it’s, yeah, it’s amazing. So even though her father told her, you know, you are no more significant than a speck of dust, you know, on the ground. And Jesus Christ is the biggest hoax ever foisted on humanity. So that’s what she grew up with. But she said, and quite honestly, it was kind of a not a great family situation for him. But she said, I always believed in God and I, as a little girl, especially when things were difficult, I would pray to God at night, and I felt this piece I felt this presence with me. Hmm, well, when the horse crushes her, she said, she left her body. She’s up 30 feet above, seeing her sisters freak out. But she’s an incredible piece. And there’s the light comes over her right shoulder, and she turns and looks back and she said, it was Jesus Christ. Wow. Just as she would, you know, like, the robe, the beard everything and she said, but I wasn’t like What’s a good Jewish girl like me doing with a guy like a rabbi like you? Because you know that that wasn’t supposed to be? She said, No. I knew him. And I had always known him. And she knew he was God. Now, here’s what’s fascinating. Jesus gives her a life review. And in the life review, she sees herself in her room praying as a kid. And Jesus is sitting there by her bed. Oh, wow. He was showing her he was the presence there with her. She was praying, and she always knew it. Yeah, now that’s totally unexpected. But I’ve had the same thing. I had a woman from Tehran in Farsi. Tell me how she came to faith in Christ as a Muslim. And it was when she had a near death experience and the exact same thing Jesus appears to her. And she comes back following Jesus. Yeah. Told me told it to me in Farsi. Wow.

Brian Smith 1:11:02
Wow. I know, it’s, it’s incredible. Well, I could talk to you all day, we probably should. Pretty soon. tell people where they can find out more about you more about your book, your church, everything else?

John Burke 1:11:16
Well imagine is the website. More about about imagine heaven? gateway And its gateway church, Austin, there are other gateway churches. So we’re not affiliated with with others. I’ve had people go out and search gateway church, and then they’re disappointed because it doesn’t allow doubts or questions or necessarily but but we do and and so you know, that’s the environment we’re trying to create. So yeah, we have an online campus as well. So people are welcome to check things out.

Brian Smith 1:11:52
Well, it’s been fantastic getting to meet you and and to see your enthusiasm and your love for people and the way you’re sharing this, this, I think, very important message. That is, I think really needed right now. So it’s been an honor. Thank you very much for being here today. Thanks for having me on the podcast, Brian. All right. Have a great rest of your day. So that does it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you enjoyed it. If you like this content, make sure you subscribe. So click on the subscribe button here, and then click on the bell to receive notifications and click on all that way you’ll be notified whenever I release new content. Thanks for watching and have a great day.

Transcribed by

Comedian Jerry Lewis has said that Allen Klein is “a noble and vital force watching over the human condition.”

Klein (aka “Mr. Jollytologist”® and Ambassador of Light) shows people how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not-so-funny stuff. He is an award-winning professional speaker, TEDx presenter, and author of The Healing Power of Humor, The AWE Factor, and Embracing Life After Loss.
Klein is also a former hospice volunteer and Director of the Life-Death Transitions Institute in San Francisco.

The book we discuss in this interview is “Embracing Life After Loss: A Gentle Guide for Growing Through Grief) and the five stages (not those stages) we go through to grow from grief to laughter.

Find Allen at:




Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine

what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be.

We feel like we’ve been buried, but what if, like a seed we’ve been planted

and having been planted, to grow to become a mighty tree.

Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith.

Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth and today I’ve got with me a fascinating gentleman. His name is Mr. Allen Klein. Comedian Jerry Lewis has said the Allen Klein is a noble and vital force vital force watching over the human condition. Mr. Klein is also known as the jolly otologist and Ambassador of light, and he shows people how to use humor and positivity to deal with life’s not so funny stuff. He’s an award winning professional speaker. He’s a TEDx presenter, and is the author of the healing power of humor. The off factor, and the book we’re gonna talk about today is embracing life after loss. He’s also a former hospice volunteer, and director of the life death and life death transmittance Institute in San Francisco. So with that, I want to introduce everybody to Mr. Allen Klein.

Allen 1:32
Hi, Brian. How are you? Good. Alan’s Good to have you here today. Hey, you know, I brought I brought a friend with me. I hope it’s okay. Dr. Fauci is here with us. Oh, cool. Dr. Fauci. Yeah.

Brian Smith 1:48
Yeah. He’ll be right here standing by. Yeah, I’m a big fan of Dr. Fauci. Big fan of that. So I want to talk to you about your we talked earlier, before we had started, I asked you about doing comedy, and you said you actually do humor? So the first question I asked you is, what’s the difference between comedy and humor?

Allen 2:09
No, funny. Humor is an attitude that we have to the world. So we look we look at lighter things.

laughter is another word in there is, is when we see something that kind of tickles our funnybone we start to laugh. And comedy, I think is, um,

you know, I helping it’s the comedians, I helping people find the humor for comedy.

How many would be something that

we find funny, we call it comedy. But the humor is more like looking for comedy. It’s not comedy itself. So it’s, it’s it’s kind of opening yourself up having an attitude of finding the funny or looking changing your attitude to see the comedy in something that maybe not everybody would see the humor in.

Ya know, for an example, I did a lot of research and I there wasn’t very much out there about humor and death, dying and grief. Now, most people would not find anything comedic or anything to laugh about in that circumstance. And so what I was showing people is how to that yes, even in those difficult times, there is humor, there is comedy, and not only use it there, but it can be very beneficial to help us lighten up about loss. Okay, okay. So that’s, that’s my definition. Yeah. When did you come across this idea of looking for looking for humor, and a subject like grief or loss? How did that how did this occur to you?

Well, it happened with my wife, she she got a rare liver disease, primary livret primary biliary cirrhosis, and there was no cure. There was no liver transplants at the time, and the prognosis was about three years. And Brian, needless to say, you’ve lost a loved one you say, you know how difficult that could be? Yeah. But Alan had a great sense of humor and and continued to use it during those three years. Help us lighten up. Give you the example that I often tell other people and she was in the hospital with a copy of playgirl magazine thing with the male nude centerfold. And she said Hey, Alan, I really liked this man this month. Can you this nude man? Can you put on the wall over there by the by the window? And I said, Ellen, this is a hospital. It’s a little risque for that. And she said, Well, maybe right? She said, Why don’t you get a leaf in the plant over there and cover up that part. And Brian, I did that and things so that first were fine for the first day fine for the second day. But by the third day, the leaf starts shriveling up. And we would look at that and we would start to laugh. And I realize after Ella was gone that how much that laughter helped us rise above the situation. And maybe it was only five or 10 seconds. But it gave us a reprieve gave us a perspective. And I realize how humor could do that. And I realized that’s why it’s so vital in death and dying situations. And most people say, Well, how can you laugh at a time like that? And I just saw this the opposite. You know, how can you not laugh at a time like that? Because it was the humor, it was the laughter that helped us rise above the situation.

Brian Smith 6:18
Yeah, and I think that would be something that people would say is, you know, but we don’t like the topic of death and dying anyway. And we don’t like the topic of grief. And I think we feel like we have to go into it, we have to be we have to be serious, you know, we have to be serious about it. So I like the idea of you giving people permission to to lighten up a little bit, you know, to not take life quite so seriously.

Allen 6:40
Right. And it is serious, and we all losing someone we love. Um, but but what the research is finding is that umur can help us cope with almost any situation. And so maybe this is really vital. In in this kind of pressure, what some people call tragic situation is, we need a little bit of reprieve we need to put that that grief in the background for a while because we need to continue living. I remember when I was a hospice volunteer, I work with a woman who lost her mother and it was a young woman in her think she was in her 30s. And she lost her mother. And as a volunteer, I was trying to help her get through this situation. But for two years, her life kind of stopped this young woman’s life stop. And I thought this is like a double loss. This is the mother was gone. She died. And now the daughter was not getting on with her life and some sense her life was lost to Yeah. Yeah.

Brian Smith 7:51
So how does your book help us? with that? I know, you mentioned that there are five stages of going from loss to laughter. So what are the stages? And how do we? How do we navigate ourselves through those?

Allen 8:03
Now I’ll go through them quickly. And then we can go back and look at them if we want. Yeah, in more detail. Okay, so I didn’t know if you know, who your listeners know, Kubler Ross was yesterday, working death and dying. And she talked about five stages. So I thought if coupla Ross has five stages I want I want five stages. Mine all began with an L. So it’s losing to realize that life does not go on forever, that we’re all gonna die, that loss is part of life. And I thought, what if we live forever? What would that be like? This planet would be it’s already overcrowded in some areas, there are already food shortages in some areas. Imagine if we all live forever, it would be a disaster. So on some level, I think nature is as a way of like cleaning out, you know, vacuuming some of the dust there by by having death in it. No death, one losing death is part of life. I think we have to realize that. Second second now is learning. You know, we usually don’t learn a lot when things are going well. It’s when things are not going well. Like in loss that we could learn our greatest lessons, how to be more loving, how to be more caring, how we only live for relatively even if we lived 100 relatively short amount of time in the bigs universal span of time. And then it’s important that we learn from that and that none of us know when we’re gonna die and therefore we need to be kinder to other people. We need to do what we want to do in life. We need to be more gentle with ourselves and other people, so we can learn certain lessons from loss. I’m sure when your daughter died, you learn you learn some things about yourself about life.

Brian Smith 10:12
I’m still learning. It’s been six years. Yeah.

Allen 10:16
Yeah, so, um, I think death is like a wake up call about our own life because we get sometimes we go through life where we’re even doing a roadshow, you know, we don’t pay attention. And I think his death is like a knock on the head, like, you’re gonna die someday to pay attention to what you’re doing, you know, in the world. So I think learning is the second l losing learning, and then letting go, you know, we need to move on, as I mentioned, the daughter and her mother just recently that, you know, she just got stuck for two years. Hmm. So in order to get out, we need to get on with life, we need to start letting go. And I think in my book, I talk about two ways of letting go. One is to forgive. And around death and dying, that could be a lot of forgetting to forgive ourselves for not being able to help the person who died, forgiving other people for not knowing what to say, when someone dies, you know, there’s all kinds of forgiving that we could do around death and dying. And then the other is gratitude, being grateful? Well, maybe what that other person taught us. I know, when my wife died, I learned so much about being grateful for my wife was very gregarious, so to, to being grateful for the friends and family and the love that was around but also to be grateful for my wife teaching me to get out there in the world. You know, to be more open to be more look for you, we talked about my other my recent book, The off factor, but how to how to find that the wonder and the amazement in life, because life is so is so can be so joyous. So I learned a lot. And then the fourth L. So losing learning, letting go living. And at some point, yes, it’s important to grieve. I’m not saying it’s not important, but we need to go on and live again. And I think one of the ways that people have lost someone could do that is to volunteer, because they think when we’re helping others, we can help ourselves to start to get back to life again, that that it really helps us. Not focus so much on ourselves, but focus on giving to other people. Yeah, so i think i think that’s living. And then finally finally coming to laughter. You know, that I’m just getting more laughter in our life. And that actually, there was this a research that shows they did a two year study newage banano is the researchers name, he wrote a sim one of his books, I forget the title.

But he did a two year study of spouses who are grieving the loss of the other spouse. And they found that those spouse, the survivors that could find something to laugh about in the while grieving, did so much better. Two years, the test was a two year study. So that tested them two years later, and they did so much better.

People found laughter while grieving than those people who didn’t find anything to laugh about during those two years. Yeah. So it you know, it’s so it’s so important. I’m not saying tears are not important. But I noticed people go some people go, Oh, I can’t laugh and they feel guilty about laughing. Yes. It doesn’t mean that your loved one will think less of, you know, in fact, I did a small study of people when I was writing the book of you know, what people wanted their loved ones to do after that person had died and and I’d say nine over 90% of the people said, my loved one would not want me to be upset for a long time. They want me to grieve, but no but to go on with my life, particularly if they had children. They wouldn’t want their children to be The somber you know, for years and years and years, they want to enjoy life to laugh again. And and have a good time. Yeah, even even the law, the dead spouse, you know, they, the survivor thought wanted them to be more joyous.

Brian Smith 15:18
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting because you bring up an interesting kind of paradox, I think we go for, we know that our, that our, our spouse, or a loved one who’s who has died, would want us to be happy. But we feel guilty about being happy. We feel like we, you know, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to have that we’re supposed to be sad. This is what is this is what it’s supposed to be like, and I’m not honoring them if I if I am if I’m happy. And that’s Frankly, I thought that I had with my daughter, my daughter died that that, you know, because I love her so much that I could never be happy again. And I think that’s a very, very, from the people I’ve talked to. That’s a very common feeling that people have.

Allen 16:01
Yeah. And I would think that one of you could, which that because it’s all up here. It’s all how we’re relating to loss. Switch that Okay, so she was fairly young. I’m sure she was very playful as a kid. When she want you to be playful. And and you know, remember the laughs You had together? Yeah. Why you had together? Yeah,

Brian Smith 16:28
yeah. Well, let’s go back. Let’s go back through those again. Because I think there’s a very important things about being intentional about as we as we process through our grief as we go through it. So the first you know, first L is losing. And I would I would frame that as more maybe acceptance of reality that I’m in now, because this, this is a thing that happened, this is a thing that does happen. You know, it’s interesting, you mentioned that we seem to be surprised by death, even though we all know that we’re at Sunday, this Sunday, this is going to happen. I was speaking with someone just a couple days ago. And this is a person who was with someone like the love of their life. And they said, it wasn’t supposed to be like this, we were supposed to go together. And I said to this person, how often does that happen? When we when we get married? And we say till death do us part? Kind of No, that’s probably not going to be we don’t typically both go together. So it’s just accepting this reality of this existence, that grief is going to be part of it.

Allen 17:28
Right? And yeah, and that everything that lives dies, you know. So I want to turn to my book here, because I have the reason I wrote the book, The I’m trying to There we go. So we could see the cover. loss. Yeah. reason I, when my wife was dying I or after she died, you know, I was in I was in severe grief. And I was looking for books that would inspire me that would kind of hold my hand that would lift me up with inspirational quotes, or thoughts or stories or comments. And what I found was mostly books to what two to 300 pages or more thick, they told me how I would not be doing well that I would probably lose my appetite that I might be depressed, that I might lose my sleep. And I thought I don’t need to hear this, you know, I I wanted something uplifting, I wanted something where I could just open the book and read something that would have led me to uplift me for the day that would motivate me to go on. And so I did this book that has you know, each page has a thought has a quote, has something that people could just think about and in their life, and help them move on with their life. So that’s, that’s the structure. You know, I brought this this was kind of amazing. When my wife was dying. I went to a therapist, because it was a three year process. And it was it was pretty severe. And, you know, I was pretty down. And after the second session, he told me, well, Allen, life is difficult. And I got up and I left the office said, I’m not paying you whatever it was in those days. To tell me life is difficult. That is exactly what I’m experiencing. We I know this. Yeah, yeah. I noticed. So often books or other people, you know, tell you stuff, you know, and I don’t think people that agree we need to hear that. No. Let me just turn to here’s a quote that I like. It’s kind of a reminder that people I will I love ones live forever. In some sense, the body’s gone, but the Spirit lives on. And so this is by Helga Braun, the poet. He said, The life of stars that were extinguished ages ago, still reach us. So it is with great men who died centuries ago, but still reach us with the radiation of their personalities. Yeah, I know a lot. You know, those people, they’re still around, I feel my wife is still around the crown. On some levels. I think maybe you feel your daughter is still around?

Brian Smith 20:41
Oh, absolutely do. Yeah, yes, I absolutely do. And it’s interesting. I come from that perspective, where I believe that we are eternal beings, I think we don’t, we don’t really die. But even if you don’t, you know, the fact is that memory of that person is still with you, and will always be with you, as long as you’re here. And you can always you can always draw on that you can always, you know, talk to them and carry them forward with you. So again, back to that first L of losing. And when you when you got to the third L of lending guy was a little bit nervous, because the idea of letting go of my daughter is something that I’m never going to do, but you you’ve talked about forgiveness, you talked about having a spirit of gratitude. Because

in traditional grief counseling many years ago, they would tell you, okay, just get over, it’s the relationship is over, you need to accept reality, and you need to move on that person is gone. And they found that that method of grief counseling, frankly, didn’t really work. Because it’s like you said, it’s like going to a therapist is telling you what you already know, that’s why you’re there. But this idea of being able to bring that person forward with us and that and do things in the memory. I mean, I’m sure your wife, this book you’ve written is a tribute to your wife. It’s a continuation of her legacy.

Allen 22:01
I should tell you his story, when I when I first was doing humor, and death and dying, workshops and stuff. I wasn’t sure this is what I should be doing, particularly because I almost fail speech in college. So for me to get up and speak in front of a group was like, terrifying. So I was doing this three hour workshop, and there was a break in the middle. And just before the break, I happened to look away in the back in the corner, there was a woman that looked exactly like my wife. And in fact, I got goosebumps, you know, it was one of those goosebumps moments. And, and I thought to myself, well, the breaks coming up in five minutes. I’ll go and speak to this woman because this is kind of spooky. Yeah. And the break came and I started to go to this woman and somebody tapped me on the shoulder and asked me a question. I turned around and chatted with them. Hearing back that woman was gone. And she never came back after the break. Huh. Well, wherever she was there or not? I don’t know. Yeah. Well, what I was thinking about it later. And I thought it almost didn’t matter if she was there or not what for me at least it was my wife telling me that what I’m doing what I’m, you know, is the right thing. And I should continue to do it. It’s going to help a lot of people. And it’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah. So

Brian Smith 23:34
you’re speaking start after your wife passed? Is that when you started doing because you’ve you’ve done TEDx talks, and you’ve done all kinds of speaking that is that when it started,

Allen 23:43
right? See, I had this path, right? And I have this passion, because umur helped. Both her and me deal with the process again, lots of tears, but humor was pretty predominant about laughter and, and just almost kind of trying to go on with a life in spite of what was happening. Enjoy life in spite of it. It was just go time. So we used to go disco dancing, things like that. So after she died, I just had this passion to share. You know how we laugh together? Yes. We cried a lot together then. But we also laughed a lot. And when we were married after about 10 years, we would question why we still together. And one of the things she would tell me is because I always made her laugh. Hmm. I hadn’t realized that. But it was. So I thought laughter was such an important element in our relationship. Yeah. And here it came up again during her terminal illness and how it helped us. I need to share this with the world. Yeah. And so I just started as, as afraid as I was getting up and speaking, you know, I got up and talked about it. And then I joined the National Speakers Association and one conference I went to. I don’t think that was true. But what I heard almost every speaker say, if you want to get ahead in the speaking business, you need a book, you need to write a book. Yeah, yeah. And I thought, I need to write a book about the healing power of humor, tell the world about it. And so, you know, I wrote the healing power of humor, it’s now in a 40 of printing and a ninth foreign language translation. So it was said, at a passion to share my experience with the world is is how this all happened.

Brian Smith 25:51
Yeah. Well, you brought up the several good points there. And I think one is about, you know, an idea of balance, you know, life, it’s not all tears, and it’s not all laughter. It’s, it’s both and we have to feel all of the emotions and and so when we’re going through these, these dark days that we’re going through, it’s okay to take a little break, you know, to have some humor to, you know, to laugh and, and to make memories even while you’re going through that time. It doesn’t have to all just be over when you know, we’re going through that

Allen 26:24
way. Let me go to the back of the last section, the book the laughter since you wrote it up. And you know, I wrote this book A while ago. So I have to refresh my memory. And I’ve written several books, since I understand. At least you’re not one of those interviewers, I was on the radio when the healing power of humor first came out, and he said, I love that story on page 83. Would you tell it to us?

Yeah. 80 I don’t know what 183. So I understand.

Yeah, so you know, you have a book? I do. Yeah. Yeah. Which is

Brian Smith 27:05
what it’s called grief to growth. Planet, a planet not buried as a subtitle. So it’s about getting through grief and growing from it. Wonderful. So

Allen 27:15
you know, about helping people through writing and through your podcasts? Yeah, that’s wonderful work. Yeah. So you know, here’s a little thing a laughter and loss. And, you know, we think we can, but how often have you been at a funeral and you look in the coffin, and people go, oh, they’ve never looked so good. You know, I kind of kind of crazy um, or a hospital gown. You know, you think now I know why they call it I see you. Because, you know, open in the back. You know, Tombstone, there’s a lot of funny tombstones, one of them that I like, is the I told you I was sick.

Brian Smith 27:59
Yeah, that’s my favorite.

Allen 28:01
Yeah. So, you know, there is laughter there. It’s, it’s, you know, um, let’s, let’s see what else I wrote in this section. The power of humor. Alright, just just some instruction about finding. Hold on, give me give me Oh, I love this quote. This is by the editor of the New Yorker. And I love what he said about cartoons in humor. He said they are not for the good times. Therefore all the bad frustrations, annoyances and things bordering on the horrible that happened. And they’re even for the horrible things that happened to other people. It’s a certain little anestesia of the heart, which is necessary. So he talks about humor as being anestesia of the heart.

Yes, I love I love what he said about

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Brian Smith 30:12
I think that’s extremely important. And they even started out you know, humor is not necessarily for the good times it’s for it’s for the bad times, it’s during those times you mentioned that we move when you move first opening about needing that little bit of escape, sometimes from the from the bitterness of life and balancing that out. And you talked about it, you talked about the letting go, you talked about forgiveness, and gratitude. And those are two really key things I found when you’re going through grief, that people really need to really understand that forgiveness is, is so important that letting go of blame and guilt. And a lot of times especially it’s forgiveness for ourself. It’s like, you know, we have to understand that we did everything that we could do, we did the best that we could do at the time, that nobody is omniscient or omnipotent, or omnipresent, that we you know, if the doctors that might have, you know, why couldn’t they have saved her? Now? All those types of things? No, they don’t serve us. So we need to learn to know to let go of those things.

Allen 31:15
Right? Yeah, I have a number of pages for you know, forgive. Forgive yourself. forgive your loved one for dying. Yeah, the very basic thing, you know, that’s an important. Yeah, forgive the doctors. That’s a big thing. I remember, when the doctor told my wife that she had a terminal illness. It was it was kind of weird. But he stood at the door of the hospital room, rather than coming to the bed to tell him, there was something inside of him that fear death, you’re telling people of their terminal illness? So on some level, I had to forgive him. Yes, I had to forgive people who turned away from her at the time. But they were dealing with a lot. She was young, she was 34 and 31. When we found out, wow, they were young, you know, they realize that if she’s ill that maybe I, you know, this could affect me on some I could die young too. So a lot of people are afraid of their own death. So

Brian Smith 32:24
you know, we need to forgive them for not showing up when we needed them. Yes, there was just so many things to forgive, there there are but you know, the thing is interesting, because I’ve talked to people that say, Well, I can’t forgive and I can’t, I can’t let go of that their maybe their son or the daughter was was murdered, or you know, something else. And the thing that people really understand is forgiveness is not for the other person. It’s not like we’re asking you to do this, you know, there’s great acts of humanity, it’s for you, it’s for you to let go of this. Because, you know, holding on to that anger, I forgot who said it’s like carrying around a hot coal and expect it to burn the other person, or like drinking poison expecting the person to die, it’s only hurting you. And when we can practice forgiveness, it praise us, you know, there’s, there’s, we actually when we when we are holding a grudge against somebody, we’re actually creating a bond with that person. And we’re dragging them around with us, you know, in a very real conscious way. And when we forgive them, we released that box, and we let that go.

Allen 33:29
Yeah, this is story, I have a one of my other books about a teacher teaching the class about forgiveness, and she had them take a potato sack and put potatoes in it and then carry it around the room. And then she had a one by one takeout of potato, you know, of who they want to forgive, and how much lighter that thing they were carrying around became, it was such a visual to me, and it was such a visual thing to teach kids how to forgive. I thought it was wonderful.

Brian Smith 34:07
It is I think it’s I think it’s really wonderful. You know, the thing, and that’s a great example, that shows it’s not necessarily for that other person, you know, when it’s, you know, Jesus said, you know, forgive 70 times 70 like, that’s a lot, you know, people are just going to abuse me and you know, I can’t I can’t do that. And I’ve actually gotten to the point I’ve read several people talking about now they practice pre forgiveness. I was interviewing a gentleman peer pressure savant. And he was talking about I just forgive everybody of everything. I just practice forgiving people before they even do things that are wrong. So now it’s to the point now it’s like I don’t I don’t have to worry about it.

Allen 34:45
Yeah, I I love you know what you’re just saying i wanna i want to move to gratitude because I do a pre gratitude. Like, one specific example. I was going to Europe and I applied for upgrades on United Airlines add a lot of miles but they wouldn’t give them out until the day of the trip. So for a month above my computer I put Thank you United Airlines for upgrading me as if it already happened.

Brian Smith 35:19

Allen 35:20
And it’s a long story, but after two cancel flights, the third flight I was upgraded. Oh, wow. So I believe in a lot in gratitude and a lot in being grateful, even before it happens, but what you want to happen? Yeah, the other thing about gratitude, what I found is the more I’m grateful for the good stuff in my life, the more good stuff comes into my life.

Brian Smith 35:51
Yeah, I think that’s absolutely true. And again, you know, people that are that are early in their loss. And the grief might say, well, there’s nothing to be grateful for, you know, I, my son or daughter just died, my wife just died, I just got this terminal diagnosed, I just lost my job, you know, whatever it happens to be. And the thing is, no matter where we are, there’s something to be grateful for. There’s always something to be grateful for. And I was I was talking with someone the other day, we were talking about Viktor Frankl, the book, he wrote in a search Man’s Search for Meaning that he wrote, you know, right after he got out of the concentration camp, and you can find meaning in that, or, you know, you read, I have personally interviewed for my show Terry Dillion, who has ALS, you know, terminal illness, and she’s like, in her early, mid 30s. And so when you look at people like that, if they can find something to be grateful for, then then we can and this. And so I actually, for me, it’s like you said, it’s a practice I, every day, when I wake up, I’m like, what are three things I’m grateful for. And it might be, my house is warm in the winter, or my house is cool in the summer. Now I was in the bathroom this morning, I was like, What a miracle to have electricity. Just, you know, be grateful for it when you have because when the power goes out, then you realize what a miracle is when you have it. So why not be grateful for it while you have it? Right?

Allen 37:08
I had a wonderful teacher, that’s one said, to want, which you don’t have is to waste what you do have. And I think that’s so, so relevant during the pandemic, you know, if people will have been out to eat in the restaurant, or you know, to, okay, you don’t have that, but you have food in your house. I know a lot of people learn how to cook. Yeah, and the pandemic. So be grateful for that. And you’re right there too, when my wife died. You know, it was it was difficult at the beginning. But then I start realizing I start looking at all the things I still had, I didn’t have her, that was the not so great part. But I still had my daughter, I still had a work that I enjoyed doing. I still had a house to live in. You know, I still had really good friends, I still had food on the table, I still lived in the city that I wanted to live in, I mean, on and on and on. So I think I think one of the things people who are grieving a loss is to kind of put that loss in the background for a bit and look at all the stuff in front of you that you have.

Brian Smith 38:31
Well, I think that’s the human condition by default. And it’s part partly built in because you know, that’s why humans are always striving for more, because we’re always looking, how could I do this better work. And that’s a good thing. So that’s not a bad thing to have. But it can actually bring us down unless we learn to balance it out. And that’s where the practice comes in. As you said, You know, I can I can always say, you know, I don’t have my wife, I don’t have my daughter. I just lost my job. But COVID is a great example. I can’t go out to eat in a restaurant. Okay, so but you have food you can cook at home, and how much money have you saved over this last year? And how much sweeter is it now that we can go out I went out with friends a week ago this past Saturday for the first time in over a year. And we went out to some some microbreweries and we sat in chairs by the river watch people kayaking by and it was I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it. But it was so much sweeter than when I could do it every every weekend.

Allen 39:28
Yeah, I love how you label it’s so much sweeter it is and it’s like walking in the street. I’m fully vaccinated if I choose not to wear a mask in that is just it’s like all these little things that we never thought about when they’re taken away from us and now they’re coming back and they’re much sweeter. Yeah, I was actually forced to eat inside of a restaurant because they didn’t have heat outside and the heaters were And it was terribly windy and things of blowing away. And it was like, Oh my god, can I do it? You know? Yeah. But that the doors open and seated people away from each other and it was fine, but it was like, Oh, this is what it was like,

Brian Smith 40:17
in the before times. Yeah.

Allen 40:19
Yeah, sir. It’s, it’s, yeah, um, so just appreciate, you know, be great. Full, I think for what you have the and you don’t know when it’s gonna be taken away from you. Right? You know like like with all these things we’re missing or have missed in the last year.

Brian Smith 40:36
Yeah, well, I guess it goes back to what you said at the very beginning, we talked about death kind of being baked in, in this whole thing. And what would it be like if we live forever? Part of the part of the beauty of life is, is the fragility of life. Part of the beauty of it, one of the reasons why we do embrace things is because we don’t know when they’re going to be taken away. And you think about all the things we do in breathing, walking, that we just take for granted, you know, because we just assume, oh, this is what I’ve been doing. This is what I always be able to do. Right? So and you

Allen 41:08
know, what amazes me is that our life really is dependent on one breath. If you stop one breath, that’s it. Yeah. And one of my great teachers, I don’t know if you know, his book, Steven Leviathan, he wrote who dies among other books? But he used to do a lot of workshops I do, I would manage some of them. And he would always ask, Are you going to die in an in breath? Or an out breath? I can’t say much more about that. Except I thought it was very profound Kind of, yeah, that’s all it will take. All it will take is one in breath or out breath. And that’s it. No more.

Brian Smith 41:55
Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, there, there will be a last breath, there will be a last heartbeat for all of us. We don’t know when it’s going to be for most of us. And so that’s why we, you know, embrace the life while we have it. And we try to find humor, where we can and try to find gratitude where we can. And that’s what that’s kind of what life is about is balancing these things out. You got it. Yeah. So, you know, we, we talked about, we’re talking about the book embracing life after loss, but and when another one books I wanted to talk about a little bit was the healing or the awe factor. I find it really, really fascinating. I think it kind of really ties in with with the last thing.

Allen 42:40
Yeah. So this healing power of humor was my first book, this is my last book, the author factor. And I wrote it because there were so many simple things in my life that gave me goosebumps or made me realize the beauty all around us, maybe particularly during COVID. Um, and, um, I realize I don’t often stop and smell the roses, you know, don’t stop and and pay attention. So I started interviewing people, I started looking at my life, what were those aha moments, what were those wow moments, and have some incredible stories in here, but just from my own life. And some of this I talked about in my TED Talk, which is about intention, setting your intention, but I’m just finding the publisher was an aha moment. It’s a very long story. So I’m not going to go into it. But I’m walking in a bookstore to do a book signing and this woman is totally crying at the counter because she lost her husband and taking her aside for a half hour and chatting with her and hugging her. And giving her some guidance. That was an aha moment, just just being, you know, walking in a store, just you know, I could have been five minutes late, she might have left or vice versa, right? Same thing. I was on top of Yosemite going up to Vernal falls, and somebody was coming down the other path and he looks at me and he goes, Alan, I didn’t recognize him. It was one of my apprentices. 40 years before when he was an apprentice when I was I used to be a scenic designer in summer stock and I was the designer. Wow, what what is that? Not an aha moment? I mean, what are the chances of us being right at that split second? together? Yeah. So so things like it’s all around Flowers just an amazed me. Because when you look inside of flower, it’s often very different and so amazing I, in fact, I took a photo of an iris that was in my garden recently. And it’s just amazing. Yeah, all of the textures. I put on Facebook and somebody said it looks like a dancing Iris.

Brian Smith 45:27
It does. Now you can see the motion in it.

Allen 45:29
Yeah, it just so. And nature, by the way, is the is the biggest generator of all. And the reason I wanted to write this book is the research. One that came out last September is they found that they sent two groups of people, older people, or walks 15 minutes a day, once a week for eight weeks. And then they did some tests with them. And they found those people that they were told to find some on their walk or something that was wonder amazing for them, that they had more positive emotions, less negative emotions, that they said they were less upset and that they were happier. And the other group said when they went on their walks, they will often focused on some of the stress in their life, some of the negative stuff in their life. Yeah, so just looking, just having that intention of finding a little bit of wandering your life could could make you much happier and healthier.

Brian Smith 46:38
Yeah, I think it was Einstein that said that. You can look at life as either everything’s a miracle or nothing is a miracle. And in the book, yes, the older I get. And this is wild, because I’m an engineer, my backgrounds, chemical engineering, so I’m a very logical kind of person. But the older I get, the more I think the universe is magical. And you talked earlier about, you know, the pre gratitude thing, which some people call the law of attraction. And so the question is, when we do we practice is gratitude that we practice on is more are coming into our lives, are we just noticing more on it’s already there, because everything can become a miracle, I walk for an hour and 45 minutes every day. And I take my phone with me, of course, and I take pictures of the squirrels, or the birds or whatever. And I’m looking around and it’s just so you know, I just I love watching the squirrels, I think the school squirrels are so cool, and just, you know, watching their lives. And so the more that I do stuff like this, the more comes into your life, and I’m with the group called helping parents heal, and we’re all parents whose children have transitioned or died. And, you know, we look for synchronicities and signs. And you talked about a couple of things that have happened to you. It’s it’s crazy the synchronicities that have happened to me, the things that have come into my life, the timing of things that have happened, and how things just start to kind of open up when you start to look for those things.

Allen 48:04
Yeah, it’s funny what you said about your walk because I just finished teaching a five week class on the book. No. And I gave them a homework of the students a homework assignment each week. So one week was actually take that all walk just like in the in the study, and come back with things that are then which they did. But the second week, I just had the meander, just go out, don’t have an intention of all just go out and walk and see what happens. And they came back just like the intention. They were now like, trained almost, to look for the things that was a wow moment for them.

Brian Smith 48:46
Yeah, once you set that and make it a habit, that’s, that’s what I like about your your books, because it’s making these things habits making them intentional. Because by default, we can go to what was me? Look at what I don’t have, you know, I there’s no, there’s no beauty in the world. You know, I’ve described it when someone passes. My world was black and white. And then that happened to me, so I understand it. But it’s getting that color back in the world. It’s getting that it’s really recognizing what’s going on around us. And that Yeah, there are still good things in my life, there’s still things that are still worth, you know, pursuing. And in your case with your wife, you know, passing we were very young age, launching you in this completely different trajectory than you probably would have been on otherwise.

Allen 49:33
Right. Right. You know, some Sometimes I wish I can go back in my life and do it over and see what would I be doing now? Yeah, you know, what would my you can tell? We don’t know. We don’t know. You know, so. Yeah, go ahead. No,

Brian Smith 49:49
go ahead. You.

Allen 49:50
Well, some people asked me two things. How do I know when something is odd to me and I go and I think came up with an Aquaman ah is a W e. So if you have a wow experience, you found some all. Yeah. And the other thing people have asked, well is in our one on one interview, is it all connected to gratitude? And I say gas? Absolutely. Because if you if I can look at that flower, and I’m grateful for it growing in my garden and being part of my life that in it asked me And so yeah, there is a connection.

Brian Smith 50:33
Yeah. I remember when my girls were little. We will my my wife, which is dandelions in the yard, right? The girls are like, why are you killing the dandelions? And we said, because they’re weeds? And they said, No, they’re pretty, you know, they’re pretty yellow flowers. And I was reading something today about, like, how you can use every part of the dandelions, it’s all you know, useful and beneficial. And, and so now, you know, since they’d said that, I looked at Daniel lines completely differently now. And I’m like, What is a weed, but something that’s growing, where it’s supposed to grow, where we don’t want it to grow? And it’s only a weed because of our attitude, it’s only a weed because of the way we look at it. And so when someone asked you, but what’s an aha moment? For me, it’s like, well, that’s really up to you. And the more you do it, the more everything becomes, you know, I you know, we’ve got carpenter bees here now, which are annoying, and we’ve got the cicadas that are coming now. 17 years, okay, that cycle, but it’s like, what kind of a creature lives underground for 17 years, and then comes up and lives for six weeks and sins and and dies? There’s something beautiful about that, that cycle, even though there’s so annoying.

Allen 51:41
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, as you said, Einstein said, everything’s a miracle. You can live your life that way, it will totally change your life. Yeah, you know, and if you if you wake up, you know, looking for the miracles every day, you’re gonna find them will totally change your life.

Brian Smith 51:58
Yeah. And it’s a choice. And that’s the thing that I’ve realized, whenever I try to communicate to people is, it’s a choice, we can look at life as if it’s, it’s random. And it’s cruel. And it’s harsh, and there’s lots of evidence to support that. Or we can look at life as if it’s miraculous, and everything is just as it should be. And there’s lots of evidence to support that, too. So it’s really what do you decide what how do you decide you want to live your life? How do you want to look

Allen 52:25
at it? And you know, in laws, you can you can celebrate a life that was, well, you can mourn that life forever? And it’s up to you.

Brian Smith 52:38
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And with my daughter, she was only here on this planet for 15 years, but she she made and still making a huge impact. And, you know, I’ve decided that as if it was a choice, I have decided that I’m going to, you know, continue to carry on what she started. And so, you know, with, again, with your wife that such a, you know, people say, Oh, such a tragic thing. And in a sense, it is, but and we don’t know what our lives would be like otherwise, you said, If I could go back and do it again, we don’t. We don’t even know. There’s a great movie from several years ago, called the butterfly effect, where someone could go back and change things. And we don’t, we don’t anticipate all the other things that would change. If we just changes one little thing we always assume life would have turned out better if I could have done this. But the reality is, we don’t know.

Allen 53:29
Yeah, we don’t know. We don’t. And I realized, you know, even though I said I feel speech in college and get nervous getting up in group, I mean, I spoken to as many as 1500 people, you know, in Grand Old Opry, auditorium and ballroom could hardly see the back of the room, you know, was I nervous? I was scared stiff, of course. But my passion as I said, I had to give this message to the audience. They’re getting, we’re getting too serious folks. Lighten up. Yeah. And, and I feel like I’ve been guided to do this. And so I continue. I continue to do it. It’s it’s what I’ve been asked to do by some higher power.

Brian Smith 54:23
Yeah, well, you’re, you’re following the path that you were put on, you know, and sometimes we get to, we feel like we get to choose our pads. This time, we feel like our pads are given to us. And again, it’s a matter of how we how we look at it like, Okay, I’m gonna take lemons and make lemonade if you want to even want to look at it that way. But I I happen to believe that this was the path that I was supposed to be on and that this is what’s supposed to happen. And that someday, I’ll understand why it happened the way it did, but for today, my job is to is to continue to follow.

Allen 54:56
And you know, that’s another I think coping For someone has lost someone that you’re right in that situation, I was right in my wife having a terminal illness and right in her dying. I could not see past that. Right right now that I could see past it and look back and what I’ve accomplished in the 1000s of people I’ve helped with my books. I mean, I get letters and stuff, how it’s helped people. I see maybe why that happened in the big picture.

Brian Smith 55:29
Yeah. Yeah, that’s the thing. And that’s, that’s, that’s something that we need to remember when we’re going through things. We never see it when we’re going through it. I remember when I got fired for first time, I got fired from a job, my daughter was nine months old. And I’m like, there’s nothing good out of come out of this. I was just getting ready to move. My daughter, literally, like I said, was nine months old, I got fired from my job. I couldn’t see the two that two years down the road, I’d be making more money than I ever made the other company. And it was the most money I’ve ever made, you know, in my career. I couldn’t see that at the time. And so we have to trust as we get older, you know, as you and I get some age on us, we see how things turn out. Okay, so we can have a little bit more faith when something bad happens something quote, bad happens. That Yeah, maybe this is going to be okay, maybe maybe it’ll be alright.

Allen 56:16
Yeah, and you know, I have a similar thing I as I said, I used to be a scenic designer with CBS television. And I was designing, you may not know, Merv Griffin, Jackie Gleason, and none of those show. You’re moving to the west coast. We were on the east coast. So they’d let go the staff. And then they gave me soap operas to do and I didn’t want to do that. So they took those shows away from me, I had nothing to do and i and i was let go from CBS. And I thought, Oh, this is terrible. This isn’t awful. But it got us to move to the San Francisco where we’ve always wanted to live. My wife was from there. We got a Victorian house that you see part one room, my office in it. You know, things totally changed. And and the better. Yeah. So you know, we just can’t see. Yeah, what’s ahead for us? So we need trust, we need to trust

Brian Smith 57:19
Yeah, and no, it’s, as you said that sometimes those things that we cling to are actually holding us back. You know, and we need to be forced to have them ripped out of our hands. Right. A you know, because now you’ve been in San Francisco for how many years? Now?

Allen 57:33
It’s been for over 40 years. Yeah, yeah. And now the My house is, you know, worth in this incredible Victorian house in San Francisco that I Who would have ever thought I’d have have this, you know, so,

Brian Smith 57:54
yeah, and that and that’s the thing that I love about your books and the conversation we’re having now because if people can just while we’re in the moment, just relax a little bit and say, it’s gonna be okay. It’s going to be okay. I don’t know how this is gonna work out. I don’t know when it’s gonna work out but it’s going to be okay. And it always is. Here. I

Allen 58:17
just reaching for right behind my computer, this sign that I have. Mm hmm.

Brian Smith 58:23
Yes. Yes.

Allen 58:25
Just to remind myself, you know, yeah, I

Brian Smith 58:29
interview a lot of people have had near death experiences and I had a woman on her name is Heidi Craig. And she’s, she’s had an incredibly difficult life and she had this near death experience. And she said, I learned three things. One was, everything will be okay. that everything is okay. And that we’re unconditionally love more than we can ever imagine. And I was like, if we could always remember those three things. And if we could always remember that, you know, no matter what things look like, it’s going to be okay. And that’s that’s the message we get, you know, all these you know, from from spiritual people and seekers, it’s like that. So we just need to learn to trust that as we’re going through all the trials and tribulations we go through, right,

Allen 59:11
not easy. The more we can you know, remember some of those things, the easier it becomes.

Brian Smith 59:20
Yeah, absolutely. Alan, I’ve really enjoyed having this conversation with you today. It’s it’s great getting to meet you tell people, you remind people of your book, how to spell your name where they can find it.

Allen 59:33
Right so the books we talked about my first book, the healing power of humor.

The Awe Factor, my latest book.

Last, they’re all on Amazon or your books local bookstore could order it or Barnes and Nobles or you know anywhere online and spelling My name because spelt differently. Sometimes a Ll e n, k l e I n and can go to my website, triple W dot Alan Klein, calm. Awesome, awesome.

Brian Smith 1:00:25
Well Alan again, it’s been a pleasure getting to have this time with you today getting to know you a little bit better. Keep doing what you’re doing, bringing, bringing joy to people in the world we need we need more of that.

Allen 1:00:37
Thank you and good luck to you, your book your podcast. I look I look forward to telling other people to to watch it or listen to it.

Brian Smith 1:00:48
Thank you. Alright, enjoy the rest of your day.

Allen 1:00:51
You too.

Brian Smith 1:00:52
So that does it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you enjoyed it. If you like this content, make sure you subscribe. So click on the subscribe button here and then click on the bell to receive notifications and click on all that way you’ll be notified whenever I release new content. Thanks for watching and have a great day.

Transcribed by

Juneteenth was Saturday, Father’s Day and the summer solstice was Sunday. It was a big, big weekend.

For the first time since 2019, we headed up to Columbus to see the entire family. I hadn’t seen Brandon or Bridget since 2019. Brent, I had seen twice, socially distanced. My parents, I had not seen since 2019. Our family took the virus and the social distancing extremely seriously. Freedom #1- reuniting with family.

Since I picked up my BMW last weekend, it was my first time to get to drive it on the open road. I made the mistake of following the GPS and taking I-71 to Columbus (a horribly maintained road). In spite of that, the trip was good.- Freedom #2- owning the car I’ve wanted for over three decades.

We had the usual Smith spread, sous vide chuck roast, smoked chicken thighs, Italian chicken thighs, hamburgers, AND ribeye steaks. That was just the meat. Two types of brownies, strawberry/peach cobbler, and German chocolate cake for dessert.

As a surprise to Kayla, Tywana and I paid off her student loans, in full. She was fortunate and scholarships paid for a good chunk of her undergraduate degree. We paid half of the remaining half for the first four years. She took out loans for the remainder. We filled in the gaps for her fifth year and for her graduate program. I hate that kids come out of school in debt sometimes multiples times their annual salaries. I did not want that for Kayla. As it turned out, her student loan debt was about three-quarters of what her first-year salary will be. That’s still something that would have taken her years to pay off.- Freedom #3 and the biggest one!

We paid off her loans on June 4th. But, I wanted to let her know on Juneteenth, the day Black Americans celebrate the end of slavery. In a very American way, it was over two years before the enslaved people of Galveston, TX got the news they had been freed. So, I gave Kayla a graduation card with this note in it:

On January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, freeing the enslaved people of America.

On June 19, 1865, the enslaved people of Galveston, TX received the news that they had been freed, two years prior.

On June 4, 2021, Kayla Smith was freed from debt.

On June 19, 2021, two weeks later, Kayla received the news that her student loans had been paid in full.

Happy Juneteenth!

It’s so important to me to give Kayla a great start. She is sacrificing salary to serve kids in counseling and she’s expressed concern about that. Her loans were deferred while she completed school. But, it was coming time to pay the piper. By giving her my Mazda 6 and paying off her loans, at least she’s starting out her career debt-free. As an African-American father, this is extremely important to me because it’s not often we can give our kids a great start.

For Father’s Day, all I ask is that I be allowed to watch the US Open. And, that’s precisely what I did. After we got back from Columbus, Kayla stayed the night and spent Father’s Day with me. Tywana was going to make one of my favorites, Mediterranean spaghetti. But, I wanted something different and since we had had so much beef over the last week, I decided to make a seafood meal. I got sushi for an appetizer, escargot, lobster tails which I poached in the sous vide, and grilled shrimp. I made smashed roasted baby potatoes, and Tywana stir-fried the fire-roasted vegetable medley from Costco. We had Bridget’s German chocolate cake for dessert.

After dinner, Tywana and Kayla cleaned out both cars, transferred Kayla’s stuff over from Leroy to the Mazda, and she took the Mazda home with her for the first time. I wistfully looked at Leroy, as the girls named my Lexus, sitting on the street again this morning. He will only be with us for a few more days. I got Leroy a few weeks after Shayna was born. The girls grew up riding in that car. I drove him for 14 years. Kayla drove him for 7. Many, many memories were made with Leroy. It will be bittersweet letting him go. Selling Leroy will be just another reminder that nothing on this plane lasts forever. Time keeps on ticking into the future, as Steve Miller said.



Image by Wynn Pointaux from Pixabay


This has been an interesting Mother’s Day. I realize I am fortunate to have my mother still here, given that I will be 60 in a few weeks. Most people my age don’t have both parents still alive and healthy. Sadly, due to COVID-19, I haven’t physically been in their presence since 2019 despite living only about 100 miles away. But, thanks to technology, we stay in touch. I was able to call Mom yesterday to wish her a happy, low-key Mother’s Day.  I guess it’s the first in nearly 60 years she didn’t spend with any of her children.

Last week, I was interviewed by NPR for an article about Mother’s Day. I got a small comment in the article despite having provided over three paragraphs of thoughts. The mention is fantastic, though. I appreciate my friend Terri Daniel for referring them to me and having me included.

I kept a low profile last week for “Bereaved Mothers’ Day”. But, Laurie Smith asked me to address a group of mothers yesterday on actual Mother’s Day, and I shared my thoughts with the group. I’m not a fan of Bereaved Mother’s Day. First of all, bereaved is a sad word. Second, as I told Laurie when she asked me what the topic should be for our gathering, I said, “Once a mother, always a mother”. We don’t need to set aside a separate day for mothers whose children have passed into spirit. Those kids still exist, and those mothers have every bit as much of a right to Mother’s Day as any other mother. I know that Mother’s Day is a trigger for some. That was the subject of the NPR article, companies giving people the opportunity to opt-out of Mother’s Day promotions. My advice was rather than opting people out, to be more inclusive, to include mothers whose children had transitioned before them, instead of isolating grieving mothers, even more, to include children whose mothers are not here in the physical. And to celebrate the fact that while our bodies are not eternal, our love is.

We had about twenty-five mothers at the Zoom meeting, and that is exactly what we did. We talked about ways to honor our kids on this day, to remember the great times we had with them. And, we did the same for those whose mothers are in spirit. Rather than try to avoid Mother’s Day and spend it sad and alone, this group of warrior women came together, supported each other, and we came up with some creative ways to celebrate. One mother said her son would have made crab cakes for her for dinner. So, she was going to have crab cakes! I loved that. I’m sure many tears were shed. But I know that at least some of those were happy tears.

I opened the meeting by playing a song by Jem, “You Will Make It”. It was the perfect song for the meeting, acknowledging how our worlds have been shattered. But, our loved ones have never really left us. And, they want us to make it. We spent quite a while discussing the song and acknowledging how common these feelings are, including often a sense of guilt when we begin to heal.

As we held our hour-long meeting, more than one mother saw a cardinal outside their windows. I believe a sign for one is a sign for all. So, we all took that. A sign for one is a sign for all.

Kayla spent the day with us and, at Tywana’s request, we had a sushi appetizer followed by fried chicken, baked potatoes, and sauteed asparagus. We started the day with Daylight Donuts, Tywana’s favorites, and she finished with a four cake sampler she picked up for dessert.

My strategy for days that are triggers is not to try to avoid them but to lean into them. Whether it’s Father’s Day (coming up), a birthday, or Christmas, you cannot avoid the day. What you can do is choose how you look at it.

Stephanie Arnold knew she was going to die in childbirth. For months, she told everybody she knew. She sought out doctors to try to get them to be prepared to save her life. And, when she delivered by Caesarean section, her heart stopped. For 37 seconds, Stephanie was dead.

In this interview, we discuss what led to Stephanie’s premonition and how she advocated for herself, possibly saving her life. She tells us about what she remembers from the “Other Side” and we discuss why some people who flatline have no recollection of anything beyond this world. Stephanie came back with some very specific messages for people here from people she had not met in this life.

Stephanie is also featured in the Netflix documentary: Surviving Death

for more about Stephanie, including her book, her audiobook, and her upcoming podcast visit: ℹ️




Announcer 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine

what if the things in life to cause us the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be.

We feel like we’ve been buried. But what if, like a seed had been planted,

and having been planted, who grow to become a mighty tree.

Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith.

Brian Smith 0:46
Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I’ve got with me Stephanie Arnold, and you may have seen her on the Netflix series surviving death and I was fortunate enough to be able to reach out to Stephanie and schedule this interview. She’s got a fascinating story. So I’m going to read her bio, and then we’re going to get started just have a conversation as we always do. Before Stephanie Arnold died, she had been an Emmy nominated award winning TV producer, who spent nearly three decades creating and producing TV shows, music videos and documentaries that she met the love of her life, and Stephanie decided the only thing she wanted to produce was a family. Little did she know this fateful decision quite literally lead her on an end to the end of one life and beginning of another. It was during the birth of a second child that Stephanie suffered a rare but often fatal condition, called an amniotic fluid embolism or an AFP and died on the operating table for 37 seconds. Everything she does at this time is a direct result of her survival. That experience. As I mentioned earlier, she’s currently streaming on Netflix surviving death, which is an excellent series, it’s a six part series on Netflix, just finished watching, it’s great. She’s become an award winning international best selling author, and inspirational speaker and a mission help others realize that connecting with their intuition can not only enhance our lives, but can very well save them. So with that, I want to welcome Stephanie Arnold to Grief to growth.

Stephanie Arnold 2:11
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Brian Smith 2:14
Yes, definitely. I really want to let people know like who you are, about what your experiences are, and and kind of where you what you got out of it. So I want you to start where we’d like to start in terms of telling us about your experience.

Stephanie Arnold 2:28
And they be catalysts, or my previous life. Well, my second life really good. It’s always interesting, like interview people that have had these like life changing moments in life. When people asked me to tell my story, I usually started in the middle. Because it’s like, that’s where things change is this. This is the event that changed things. So it’s up to you, if you want to start with, I could even ask you Did you have experiences like this before? Or we can start with your actual experience that your books are about what we can start with the experience and work meander around. So we’ll go off on tangents. So I met my husband in 2008. And then he relocated me from LA, I was producing reality shows. And at that time, I was like, wow, I met the love of my life. This is worth keeping up everything. And so I relocated to Chicago. And then we started to produce a family like you said, so the first baby so I have a stepdaughter who I’ve known since she was two years old. So she was my first if you will. And then the second one was through three rounds of IVF. And I had no problems, no issues with the pregnancy, except she was 41 weeks and I needed a C section because she was almost nine pounds. So that was that was the only complication I had. And then the second one Jacob I was pregnant with after several rounds. And during the first 20 weeks of the pregnancy, everything was fine. I had no Charley horses, no acid reflux. Now I was like check, get pregnant with boys all the time this way. And then

and then about the 20 week ultrasound, I was diagnosed with the placenta previa, which is basically the placenta growing on top of the cervix. And it’s a one in 200 risk where basically,

you know, as the placenta as the uterus grows, the placenta will move out of the way but if it doesn’t, then the worst case scenario is you get a C section. And my husband and I were splitting our time between New York and Chicago and the radiologist had come in which is slightly different than if you were an irregular doctor. So the radiologist said, you know, you have this but I’ll be back and I looked at my husband, and I said, I don’t know what this is, but I have a bad feeling about this. It just hit me like a ton of bricks like that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and you know

My husband’s a PhD from University of Chicago. He is an economist. He is a former Air Force pilot. He is somebody who is very analytical data driven. He really likes to process everything and look at all of the stats before he makes any kind of decision. And what I was saying to him, was a knee jerk reaction. So for him, he was like, honey, we don’t have all the information, we’ll ask the doctors you have prenatal care, let’s, let’s figure this out together. But there was just this knowing I’ve had that there was just something off. And so when I went home, of course, Dr. Google starts googling everything. And I’m like, oh, a placenta previa can turn into an accreta, which is what Kim Kardashian had, which is basically when the placenta emerges almost like a lava lamp or the the the organs of the placenta and the uterus combined, then if that happens, you might bleed. If you bleed, you might need a hysterectomy. If you need a hysterectomy, you could hemorrhage out and if you have my child, you and baby could lose your life.

And I sat back and I said to my husband, I said, this is going to happen to us, the only difference is the baby’s going to be fine. And of course my husband looks at the computer and he’s like, come on, what you’re looking at is half of a half of a half a half a half percent chance. That’s the miracle baby behind me flying around the school, Jacob a pi. And, and then I He’s like, that’s, it’s not gonna happen. That’s the worst worst case scenario. And so, so then what ended up happening was, I was like, okay, but I’m on. Alright. So then he says, so he’s like, this is not gonna happen. But I knew it was it was. It was almost like, you know that knowing when you meet somebody and you’re like, this person is a bad person. I don’t know what it is. But it just, it’s bad. Or I don’t know how I know this, but I know it. But it was like that. So then I didn’t stop there. I talked to everybody I knew. I talked to the doctors, I talked to the nurses. I was like my placenta previous return to accreta. I’m wanting to hemorrhage. I’m getting a hysterectomy. And I’m gonna die. And you’re gonna put me under general anesthesia. I’m gonna be cut from sternum to pelvis like I was, I sounded like a lunatic. I sounded like an absolute crazy person. And, you know, in all of the doctors defenses, you know, the tests were not showing what I was seeing. They were doing ultrasounds, they were doing blood workup they were doing

they were taking notes. They were they were saying you know, Mr. Arnold, you know, maybe you’re just stressed. My husband was worried that maybe there was something wrong with baby because this was not typical behavior of me. So he didn’t want to put out anything into the universe that that it was negative. And, like, I find that interesting now, because I’m like, you don’t claim to be a spiritual person. But yet you don’t want to put things out into the universe, like how he’s up I believe in energy. Yes. So how am I okay, so, um, so then we had, you know, at some point, I spoke to my ob who asked me if I was still having these visions, and these weren’t dreams. These were, this was something that was sticking with me. This was like, you know, I talked about the difference between a premonition and a casual thought. I mean, if you’re sitting on a plane, and you’re like, oh, planes can crash and this plane could crash and oh my god, this plane can crash and then you just that is a casual thought. It’s fleeting, it’s momentary, or you’re thinking of it it pops in your head. It real premonition is something that sticks with you it It never lets up and this never let up. This was something I was thinking about day and night and I was racing against the clock because I was sure that the day that I delivered this baby was the day I was going to die. So call it maybe my producers instinct and you know I used to work in TV and I used to produce television and so with TV, you know it’s high stress, it’s very you know, and I i function really well on under a lot of pressure. But I researched I did a lot of research so at the end of the day, I asked my ob I said if I need a hysterectomy what happens or we had a friend of ours who’s a gynecological oncologist and and what they do is that they perform surgeries on reproductive organs that are that have cancer and so they’re high risk surgeries. And so he says, Stephanie, look what happens when you wish you’re not going to need a hysterectomy. But if in fact you do, he ob would transfer you to maternal fetal Medicine, but you really wouldn’t want MFM to do it, you’d want it to die not to do it because they have more experience. So I make an appointment with the head of gynaec at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. And, you know, we’re sitting in the waiting room and my husband went with me to every single appointment. And so he is sitting there, and, you know, he loves me, and he wants me to be okay. But this was more than the tools that he had ms toolbox to deal with, you know, this was this was the unknown. And this is this is not comfortable for him. So he’s sitting in the waiting room. And we’re seeing women who are suffering from cancer, and they have IVs in their arm, and they have no hair and, and he’s like, I’m embarrassed to be here. And I said, I don’t know what to tell you. So everybody’s telling me I’m fine. And, you know, everybody sees this open road, and I see this 18 Wheeler heading straight for me. Maybe this doctor has heard something of foreboding, or this impending doom, you know, during pregnancy, because and, and maybe he’ll have some answers. So, so we go sit in this consultation room with him and his resident, and there’s, you know, take his shoes, taking notes. And the doctor says, Mrs. Arnall, how can I help you? And I said, Well, I posted a previous when I turn into an accreta, I made a hysterectomy. You’re going to perform the hysterectomy in a couple months. I see you You see me, you’re my doctor. So he stops. And he says, Mrs. Arnold, have you been on the internet? And I said, Why? Yes, I have. But this is going to happen. And he’s like, Okay, well, let’s get an MRI. If the MRI is positive for an accreta, then I’ll schedule myself to be available for you on your on your day of delivery. Okay, okay, great. No problem. So I do the MRI, the MRI is negative for freedom. And my husband looks at me and he says, You should feel relief, you should feel you know, much better. And I said, No, I feel much worse, because now I’m running out of people to tell this crazy foreboding story too. So I take to Facebook. So now we’re at a point where I’m like, no one’s listening to me. So I take to Facebook. I’m like, if anybody has my blood type, I’m gonna need it. I write goodbye letters. I sent out goodbye letters I talked to if you saw me in a coffee shop and said, how’s your pregnancy? I’d be like, I’m gonna die. Like friends, family, everybody stayed away from me. And I think they were just holding their breath just waiting for me to deliver and just move on. Right? Like, like, let’s just, let’s just get rid of the anxiety, whatever this is.

You know, and at some point, my ob told me, I think you need to see have a consultation with Anastasia. And so I made a phone call to Anastasia. And she said she was telling me where I would recover what would happen with the epidural all these things. And I said, great. I’ve had this before. I’ve had a baby before. I said, but what happens in the event that this this this, this, this happened? And she said she was startled by the way that I was speaking. And but at the end of the day, she tried to reassure me and said, you’re in a teaching hospital, we have you covered. And she said she’ll never forget the last words I said to her, which were it is what it is, like, this is my This was my last ditch effort. It was there was no one else to talk to. There was no one else to consult with, you know. And so, at 36 weeks to the day, my husband is on a business trip to New York, I’m supposed to deliberate 37 weeks, 36 weeks to the day, I start bleeding on the kitchen floor. And I know that I’m having this baby today. So I get to the hospital, Jonathan’s on a plane heading back. They triage me and they’re like, you know what, the the RS are quiet. I think that now’s the time that we should take Jacob and I kiss my daughter million times. And I’m trying to have that that motherly instinct of not having you know, my case, my daughter a million times and they’re assuring her that that she’s going to be that I’m going to be back with her brother. And my mother’s instinct kicks in and I don’t cry. And I’m just like, I don’t want the last thing that she sees for me to be breaking down. And I’m texting my husband on the Skype chat. And I’m telling him that he’s made me the happiest woman in the world, pleased to take care of our children and he’s still not getting it and I’m very conscious that these are the last words he is ever going to read from me. But he’s like, Where do I Where do I meet you? And I said, a full recovery. Hopefully they will be back and as they Gurney me back. I tell my doctors that there’s something wrong you need to put me under general anesthesia. She said, I’m not going to do that, because it’s going to put you asleep and the baby to sleep. And so it’s too dangerous. And I know you’re nervous because Jonathan’s not here, but I need you to trust us. And we’ve got you covered, and said, Okay. And that’s, that was my last ditch effort, right? I’m being wheeled into the room that’s going to give life to my son and take mine. And I am acutely aware of how heavy this pressure is. Because I can’t go anywhere. I can’t, I’m not getting out of this. Like, they’re, you know, if you’re having elective surgery, and you’re having a foreboding feeling, you just don’t do the surgery. But this is not, this is not an option for me. So they prepare me for C section, they put a curtain in front of my face, I’m going to, you know, on the table, and at that point, I don’t remember much of anything else. They tell me there was about 15 minutes before they delivered Jacob but they said when they were talking to me, I was kind of catatonic so I feel like I scared myself out of my own body, like when you get scared to death. Like I was just, I was just there, but I wasn’t there. And so they were talking to me. And I wasn’t answering then they deliver a happy, healthy, baby boy. And seconds later. I died.

Brian Smith 16:25
Wow. Well, it’s I like to pause just for a second to understand some things. You, you obviously this feeling was intense. I mean, and you were not about to let it go. Even though everybody’s telling you, Stephanie, you’re just imagining this. So what was it? Was it a feeling were their visions? And what made you so confident that it was real?

Stephanie Arnold 16:47
All of the above it was a heaviness, I felt around everything I was, I was conscious. I had three months to save my life. And I was trying to enjoy moments with my daughter with my husband and with my stepdaughter. But I couldn’t because there was this just heaviness around every single moment. Every time I would talk to somebody new, I was just feeling hoping maybe I’d get an answer from them of something that a cousin, a family member or a friend had gone through, but it wasn’t coming. I was having visions of like, you know, as soon as I saw a lava lamp in my head, which I describe as the placenta accreta with the the that’s exactly what it looked like. And I felt it happening in my body. I was walking through a park and the It was a cold winter day and the fountain was dry. And then in my mind’s eye it was started flowing, but then it turned to blood. And then I felt my head of visceral reaction to that as my body started to hemorrhage, you know, I felt had a visceral reaction to that blood, and then all of a sudden, I felt my body hemorrhage. And then I raced to the ER with my husband and my daughter and they were like Mr. Arnold, are you okay? And I said, No, I’m hemorrhaging. And they were like, no, you’re not, everything’s fine. You know, baby’s fine. And medically, it’s fine. Everything’s good. And my husband’s like, okay, it’s a false alarm. And I’m like, No, this is a warning. You know, so it was, I was so confident there wasn’t even. I wasn’t even questioning how I was getting this information. More, many people might have questioned or after that, like somebody has told me before, you know, after the Fifth and Sixth Doctor told you, you were just stressed. And you know, the tests are negative, I would have shut up when I said, then you would have stayed dead.

Brian Smith 18:40
Yeah. So and you had had, because I’ve heard your story. And I know that you had had some intuition before were things that come true. So I’m wondering if that might have played into the fact that you were so confident that this was real,

Stephanie Arnold 18:53
you know, as a kid, when I had certain visions, somebody ended up dying. And when that happens as a kid, I think you, you believe you’re willing it to happen, at least that’s for me. And so when that happened, I shut it down. I didn’t want to see it. I was like, This is not what I wanted. I don’t want any part of it. So when this is your own foreboding, and you have the love of your life and your family, and you’re just like, No, no, this cannot this cannot be happening. I didn’t worry about being judged. I mean, everybody thought I was crazy. But at that point, I was already off the rails. So it was like, okay, judge me, I don’t care. But somebody’s got to hear me. Because the biggest issue I had was that my doctors who have known me for close to a decade.

Were sitting there saying, you know, everything’s fine. Maybe you’re just stressed. But this was abnormal behavior. For me. They knew who I was they I’d had a baby before I’d had a C section before so and I was used to high pressure so fruit for them.

They were missing that really important point and, and had they listened differently, I think, as any patient would and as any patient has experienced in with clinicians when you’re not being heard, it’s very frustrating. So I think that difference would have been Had I known that they were listening and even with the anesthesiologist Had I known she had heard me, I would have been slightly calmer still would have been scared, but slightly calmer that somebody had heard me and prepared for the inevitable in my mind. Well, you know, the thing is, this goes against doctors training, they’re taught to be materialists and to talk to the rationalists and so I think I think maybe they’re they actually shut down their their intuition and shut down the fact that you might be having a real feeling here, but it’ll spoil either one of them at least did hear you. And so

what ended up happening was is so I flatline and only for 37 seconds, regardless still time, forever standing still, right. So I flatline and I ended up having an amniotic fluid embolism, which is a very rare one and 40,000 risk or amniotic cells get into the mother’s bloodstream. And if you happen to be allergic to it, your body goes into anaphylactic shock. And in most cases, you don’t make it. And just to give you perspective, Northwestern has been in existence for over 30 years at the time of my AFP, my amniotic fluid embolism, they had had 10, six did not make it the other three were in permanent vegetative states. And so, um, you know, in, in my case, I predicted a lot of what was going to happen, I didn’t have a name for it. But there was one thing I didn’t predict the or was stocked with extra blood and a crash cart. And, and those were what ultimately saved my life. And later, I had asked what happened and the anesthesiologist said, she was very uncomfortable as a fellow anesthesiologist having a consultation with me. And she said, You know, I was very uncomfortable with the fact that you had had a baby before it had a C section before, was speaking so clearly about what was going to happen and had sought out specialists to save your life. And with that one phone call she unbeknownst to me flagged my file and incorporated those life saving measures. That is 100% why I’m alive today and functioning. So the first that I mean, ultimately, had I known and had, she told me she was going to take it more seriously, I think I would have been a little calmer going in, I still would have been scared out of my mind. But I think knowing somebody had heard me. And her own intuition was what flagged it. I feel that had I known that she had hurt me, I probably would have felt slightly better.

Brian Smith 22:54
Wow. Yeah, that that had to be. I can imagine only imagine how frustrating that must have been. But the good thing is, someone did hear you. So you did have this, this flatline experience at 37 seconds. And I guess that was that was recorded, because it’s a very precise number that you give

Stephanie Arnold 23:11
it as well. You know, when I asked how long the heart had stopped, you know, they had said, you know, the anesthesiologist had told me 37 seconds and I’m like, Huh, okay, that’s an interesting number. Right? So, now I see 37 everywhere, like in restaurants, and then it might gate at an airport or something. I’m like, Okay, I know, everything’s gonna be fine. Like, that’s my number of safety now.

Brian Smith 23:33

Stephanie Arnold 23:34
that’s interesting how that works.

Brian Smith 23:36
So you have this this flatline experience and from my understanding is when you could that you went into a coma, I’m gonna let you tell the story. But so go ahead and

Stephanie Arnold 23:46
yeah, so um, you know, so all of this happens so if you’re lucky enough to and if your audience wants to learn more about what an amniotic fluid embolism as they can go to AFP And they can learn a lot more about all the details about and how they can get help or a family members who register but so the first half of it is cardiac arrests you see is you you lose your breath go your everything just shuts down. If you’re lucky to survive that and 40% are then the next phase starts which is d IC, which is your body’s inability to clot blood. I am Oh negative here. Your normal body has about 20 units of blood I was given 60 units of blood and blood product to save my life. And the the the acronym that anesthesiologists say use with di c because it stands for disseminated inter Co Op intravascular intravascular I see my husband’s felson that there was a neurological deficit but probably way before this Because I do malapropisms all the time, he makes fun of me because I can’t remember certain things or get things confused, but it they use the term death is coming. So it is one of the most lethal things one can have during during a delivery is one of the leading causes of maternal death. And, you know, they were prepared. So ultimately we, I get stabilized. And Jonathan arrives at the airport, and I, you know, the doctors to this day say they’re very happy. He was an Air Force pilot, and he was unemotional about things, because when you have a patient’s family member who comes in and they’re hysterical, it’s very difficult to discuss everything with you. But for him, he was like, anesthesiologists, and Air Force pilots definitely work well together. So he’s like, what’s mortality? morbidity? What do we have to do to get to the next stage? Where she right now? How do we deal with you know, like, all of this and so they said, Whatever you do, don’t look up amniotic fluid embolism. Of course, you’re going to and all you see are widower sites, basically, like it’s, it’s really bad. And then, and then he says to the doctor, he says, He says, If she needs a hysterectomy, this is the doctor we met with two months before. And they took note of it. They thought it was strange, but they still took note of it. And they said, Well, right now she won’t survive another surgery. So we’ve stabilized her, maybe she won’t need it. So go back to the sick you and the surgical ICU. And Jonathan is sitting there and about seven hours later, the bells and whistles go off. And I’m still hemorrhaging. So they call him the doc the guy knock that I had met with two months before to perform the hysterectomy. They did the pathology on the uterus. And they see that an accreta head started to form but so microscopic and where it was located was not in a place where the MRI had picked it up. And so basically, all of the visions I had prior had come true. My husband likes to joke and say, yeah, so I’ll accept. I knew you were going to survive. So I was right to

Brian Smith 27:15
that. Yeah. All right.

Stephanie Arnold 27:17
I’ll give that one to you.

Brian Smith 27:18
Yeah, it is interesting, cuz I was thinking as I was listening to your story, earlier, you know, you are you are writing you are wrong. Because you thought okay, I you knew that you were going to die and the baby was going to live and that clearly didn’t happen. But everything leading up to that did happen. So it does bring up this question of, you know, freewill versus predestination? And can we change our fates? And we know that there are psychics that will tell us certain things are going to happen. So what are your feelings about those things?

Stephanie Arnold 27:48
I know exactly how I feel about this. And I have this conversation a lot with my husband. So my husband says, you know, if you believe in predetermination, then your expiration date is your expiration date. I said yes. I said, but I don’t believe freewill and pre destination or predetermination are on the same path. I feel like maybe it was always in my cards. I was going to survive. But how well I survived was due to my freewill.

Brian Smith 28:10
Yeah, you know, and the thing is, we think of it as a either or, and I’m just trying to, I think it might be a little bit of both. I don’t know how that works. But I do know that people that have had near death experiences tell us that time is an illusion. You know, I was interviewing someone just a little couple a little while ago, and she said, everything is actually happening at once. Yeah, that is true. And from our perspective, we have this we spread things out in time. So it’s mind blowing to me, but I you know, and then the thing is, as you said, do we have an expiration date? Yes, yes. Or no? Or may that we don’t, we don’t really know.

Stephanie Arnold 28:44
I mean, I’m, I’m no expert, and, and God expiration date, predetermination. All I know is that this is what happened, I survived it. There are many others who survive not well. And so if I have the free will, you know, I have the free will to speak up. And so I could have easily just shut up and not said anything. Now I can’t go back and do an empirical data test and say, Okay, let’s do this again. And I will say anything, and let’s see, how will I survive? Or how, what, how not will I survive? And but my gut tells me that me speaking up and having the doctors prepared, is what helped me neurologically and helped save me in my organ functions in a different way, because I didn’t lose oxygen for I don’t think I lost oxygen at all. But the reason was, because they were prepared, but the doctors have gone on TV and said, I prepared them. So they wouldn’t have prepared. I mean, I spoke in a medical school, once in the faculty advisor at University of Chicago said, You know, I am not going to prepare every LR for every histrionic, neurotic, pregnant woman who’s going to say this, I said, I’m not asking you to What I’m asking you to do is listen to your own intuition because you have it, and so to your patients. And so it’s just taking an extra moment and saying, like I said, the one thing my doctors were missing was this was not typical behavior for this patient. They have known me for years. And so something was up. And so now in hindsight, they they say, yeah, you know, in hindsight, there was the different behavior because you’re not like this. And that’s all. That’s all anyone can do is say, okay, we use your voice. When you send something, say something. What’s the worst that could happen? You’re wrong. Okay. Well, you will never regret speaking up and being wrong, but you will regret not speaking up and being dead, right?

Brian Smith 30:45
Yeah. Yeah, the lesson I take from from it, Stephanie, is that we have to trust our intuition. And I think that’s, maybe that’s as far as we need to go. The thing is, I work with a lot of people who have parents whose children have passed away. And a lot of times we think, well, I should have known something, I should have said something, I should have done something. And so a little bit of my concern is that people to not want to think we can control everything. And I should I should have, I should have I should have been, so what would you What would your response to that be? Yeah, I

Stephanie Arnold 31:16
mean, I’m starting a podcast called knowing which is about, you know, we don’t know how we know, we just do. And, you know, one of my interviews, he said, You know, I had these visions that my, my wife was going to die like I had this, you know, during her pregnancy. And it was just this heaviness. And he couldn’t stop it. Ultimately, she did. And he said, the dream prepared me like the vision prepared me. So your intuition is there to guide you to be a compass to help you know, when something really right or really wrong is going to happen, doesn’t mean by you inserting yourself into the narrative, you’re going to be able to change the outcome. You know, maybe in my case, the way that me speaking up helped save me differently than what I would have bought I bought, I would have always survived, but maybe I would have been in a permanent vegetative state, I don’t know. And I have spoken to people who have had dreams who have had intuitive moments that could not stop what was going to happen, even though they talked about this man talked about it, this meant talk to the doctors about it, but it still was going to happen. So they say that it just prepared them a little differently. Because it wasn’t so much of a shock to their system, when ultimately it happened. I mean, Dr. Marcin, Neil talked about it in surviving death, you know how horrific to know this, and then feel relief when he gets to his 18th birthday, then tell him that, that, you know, you’re holding your breath, and then for it to happen. And then she concludes, and she says it best where she’s like, you know, I realized, now, my survival was so that I’d be there for my family. But knowing this ahead of time prepared me. And the sadness of the loss happened way before the actual loss happened. And you know, that you’re the people you talk to, and anyone who loses a child, I mean, that that pain, I can’t even imagine being in those footsteps, and I having the intuition that something is wrong, or that you could have stopped it, or what have you is just going to spiral you down this rabbit hole, because you can’t change the past. It just makes you acutely aware, especially knowing that you can communicate with them. And I 100% believe in the afterlife. 100% believe that there’s life after death. But the fact that that they had this experience, and then they can still connect it at least, you know, makes it slightly just I don’t even know when people are going through grief. They have so many different stages, but then they can have, you know, a friend of mine, David Kessler wrote a book called finding meaning the sixth stage of grief. And and I think at some point, you know, finding meaning in that helps you with your mission and helps you grow and helps you know, exactly in that way what your soul is supposed to do with that pain to help others.

Brian Smith 34:33
Yeah. Well, these are very, very deep questions that I don’t think we can really grok on this level, I think and I’ve wrestled with it. I kind of like your house. I’m a chemical engineer. So I’m I’m a very light analytical want to know how this thing works. And I think some people we I think we want to know, we want to know and I think and in your case or in other cases, because I was I was hearing you talk about well, if you have intuition, then maybe you can avoid the circumstance that would have caused this We’ve heard we’ve heard about people say, I’m not going to get on that plane, and then the plane crashes or I’m not going to get the car and go do this thing a day. But I interviewed a woman, Nicky Allen, who’s a psychic medium. She knew she was going to have an auto accident. And she was talking to the guy she was living with at the time and said, I’m going to have an auto accident. He goes what, like when and where it’s just like, I don’t know that. So she couldn’t stay out of a car for the rest of her life. And she ended up having an accident actually that that evening. So some things I think are, I think something’s just going to happen. And I think for people, again, that are already in grief, I just wanted to, you know, say to them don’t feel guilty, because you didn’t know. Yeah, 100%

Stephanie Arnold 35:39
you know, and and that’s the thing. I mean, I’ve had survivor’s guilt, because people will, I’ve told that they institutions who’ve I’ve spoken to, they’re like, Well, God saved you for a reason. I said, Please don’t say that. I said, because what that does that disrespects the woman who lost her life yesterday to an AFP as and why I’m more special than they know that that’s not the way it works. I don’t believe that’s the way it works. I just I think it’s the luck of the draw in this in this case. And I, you know, yes, I spoke up, I believe that that had an effect on how well I survived. But, but I don’t want your audience to feel like they could have done anything differently to change the course one, because you’re going to be again, going down that rabbit hole that is going to just cause much more pain, because it’s already happened. And to and to because because what it will do is give it a false sense to anybody else out there who is about to lose somebody close to them that they can stop whatever is happening. And yeah, it’s it’s just so painful. I can’t. Yeah. Hey, I have a hard time with that. And yeah,

Brian Smith 37:01
yeah. Let’s just get back to the lessons from your, from your experience. I think there’s, I think there are lessons there for all of us. One is obvious, I think, to trust our intuition. It worked out very well for you and that sense? So you had this 37 seconds when you when your heart stopped, and you were actually I guess in a coma for a while afterwards, and you were, you know, very bad shape. So when you come out, what were your recollections of that? 37 seconds,

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Brian Smith 38:27
So when you come out, what were your recollections of that? 37 seconds?

Stephanie Arnold 38:32
Zero. So I was on Steve Harvey and Steve’s I did you see the light? And I was like, Nah, man, they gave him a lot of drugs, you know, so. But that was nine months postpartum. Right? So I so and the lesson at that point was about listening to your intuition. And I really wanted people to understand because when I was googling, you know, Pregnancy foreboding, nothing existed. I was trying to find story after story. So that would help me. And so I wanted my story to get out there so that when people were feeling the same way, they now have a story to connect the dots to right. So that was a but then, you know, I had gone to therapy. I had kidney failure. I had, you know, I had all these different departments. every department at the hospital was like, you know, how did you know? And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m in a teaching hospital. Why don’t you tell me? And it was really hard. It was hard getting back to being a mom and a wife. And so I would go to therapy and therapists be like, how can we help you? And I said, you know, you can First tell me how it is that I saw everything once before it happened. They’re like, let’s not worry about that right now. Let’s just worry about getting you out of the trauma. And I said, Yeah, well, that’s a problem. Because for me, if I get another premonition I’m going to freak out what if I, you know, you know, detonate myself like I have no idea what what’s what could happen, but it could be a false sense of emptiness. Scared to live. So, so him. So I ended up seeing a regression therapist who does hypnotherapy to take you back into the moments of trauma. And I didn’t have any huge belief that this would help. And I did it over Skype or over video conferencing. But for whatever reason, I just felt like, you know, there was nothing typical about my story. So why not do an A typical, you know, therapy. So, she, she talks about hypnotherapy and how, when you’re in a meditative state your memories, you can access like filmstrips. And they’re stored in your mind. And well, under a meditative state, you can you can see what’s happening. So, ultimately, I videotaped my therapy, if you couldn’t tell I’m quite Taipei. And so I, you know, I videotape the therapy. And under hypnosis, you’ve seen me actually going through a seizure and convulsing, going back into the operating room. And in that moment, you see me saying, you know, who had the code who jumped on my chest to do CPR, what my daughter was doing down the hall, what my husband was wearing off the plane, when I was in a coma, that what my mother was doing when she walked into the room for the first time. You know, it was, it was a lot of download. And, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s so funny, because when I was writing 37 seconds, you know, we submit it to publishers, and one publisher said, you know, she didn’t die long enough to make it compelling.

Which was awesome. I have it in writing. But I, you know, you are right, the other people you’ve interviewed that have had near death experiences, there is no time and space. So space, all of a sudden, expanded, there were no walls, there were no ceilings there. You know, I saw everything in 3d. And you go back into those moments as an observer. So I saw Stephanie on the operating table, and then I saw my spirit perpendicular to my body. And then you started seeing the EKG machine and beeping and then up until the moment of flatline, flatline, you saw a shooting star. And then with the, you know, the shooting star moment, then you see everything and all the chaos happening. But then I saw spirits, I saw my grandmother, I saw my uncle, I saw my my other grandmother, I saw my aunt, and, you know, I’ve done research on psychologists and what psychologists are saying, when people are traumatized and say, you know, well, that’s wishful thinking, right? It’s like you want your loved ones next to you when you’re traumatized. And I said, Okay, fine. Let’s put a pin on the fact that my relatives were there, cool, no problem. But it’s the ones I didn’t know who had messages for the ones I do know, back on this earthly plane. So when I saw my best friend’s little brother who had passed when he was seven, you know, I knew instantly like he had told me something. I had seen how he died. It was a mystery how he died because he was seven years old. And he had, he had choked on his vomit. And he had suffocated to that. And so nobody did an autopsy, his sister was like, I don’t know why they wouldn’t do an autopsy. At seven years old, you can sit up, you can, you know, there’s no reason for this. So it was just a mystery for the last 30 some odd years, four years. And I knew I saw his sheets in his bed, I saw how it happened. I met my father’s husband, my husband’s father, and he had passed in 1998, he was wearing a particular jacket, he had a coin in his hand. I had, and I had moments like this. And then I get zapped back in, right. Because you know, the way that I talk about it is that it’s like an umbilical cord. And so once the, once the spirit is severed from the body, that umbilical cord cuts off, but then you get pulled back and you get pulled back in with a force to your Dunton to your to your inner sacred womb. So I get popped back in. And then, um, and then I’m like, Okay, so then what happens, right? So I, so I come out of this, this one meditative moment. And I feel better. And I show it to Jonathan for two seconds. And you’re like my husband. So he looks at it. And it’s like, how do you know, this isn’t a recalled episode of Grey’s Anatomy in your head. After I was done calling him a lot of names. I said, I said, it’s a fair point. Right. So you can mix up thoughts and I had a lot of trauma, and I was under a lot of medications. So I could have made all this stuff up in my head. So I called my, the the therapist and I said, How do you know what I’m telling you is true. And she says, sometimes the only validation we get is that the patient feels better, and you feel better. And I said, Well, that’s not good enough for me. I have witnesses. So I took the tapes. Luckily I on videotape, so I didn’t have to say anything. I took the tapes back to the doctors who were present. And they all said they said, it’s accurate to doubt down to where we were standing, what we’re sitting what we’re doing what we were saying. And I said, and my anesthesiologist said, you know, sure, the hearing is probably the last to go, but you most certainly couldn’t have seen. And plus your MSC section and you couldn’t see below your neck. And once all hell broke loose, you know, once we got you intubated, your eyes were taped shut, so you couldn’t see everything else working around you. And then I kept saying to my doctor, I said, Did you say this can’t be happening? This can’t be happening? She said, Yes. But like, under my breath, far away from me, you wouldn’t have heard that. And it she was startled by the fact that, you know, I said, I just felt so alone, you know, you were treating the body like a slab of meat, as opposed to knowing that I was still there. And nobody was talking to me. And then I told Jonathan, that

that my own doctor didn’t deliver the baby. And he is like, we talking about she was there. I said, No, she was there. I said, but the guy non resident who is taking notes, who rolled her eyes at me and stopped taking notes, when I was explaining what was going to happen is that she delivered the baby. And he was like, yeah, so he’s like, Why would you say that she was on gynaec rotation? Why you know, that, that That can’t be true. So then we go, and we meet with the OB, and I said, Julie did did? Did you deliver Jacob? And she said, No. And I said, to the guy, non resident, Dr. Field Park, deliver the baby. And she’s like, well, we’re in a teaching hospital. And she was in the back hallways about 15 minutes before your procedure. So it’s our job to bring in people, you know, last minute and have them assist. So yeah, she delivered the baby. And at that point, I was like, like, I’ve got my answers, right, I, you know, we have a spiritual part, you know, energetic part, quantum physics part, however, you want to analyze it in all of the mind, body spirit aspect of it, um, but, but I have enough information to, to say, okay, consciousness after the brain shuts down, definitely exists. And the fact that I keep seeing spirits, and I keep getting validation, that what I saw from spirits that I didn’t know, was actually true, you know, confirms that I can see this too. I was talking with Laura Lynn Jackson the other day, who was also on the Netflix series, and she says, you know, Stephanie, we all have mediumship ability. So it’s just, you know, some you can meditate, you get stronger, and you can actually feel things and you can, you can, you can build that and I said, you know, I’m not so sure that is my calling, and nor do I want that.

You know, I think different people have different purposes. I do not think that that’s mine. But But I, but my, my experience tells me that life just changes from the solid to a gas and does continue to exist. Actually, I want to jump in and kind of emphasize some things that you said. One is, as I listen to you tell your story. I think it’s really interesting that when you came out of your coma, that you didn’t remember anything. And so some people will say, Well, people have flatlined, and they don’t remember anything. And and you didn’t. So I wonder how many people might have had experiences that just don’t remember. So that’s, that to me is it kind of solves maybe as an answer to why they’re only like 20% of people that flatline remember any experience at all, because some people will say, well, that means there’s no near death experience, because this person flatlined, and they don’t remember anything. So it’s a it’s a very good point. I mean, nobody’s made that point before but that’s actually a very accurate very solid point. Yeah, I Well, that’s what I that’s one of the things I took out of it. And it’s interesting that you went to regression therapy to to heal the trauma but not necessarily remember what happened when you were out? Because I don’t know if you did that. You know, that was that was my point was every time I would ask a doctor or therapist how it is. I saw everything because remember, it was happening in my body. So you might be the chemical engineer. My husband might be the economist, but the reality is I needed to know how the mechanism worked as well. It was not it was not happening to him. And he was okay with compartmentalizing that entire aspect of it saying regressed suppress, let’s move on. Everybody’s healthy. Let’s keep going. But for me, I continued to have visions and premonitions they were getting stronger. So I needed to understand something How much time do you have from the time you have a vision to the time something happens and how do I read it in my body and what is happening if it comes on the left shoulder or what happens is it mirroring effect when you’re seeing I needed to understand the mechanism so and if I have

The ability to understand what happened in those 37 seconds. Maybe I could see what happened during those three months of those visions because that could give me more clarity and information on future premonitions. And then what happened in the continent medically induced coma as well. Like, I was like, Is there a way to find out? I wasn’t, I wasn’t so hopeful because at the end of the day, the doctor said, Look, you know, foreboding does exist prior to having it cardiac arrest or an embolus, or what have you. It is a characteristic of that. But they’d say moments before, days before, but not months before in the detail. So they couldn’t give me a scientific explanation. They have theories. I mean, one one, the guy not told me it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. I said, You mean to tell me that you think that I manifested my organs combining into a hemorrhage caused myself to be cut from stern pelvis, flatline, be put under general anesthesia. And I thought of all this in my mind, and that is what did it and he’s like, Well, I didn’t say I believed it. It’s just the only thing I come up with. Yeah. And I said, Well, that’s an A whole thing to say, because at the end of the day, I had gone through enough guilt where I was thinking, I manifested this myself, so. So yeah, I went to the therapy to try and connect the dots. And when Steve had said that, I was like, Well, I’m not afraid to say this the end of the road, there’s nothing there. But if there was a way to find out, I wanted to find out. I just was surprised at how much I found out. Well, there’s so much there’s so much in that. And I’m so glad that you did. Because there’s a couple things you know, people are going to use a lot of times people want to dismiss it, as you said, wishful thinking, you’re under drugs, your brain, the dying brain in the last gasp, whatever. But when you have what we call a vertical and the E like you did, where you can tell us what was going on there. Because it’s easy to say I saw my loved one I saw my grandmother. So my grandfather, we can’t verify any of that. That’s subjective, right? But what happened in the room is objective and you have no physical a rational way of knowing this out other than your, somehow your consciousness existing outside of your body. In addition, you saw these people that you didn’t know that set you back with messages that you were able to verify. So there’s so much in there for the skeptic, you know, at the true skeptic, the one the person, I want to examine the evidence, there’s, there’s a lot of evidence here. I live with one, you know, at the end of the day, if the reality and and he he’s, you know, hearing him say at the end of that segment on Netflix, that I believe you was such a relief. I mean, I was crying, and he’s like, here I am. I say I believe you, and then you throw me under the bus. And I was like, I think it was just a relief of like just a release of energy of just wanting to hear that while I was going through it. It wasn’t that you know, and I apologize to him because he’s like, because people have reached out and said, you know, don’t be mad at your husband forgive him. And I’m like, God, first of all the segment was shot a year and a half ago, says that we talked enough about it, but but you know, yes, they I don’t get attacked by skeptics the way a lot of people do cuz they’re like, Well, how do you handle skeptics? I’m like, I welcome them. Because there’s not there’s nothing to hide my my case is very well documented with lots of witnesses, so so please bring it because anybody, like I had somebody the other day email me, um, you manifested this, right, like, just sent out an email just explaining how I manifested it and whatever. And I took the time and I responded, I’m like, I really would like you to explain and send me evidence, real evidence of other cases where you have seen people manifest their own flatline or whatever, please, I’m open to it. I’m open to your theories, if anybody is more open to it, so one who’s experiencing it, I would love to find a scientific explanation for it because that maybe science hasn’t caught up with it yet. Maybe other people are experiencing it. What, I’m open to it, but when you come at me with this, and I respond in a way that says, Please show me the eminence to it, not just throw words at a dartboard and then they don’t respond afterwards. I’m like, What? You know, why don’t waste my time like Why? Unless you’re going to give me something really constructive. Like what why why are you bothering me? Like what is going on? So um, so yeah, I’m just like, bring it I think sometimes people you know, the whole manifestation and I don’t know how you feel about law of attraction manifestation so to believe that but i but at the end of the day, like where I’ve been racking my brains of where’s the boundary of law of attraction like, Where is the boundary, and I have come to the conclusion and especially dealing

With the doctors and dealing with people who have expertise in quantum physics, I’m like, Where do I limit that? Where is the boundary? Do you believe? Because I’ve asked so many people that do you believe that I could do? And they’re like, No, I don’t believe you could do that. And I, personally in my gut at the end of the day, that part is subjective, right? I believe that I cannot manifest myself to go through all those physical transformations because of it, because of what I thought were where’s the limit of manifestation? I can’t tell you what do I believe that you law of attraction? I do, I believe when I write things down, or have a vision board or have some things that are clear in my head, that that puts energy forth in the inertia moving forward to attract that. Yeah, I believe that, but I don’t know what led if I write that I want a private jet. Will that show up? Yeah. No, I know, if it does, I will let you know. And and that’s, that’s a good, that’s a good dataset.

Brian Smith 56:03
Yeah, there’ll be a great piece of evidence. Yeah, I think the other thing is the universe is complex. And there are a lot of conscious, you know, besides just our own individual consciousness. And so I think we I think we are co creators of reality. But we are not, we are not gods in the sense that we can just imagine that this is going to happen, and it happened hasn’t worked for me so far. Anyway. So I think I’m with you on that. But I do love the fact that there is so much evidence in your case, and you do welcome the skeptics to come on. Because, you know, I’m sure people try to pick holes in it. I do want to ask you, what your beliefs were, I know, you had some intuition before. And but now you say with like, no doubt that there’s an afterlife. Yeah. And and I know that your background is Jewish. And I know typically, I don’t want to stereotype that typically, Jews don’t talk much about the afterlife. It’s kind of a

Stephanie Arnold 56:56
it’s gonna talk about it, but they believe it. The the the really incredible thing is that when I was writing my book, I called my Rabbi and I said, Is there anything here that’s against Judaism? And, and not because I was worried about not telling Richard, I was going to tell it either way. I just wanted to know, you know, what, what does Jewish law What does the law talk about? And so he said, No, okay. He’s like, we absolutely believe in the afterlife. First of all, when we talk about Mushaf, the Messiah, you know, we talk about the Dead Rising from the grave. He’s like, but we also talk about, you know, during Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement, one of the holiest days of the year, there is time, there’s a time where they ask the community, whoever’s in mourning. That in, which is when they’re saying Kaddish, they asked people who are not in mourning that year who have not lost a parent or who have not lost a child to step out of the room. So you step out of the room. He’s like, do you know why we do that? And I said, Yeah, out of respect the people that are better, they’re mourning together. It’s a community. And he’s like, that is not why we do that. The reason why we do that is because we’re calling the dead into the room. And those spirits are present when we are praying, and so you feel this vibration there. I said, I learned that in Hebrew school. I, you know, they’re like, well, they don’t really openly talk about it all that so to talk about Jewish law, and they talk about, you know, the relationship to man and God and man versus man, but they don’t really talk about man versus spirit. They talk about just a faith in God. And I’m like, Well, I think it would be more enlightening to us spiritual folks out there who are might not be Orthodox Jews, and that really understand the reasonings behind certain things, because one would feel that we don’t believe that there is life after death. I mean, the reality is, is that when you go to the rabies burial and the Lubavitcher rebbi, who passed away in 94, I believe he was the black Hatter with the beard in the past when you know, in, in Brooklyn, in Crown Heights when when he died, you know, he was he was running Lubavitch. So he was the he was the chief rabbi, if you will, when he died. Hundreds of 1000s of people came pilgrimage to to New York, they were marching in the streets, they were like, the Messiah has come he’s always said that he wasn’t the Messiah. And yet, to this day, he is buried with his father in law and in a cemetery in Queens, and you go to the cemetery and you write a note and then you pray. And then you shred the note in this boxed area where both of them lay and so they’re praying to the spirits for them to hear you. So, no, I 100% they, they absolutely Believe in the afterlife. It was interesting. I had met the rebbi in 91, when I was directing and producing music videos and doing stuff for the Jewish educational documentaries, and the FBI used to give dollars to people on he used to give prophecies to them. So basically, he would say, okay, you know, here’s the dollar, he would pray. And whenever I wasn’t asking for anything, but he gave me about I was 19. At the time, he gave me $1. And he’s like,

Unknown Speaker 1:00:27
he’s like,

Stephanie Arnold 1:00:29
you know, you will have difficulty having children, but you will have them. I’m like, I don’t care. I’m like, I’m not interested in getting married. I’m not interested in having children. You know, I tell the Orthodox Jews of my home, well, I spent the dollar on a coke. And they’re like, oh, kidding me? And I’m like, you know, but meanwhile, the reality is, is he you know, I can’t, I can’t think that he couldn’t see the future. So there are people that have these abilities. And, you know, I go back to I still just want to know how it works. But I don’t deny that they exist.

Brian Smith 1:01:07
Yeah, that’s really interesting, though. We had a conversation because I’m one of my best friends is Jewish. And we’ve been friends for 3540 years. And you know, he and I would have these debates. I was a Christian at the time. And he would say, well, we don’t believe in the afterlife. And I’m like, Yes, you do. But I think some people even in the Jewish community, maybe because there’s not as much emphasis on it, because the emphasis is on this life, as it is my impression that Jews are really interested in this life justice in this life, murky after, like take care of itself.

Stephanie Arnold 1:01:36
Well, what it is, is that you as a Jew are responsible for doing the work on in this lifetime before you can join God up in the heavens. So your your gift is to stay here and work to helping to create peace on earth, then you get to, to join the heavens. No, but But no, they they 100% but and then I think Kabbalah touches on it, the Jewish mysticism aspect of it, because they do talk about the channels and the spirits. And a little bit more from the mystical part of things. But But usually, when you are prepared to read the Zohar, in its true form, and not like from when the Kabbalah centers that you’re learning on it on a certain level, but what I have been told is that orthodox rabbis have to really understand the Torah back and forth before they can even attempt to open the Zohar. To learn from that, so there’s supposed to be laws about before you, before you even attempt to understand mysticism you have to get, you know, Master something else.

Brian Smith 1:02:48
So I would ask you, do you now since you’ve had this experience, um, how has your life changed since then.

Stephanie Arnold 1:02:55
So, like I said, on the series, that, you know, my, my life has changed significantly, because I, I laugh less life is a little bit more serious divisions that I get are more about life and death, as opposed to, you know, who’s gonna win the lottery, you know, and I, the work that I’m doing is much more serious. And I’m connecting to people like you and to other people around the world on a much deeper soulful level, which is a trade off from where I was before. But But nevertheless, the work is so fulfilling for me, and I’m passionate about it. So it’s kind of taken a first position, whereas before I was creating reality shows.

So no, my life is different. It’s, you know, when I had Jonathan write a chapter in my book, he was just like this Not my book, and I don’t want to write it. And this is not my mission. This is your mission. And, and I’m like, Well, I, people want to hear from you. I mean, I was out in a coma. So you know, they want to know what you were doing during this time. And were you thinking like, I told you so and how it was, he’s like, no. And I took for granted that.

I was like, Why can you just do it? Like, I don’t understand. Yeah. And he and later, with more awareness, I realized that my husband, it pains him to relive this moment. And I was out there talking about it, and probably going into producer mode of saying, okay, no, this happened for a reason I have found meaning in it. I’m going to help others with it. I’m going to speak about and I’m going to talk to doctors, I’m going to talk to patient and then I got busy doing and it became really a passion of mine. And he’s like, Yeah, but that’s not a passion of mine. I want everything to go away. Like we’re We’re good and and, and so it took a long time for me to understand that I think once I understood it. I said to him, I said, Okay, got it. I want unless you want to do something, or you come forward and I asked you to do something, then and you want to do it, I just won’t force you to do it. So

Brian Smith 1:05:25
yeah, we all we all have different missions, I think. So I want to ask you now, what is your view on death? Now? How do you feel about about death? I know that you know, it sounds like like, you were like, I don’t want to die. That’s what that’s the whole thing about your you know, you fight it not fighting this, but you’re fighting for your life. Really? How do you feel about death now?

Stephanie Arnold 1:05:47
Yeah. The whole fight was two pronged one, I didn’t want to go anywhere, obviously, for for many reasons, you know, you’re a family, a new baby, husband, you love. But the biggest issue I had with why I was racing against a clock outside of the obvious was that I needed my husband to believe that life existed after death. Because if I came back, and I was knocking on the door, or I was present, I didn’t want him to feel like that love ended. Because I did. And I it was very painful for me to trying to prevent and, and that’s why I think the, you know, there’s so much documentation to his credit, because I was trying to prove to him more than anyone else didn’t make a difference what anyone else thought, this is the love of my life. I don’t want it I this, this cannot end this way. Like, you have to understand this love less before this lifetime, this lifetime and way beyond the next and so. So that was that was one part of this race against the clock. Yeah, I’m not afraid of death any longer. Like the the moment of impact was quite peaceful. You know, people talk about their NDA or their actual death experience, or clinical death experience, something very peaceful. The part of the actual moments there is peaceful, it’s just incredibly painful for the ones you leave physically behind. For the ones who have left, it is not painful. It’s just your life as you knew it ceases to exist. But my most terrifying experiences, were the three months before it happened. So I never want to experience that, again, that that kind of knowing that point of impact is going to happen. And this time, I won’t have you know, I’ll just know when it’s going to happen. And I think that will be more terrifying than the actual moment itself.

Brian Smith 1:07:50
So what when we I think you said, when we when we die when our bodies die, that we become we go from a solid to a gas or something like that. And I heard you also say that our spirits can fly.

Stephanie Arnold 1:08:02
Yeah, yeah. Well, she, you know, one of the things was, you know, at the end of my book, we had a friend of ours that you know, was physically incapable of, of move. And my own father died a year and a half ago, and he had COPD, and emphysema, and, you know, through all of the traumas, and broken vertebrae is because of the medication, he couldn’t move. So the idea that, that I can see spirits in different places, your loved ones are around you. And it just takes calling them or meditating them into the, the environment to feel them. And sometimes you’ll have a splash of perfume or a flower in an odd place that just reminds you of your grandmother or your father or hear a song that you haven’t heard in ages, just in. I mean, I was pulling up to go to a cemetery for my housekeeper unfortunately, passed from COVID. And we’re driving into the cemetery for a socially distant outside, you know, funeral. And the song Stairway to Heaven came on as soon as, as soon as we hit the driveway into the cemetery. And Jonathan was the one that pointed that I’m like, I find that interesting that he’s the one that said said that but but the reality is like there are signs everywhere, we just tend to, to not believe them or think it’s wishful thinking and, and I’m just here to say it’s not wishful thinking. I believe in them. 100%

Brian Smith 1:09:37
Yeah, and I heard you say that we’re we’re all intuitive but I think maybe different levels. Would you agree with that?

Stephanie Arnold 1:09:44
I agree with that. But any anytime you see a dog or a bat or a cat or anything like they have hearing or senses like they have an extra level of sense sensory input that we don’t have that too and I think that we can just fine tune them by By building up to it, I think I got unplugged. I went to a systolic, like I talked about when I was a kid, I was on low voltage, and then I wanted to shut it down. Then I get unplugged. I go a systolic, and now I’m on high voltage. So I feel things the only the only thing that bothered me I mean, Lauren Lynn had talked to me about like, what you know, you can be more proficient as a medium if you just meditated and open up and you can you can have more out of body experiences. I said, No, no, I’m good. had one I, you know, scared me, dad. I’m perfectly fine. Not doing that. Again. My 15 year old my stepdaughter was like, She’s like, Can you teach me how to meditate on my body? I’m like, No, why would you want to do that? I’m like, there’s no reason to fly. Right now you don’t need you know, like, and the fascination with it, I understand. But when you’ve experienced it through trauma, it’s not, it’s not an exciting roller coaster, I don’t like putting myself in, in near death experiences in, in traumatizing upside down roller coasters, or just to make my stomach dry, I do not need to challenge myself this way. And nor do I need to invite every spirit into my household because I’m already distracted as it is with everything else going on. And I need at least a little bit of time today to be a mom and a wife. Okay, you know, I think you’re spending too much time with all the work and and you need to spend more time with your family. And, and that is a valid statement, I just, I think it would end up taking much more time if I invite spirits in. But they didn’t make good tips about you know, if you start getting overwhelmed, I don’t know, again, I don’t know the mechanics, but they’re like, you can say, you know, if if a ghost is scaring your children or ghosts like presence, and you’re just didn’t invite, then you can say, you know, you’re scaring me, you need to leave. And all of a sudden, it’s quiet. And so I don’t know if if that’s a you know, psychological or you’re hearing the words outside. But when something is making noise and then stops, because you’ve addressed it, you know, that is some data like, that continues to happen. So, so I like to say, you know, if, if somebody is scaring you, or if you’re not ready for it, you can say I’m not ready for it. But when you are ready for it, you can invite it by saying I would welcome this, I would welcome this contact, I would well put but show me a sign that’s tangible. And maybe it’ll happen sooner than later. Wow,

Brian Smith 1:12:30
wow. Well, I want to talk about some ways that people can can get more from you. There’s the book 37 seconds. And the audio book, I guess is out fairly new.

Stephanie Arnold 1:12:39
Yeah, just came out with a Netflix series. So and you can go on to Stephanie slash audio book, and you can download the free prologue. And get in touch that way. My website has a direct email that comes to me, I try and get back to everybody as as quickly as I can. And you know, I am, I am conscientious enough where if I can give you direct advice, a lot of it is medical, a lot of it is I have this for boating, I’ve had pregnant women who’ve reached out and who have asked what to do. And you know, my advice is, is always the same is just to speak up and to talk to the doctors. And if they’re not being heard, then you talk to more doctors. And the one thing I learned which I did not know, and this might help others is that, you know, I did not know that the anesthesiologists are the ones that are keeping you alive in the operating room. And I always thought that the quarterback, my doctor was the one that was in charge of everything. But the reality is, is it’s the anesthesiologists, and they are taught in every aspect of medicine, especially during those emergency situations. So my advice would be that if you’re having any kind of foreboding or just trepidation regarding any surgery to make a consultation with Anastasia, because more than anything else, they are trained to hear that if there is foreboding present, and not and they will talk you through it. But if they if they feel that foreboding is present, they will stop everything and they will listen to you that more than any other physician out there.

Brian Smith 1:14:16
Good to know. And then you’ve got a podcast now knowing

Stephanie Arnold 1:14:19
Yes, we shot the pilot last week, I will you know, when you sign up or when you opt in on the website, you’ll be getting notifications. That is I am working with the Producer Director of the Netflix series surviving death Ricky Stern, so she is my AP on the podcast. Hello. And we are looking at stories of people who’ve had knowings like you don’t know how you know you just do. And so stories from like veterans who have had their spidey sense and those experiences to pregnancy stories to you know People have had stories that one was married to a serial killer, and you know how she got out of it using her own intuition. And, you know, what I want people to take away from that is that it really doesn’t matter. If you think that your intuition, your sixth sense is coming from, you know, a spiritual place or a scientific place. My point is that the more that we tell these stories, the more people can’t deny that it exists. So and the more that our stories are shared, the more the medical community can say, Oh, well, you know, I’m hearing more and more about this, and people will take it more seriously. And just because the six cents doesn’t fit into the other five senses hardly means it doesn’t exist. So when you’re when you’re looking at that, and how, how I’m getting approached by all these different stories, I’m like, these stories need to be told. So it goes beyond me. And, you know, I think this is this is the start of the mission of, you know, opening up speaking up when you send something as wrong at every level, because like I said, What’s the worst that could happen? they judge you, okay? Everybody judges, your Instagram feed doesn’t really matter. And, and speaking of Instagram, people can reach me on Instagram, as well as at Steph Arnold 37. So that’s, you know, and Facebook and all the typical places, people can find me.

Brian Smith 1:16:27
Yeah, well, I love what you said, when you were talking, you were skimming the show notes about your podcast, you said you we don’t know how we know. But we do. And I think, you know, I again, I’m a scientific person. But science has to, first of all, observe a phenomenon to believe it exists before they can study it. And we’re just getting to the point where science is being open and say, let’s maybe this is a real thing, you know, I know they’re looking at papers are coming out now about people who have near death experiences, at least how do we treat these people who’ve had instead of just shoving down the rug and saying it’s not, you know, it’s not a real thing. So your work is actually really prompting people to say, let’s take a look at this. And we don’t need to know how it works right now. That’d be fine. I’d love to know how it works. But we don’t need to know that. Yeah, Agreed.

Stephanie Arnold 1:17:12
Agreed. And I’m also going to take a metaphysical and a scientific look at each story. Because because either way, any which way. There are theories, like even in my own story, and your story and all of your guest stories. There are theories. But not everything defines it. 100% So, so there’s always a hole in each theory. And so, you know, my husband likes to say he gives me the Sherlock Holmes quote, which I love. You know, once you eliminate the impossible, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. And so he, he’s perfectly fine. Not going down this rabbit hole. He says, You know, I don’t even know who to ask anymore. And, you know, I just accept, you can see things. But I don’t need to know how you see them. And he’s like, I don’t understand your need to want to know how it is. But but I get you, you need to know he’s like, I don’t think you’ll ever in your lifetime. Know how it works.

Brian Smith 1:18:11
That’s really interesting that he the rationalist is saying I’m okay with believing and not knowing how it works. And you’re trying to figure out how it works.

Stephanie Arnold 1:18:19
It I swear, this is what this is where my second book is coming from because I feel like we shifted positions. Like my first book, it was very spiritual, like, Okay, this is exactly what it is and, and I’m trying to prove to him that it exists.

Unknown Speaker 1:18:34
Then he’s like,

Stephanie Arnold 1:18:35
I accept it. Now. I’m like, wait, it keeps happening. I need to know how it works. And he’s like, I don’t need to know how it works. I just accept it. And I’m like, this is all messed up. I’m like, this is just completely flipped.

Brian Smith 1:18:47
Yeah, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to learn and grow. So that’s, that’s another interesting thing that’s come out of this. Yeah, definitely. Thanks so much for being my guest today. And thank you for your time. I know you’re really busy with a lot of different projects and stuff and the kids. And so I really appreciate you being here.

Stephanie Arnold 1:19:05
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. And if there’s anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to call. We’re connected now.

Brian Smith 1:19:11
All right, great. Have a great rest of your day.

Unknown Speaker 1:19:13
Hey, you too.

Unknown Speaker 1:19:13

Brian Smith 1:19:15
That’s it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you got something out of it. Please stay in contact with me by reaching out at www grief to that’s grief the number two or you can text the word growth 231996. That’s simply text growth gr o w t h 231996. So if you’re watching this on YouTube, please make sure you subscribe. So hit the subscribe button. And then hit the little bell here. And it’ll notify you when I have new content. Always please share the information if you enjoy it. That helps me to get more views and to get the message out to more people. Thanks a lot and have a wonderful day.

Transcribed by

Claire B. Willis is a clinical social worker who has worked in the fields of oncology and bereavement for more than 20 years. Claire is a co-founder of the Boston nonprofit Facing Cancer Together and has led bereavement, end-of-life, support, and therapeutic writing groups.

She taught Spiritual Resources for Healing the Mind, Body, and Soul at Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. Claire maintains a private practice in Brookline, MA. As a lay Buddhist chaplain ordained by Joan Halifax at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, she focuses on contemplative practices for end-of-life care. Claire is also an experienced yoga teacher and the author of two books, Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life and her new book, Opening to Grief: Finding Your Way from Loss to Peace, which she co-authored with Marnie Crawford Samuelson.

In this interview, Claire shares the wisdom she has attained from her Buddhist practice and her experience working with people in grief. Her book “Open to Grief” is a handbook full of tools you can use to customize your grief journey.

Find more about Claire at:



Announcer 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine

Brian Smith 0:46
Hey everybody, this is Brian Smith back with another episode of grief to growth and today with me, I’ve got Claire B. Willis, and I’m going to read her bio and then we’re gonna have a conversation the way we always do. Claire B. Willis is a social clinical social worker who has worked in the fields of oncology and bereavement for more than 20 years. Claire is a co founder of the Boston nonprofit facing cancer together, and is lead bereavement end of life support and therapeutic writing groups. She taught spiritual resources for healing the mind body and soul at Andover Newton theological school and met in Massachusetts. Claire maintains a private practice in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, and as a lay Buddhist chaplain, she’s been ordained by Joan Halifax, at oupa Center in Santa Fe, she focused on the content of contemplative practices for end of life care. She’s also an experienced yoga teacher and the author of two books, lasting words a guide to finding meaning toward the close of life. And our new book, which is opening to grief, finding your way from loss to peace, which she co authored with Marnie Crawford Samuelsson. So her website is opening to grief calm, and with that like to welcome to grief to growth. Claire B. Willis. Thank you for having me, Brian. Yeah, Claire, it’s great to meet you. As I was telling you, before we get started, a lot of my audience is people who are experiencing grief. And don’t know like, what do I expect? What is this? Like? Is this normal? what I’m going through? You know, when I, when I feel like I get that question all the time, it’s like, Is this normal? So I guess the first thing is, would be like, what do you mean when you use the word grief?

Claire B. Willis 2:21
grief is a reaction that people have to any loss or separation.

It’s a natural, normal human response, and it has no typical presentation. So I want to actually I’d love to just take a moment to say something about what you said, to begin with, because I, I wrote this book, because I kept getting the question is my grief, normal and in my heart, and what I always say is that there are as many ways to express grief as there are people who are grieving. And grief has a lot of different phases. And most people think of it as sadness or sorrow or despair. But it has relief. It has gratitude. It has anxiety, it has impatience. It has anger and rage, which I think we’ve seen in our political situation a lot that that’s grief misplace, it has a lot of different effective presentations. And people don’t often recognize when they are grieving, because they think of it in such a narrow range. The other thing that I think has come with COVID is that we see more behavioral cognitive responses to grief. People can’t concentrate. But people find they’re overworking. They’re under working. They can’t focus they can’t read. There was an article the other day in The Times about people’s inability to read anything of any length that people were reading shorter articles. So there’s a lot of different ways grief presents that people don’t think of as, Oh, that’s my grief. But actually, there’s a collective grief right now. And I don’t think anybody’s not grieving. And with COVID, what happened is that it opened up old losses for people as well. So not only did it bring loss to almost every aspect of our life, in varying degrees, but it evoked old losses that we may or may not, or we thought we may have already grieved, but have come up to the surface making the ones we’re dealing with today. Even harder. Yeah, I think that that’s you made a lot of excellent points in there. So I want to unpack some of those. One is the idea of grief being normal, and people saying well, and you said, Well, sometimes we’re sleeping too much. Sometimes we’re sleeping too little. Sometimes we’re working too much. Sometimes we’re working too little. So it’s not a one size fits all thing, by any means. And you said you know you said grief includes you know anger and frustration and guilt but you also mentioned for leaf that can be included in grief,

relief and also gratitude in my bereavement groups.

One in one of my groups, it has mostly women in it who have lost long term partners or spouses. One of the things that people have talked about is how grateful they feel to have loved for as long and with such depth as they were able to because they felt like a lot of their friends didn’t know, didn’t have that experience of having that good relationship and so that the gratitude and the grief are connected to each other. Hmm. So often, you know, we grieve what we’re grateful for and lost, and we’re grateful for what we’ve had and lost, you know, it goes both ways. Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I’ve never heard really put that way before. Because it’s because we’re grateful, because we love the thing that we’ve lost so much, that we have the grief so that the love is part of it as well. And I know, sometimes people feel like when they’re in grief, if I let go of the pain of letting go of the person. Oh, it’s so true. You know, Jamie Anderson, wrote something that just has stayed with me ever since I started doing this work. And that is, he said, grief is nothing but love with nowhere to go. I think that is beautiful. And when I say to people, don’t try and manage your grief, it’s an expression of your loving. It reframes grief into something beautiful. And I think it’s sometimes gives people permission to let out the wrongness of what they’re feeling, without shame, because there’s a lot of shame that swirls around with grief. And one of the things that I hear in my bereavement groups a lot is, for instance, a woman said, I would only say this in here, because I know you’ll understand. But I’m sleeping with my husband’s old shirts, because I won’t keep this sent. And another woman said, I’m sleeping with my dog’s favorite toy, and had been really a companion almost like a child to her for 14 years. And she was sleeping with a chewed up fuzzy thing. And she told the group and the group understood, but she didn’t feel she could share that with her larger network. So isolation and the shame and the privacy of pain exacerbates it enormously. Yeah. That’s an excellent point. And it’s so funny, you brought that up, because just yesterday, someone sent me a message and said, I have a sign I was supposed to send this to you. So you send me sends me a picture of penguins. And penguins are my daughter’s. My daughter was obsessed with penguins. So I get this thing yesterday, and I just been I just got enough for the interview. And someone asked me if I ever got any science, my daughter, I’m like, Well, okay, here’s a sign. But the other thing that what I want to say to people, I’ll say this publicly, I’ve never said it before, is we sleep with my daughter’s pillow pet, which is a penguin. And the day, the day after my daughter passed away, my wife moved it into our bed, it sits right there. It’s a small thing sits between the two of us where we sleep. And it’s been five and a half years. But we still sleep with that. And it brings us comfort and whatever brings you comfort when you’re going through grief. Don’t feel ashamed of it. My wife just showed me yesterday, a friend who had made a quilt from her husband’s shirts. She took all of her husband’s old shirts, and she made a quilt out of them. And she sewed a button in the middle of each each one on this quote, a beautiful, you know, thing for her husband. And when she wraps herself in it, she feels like she’s close to him. Well, that makes complete sense. I mean, of course, right? Yeah. I was talking to a woman this morning who lost her son. And her son was a lover of cats. And after her son died, she decided to get a cat. And she fostered she adopted a cat. And when the cat’s birth

information, medical information came she discovered that the cat was born the day her son had died. Hmm. And it just these things happen that they they just create goosebumps because yeah, wasn’t random, I think.

Brian Smith 9:07
Yeah. Well, that’s that’s, yeah, that’s another thing. And I’m glad you brought that up that people when we’re going through grief this weekend, we get a lot of assistance from the other side that people aren’t aware of. And we don’t talk about much. And we talk about the signs and synchronicities. They’re little I call them easter eggs or like little things along the way, like easter eggs is a terminal using video games with a programmer put something in and just to kind of, you know, like a like a nod or a wink. And I think we get those things if we keep our minds open to it. That’s right.

Claire B. Willis 9:39
Yeah, people talk about signs in my bereavement group all the time. And they often come through birds. I hear them to birds a lot.

Brian Smith 9:48
Well, that’s another thing that people you know, they’re I’ll share this with you here. You know, in the group, I can’t say this outside, you know, and that’s what we’re here to do is to say the quiet parts out loud because we want to give people permission. To feel whatever it is you’re feeling and understand it’s all okay.

Claire B. Willis 10:04
Yeah, that’s exactly why I wrote the book to try to formalize everybody’s experience no matter what it was, so that they would feel less alone. And I think one of the things that my co author and I were really pleased about was the most of the endorsers describe the book as a companion. And the word companion means one with whom you break bread, and we wanted the book to feel like to have the reader feel like they weren’t alone, and then what they were seeing and other people, because grief brings with it so much loneliness, but you don’t have to be alone while you’re grieving. And we were hoping that book would offer that kind of companionship so that people wouldn’t feel alone.

Brian Smith 10:46
Yeah. And and from just what we’ve talked about here, I can I can tell that it will offer that because, again, people are worried about is my grief normal? What’s the normal progression for grief? You know, how long can I expect this to last? So how would you answer that question, someone asked you.

Claire B. Willis 11:03
You want it to last your whole life, because you love that much. So I would say two things to that one. JOHN wicker Sham, who’s a Boston Globe columnist, wrote an interesting article five or six years ago, and she talked about being at a cocktail party and she sees meets a woman whose husband died five years ago, and she noticed is that every time this woman starts to talk to someone, she brings up her husband. And she meets a man who married his best friend within a year of his is married his wife’s best friend within a year of his wife’s death. And, and bring sort of the party and Joan writes in this both of these are expressions of grief. So I love that because it just brings in the whole spectrum. Yeah. How long should grief laugh if grief is an expression of your loving it should never go away. But what I say to people, because that can sound like a despairing comment, I saw it. When someone you love first dies, the walls of your house, the ceiling, the floor, the furniture, everything is gray, there’s no light, because that grief is all there is it’s searing it consumes every minute of your day. And with the passage of time, more things fill in between you and that loss. But always there’s a great chair that will remain in your living room emits the color coming back from the rest of the house. I also have heard this analogy which I love, which is grief is like a broken bone. When you break the bone, it kills it hurts, you get maybe have surgery, you have the bone reset, then you have PT and you’re fine. But on rainy days, the bone tends to ache. Now, I like that, because it’s sort of the progression of grief. It doesn’t go away and it shouldn’t. But it does change in intensity, duration and frequency is important to remember.

Brian Smith 13:00
Yeah, I love I love the analogy use. And I think that’s I think what you said is really important because people say well, I don’t want to feel this way forever. It’s like doesn’t mean you’re going to feel this way forever. But as long and I and I’ve said this to people, and it sounds like a disparaging comment, but it’s not I will always create my daughter. I mean, I hope to always greet my daughter. Because I will always love my daughter, it changes and you know, her 21st birthday was last week and some some days is more intense than others. That day was more intense. Some days, it’s a little bit better. It’s like it’s

Unknown Speaker 13:33
I’m sorry, that’s the date of her birthday,

Brian Smith 13:36
January 13, January 13. She was that was her 21st birthday. So there are those rainy days, you know, when it feels it feels more achy than other days. But then there’s also there’s also the days of love. And you also I want to ask you the difference between moving on and moving forward.

Claire B. Willis 13:57
Moving on and moving forward are all together different. Moving on, when you use those words, it sort of suggests that you’re moving away from what you’ve lost, moving forward, you are taking that person that situation, that event with you. And it works. Grief works us if we allow it to work grief. And I see the grief has taken you probably into this work with

Brian Smith 14:27
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Claire B. Willis 14:30
You know something about suffering. And the likelihood is you want to try and help other people not suffer to the extent you did or do.

Brian Smith 14:38
Yeah, but that’s absolutely true. And you know, that idea moving on versus moving forward. It’s, it’s it’s a small word, but it’s as I agree with you, it’s a word. It’s a world of difference because when people talk to me about moving on, I’m like, I will never move on. I don’t I don’t want to move on. But when when someone said you can move forward With your daughter, that then then this this space between me and when she passed, wasn’t my enemy anymore? Because I’m looking forward to something. And I find that’s a big difference. Oh, yeah.

Claire B. Willis 15:13
Well, you know, one of the things that I I worry about sometimes, and I’m sure you’ve seen this happen is that somehow moving forward, suggests moving away from suggests leaving the person behind. I always say, I think one of the pitfalls of grief is that we can become the way you stay connected. As opposed to, for instance, this woman I was talking to this morning, who lost her son, she said her son loved music. And she’s thinking of creating a playlist for people who have lost loved ones that speaks to the grief through music. I thought that was pretty brilliant. So it’s a way she’ll stay connected to her son. But she’s also through her grief becoming generous with others in the way you are, you know, at some point, can we find a way through the suffering, to be generous, and take that suffering into the world in a healing way, but that takes time?

Brian Smith 16:17
Yes. Yeah. That’s, that’s another thing we know about grief is it does take time and and we have to be patient with ourselves and with the process. As as we work with it, and it works with us. Yeah, yeah. So yeah. And speaking of moving on, versus moving forward. You know, you talk about music, I love music, and I have a playlist that acts on my YouTube channel. And every time I find an inspiring song I added to add it to that playlist. And there’s a song. There’s a lyric in it says, I don’t want to let go of the pain because it feels too much like saying goodbye.

Claire B. Willis 16:54
That’s exactly what’s my point? Yeah. Yeah. My point. Yeah. Your playlist online?

Brian Smith 17:02
It is. Yeah, it’s, um, it’s on my YouTube channel. Yeah. And I do add to it, you know, it’s songs that speak to me. And I find that it’s very healing because what it does is funny, because I remember when I when I was first, after my daughter passed, I walk every day, I walk for about an hour and a half every morning. And I’m like, why do I like listening to sad music, because it’s just gonna make me more sad. But what I realized that made me feel not as alone. And it’s like, the thing about grouping and lonely is when I realized this is a universal thing that everyone goes through. And when I would listen to an artist expressed my exact emotions. In a song, I’m like, wow, this is this is universal. This is okay.

Claire B. Willis 17:44
This is what I like about poetry. Because music and poetry bypass cognition, go right to the heart. And I think that’s why each of those is such a powerful medium. I mean, one of the things that people say about both my books is that the comment I hear most frequently is the poetry is so well selected. And poetry really goes in deeply. right moment, and it’s like music. Yeah,

Brian Smith 18:14
yeah. Well, music lyrics are poetry. Right. So so it’s kind of very, you know, it’s the kind of

Claire B. Willis 18:20
ability to we can be more than the It’s not wrong. Right. Right.

Brian Smith 18:24
Right. Right.

Claire B. Willis 18:26
It’s the combination and sometimes it’s just music. I mean, I can remember, you know, that the piece pocket bells cannon? Yes. I mean, it’s, there’s something sad about that.

Brian Smith 18:39
Yeah, there’s something about music. You’re right, that just the music can evoke emotion. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, people. Another question I get a lot of times and this is really interesting, I think is stages of grief. Okay. So Elisabeth Kubler Ross famously wrote about the stages of death and dying. What do you think about stages of grief?

Claire B. Willis 19:01
I don’t have any use for them. So let me just clarify something. So as Kubler Ross wrote about the stages of grief, which were, which are completely brilliant, he was describing someone who is dying, the grief someone goes through who’s losing their life, not describing the course of bereavement. Having said that, people often go through those processes, but not in any linear way. And sometimes they don’t, but it’s, that’s one of the things that has become really oppressive for people who are grieving. Like it’s not unusual for me to hear someone say in my bereavement group, I thought I was doing really well. And you’ll I think you’ll relate to this Brian, and I went to the supermarket and when I saw that can of tuna fish, I just lost it because that was my brother’s favorite can favorite brand and can of tuna, and I thought I was doing well. And one of the things that I always say thing which has been so comforting is that there is a phenomenon and the Greek grief literature, which you probably know about called StuG, which is an acronym for sudden temporary upsurge of grief emerges. So unexpectedly, it’s always temporary. It generally is gone in 24 hours, but it catches people off guard, because they immediately assume they’re not doing grief, right, or they’ve gone backwards or they’re regressing or pick the verb Sure, never in their self interest. And it’s been really helpful for people to hear that there’s actually a phenomenon that’s universal that people experience when they’re grieving, or they think they see their loved one on the street. I mean, that’s happened to me a lot. A number of times. Someone I loved who’s died, I swear, they’ve come back.

Brian Smith 20:54
Yeah. Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t know there was an an acronym for that. But I’ve certainly experienced it. And I know, I’ve documented it to the people that I’ve worked with, and I call them grief waves. And I’m like, and sometimes they can be triggered. I mean, we have triggers. It might be it might be a can of tuna might be a song for me, it’s driving past the White Castle that’s near my house. So we might have something but sometimes, they just come out of the blue. And we don’t even I was just talking with the client earlier. And this person is like, I just, I start to feel heat through my body. And it rises up through my chest, and then it just comes out. And I have no idea why it’s happening. But that’s not an uncommon thing.

Claire B. Willis 21:34
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, I’m always trying, and you’re probably doing the same thing. I’m always trying to normalize these things. Because the privacy of pain in our culture is really hurtful to us. Which is why I love group work. I love it because people can finish each other’s sentences. They really understand each other. It’s like a shorthand between them.

Brian Smith 22:00
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think in our again, in our society, because we are so closed down, and we don’t share bad emotions, that people and I love it. You know, we’ve got to normalize this, we’ve got to say whatever you’re feeling, the feeling is okay. Now, the only exception, I would say is like if someone’s thinking about hurting themselves, or hurting someone else. Yeah, but but even having that thought of hurting yourself when you know, especially in my case, when he’s a child that’s passed away. That’s a very common thing for parents to have. Right? What not? Yeah,

Claire B. Willis 22:31
I was listening to that this morning. One of the things that is, I hate to use this word, what are the positive outcomes of COVID? I don’t want to say one of the positive things about COVID. One of the positive outcomes about calm is that it’s brought the word grief into the mainstream culture in a different way. And we see articles about grief in the New York Times we see it in the Atlantic, we see it in mainstream media. And to me that’s been really a gift to people. Because I think before COVID grief was something that was private and kept to yourself. No. And so now I think it’s more appropriate and more legit, legitimate, quote, unquote, for people to express grief than it was beforehand.

Brian Smith 23:14
Yeah. And I like that. That’s why I love the way you define grief up front, you know, it can be any loss. And I think people are starting to recognize that that COVID has caused, I think, I think it’s pretty much universal. We’re all grieving something, we’ve lost a job, we’ve lost a loved one, we’ve lost freedom, we’ve lost certainty. We’ve lost social connections, you know, we’ve all sacrificed something to this pandemic. And so we can all kind of start to relate to each other’s no grief that we’re going through. And I think people are feeling a little bit more comfortable about about sharing the struggle that this universal grief has caused to happen to all of mankind at one time.

Claire B. Willis 23:56
You know, you just you’re saying that made me think of a grief that I want to mention, too. I want to mention, what is the loss of a pet, there’s a lot of privacy around that. And the loss of a pet can be as poignant for a person who’s childless as the loss of a child is because it’s, it’s a pure, unconditional love. And our love between human beings is much more complex with its histories and conflicts. And it’s complicated, and it’s not a lesser more, but it’s different. And it’s important that that grief, which is so disenfranchised, comes out and becomes more legitimate and openly expressive. People grieve privately when they lose a pet and it’s just as hell. The other grief that I just want to mention in passing is what we call ambiguous griefs. And there’s a lot of ambiguous leaves in our culture. So you can have someone that’s physically present but psychologically absent. So dementia Or all simers or brain injury or even addiction, say an alcoholic, or you can have somebody that’s psychologically present but physically absent hospitalizations and COVID. Divorce, separate retirement, infertility, they’re often non death losses. But we don’t think of them as legitimate things to grieve because the people are still around.

Brian Smith 25:33
Yeah, I want to talk about both of those more, because I think they’re both extremely important. You know, the loss loss of a pet, I’ve had two dogs that I’ve had to, you know, to help transition. And the thing about the love of a pet is it is pure love. And it is it is unconditional love. And the other thing about a pet as a pet is always like a child. You know, they never, they never grow up and never go away. They’re always dependent on you. So a pet is in very, very many ways, like having a child forever. I my little dog is asleep behind me right now. So I want to give people permission. When you when you have a pet, you know, transition, you might feel you’re going to feel the same emotions, you’re going to feel if it’s a person,

Claire B. Willis 26:16
I lost, I had to put down my little cockapoo, who had cancer on March 1. And little did I know that 10 days later, I’d be in lockdown. And hard because what I wanted more than anything was to spread his ashes with friends in my backyard. And we were out of everybody was physically out of touch with one another. So I have a special place in my heart about that.

Brian Smith 26:44
Yeah, yeah. And I was just talking with someone right before we got on whose son passed away about a year ago, right during COVID. And he gotten a dog not too long before that, and he was saying that the dog has been helping him, you know, make it through this time without, you know, being in a boat that had son being here. And I think that’s so that’s such a profound love that the animals give us. So don’t feel guilty about you know, grieving your pet, just the way you would, you know, if it was it was a person. And the other thing you talked about, I think is also really important is that grief doesn’t have to involve death. Both of my in laws, or my father in law passed from dementia, my mother in law is going through it now. And I’ve seen, like my father in law, he wasn’t here, you know, his body was still here, but he wasn’t here for the last, you know, year or so of his life. And my mother in law’s not the person that she was. So I know that my, my wife and myself, I’m very close to them are going through a type of grief. You know, even now,

Claire B. Willis 27:46
it’s not something that’s often labeled grief because they’re alive. But I remember my father growing demented, and he would have moments of what seemed to be lucidity, always back, and then he would slip away again. And I think that’s one of the really painful things about dementia or Alzheimer’s, these, these moments of glimmers of light that can appear. Yeah, they go away. But ambiguous grief is very tough to resolve because there’s no endpoint, you know, no endpoint gets learning to live and also a form of grief. Some of them are griefs where, for instance, you have both positive and negative, not pleasant positive and grief feeling. So for example, thinking about retirement, retired, look forward to retirement, but there’s a lot of loss that comes with retirement. It’s not all one feeling or the other. Yeah. With ambiguous grief. Often,

Brian Smith 28:43
that’s a good point, too, because feelings can be complex, and we can feel two ways about the same thing. And I have retirement i think is an excellent example. And, you know, well, having children moved out, and I went through that that was terrible for me when my daughter would graduate from high school.

Claire B. Willis 29:00
Yeah, yeah, you’re not if you don’t hear people say I’m grieving the loss of my daughter. She’s gone to college. Yeah. Cuz you’re supposed to celebrate with her. But I don’t think there’s a parent alive, that doesn’t feel a loss when their daughter or son leave home.

Brian Smith 29:15
Yeah, so I think I like the way we’re opening this up, because it is it’s universal thing that we all experienced, like many times through our lives, and we we can we can tend to put grief in a box and say what’s only when someone dies? And and even that is different, you know, because, you know, my daughter passing away versus my grandmother passing away. two completely different experiences.

Claire B. Willis 29:41
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. And, um, I forgot what I was gonna say.

Brian Smith 29:47
Well, we were talking about like opening this thing up about grief and not defining it so narrowly. And and the other thing is helping people to understand that we’re going to experience it, you know, it’s unique for each of us. And whatever your experiences, you know, it’s kind of okay. I guess we already talked about timetable grief, I’m looking through some of the questions I wanted to ask you. So what are the some of the ways that you suggest people deal with grief? We’ve talked about what grief is and how we might feel. So what do I do about it when I have grief?

Claire B. Willis 30:25
Well, the first thing is, I would say is to treat yourself kindly. That kindness is really the only reliable anchor for holding grief. And it’s important to start with the first chapter of our book is called starting with kindness. And we deliberately, very strategically put it first because there’s so many models and expectations around grief, that we wanted to make sure to counter those. So that would just stay with their own experience with kindness. There, the book is filled with practices for holding grief, one of the one of the this is gonna sound counterintuitive, but one of the things that we talked about, I think, in the second or third chapter, is having a gratitude practice. And that does not mean negating one ounce of grief or anything negative. But it means trying to hold alongside the sorrow and loss, what is still good, that’s left. And the reason for that is not to have this sort of toxic positivity. But it’s to help us in order to hold the depth of suffering and sorrow from a loss. It helps us to notice alongside what is also right, so in noticing what’s right, we’re strengthening our capacity to hold grief. why it’s important, it’s not about being positive. But it’s about noticing what’s right. Our minds are habituated towards what’s negative. we’re hardwired that way. And we’re hardwired that way. Because in ancient times, it helped us survive. It’s not a bad thing. But what we need to do is to learn to linger, and stay with what’s good. And if we do that, for 10 to 30 seconds, when we notice something good, we can actually begin to rewire our brains and strengthen our resilience in the face of suffering.

Announcer 32:23
Well get back to grief to growth in just a few seconds. Did you know that Brian is an author and a life coach. If you’re grieving or know someone who is grieving his book, grief to growth is a best selling easy to read book that might help you or someone you know, people work with Brian as a life coach to break through barriers and live their best lives. You can find out more about Brian and what he offers at WWW dot grief to www dot g ri e f, the number two, gr o w, or text growth gr o w th 231996. If you’d like to support this podcast, visit, slash grief to growth t ar e yo slash g ri e f, the number two gr o w th to make a financial contribution. And now back to grief to growth.

Claire B. Willis 33:24
So one of the things that I always suggest to people is that before they go to bed, to try to write down three things that are positive that they’re grateful for that happened that day, and to express them in positive language. So for instance, let’s say you have a house full of children and your house is somewhat chaotic, to write my house, the kids were finally not noisy today is a negative expression of a positive event. So I would say what you would write would be the house was peaceful. And just to try to find three things each day and what happens is that instead of the mind being habitually negative habituated towards what’s negative, if you’re committed to the practice, you’ll start to notice in the course of a day what’s right, and it changes your attention because what you attend to will shape your brain. So we want to shape it in a way that’s healthy and whole helps us hold our suffering and grief and lets the grief work us. So I say this gratitude journal with all these caveats, because I don’t want it to be ever at the expense of grief. But I want it to be alongside grief. That’s one of the practices that we talk about in the book. Another one is writing. There’s a lot of writing research that has documented that writing for three to four times a week for things that are bothersome will actually increase our immune system, decrease our anxiety and decrease our depression. And so that’s an important thing is just writing our feelings because we don’t want to use the energy to enhance hibbett ourselves from what we feel, because that suppresses our immune system. So letting ourselves journal right is is very important. Being out in the natural world is very important. There’s a lot of research about the impact of restorative environments, which is any place basically outside, it can be a city park, it can be your yard, it could be a school Park, just somewhere where there’s grass and green and trees that are eyes rest, are being rests in a way in the natural world that it can’t rest. When we’re at the computer, when we’re inside working. the natural world gives us something that strengthens our immune system also lessens our depression and anxiety. So those are three practices that come right off the top of the book.

Brian Smith 35:48
Yeah, I love the way you start with kindness for yourself. I find so many people are really hard on themselves. They’re like, Am I doing this? Right? I’m not doing it fast enough. I should be over this by now. And some of that’s put up by outside forces too, because they say

Claire B. Willis 36:08
use the mouse. It’s been books. Yeah. A lot of books that say this is how long it’ll last?

Brian Smith 36:14
Yeah. So I like that you that you start with that. And I like, you know, it’s funny, I was smiling as you were talking about the gratitude practice. It’s something that I do, I do it in the morning when I get up. So and I the same things, you’re just saying I try to get three things, I try to board them in a positive way. And it does sound counterintuitive. When I first heard about it when I was in, you know, in my early deep stages of grief, I’m like, This is crazy. There’s nothing to be happy about. But there’s always something to be grateful for. And, you know, if you read a book by like Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, you know, you realize this guy is in a concentration camp, and he can find something to be grateful for. I just interviewed a person that has ALS, and she really can’t speak, I had to interview her through the computer. And she’s found some things to be grateful for. So I would say to the people that are listening, no matter what circumstance you’re in, there’s something you can be grateful for. Is it warm in your house right now? Do you have food in your refrigerator, it could be something very small.

Claire B. Willis 37:15
I’m leading a group right now, in conjunction with a Buddhist priest. For people who are dying, we’re doing it online, and we have people with ALS and everybody else who doesn’t have als has stage four metastatic cancer. The gratitude in that group is palpable.

Brian Smith 37:37
That’s amazing, isn’t

Claire B. Willis 37:38
it? It’s so moving. It’s so I think to myself, thank you for showing up for me.

Brian Smith 37:45

Claire B. Willis 37:46
What I’m doing is of use to you. But you’re giving me so much. It’s really an extraordinary experience. It’s very humbling.

Brian Smith 37:55
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so he talks about being out in nature. Now, no, you you’re, you’ve studied Buddhists, and you’re a Buddhist. So what about meditation? Do you recommend that for people,

Claire B. Willis 38:09
there’s a chapter in the book called mindfulness and meditation? I do. And one of the things that is true for most of us is that the research indicates that 50% of the time, our minds are in the past 40% of the time, our minds are in the future. And on a very, very good day. 10% of the time, our minds are in the we are where our body is. I think after a loss, many things can set in and one of them which is very common is anxiety, just a pervasive anxiety because the world has been as you’ve known, it has been shattered and you have to reconstitute yourself, things have happened that weren’t supposed to happen for the most part. And a mindfulness and meditation practice reminds us to stay in the moment and tries to interrupt those rumination loops or pre separation loops where we can get into a chronic anxiety mode. But coming back to the breath, and we use in the book, a practice called metta meditation, which means loving kindness or tender friend. It’s a practice. Are you familiar with it?

Brian Smith 39:26
I am Yes, yeah.

Claire B. Willis 39:27
It’s it’s a practice where you start by extending yourself blessings. And you extend the people you love. Then you extend to neutrals, like the mailman or the grocery person, and then you extend to people you don’t like, but we only concentrate on extending it to ourselves and each chapter, we ask, we close each chapter with a meta meditation. So in the first chapter, I think unkindness might be the meta might be something like, may I accept the feelings that come my way may allow my group To strengthen my heart, may I find peace in my grief. I can’t remember exactly what they are. But that’s the way it goes. They are phrases to start with, may I? And I often ask people to create the phrases they need for their journey. May you have strength for your journey, you know, things like that. And everybody needs their own. So that yes, meditation. And mindfulness is one of the one of the practices, it’s one of the chapters in the book that we feel is really important. And there’s a lot of research. Each chapter is based on research that shows that these practices help people with grief and anxiety and depression.

Brian Smith 40:42
Yeah. So what do you say to someone that says, I’ve tried to meditate, I just can’t do it.

Claire B. Willis 40:48
I can’t either. I sit every day for a half an hour. So no one can do it. Really, there’s no, there’s no accomplishing it. But the effort is important to attend to it. Most. There’s a great New Yorker cartoon where all these people are sitting cross legged. And they have their hands in the meditation position with circles on their knees, and they look so serene, right. And then you have these word bubbles coming out of each person’s head. And one person says, Oh, I forgot to call Whole Foods. Before to place I left work to play some water, Oh, I forgot this. And each, each person has a bubble coming out of their head says, I bet everybody in the room can do this. But me, yes, will cannot concentrate on their breath, more than one to two to three breaths at the most. And so one of the things that I often suggest to people is that they connect words to their breathing. So you might want to say, breathing in, you say it to yourself breathing in, I know I’m breathing in, breathing out, I know I’m breathing out. Breathing in, I soften my belly, breathing out, my breath lengthens you, if you put words to the breath, it’s much easier to meditate than if you just follow the breath without any language. So that’s what I would say to someone who says I can’t meditate. But you know, the truthfully. It’s a practice, we don’t get good at it easily. But the attempt makes a big difference. When I was when I was working for the Dean Ornish program for reversing heart disease. I was the stress management consultant. And they had they had people coming in for physical exercise. These were all heart patients. And the one time I remember was one particular day, the person in charge of exercise, said, Claire, would you please take this woman into the room, she’s too anxious, she, I don’t want her on the machines, she needs to be calmed down. And she told me her daughter had just been diagnosed with cancer. And so I led her through this guided meditation for about 10 minutes. And when she was done, she said I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do any of it. But when they took her blood pressure, her blood pressure had dropped, her heart rate had dropped, and she was able to get on the machines. So often, we don’t think we’re doing anything. And we can’t do it when we are doing it. So I would say that, too.

Brian Smith 43:11
I think that’s great, you know, because I’ve had so many people say to me, you know, I just I can’t meditate. And I would say I love what you said the beginning, you know, everybody thinks everybody can meditate better than they can. And none of us can shut off our thoughts for 30 minutes, you know, and I’ve heard people say, you know, I was there, I was thinking I wasn’t having a thought. And I thought I just thought I didn’t have a thought, well, that’s a thought. And then they get themselves back in the monkey mind. But for me, the the goal, the purpose of meditation, is learning to catch ourselves. If you didn’t have those distractions, you wouldn’t need to meditate, but it’s having the distractions and training the mind to come back. So this is the way it works for me anyways, I’ve learned to know when I’m spinning out, and I’ve learned how to how to turn that off. So I sleep so much better now that I met it. I’ve meditated every day for the last like four years now. And I sleep so much better. Because when I get in bed, and my mind starts racing, I know it’s racing. So I just say i’m gonna i’m just gonna go to the breath. And next thing I know I’m asleep.

Claire B. Willis 44:09
Yeah, that, you know, thank you for saying that. Because it is. Meditation is the moment you catch that. And you come back to the breath. Yeah, that’s I’m so glad you mentioned that. Brian.

Brian Smith 44:21
Yeah, well, the other thing I will say this is just this is my thing. And I share with people because everybody has to find their own tool that works for them. When it comes to grief. It’s because we all give we our share of things. And you know, yoga works for some people, it doesn’t work for other people. But I use an app called insight timer. And it’s got all these different guided meditations, or sometimes I listen to music. So try different things that work for you. I was talking to my mother a long time about my meditation. And she said, I just can’t do it. I can’t do it. And I started giving her some guided meditations. And she could sit as long as someone was guiding her through it. And those I found could be very beneficial for people.

Claire B. Willis 44:58
Thank you for saying that and yes Meditation insight timer is a wonderful tool you want, and it’s free.

Brian Smith 45:06
So those are, those are some ways that people can. These are tools we can give people. And as I said, you know, try them out and find what works for you. I interviewed a young lady who her mother passed away. And she tried all the things people recommended she that she tried yoga, that didn’t work, she tried walking, that didn’t work, she tried meditation, she found out weightlifting, worked for her. And she just started lifting weights, and she ended up becoming a power lifter. And that that worked for her. So,

Claire B. Willis 45:34
you know, that reminds me that this is in our book, there’s a walking group in Canada, where these people gather each week. And they walk, they say the name of the person who died. They say the person died and what the relationship, there’s no advice, there’s no support, and they just walk together in silence. Oh, wow. Yeah, it’s very powerful. It’s been incredibly helpful for people.

Brian Smith 46:02
Yeah, that well, I can say it’s, you know, I say to people, whatever, whatever happens to work for you, we all have our minds work differently. I do. Most of the stuff we’ve talked about, I walk every day, I do a gratitude practice. Every day, I do a meditation, or I do a meditation, usually 2025 minutes every day. Those are the tools that happened to work for me. And I’ve tried, you know, you know, many different things. I like the fact that your book gives people things to choose from, and I’d say, you know, try those things and see how they work for you and, and fine tune them to work for you for whatever you’re not as you’re going through. That’s right.

Claire B. Willis 46:39
Each chapter in the book is a resource for people to help them hold grief. And it you can think of it as a toolbox. You can just dip into any chapter. But if you read the book, start for sure. With the chapter kindness, starting with kindness and grief as a companion. Those are the two chapters at the beginning.

Brian Smith 46:58
Yeah, so I’m trying to think of what the next question I want to ask you was. You talked a little bit about about writing. So you You said that writing actually helps people to process their grief is that what we’re saying?

Claire B. Willis 47:15
Well, it helps people hold the grief to hold and express it. One of the things that I hear a lot in my brain, because people will say things like, there’s so many memories I have that I don’t ever want to forget, and I’m afraid I’m going to forget them. And I say you will, you will forget them. I mean, that’s the truth. So I one of the writing exercises I give people is to sit down for a few minutes every day and just write the sentence, I remember and see what comes up. And when that’s done, I remember and see what comes up. I remember. And there’s a little book by Joe Brainard called I remember in which the whole book is nothing but sentences about I remember, it’s not necessarily a memoir, or a book about someone they lost. But the technique is very powerful. And, or creating a story about and, and if you can’t write in the first person, I always say write in the third person, fictionalize it to the extent you have can, so that you don’t implode with grief. You want to modulate your grief so that you can work with it and not have it overwhelm you when you’re writing. But I think writing and there’s a lot of writing techniques I do for hold. That can be very, very helpful.

Brian Smith 48:34
So have you I think you mentioned this have people expressed to you I’ve had people express this to me, I I’m scared. I’m gonna forget my loved one. I’m scared. I’m gonna forget what they sounded like. I’m scared. I’m gonna forget, you know, who they are or something. Have you come across that?

Claire B. Willis 48:50
Yeah, I hear that a lot. And I think that can be the slippery slope, Brian, where people hang on to their grief in order to stay connected, that somehow if their grief starts to subside, they feel like their loved one is slipping away. One of the things that I was saying, I think I said this already, I was talking to this woman this morning, was about how to take from the person they loved and lost aspects of their life and bring them forward into work that serves others. How do we carry the legacy of who we’ve loved and bring it through our life into service to others so that they may not suffer the same I oftentimes people will do fundraisers for the cause that the person they love died or I can’t think I’m thinking right now but woman who lost her husband and 911 and she created a grief center. Austin, which is a huge staff, of people, they all they do is grief work. So there are ways to take this and carry our loved one And as a legacy, yeah. from them. And I always ask people, I ask people, how many people are talking to those they loved? I don’t say do you I say how many of you are. So I like to embed the assumption that we are all talking to those who left us. Yeah, let’s

Brian Smith 50:19
talk about that some more. Because I was going to ask you, the next question I was going to ask you is do you talk about carrying the relationship forward? I mean, we can do things and their legacy we can we can do scholarship funds, we can do memorials and stuff. But what about maintaining the relationship with the person who has who has passed?

Claire B. Willis 50:39
You’re familiar with continuing bonds? Yes, I am. And I also another person, Lorraine headcheese, writes about remembering conversations. And I often say to people, like this morning, I said to this woman, what would your son be wanting you to be doing right now with your grief? It would have meaning for him. And asking people, what would your husband saying now? What would he advise you, I encourage people to tap into the knowing of that person and bring that person into their life now, whether it’s through letter writing, whether it and I have clients that write letters at night, or to their loved ones, sent letters, but I encourage people to dialogue and listen for responses from their loved ones, whether they’re imagined or not, it doesn’t matter. Because they carry the voice. They carry this the soul of those people they’ve loved with them. And they just have to tap into it and trust it. Okay,

Brian Smith 51:44
yeah. So for for me, my daughter’s behind me. She’s always right here over my shoulder. And I say good morning to every morning, I say goodnight to her every night. And she’s she, she’s with me through throughout my day, you know, and she inspires, you know, frankly, what I do that that’s what works for me. So the idea, I love the idea of continuing bonds. And when I got into doing this work, I know in the past, traditional grief counseling was, okay, the relationships over let’s accept the fact that it’s over. And we’re going to teach you how to move on without that person. Move on. Yeah. And that does not work for me. I don’t know if it works for other

Claire B. Willis 52:23
people, or anybody actually, yeah, it just what it does is it pushes our grief under and then it’s gonna come out sideways, we’re gonna become irritable, we’re gonna become impatient. We’re gonna snap at things and be reactive, it doesn’t work for anybody to push it down. As much as we may want to.

Brian Smith 52:42
Yeah, well, I think that’s, I think that’s through like, so for me, that’s what makes it bearable, is the fact that that that I can still can continue that relationship. You know, it depends on what the relationship was like. And so when my grandmother passed away when I was in my 20s, in that she was like a mother to me, but, you know, I was like, she was older. And that’s, that’s the natural flow of life. You know, it’s okay, I can deal with it. But when it’s when was my daughter when she was 15? I had just like, Okay, this is a whole different thing. I have to do this completely differently. And it really changes you. I mean, it changes who you are. Another thing I wanted to ask you is, I’m sure you get this, a lot of people come in and they say, Okay, my life is over. That’s it. I’m done. You know, this, just because I cannot live without this person. So what would you say to that?

Claire B. Willis 53:32
I would say, Tell me about that. I would ask them to flesh that out. I wouldn’t say your life isn’t over. I would say what makes you think that? Tell me what, tell me what your current sources of joy are? I would ask them questions. Who are the people in your life that are most significant? How is that going to change as a result of the death? I would just keep flushing and flushing? Yeah. until it became moved from being a black hard statement to a gray area? Yeah. And softer and had more? What can I say heart in it. It was more of a read response.

Brian Smith 54:15
Yeah, being open to the possibility because I think early in grief, and again, depending on what it is, I only had one major grief in my life. As I said, other people have been people that are older, you know, but with my daughter. I wasn’t even open to the possibility of healing. And when people talk about you can heal. I’m like, I don’t want to heal. That’s, that’s I think, and I think it’s fairly common in the situation that I was in. Oh,

Claire B. Willis 54:43
yeah. The question is what makes you feel like you can heal? What would healing look like?

Brian Smith 54:48

Claire B. Willis 54:48
that’s a good one, right? Yeah. Yeah, I think anytime we negate anything someone says we’re shoving their grief away. Yeah. It’s gonna be Completely unhelpful. I think the most important thing we can do is just to keep inviting people. I’m curious, tell me more why you feel that way. Okay, anything, any part of anybody’s experience?

Brian Smith 55:13
Yeah, absolutely. But you know, I guess the other thing is, if someone’s coming to you to a group, or they bought your book, then they’re obviously open to something right? Otherwise, they wouldn’t have taken that even that first step. So, but we still might say that that thing, okay, I don’t I don’t want to heal, I don’t know that I can heal. And I like what you’re saying is like, Okay, I’m not going to try to correct you. But I’m going to try to help you find the answers within yourself. Right? Because that’s, that’s the other thing with people. A lot of times I think they come to us looking for answers. Like, I want you to answer my questions and tell me how to do this. And how am I supposed to feel? And I hear you saying, okay, it’s this. Let’s explore this is more like it?

Claire B. Willis 55:55
Yes. Let’s explore it. I think stay. One of the things that I learned in chaplaincy program that you piaa is to keep saying, I’m curious, tell me more actually use that when I’ve gotten into heated political conversations. You know, I’m, I was very interested in hearing the thinking sometimes of people who were voting for the person I didn’t vote for. And I just, most of my friends are of a similar political posture. And I’m curious, tell me more. Oh, you think that happened? Tell me how you think that just keep asking the questions, because then you’re building at least a bridge to understanding and not shutting the other person down. And that’s the important thing in grief is not to shut one another down, is to keep listening and inviting, whatever is there to come into the light of day because nothing will be healed until it comes to light. And even then it takes time.

Brian Smith 56:58
Yeah, you know, the kind of brings us back around to what we were talking about before we started recording, today’s Inauguration Day. And we have a new administration, you know, in the in the White House, but 50% of the people who voted or are grieving right now, and this, this happens, every election, you know, 50% of people are right now are grieving the Inauguration Day. 50% of people right now are celebrating negation and half of the day. And I think too, for people to understand that those people are grieving. And to understand that those people feel a sense of loss, they feel a real sense of loss and betrayal, and this can’t happen. So some of these grief techniques we’re talking about can be applied. You know, even even to that,

Claire B. Willis 57:43
you know, it’s so interesting, you’re saying this, because the other night I heard an interview, I forget what show was on with a white supremacist who had what’s the word converted into not being a subprime assist, anyway, and she was working with other supremacists to try to bring them out of their posture of white supremacy. And the person that was interviewing her, was asking her how she did that. And she said, I never have a political discussion. I look for all the areas of intersection we have outside of politics. And I try to bring a human face to that I stay out of the political realm and find common interests so I can begin to build a bridge. And not until you have a bridge, can you really begin to discuss the difference in politics? And I thought that was very astute that her job now was trying to convert white supremacist, more tolerant view.

Brian Smith 58:44
Yeah, absolutely. And so getting getting back to your book, you know, it’s interesting, because I think a lot of times people say, I need to buy a book on grief, because I just lost a loved one. But you know, if you’ve gone right now, we could probably all use this book. And if we, if we don’t need it, right now, we’re going to need it. You know, because grief is a universal thing that we all we all go through. And so I’m encouraging people. And if you’re listening to this podcast, you know, you think I don’t really need the book right now. Get it now and read it now. Because it’ll help you now. And it also helps you in the future, when you have what you know, what you think is a real grief event.

Claire B. Willis 59:23
The book also is, you know, one of the things that people have written on Amazon is that the book also is life skills. Right? within a book for grief. It’s really a book for living too,

Brian Smith 59:35
right? Absolutely. Yeah. All the skills, all the tools that you mentioned, we can use all throughout our life, okay, because, again, we’re always grieving or have grief about something. We’ve all been divorced or lost a job or lost a home or had our children grow up and move out of the house. And all these techniques that you know, I was fortunate, I was doing mindfulness and I was walking before Shayna passed away. If you do that, if you build that practice, before that event happens, that gives you a resiliency that you might not otherwise have. And then you’re not trying to build everything from scratch.

Claire B. Willis 1:00:11
That’s right. That’s so true. Ryan, that’s so true. That’s such a good point you’re making? Yeah, use it before you need it.

Brian Smith 1:00:19
Yeah. And the other thing I want to say, because this is another thing I see people doing is the babies, just people that come to me because they’re overachievers, like, I was talking to someone earlier, it’s like a cameraman. For five grief groups, you know, I’m doing this, I’m seeing a counselor. You know, I’m, I’m changing my diet. I’m starting to exercise. I’m just trying to do everything at once. So what would your advice be like? How do I? How do I get into this doing these practices?

Claire B. Willis 1:00:52
Try one at a time, start with kindness. And don’t abuse yourself with what you think you should be doing. Because that’s, that’s not kind actually, to be doing to be pushing yourself to do all these things. Just being with what is with an open heart is will accomplish a lot.

Brian Smith 1:01:15
Yeah, so that that’s what kind of brings me back around to because I want to talk to you about the difference between like grief and depression, because a lot of times people will say, Okay, you go to a doctor and you’ve lost someone, the doctor goes, Okay, well, you’re depressed. Here’s some Zoloft, you know, get, you know, get over it. So how do I know? Like, when do I seek professional help? How do I know the difference between grief and depression? what’s normal? And what I need to be on medication, for example?

Claire B. Willis 1:01:42
So this is tricky question. So I think when you’re grieving, you tend to have moments of grief and moments of joy, there are breaks from the grief, when you’re depressed, the world is gray, there aren’t openings. Seeking professional help. You know, it’s interesting, a lot of the people I work with are leading fully functioning lives, and many of them have therapists for extra support, would they be doing okay? without it? Yes, it can be a luxury and it can be a necessity, I would say that if you’re feeling if you’re drinking a lot to the point of dysfunction, you’re sleeping away and not getting to work. If you’re feeling at all suicidal, those are problematic signs. And those would require I think, professional help. Just those are the obvious ones. But I think, you know, having a therapist, if you’re a talk oriented person can be a wonderful companion in the grief, someone who follows you. And I don’t think it’s necessary. I personally think bereavement groups are wonderful when they’re well lead. Because you see, you’re not alone. People who can almost finish your sentences. Yeah, often, so often hear, that’s exactly how I feel. And the person doesn’t even need to say anything more. They just hear their stories in one another. And that’s so healing because the isolation of grief, the loneliness of grief exacerbates it. Yeah.

Brian Smith 1:03:24
Yeah. And the other thing I would like to add to that is, um, you know, I guess in our society, we’re all about feeling good, you know, and people are like, I want to feel good, or I want to feel back to normal. It’s, it’s normal to feel sad when you’re in grief. And I went to a doctor, not too long after my daughter had passed away was the first time I’d seen him. And he asked me about my stress level and all that kind of stuff. And so my stress levels through the roof, my daughter passed away a year ago, and I was so appreciative because, you know, I said, Yeah, I’m depressed, you know, cuz they asked if you’re depressed. And I said, I’m sad because my daughter passed away. He goes, Well, that’s normal. You know, that’s, that’s okay. Are you functioning okay? Are you drinking too much? You’re feeling suicidal? No, I’m coping fine. And he said, Okay, great. Then he was he was a older guys probably about my age and would see a doctor not too long after that. This was a young doctor, and same questions. And I told her, she started to write me a prescription. And I’m like, Yeah, no, I don’t, I don’t need that. And I don’t want that I am sad because my daughter passed away. And that’s normal. You know, and I want to I want to hold on to this right now.

Claire B. Willis 1:04:36
See, this is where models of grief have really oppressed and hurt us. And I think and the DSM has not helped. And that’s the medical model. I think it’s like if you’re still upset after three months or six months, I’m not sure which you can be called depressed and that’s Such a disservice to the natural normal process of grief. It’s,

Brian Smith 1:05:06
I completely agree. And I said, I’m five and a half years out, and I still have good days and bad days, you know, and I still feel some sadness, and that’s okay. And I sit with it, and I live with it. And that’s part of the, that’s part of the love, you know, if you if you’ve got love for somebody, especially like, it’s a daughter, you know, my daughter, and it’s five years later, I’m gonna, I’m gonna feel sad about that sometimes. And I think we do ourselves a disservice when we try to medicate it in any way or try to, to bury it, we need to, we need to process that we set with it. And we need to, you know, let it be our friend, you know, let let the grief be our companion.

Claire B. Willis 1:05:47
I think what you’re saying is important. And I just want to say there are people because of whatever they’re bringing to the grief may not be able to do that and do need medication. Absolutely. Absolutely. I wouldn’t want someone to feel bad because they’re taking medication.

Brian Smith 1:06:05
Yeah, absolutely not. No, there are and I tell everybody that I work with, you know, there are times and I’m not a medical professional. So you know, if you need to take that that’s fine. And, and it can be I’ve been on medication for a short time I went when I was going through talk therapy before Shayna passed. But I went I went to my therapist, I said, I worked with her, my doctor, I said I’m going to see the therapist, but I want to have a plan. And I want to be off of this. And but I won’t go off until you tell me it’s okay. So that was the plan I decided to use. So I don’t Yeah, I didn’t mean so I’m glad you added that because I’m not saying people should not take medication. There’s definitely a time and a place for but normal grief. If it’s not complicated grief, you probably don’t need medication.

Claire B. Willis 1:06:47
Yes, yes. Yeah. Yeah.

Brian Smith 1:06:51
We’re Claire, um, it’s been really great getting to meet you. Any final thoughts you want to give before we close today?

Claire B. Willis 1:06:58
Well, I just want to come back to what Jamie Anderson said about how grief is an expression of love that has no place to go and not to try to push it away to quit? Yes. So the expression of the depth of your loving, you know, I just think that’s such an important reframe of it, especially in light of the cultural expectations of, you know, three days off from work and you come back and you’re supposed to talk function. I mean, it’s so ridiculous, you know,

Brian Smith 1:07:27
yes, it absolutely is.

Claire B. Willis 1:07:28
No, you’re shoveling against the tide in grieving and stay with your process. Stay. Stay with what you need, to the extent you can, and don’t let anybody tell you how to do it. Now.

Brian Smith 1:07:44
Thank you very much. I want to give your your contact information against your website is opening to and your latest book is opening the grief finding your way to loss from loss to peace, by Claire B. Willis and Marnie Crawford. Samuelson, I assume that’s available on Amazon and etc.

Claire B. Willis 1:08:02
I what I say to people is buy locally and review on Amazon. But yes, it’s available on Amazon. You can have it in 24 hours.

Brian Smith 1:08:10
Okay, great. That sounds great. Well, Claire, thanks. Thanks for being my guest today. And have a great day.

Claire B. Willis 1:08:17
Yeah, take care.

Brian Smith 1:08:21
That’s it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you got something out of it. Please stay in contact with me by reaching out at www grief to that’s grief, the number two or you can text the word growth 231996. That’s simply text growth gr o w t h 231996. So if you’re watching this on YouTube, please make sure you subscribe. So hit the subscribe button. And then hit the little bell here. And it’ll notify you want to have new content. Always please share the information if you enjoy it. That helps me to get more views and get the message out to more people. Thanks a lot and have a wonderful day.

Transcribed by


Karen was a physical therapist at Alaska Hospital and Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska in 1982 when she was the 32-year-old mother of a daughter, 9 years old, and a son, 6 years old. She and her husband had moved their family there from a small upstate New York town the previous year. Karen injured her back and had to have spinal surgery. Her near-death experience occurred during this surgery when the surgeon lacerated a major artery and she bled out on the operating room table.

Karen’s extensive near-death experience involved what is called a veridical experience, which means that a third party was later able to verify what she saw take place while she was out of her body. Karen has been interviewed about her experience on several occasions and is one of several near-death experiencers who participated in the documentary, Back from the Light.

Her previous interviews can be heard on YouTube. Most recently, her experience is one of 12 to be included in the Journal, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, A Journal of Qualitative Research affiliated with Johns Hopkins published in May 2020.




Michelle Freed is a certified Hypnotherapist and Professional Remote Viewer. She is experienced in operational targets working with detectives to help solve crimes and find missing people as well as teaching the skill of remote viewing in her 6-week training program. She is the former Producer for the popular radio show created by Art Bell, “Midnight in the Desert”.

In this audio-only interview, Michelle shares with me the practical applications of “remote viewing” which I find out is a misnomer. It’s not about just finding your keys. Remote viewing can help you understand your past lives and allow you to tap into your higher self to make better decisions about your future. “Men Who Stare At Goats” was loosely based on programs that the government carried out knowing that remote viewing is a very real thing that has been proven time and time again.

ℹ️you can reach Michelle at:

? to become a Patron and get exclusive content, find me on Patreon at:

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Hi there. Welcome to grief to growth podcast. Your host is Brian Smith, spiritual seeker, best selling author, grief survivor and life coach. Brian believes that the worst tragedies of life provide the greatest opportunity for growth. Brian says he was planted, not buried, and he is here to help you grow where you’ve been planted by the difficulties in life. In each episode, Brian and his guests will share what has helped them to survive and thrive. It is his sincere hope this episode helps you today.

Michelle Freed
Hey everybody, this is Brian Smith back with another episode of grief to growth and today I’ve got with me Michelle freed. Michelle is a certified hypnotherapist, and she’s a professional remote viewer. And you may be wondering what a remote viewer is, and we’ll talk about what that is Michelle’s experience and operational targets working with detectives to help solve crimes and find missing people as well as teaching the skill of remote viewing and her six week training program. Michelle is a former producer for the popular radio show created by Art Bell, and it’s called midnight in the desert. And currently, Michelle will be launching her new endeavor as an entertainment publicist. And maybe we’ll talk about that a little bit today, too. So we’re going to talk about I think, hypnosis, which Michelle is professional and also remote viewing. So with that, I’d like to welcome to grief to growth, Michelle freed.

Hi, it’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

And Michelle, it’s good. It’s good to have you on. These are a couple subjects that I’m that I’m really intrigued by and I don’t know a lot about so I’m hoping to today to learn something from you. So let’s let’s start with remote viewing. First of all, could you tell our listeners what remote viewing is?

So there’s a lot of people that that have different definitions of remote viewing. And the remote viewing that I’m talking about is the type of remote viewing that they did in the military back in the 70s. And it was a program called Stargate, and what the government our government did was they grabbed some scientists from from the Stanford Research Institute and put together a protocol for the military so that they can use their subconscious and projected to a target and get Intel gather Intel. And what United States found out is a lot of the other countries, China, Russia, a lot of other countries had already been experimenting with these things. And so then we put together a program again, it’s called Stargate, and you can look that up. There’s a ton of information about it. And so in the 90s, they declassified the project. And a lot of these military guys when they retired, because what they learned through the process is that anybody can remote view. And because we’re all intuitive And if you learn these, you know, this protocol, these skills that will help you it’s a lot of practice. It’s a lot of work, but pretty much anybody can do it. And so they were teaching classes and I took a bunch of classes from some of the popular people you may have heard of is Joe mcmoneagle. Lynn Buchanan, Russell targ. These are all my teachers and then also john Vivanco. And there, there’s a movie. I don’t know. Have you ever heard in the movie men who stare at goats?

Brian Smith
I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen it yet.

Michelle Freed
Okay, so that is a silly kind of parody lightly based on what happened? Yeah. And the person who played George Clooney is part is I believe it’s Lynn Buchanan, one of the ex military guys, and so I am obsessed with it and I practice all the Time to the point where I’m pretty good. It’s a it’s you know, when you’re dealing with your unconscious part of yourself it’s not 100% reliable, but it can give good data. And so I was working with detectives to find missing people and other various cases in the government. Recently we were asked to remote view the Olympics. They wanted to know who or what the top three

I guess top three

things that they should prepare for top three like concerns. And so we did that and there’s various other ones. I was also i don’t know if i told you this, but I was on Ancient Aliens too. We did an episode on with the remote viewing and we were we were at East Eddie ranch. Have you ever heard of East Eddie ranch? I have not No. Okay, it’s this ranch in Washington and near Mount Adams. And there seems to be a lot of weird things that happen there. And so we we went there, and they do this skywatch, where they’re looking for UFOs. And so they do that every night. And they just put together a whole episode of us remote viewing, you know, if there’s aliens or something like that, which is kind of a fun thing to be doing. But it looked like our data was mostly saying that they were satellites and not UFOs. So, but anyway, it was a really exciting experience. So let’s let’s,

let’s kind of break this down a little bit. Because, first of all, there’s a there’s so many, so much. I want to explore as you talked about, first of all, there was a government program for remote viewing. So the government acknowledged this was real. They brought these people and And I want to let everybody know, the people that you mentioned that you’ve trained with are some of the top names in this field. I’ve, I have heard their names. I’ve heard a little bit about this, but the government acknowledges they know was a real thing. They got real results. So maybe you can give us some examples of some of the results that they got from this remote viewing they did.

Well, um, if you look up Joe mcmoneagle, it’s hard for me to tell you without you seeing it. But there if you look up Joe mcmoneagle, and you will see his actual sessions. Because what we do is we we sketch things out. So you have to look at what he sketched out versus what the target was so that you can get a really good idea. For example, say there so one of the things about remote viewing that’s very important for people to understand is that it’s done in a scientific way. So the viewers which I’m a viewer, we are blind to the target. So the project Manager will set up a project. And he’ll come up with a question. And we call that the secret question. And we do not we have no idea what that question can be. It could be anything in the world. It could be, you know, the pyramids in, you know, it could be anything, you know, where it, you know, it would say, like, go to the location, you know, say it’s a missing person. If it’s a missing person, what they would write on there, they would, they would definitely tell us it’s a missing person, but they would not tell us anything else. So we know that you know, so we could prepare because it could be traumatic. So it’s a missing person. But then the secret question would be describe the current location of someone so whatever their name is, or describe the physical condition of whoever it is. And we don’t ever see that.

Brian Smith
We just don’t see the secret question, okay?

Michelle Freed
Right, we get a number, just a number, a random number. And they’ll just email me a number and say, Hey, do a session. And I’m like, Okay, and then I do what I was taught. And I create a session, and I email back to them. And that’s really how it works. So this is

really open ended. So and you said, you, you mentioned earlier using a subconscious to get this information? Is that correct?

Exactly. So what you’re doing is projecting your subconscious, so it’s about intention. So what I do is when I receive this target number, my mind already, when you sit what a session looks like, you’re sitting at your desk with paper in front of you, and you write down the number. Well, you first want to cool yourself down. You just want to kind of Set aside your everyday life and kind of invite yourself into, okay, I’m in remote viewing, you know world zone right now. And you cool down, and then you just focus and you’re engaging all your senses. Everything about you and you’re asking yourself questions, what do I smell? What do I taste what I feel, and what we’ve learned that and why this works is there’s actually Dr.

Xu is it

I forgot to say I have to find out his name, but he did this experiment that he took a bunch of college students, and he set up a project where he put a whole bunch of pictures on a computer screen, and he connected them up so that you can keep track of all their vitals like their blood pressure, their heart rate, their brain waves and Everything. And what he did was he had them advance through the pictures. And throughout, scattered through the quick pictures randomly, he put some provocative pictures in there. And he wanted to know if we can predict a picture before it comes. So he would have, you know, a tree, a leaf, a rock, you know, a building, whatever. And then he would stick in there like, maybe, you know, people kissing or maybe a bra or you know, something provocative he would put in there. And he noticed that the picture before the provocative one, their vitals would actually spike. Yeah. And so that was Did you hear of this? I have heard this name, doctor.

I can’t remember. But actually, this this pre cognition thing has been tested over and over again. So I’m not sure which which one you’re talking about. But it’s actually one of the most common experiences or experiments when it comes to psi, you know, site type of abilities.

Exactly. And so what we’re doing is we are engaging our senses when you’re doing this because we can. And that’s really what we’re tapping into. And it’s incredible.

So I didn’t realize that was actually considered part of of the remote viewing genre, I guess, for lack of a better word. And you mentioned Joe mcmoneagle. And I want to tell people how to spell that because it’s almost impossible to spell. So it’s mc MONE, a GL E. But you could also look up Russell targ. And his last name is ta RG it’s a lot easier to spell.

Yeah. Russell targ.

And I do remember hearing some experiments like where they would send people out to like, somewhere on a street somewhere. Yeah. And so yeah, tell me about those.

That’s called the outbound or that’s what Russell targ does, and they every well they’re not doing that. conferences right now. But every year they have a conference in Vegas. And they make everybody at the conference do this. And it’s so much fun. So basically, he’ll lead you into a session because a lot of people don’t know how to do it. And he’ll do like a quick and dirty explanation just kind of do this. And in the meantime, he sends people off. And nobody knows where they’re going to be with a video camera. And they go somewhere and then while they’re there, we’re tuning into them. And their location again, we’re engaging, what does it smell like there? What is Beyonds? What does it feel like? What impressions are we getting? Is there a structure here? And an important thing is that we never use nouns we just describe things. Because that could, you know are. What Joe always says is, in order to be a really good remote viewer. You have to give up being human Yeah. What does he mean by that? Well, he means that humans need everything to make sense. So if I asked you to describe an apple and our normal things when we actually did that reverse, but if I just said, it’s red, shiny and round, a lot of people will say Apple, right? Because they’ll put it all together. That’s what humans do. That’s, that’s what makes us exist and be successful that we want to make sense of it. So that’s an apple. But the problem is when you say red, shiny and round in remote viewing, and when we’re engaging in our subconscious because our subconscious doesn’t understand words or anything like that they’re more symbolic. It could be a firetruck, and then you put somebody in the wrong direction, especially if you’re working on an apparatus operational case, where it was important to say that there’s a fire truck there versus Is Oh, there was an apple there. So what we do is, as a viewer, you’re just, you’re just reporting what you perceive as an analysis, then you will decode what somebody says and make it and, you know, draw the picture from it. And so that’s what’s really important to know.

Yeah, because there was something I don’t know if you’re familiar with this incident cuz I’ve ever hearing about it. Well, I think it was Joe mcmoneagle was viewing it like a submarine or something.

Oh, right. The Russian the secret. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, he, so he is I don’t remember what the tasking the tasking would be the secret question. The tasks. I don’t remember the words, but that’s a very popular popular case, where he was getting Intel that was a Russian secret. Secret low vessel, I guess I could say, and nobody knew about it. So That’s what was so incredible. And that’s one of the things that we realize are kind of Marquez, this. This is how we know it works, because we have positive feedback from it. Yeah. And then Ingo Swann, did you ever hear that name Ingo Swann,

Brian Smith
I’m not going to read that name now.

Michelle Freed
So we call him the godfather of remote viewing, because he back then when the scientists were putting the protocol together, they found at the time the one of the best psychics in the world to help them put this together. And so he was using remote viewing and in way before we even knew this, he was remote viewing some in space, something in space, and he got the information that I think it was Jupiter has rings around it, and everyone thought he was crazy. What are you talking about Jupiter doesn’t have rings on it. He came up with a whole bunch of information about space. And and then over time, see feedback can take a long time to get over time we were able to validate a lot of his sessions that there’s no way he could have known. Yeah. And and then back to Joe, he had a session that he was remote viewing Mars. And you have there’s a YouTube video you have to see it because you have to see his sketches. And he’s a great artist. But they took the photos that they had of Mars next to his session, where he talks about this pyramid near a crater. And he drew it exactly how it shows up in the picture. And there’s literally he he did this back in like the 70s or 80s. And the picture came to us in the 90s or 2000s. So I mean, it’s concrete evidence of that he was seeing something that there is no We can do that. So

yeah, and that’s the thing about I, you know, it’s interesting. Michels were talking, I talked to skeptics about all all sorts of phenomena. And they always say, well, there’s no evidence for that, you know, there’s there’s no data to back this backs this up, you know, whether it’s mediumship, or you know, anything. And when it comes to remote viewing, I know you and I talked about this earlier. We talked a few weeks ago, there’s so much evidence that they don’t even study it anymore. No one studies it to see whether it’s real because it’s been proven time and time again.

And I’m so glad you brought that up because I am part of

a team that we put together scientific evidence that even they can’t, you know, argue with so we recently did an peer reviewed project or paper that was published in the Journal of Psychical Research, where we used dreams to predict a future outcome. We use dreams and Remote Viewing to predict the future outcome. And so what we did was, and what’s very important, and I think you will agree with this is is about the energy of intention. And that really surrounds everything in remote viewing, if not everything in life. So at night, on Friday nights, we set an intention that we’re going to have a dream about a photo that’s going to be showed to us. Okay. And what they did was how they set up the project was they we were wagering on a sporting event. Okay. And they took too Are you a sports fan? I am Yes. Okay. I don’t want to offend you. The sports teams that I pick but I have to pick the Cubs because I’m from Chicago. So the the Cubs so you have the Cubs and I don’t know the Cardinals. And what we do is associate a photo with them. So the Cubs we would say is the ocean And the Cardinals would be the desert. So the two photos are completely different. And so we have no idea we that that, again is something that’s secret we do not know the teams we do we know that we’re wagering, or we know that. The only thing we know as a viewer is that we’re supposed to go to sleep and dream about a photo that’s going to be shown to us after some game. We don’t know if it’s baseball, football, horse racing, we don’t know what we don’t know anything. And so we go to sleep and say we dream about, you know, something about water or a boat or anything that has something to do with water. And we wake up in the morning and we do a session. And we we send in the session to the project manager. And then there were five, five of us, and she would look at all the sessions and she’d say, wow, you know, for these sessions had water in it. So I’m going to make up prediction that the cubs are going to win. And then the games played. And then the Cubs, of course win. And they send us the picture of the water so that we get our feedback. So, essentially what we did and what we’re proving, is we literally went into the future. Got information and brought it back.

Yeah. And that he said, and this is the thing I also want to bring out about remote viewing because I always thought of remote viewing is just like, okay, you can physically see where an object is now without laying your eyes on it. But when you and I talked earlier, we can actually remote view the future within we can predict events.

Right, exactly. But here is a little you know, this gets into a very deep conversation and I’m probably not even qualified to even go there. But because time is not fixed. The big question that we ask ourselves when we have these questions and my jobs on the floor, while Listen to these really smart people talk about it. Is that because it’s not fixed, if you’re, if you’re observing it, then you can change it. Right. So, Joe, john Vivanco, there’s another book that he came out with. He was one of in the 90s, one of the first civilian groups remote viewing in the 90s after it was declassified. And they had, I don’t know if it was a CIA or some three, what they call three letter organization. Yeah, hired them to do counter terrorism. And they did a session where they were actually seeing a big stadium that was attacked and and there was a terrorist attack at this place. And they believe that it didn’t happen because it could have altered what was gonna happen, though? Yeah, by viewing it, you know, like, we know, I don’t know if you know, the double slit theory that observer effect. Yeah, yes, exactly. And so this is what people are talking like what’s going on here? And I come in, I chime in and I’m like, Well, I have a question. What if we can go into the future? And, you know, personally into our own future and say we have a decision to make, like, should I marry this guy? Or should I not marry this guy? You know, go into the future, find that out, send the information back, so that I make really good decisions. You know, that’s a we don’t know. But wouldn’t that be a great handy thing? Like, can you think of so many things that you would want to like kind of find out about before? Yeah, well then just choose the

other way. You just made a really good point earlier though, because we don’t understand the nature of time. So One of the one of the theories in time is everything happens at the same time. There is no linear time. That’s just the way we perceive it. So everything that has happened or will happen, and you have to use time to describe it, you could say it already has happens. It’s so weird that it gets really, really deep, really fast. So

deep, right,

but let’s talk about some practical applications of remote viewing. You said you’ve worked on missing person cases. So have you been able to locate people?

Yeah, yeah. So I, what I’d like to say is I help you know, so my, my data helps them. One of the unfortunate this was an unfortunate case. And I was getting information where it was kind of strange. I’m recalling it right now. And I remember in session, I was kind of a bird’s eye view, looking down at a subject and it was male and he I could see See the position he was in and there was blood on his forehead and a big huge rock by his head, and then there was a body of water. And then when I kind of opened up my view, you know, opened up the aperture to a wider view, I could see a dirt road that led to a kind of like rundown structure. And it was kind of a Forest City area with a lot of trees and I was very detailed, just like I’m saying, and as you can see, the detectives could triangulate because I said some very important things I I said there was some kind of dirt road with a structure, I said there was a body of water nearby and I said that there was a you know, forested area and there was a rock. So what they do is because they know where this is, and they will look at a map and triangulate Okay, where is there somewhere You know, these things all occur in you know, right this place. So what ended up happening is they were able to do this. And so here’s the feedback. It was a male subject college student that went to that shack thing and got drunk. And then he walked over to he walked over to the the body of water, and got in a boat and the boat capsized and bumped his head on it, and then he died. Wow. So I was a little off because I didn’t think he was in the water. And the rock must have been the boat. So things do get distorted in our minds. But they’re able to iron it out with you know, they can figure this stuff out. But yeah,

well that’s, that’s amazing. So, missing persons. And you had also mentioned me it’s remote viewing can be used for power. Live, is that correct?

Yeah. So, uh, some. So we practice a lot. And we’re always looking for really kind of fun, exciting things that we could, that we could do to you know, practice. So, my partner who we work with all the time, and we’re also experimenting, like, Hey, I wonder if you could do this. I wonder if he could do that. So again, the secret question was, he told me too, that my tasking was to go to a past life, and oh, and important past life, that has information that will help me become a better remote viewer. Hmm, okay. Okay. So that I didn’t know any of that. So he just sends me He goes, Hey, Michelle, I got a practice for you. He gives me a number and I sit down and do it and I So I had a lot of information in there just for me personally, it was just summing it all up it was basically telling me that I need to, you know, not be such a perfectionist, and I need to kind of let that stuff go and just be you know, more accepting of myself and then there was a strong message in there about self love. Okay, so yeah, so that that’s what I brought back from some life in the past.

So if somebody say someone lost something, could you ever vote remote viewing help to find the object that they lost?

Yeah, so I’ll tell you a really this you’re gonna love this story because if I use remote viewing and hypnosis, okay, so, um, a guy calls me up and he rented a car and the keys for this car. He lost I don’t know if you know, like some of these keys can be like $300.

Yeah, yes. I knew though. Yes, yeah.

And so he’s like, Michelle, you gotta help me. I gotta find these keys. Like, I don’t I don’t know where they are. I’m like, All right. So I said, I don’t tell me anything else. And so I sit down with a paper and I start writing, you know, some things and start tuning in. And one of the weirdest things I kept getting a cat, and I’m like a cat, like, what is going on here? I got a cat. And then I had a metallic table like thing, and then something like on the ground. So I was just like, Okay, all right. So I just put that there. And then I decided to experiment which I like to do. And so I called him up and over the phone, I was able to hypnotize him. Because one of the things about hypnosis is that our subconscious has permanent memory. We, our subconscious stores, everything. You know, we talk about the Akashic records, everything is connected to that. So every single thing that has ever happened ever thought you had every feeling you had is all stored in your subconscious. It’s just that we can’t bring them forward all the time because otherwise we probably would be going crazy. So, in hypnosis, what we do is we kind of quiet your conscious and then we open up your subconscious and we bring the past into the future. So so what I saw having no you know, knowing that I thought, okay, let’s bring his past into the now. And so I I put him into a deep state, and I brought him back to the last moment he remembered holding those keys I talked him through the day. And it was kind of I was giggling to myself because he remembered the actual, like, the dollar amount on his receipt like, do you remember the dollar amount on your receipts? Yeah. He remembered the dollar amount. He remembered everything you know. And then we get all the way to, I don’t know, up until a certain point. And it turns out as he was remembering this is that he was and this is where the cat comes in. He’s said that he was frantic that day, because his cat was sick. And this whole thing surrounds the cat being sick, the whole thing. And he said that the cat was sick, and he was, in a way starving the cat because it had a stomach problem. And not feeding it for a couple days. And this was a day he had to give the cat food So he frantically ran to the store to buy cat food. And so he was in a hurry. He wasn’t he was just freaking out having so many problems and stressed out for other reasons what I, you know, he talked me through everything. And then he got home to give the cat this food. And so we got to this point where he just somehow got blocked and couldn’t remember anymore because then I said, Okay, where are the keys? And he’s like, I don’t know, you know, he just, for some reason couldn’t get past that. So I thought, okay, let’s just take a break. So I gave him a suggestion hypnotic suggestion that you’re going to go to sleep now. And in your dreams, you’re going to know where the keys are. And when you wake up in the morning, you’re going to walk right to the keys and find them. And he’s like, okay, you know, whatever. So I’m like, and I’m crossing my fingers hoping this works. Yeah. So, um, so I, so the morning next morning, I get a call at 10 o’clock and I’m like, Hey, how are you doing? He’s like, Oh my god, I had a horrible migraine. And I’m like, okay, and you know, I’m like sitting here on the edge of my chair. He’s like, but guess what? I’m like, What? He’s like, well, I found the keys. They were exactly where you said under this metal stool in the carpet on the floor. And he thinks that the cat may have knocked it off the counter and it fell under the stool. Wow. So yeah, so we use the combination. Yeah. And it kind of paid off.

Yeah, that’s a really interesting example.

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Michelle Freed
Well, I know you you teach remote viewing so if someone were to take your course what would they expect to learn?

So the protocol so we would learn the actual the steps that we do on paper we learned How to engage our physical body and open up our senses. And not only are you learning, I guess what you would say like what you do on pen and paper. But the lessons are so profound that I have learned, remote viewing that trusting myself as a person and having more confidence. I gathered from this and just having more of a knowledge of how we are as humans and how we react, you become more I don’t want to say so you become more intuitive and more. You learn how to like if you want to think it’s hard to put into words, all the things, but you learn so much about. Alright, here’s one. So we have something called an AOL and it’s stands for analytic overlay. A lot of the terms in remote viewing are the military terms. Okay? But the way I teach it, I use more civilian people terms. Okay. But AOL is a universal term. And though when you have an AOL that means that you are assuming something, or you’re using a noun, like the apple, okay? And so they come up a lot, because they do and we have to just accept them. But I applied the idea of an AOL the assumption to my everyday life. And I started thinking about how many times in my everyday life Do I AOL, meaning if somebody says something to me, and I take it the wrong way. And that would be an AOL because I’m assuming that they meant it that way. And all of a sudden, like, it’s like, I never even thought of that in my everyday life because I’m just thinking, I my session, you know, don’t call it an apple. Don’t call it a bridge. Don’t call Allow, you know, yeah, but really, it’s about not assuming. And I find like, I’m so much happier now, checking things out with people and not assuming. And so that’s like one small thing that you learn. But any question that you have in the whole world, you can ask, like, one time I remote viewed what food I should stay away from. You can ask questions about, you know, should I date this guy? Or what’s my future husband gonna be like? Or even Can I communicate? You know, my father passed away? And, you know, sometimes like, does my dad have a message? Yeah. Any anything in the whole world that you want to ask? You can do that in.

You know, Michelle’s we talked about this. It seems like remote viewing is too small of a term. I mean, we’re talking about it’s really, yeah, what’s your really well, I mean, that’s, that seems like to me a very small subset of what you’re describing. You’re talking About totally opening up my intuition, you know, tapping into that, that deeper, I guess, inner wisdom. You know, because you’re talking about, you know, you’re talking about mediumship, you’re talking about psychic ability, as far as you know, someone might go to see a psychic to say, should I marry this person? Should I take that job, whatever. So what you’re saying is, you know, through this remote viewing, I can learn to tap into my own inner wisdom. Mm hmm.

Exactly. Yes. Yeah. I mean, you’re right. And I think, you know, when I run into people, and I say remote viewing, they don’t have the same image or picture of it as what I’m describing. No, not at all. So you’re right. We do need to kind of figure out a new word for it remote sensing or, I’m not sure but yeah, you’re right. I guess, you

know, when I when you and I first talked, you know, I thought about Joe McGonigal and Russell targ. And, you know, minutes, stare at goats. And that’s all kind of interesting, but I’m like, you know what? How am I going to use that in my daily life? Right? And that’s why, you know, it asks you that question about what am I going to learn and if I take your course, but the more you and I talk and I remember the first time we talked, you talked to me about seeing the future. I’m like, I didn’t think that was part of remote viewing. So yeah, I think it’s it sounds really, really interesting in the fact that we can all do it is really intriguing.

Unknown Speaker
Everyone can do it. Absolutely.

Michelle Freed
Yeah. So let’s talk about hypnosis because I know it’s another thing that you do and you actually I was gonna ask you a question or hypnosis of remote viewing related but you’ve already tied in how they they kind of are and now use both as tools. So what kind what types of things can hypnosis help work

with? Well, hypnosis, um, you know, a lot of like, it gets a bad rap because of Hollywood. But essentially, hypnosis is part of our, it’s our who we are wearing Hypnosis all the time. Yeah. So a couple popular examples are if you’re driving the car and you You missed your exit, you were hypnotized by the road. Or if you’re engaged in a movie, and you know you’re so into this movie and you didn’t realize that somebody left the room or came in that you’re hypnotized. You’re hypnotized every day when you’re listening to commercials on you know, there’s they’re giving you suggestions to drink a coke. And I like my mouth is watering right now. And I don’t even like pop. Oh, I said pop shoot. Yeah, everyone makes fun of me for saying pop.

So I say pop to

Oh, I love you. Okay, good. So, um, yeah, so, um, but yeah, your mouth waters because they’re giving you a suggestion. And just like I i said before i gave this guy the suggestion that he’s gonna figure out where the keys are. Let us know. process it. And when he wakes up, he’s gonna walk right to the keys. And that’s what he did. And it’s the same thing, you use that same idea to lose weight to change any habits quit smoking, to become more confident. It’s all about. And then when you’re doing suggestions, it’s all about our words, what we choose to say, and our words. And I learned this biggest the biggest lesson from when my father passed away. I was fortunate to be with him. And he was always this kind of person that, you know, didn’t speak them up. He didn’t speak much. And when he did, he always had something very important to say. And even to the point where if you were on the phone, he would never say goodbye. He would say later, you know, he wouldn’t say that. So when so when he was dying, we were standing there and and, you know, everyone’s Like, we love you, you know, you’re the best dad, I love you, you know, this whole beautiful kind of thing. And he had a little tear and he smiled. And he said, goodbye. Oh, wow. And it occurred. I’m like, Oh, you know, I just learned so much from that because to me, it said, you know, only say what you mean. And I realize we’re only given so many words in a lifetime. Hmm. And we should choose them wisely. Hmm. Yeah. And, and, and that’s in hypnosis. We are choosing our words wisely. You know, we don’t, we don’t want to say I am tired. We don’t want to say I’m fat. Because whatever you put after I am, is what you become you get more of, okay. So, so it’s a law of attraction, right? So, you know, and and if you’re, if you say I’m sorry. My daughter, she one day, I’m so stupid and I said, Oh, you want more stupid? And she’s like no. And I said, well then what what do you desire? And she said, I want to be smart. I said, Okay, then say I am smart. So we have to be careful because our subconscious just hears that. You know, our subconscious just hears it, it here’s what we’re saying these things, it brings it in.

But what you’re saying is we can give ourselves that we can give ourselves another suggestions without realize what we’re doing.

Yeah. Self Hypnosis. Yeah, and that’s the thing, you start to believe things too. So I, I kind of also fell into this one where I was, I wanted to lose weight. And now think of that statement. I wanted to lose weight that was just naughty of me right now. So I want to Lose Weight. Think about what your subconscious can hear from that lose, lose, lose weight. Wait a minute, I don’t want to lose weight. I don’t want to lose anything. Yeah, so that would be not a good thing to have my, my subconscious here, but maybe I would route change that and maybe what would be better to say is I want I want to be healthy. I wanted to get healthy. So that that’s better. That’s that feels good. And so I was, you know, teasing my friend and he says, Well, you know, what, what, what size Do you want to be? I’m like, I don’t know a 10. And he goes, Okay, you are perfect size 10 and like ha ha perfect size said haha. And then the next day we were talking and he like shows me a cheesecake he made and I’m like, Oh my god, I love cheesecake. He’s like, Well, sorry, perfect size. 10 doesn’t eat cheesecake. And I’m like, oh, Right. And so that I, it was funny. But then I started like taking that on. I’m like, perfect size 10. Okay, and then I started saying it all day long, all day long. I’m like, well does a perfect size 10 snack on crackers? No. Does it perfect, you know, and then there’s a perfect size 10 where these shoes are those shoes. And then it started, I started to believe I was a perfect size 10 and then my body caught up to it. So. So that’s how hypnosis works. That’s a real thing. So when people say I don’t believe in hypnosis, I’m like, how do you not believe in that? I mean, all you’re doing is

changing the way that you think about things and then improve your life.

So I guess like we were saying earlier, when we think of hypnosis, we think about Hollywood and we think about, you know, becoming unconscious. And, you know, and I and I frankly, I have to admit because I was looking at your website earlier before we get on the interview. Looking at hypnosis and my own thing, as I always tell people, I don’t know if I could be hypnotized, because I’ve done like, you know, guided meditations and facilitate after death communications and that kind of stuff and other people will seem to go deeper than I do. So I’m sure you probably people come to you and say, You can’t hypnotize me.

Oh, yeah. Well, the thing is, is that you don’t need to be deep to tie I could be hypnotizing you now you don’t know. But you have the thing about hypnosis is that it’s you’re in control, always your control. And that if your subconscious doesn’t want, you know, to do something, it won’t. So I can never in a million years hypnotize you to stand on the table and bark like a dog. If you don’t want to, right you always have power. So it’s not something where you’re out of control. It’s the opposite. You’re actually taking control and and That’s the thing is I’m movies in Hollywood. They’re showing, you know, zombie people and right and people. And the truth is if you look at even stage hypnotist, where they get a whole bunch of people in, they get on stage and you’re like, Oh my god, I could never do that. And it’s like, well, that’s why he didn’t choose you. Because what I don’t know if you’ve been Have you ever been to a stage hypnotist gnosis Shah,

I haven’t. No, I’ve just seen him on TV.

Okay, so in the beginning what they do, and now I’m revealing a little trick. What they do is they do these tests to see how hypnotizable you are. So they’ll ask you, you know, to stand up, they’ll give you some commands and they’re watching for people that follow them. Okay, they know which ones because it is real, what they’re doing is real. But the point that’s important is that these people want to do it, believe it or not, they don’t they don’t have an issue getting up and barking like a dog. Right, but they’re not shy. Right? So, so they’re looking for those people in the audience, and they have a way to test it. So So yes, I mean, everybody I mean, if you experienced what I mentioned before, things like where you’re watching a movie didn’t realize someone left the room or came in or you missed an exit than you are hypnotizable.

Yeah, well, it happens to me all the time. I get someplace and have no idea how I got there. Or I just get my car and I start driving. And then I’m like, why am I here? Because I get on a certain path. And I start going to the place I usually go and I’m on that path and I forget to turn off to go to the other place.

Right? So you you can be hypnotized? Yeah.

And well, just the other day, I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a tuna melt. Guess what I had for lunch? I have to

love it. Yeah, see, we need to start hypno marketing. That’s what we need to do.

Yeah, exactly. So yeah, I have to admit that you know, it does work. We were talking you know, earlier and we have you know kids about that. The same age, we’re talking about what’s going on right now with the, you know, the Coronavirus and how it’s changing our lives. So is there any way that hypnosis could play in to help us as we’re going through this this you know, time of stress?

Well yeah, I mean I use with my daughter waking hypnosis on her all the time. And and this comes from my heart and I’m just careful of the way that I say it. But it’s you know, she’s a millennial. And she’s, a lot of millennials are and I’m sure a lot more than just millennials, but people are feeling like this is the end of the world. And I was I talked to her and you know, kind of got her attention. So that’s hypnosis is focused attention. And I basically just told her, you know, there’s another way to look at this. This is an opportunity where you can reinvent yourself. It’s an opportunity for you to, you know, make sure that your compass is pointing in the right direction. It’s you know, the So many people out of a job right now, losing people. When you’re at a job and you’ve worked there for many, many years, you really can’t reinvent yourself. Because people know you and they’re familiar with you one way, right? That if you change your socks that day, they’ll know you change your site. They won’t let you Yeah,

they’ll push you. Right.

Exactly. So it’s a it’s an It couldn’t be, I don’t even say it could be, I’m telling her It is a very good time. It’s a good time because everybody is going through this. And so it’s your choice. How you want to react to this situation? Do you want to sit here and paralysis and fear? Or do you want to go out there and make a difference, you know, in yourself. And it’s almost I don’t know if people believe in a higher source or God but I kind of do feel this, you know, presence that’s kind of guiding us like you Read, you know, even the earth they talk about how because we’re not driving even the earth it’s get gets to breathe nicely now. So this is this could be a really great opportunity for all of us. Yeah,

a chance for a reset. Yeah, that’s I think it’s a great way to look at it. And I think it’s, it’s just because I’ve had similar conversations with my daughter, we found our kids are about the same age. But I don’t think of it as hypnosis. I guess it’s just, you know, it’s just me having a conversation with but I am giving your suggestions, right, like you said it a different way to look at it. And you mentioned earlier millennials. It’s not just millennials. I mean, right. And yet, when we have when we have some experience, you know, we can realize, yeah, we’ve been through this before. And it may maybe make it a little easier. But I admit I’ve been up and down during this time, too. I just heard yesterday and said, We might have to live like this for two more years, you know, and I’m like, No, I don’t want to look like this for two more years. I just had like a little bit of a panic. So I’m coming constantly trying to do self talk. I guess maybe that’s self hypnosis. Like, this is the way you have to look at it. You know, take it one day at a time. You know, we’ll get through this. We’ve gotten through it before. You know, I’m sure when they were going through the 1918 flu pandemic, they felt like it would never end. But it did. And every everything ends, everything ends at some point.

Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. Oh, I was going to give you a you know, anybody that has younger kids, or actually could use I still use it for my older kids. But here’s a good tip for hypnosis. On your way to washing the dishes in the sink, take out the garbage. suggestion. Great suggestion. It’s hypnotic. Yeah. While you’re washing the dishes when you’re done, take out the garbage. That’s hypnosis right there. Wow. And look what you get. You get clean dishes and garbage.

That’s tricky. I like that. Well, I actually lost something in my house the other day. So I’m going to see if I can see if I can find I was going to give you a test to see if you can tell me where it is, but I won’t do that to you.

Ah, yeah. Now on the spot. Oh, yikes. Yeah. Good.

But yeah, you know, this is really I guess it’s really interesting. Michelle talking to you. Because I guess we hear remote viewing, I think of, you know, military, I think of trying to find targets, you know, maybe missing persons. But I really like the way you’ve expanded that whole thing into really, you know, I think it’s tapping into your intuition which I’d never heard it put that way before. And and your subconscious and, and this, I think, deep, deeper wisdom we all have. So it makes me interested to want to find out more about it. And I know, you teach a course in remote viewing that’s offering your website. So what’s that course about?

So it is a six week course we meet on Saturday mornings for two hours and I take you through the process, and we, we jump right in right away. So you’re going to start remote viewing right away. And, and what I’m looking for, is I want to put together a team so that we can be operational, because I get a ton of calls from people, all sorts of people, detectives, government, everyday people, people like yourself. And I’d like to have a reliable team that we can, you know, make some money, you know, from some of these things, you know, Mama needs a new pair of shoes money, but, you know, not not a ton of money, but just also

you do get paid for the events or for the jobs that you do. That’s fantastic.

Yeah, yeah, some I do some I don’t like if it’s a missing person. Um, you know, but if it’s a corporation that wants us to look at their financials, I’m like, yeah, Show me the money. Oh, but yeah. Definitely, you know, there’s there’s something there.

Yeah. So let me give me give everybody your websites I’m not sure I did before it’s butterfly effects and I’ll put that in the show notes. But you can go there, you can find out more about Michelle. She does offer the remote viewing class. And also hypnosis for people that want to hypnosis and past life regressions and weight management.

Yep. Yep. Sounds good.

So, I know you’re getting ready to launch a new endeavor as an entertainment publicist. Tell me about that.

Yes, um, so I’m really excited. So I am starting a business that well I was kind of starting it on the side, but it’s kind of taking off so there’s a lot of authors out there that are finding that they publish a book and because the companies don’t have a lot of time or resources to spend on booking the author’s they you know once a book drops for the first couple months I’ll help them out but then they don’t anymore. Yeah so in dealing with at midnight in the desert, you know, our bell show, we, I I met so many people and they were all complaining like I can’t you know, I have no publicity nobody hears my book I don’t get on shows, I don’t go to conferences, things like that. I thought, Gosh, I can help you guys because I’m connected with lots of people. Oh, wow. So so that’s what I do. I help you know, authors. I don’t charge an arm and a leg you know, it’s, I understand. And I help everybody just get connected and in when they have something to say something important to say I want them out there to talk to many, many people.

That’s awesome. So will you be doing that through your butterfly effects Center website or another place?

Yeah, no, I’m not. Yeah. I’m building the website this weekend next week and it will be ready to launch very soon. And, and yeah, that’s what and and oh, and we have another radio show that we’re doing now. If people want to listen, it’s called midnight society. Okay. And it’s the And if you like, the strange and weird stuff, we we talk about all sorts of cool stuff. UFOs Bigfoot, aliens, consciousness, remote viewing everything. And this Friday, we’re going to have Deborah Lynn Katz on talking more about remote viewing and all the research. Okay,

well, I know this. There was this one be out by this Friday, but I never heard so Wednesday, May 6, so Okay. Yeah, maybe you can find it in the archives or something after it comes out.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, right. Yeah.

Michelle Freed
Well, Michelle, it’s been really great. Yeah. Getting to talk to you and learning a lot more about remote viewing and hypnosis, to very fascinating subjects I think can help people out, you know, in more ways than maybe we realized when this episode started.

Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me. I had a lot of fun talking about what I’m obsessed with. So it’s always good for me.

Yeah, well, um, anything else you want to say? Well, to wrap up?

Oh, no, just everyone, you know, keep their chin up and, and just be positive. You know, think good things and beauty and magic happens.

Yeah, really great. That’s a great way to end. Thanks, Michelle, you have a great day.

You too. Thank you. Bye.

Brian Smith
Bye. Well, I hope you enjoyed the episode. I want to make it really easy for you to reach me. So just send me a text 231996 and simply text the word growth. gr o w th. In fact you can right now just say hey Siri, send a message 231997 And when Siri asks you what you want to send, just say growth. You can do the same thing with Ok, Google. Thanks a lot. Have a wonderful day.

Thanks for listening to grief to growth. Brian hopes that you find this episode helpful, and we’ll come back for future episodes. Brian’s best selling book, grief to growth, planted not buried is a great resource for anyone who is coping with grief or know someone who is. If you enjoy the podcast and would like to support it, there are three things you can do to help. The first is to share the podcast with someone that you think it will help. The second is to go to iTunes rate and review the episode. The third way you can support the podcast is by becoming a patron. Head over to www slash grief to growth. That’s pa t ar e o Slash grief, the number to growth and sign up to make a small monthly donation. patrons get access to exclusive bonus content and knowledge that you are helping to spread the message of grief to grow. For more about Brian and grief to growth, visit www grief to growth calm

Transcribed by

Never allow fear to find lodgement within your being. Fear is a negative quality which destroys vitiates and saps and impairs your judgment. it clouds your reason, and prevents you from seeing issues clearly.- Silver Birch

I hate to take exception with Silver Birch because Silver Birch is a genius and most of what he says I agree with. But I want to take a little bit of an exception to what Silver Birch says about fear.

It’s trendy to say that fear is is a bad thing, and we should never have any fear in our life. I disagree with that. I think fear is a necessary emotion that that is a biological imperative that was developed by evolution to keep us alive. If you imagine being a caveman and you see a saber-toothed tiger, it’s good to fear that tiger and turn and walk or run the other direction. If you’re a person that doesn’t know how to swim, and there’s deep water, it’s good to have a natural fear of that water because getting into that water cost you your life. Our brain has developed this sense of fear to keep us safe and alive.

There’s a difference between fear and panic. Fear is the emotion. Emotions aren’t good or bad. They just are. Panic is our reaction to the emotion. If we substitute the word panic into Silver Birch’s quote, then I would agree with it.

“Never allow for panic to find a lodgment within your being. It has a negative quality, which destroys vitiates and saps. Panic impairs your judgment, panic clouds, your reason, and panic prevents you from seeing issues clearly.”- Silver Birch- paraphrased.

I think it’s it’s good to acknowledge our fear, to understand why we have the fear, and to think about that fear and our reaction to it. That is important.

Panic is never a good thing. When it comes to the coronavirus, or more accurately, Covid-19, there is a great deal of fear, panic, and even complacency. I think we need to control the fear. But, we need to listen to it. We need to understand why we have the fear. It’s there for a reason. We need to stop the panic. I also believe it’s important not to be complacent.

I don’t want to get political. But I do have to mention the fact that I think we’re behind the curve on this pandemic. We are playing catch up. Our government was complacent. I think they thought by locking down the borders and just cutting off travel to China, they could stop the spread of the virus. You’re never going to stop the spread of a virus by locking down travel. You can slow it down. I’m glad they did. I think that six weeks that they bought us might be crucial. But meanwhile, because they were complacent about preparations, we are not able to test here like where we should be. South Korea is testing 10,000 people a day. I’m not sure if we’ve tested 10,000 people total. We know we have outbreaks in pretty much, if not every state in the country. We don’t know how many are carrying the virus or who is already sick from it. I have a friend who is very ill and should be tested. Their doctor is saying they are only testing people who have traveled or been exposed to someone who has traveled. God only knows how many undocumented cases there are.

We don’t know how many people have already had it and recovered. We just don’t have those numbers. Since we don’t, it’s we have to act prudently. I am entirely in agreement with what’s been going on in terms of shutting things down. The NCAA has shut down the tournament for this year. I love March Madness. I am not happy about that at all. The NBA suspended the rest of their season. I look forward to watching the NBA Playoffs, which I’m not going to be able to do this year. Major League ball has suspended or at least delayed operations. I think these things are all wise. I’m happy about seeing state and local governments step up with school closings.

We can tend to be complacent because we feel like we’ve all heard this before. We’ve heard about Ebola. We’ve heard about MERS. We’ve heard about SARS. All of these things were going to kill us all. They came, and they went, and we were all okay, or most of us were. Some people did die. But this time, things are different. The good thing and the bad thing about Covid-19 is it’s basically like the flu in terms of symptoms and mortality. It spreads very quickly. But, since it’s new, none of us has antibodies from being exposed to it before. So it’s like it’s all getting the flu at once. And that’s what we want to avoid because it will be overwhelming to our healthcare system. If you want to see an example of how that could look, and we don’t want to go there, look at Italy right now, where they actually have to ration health care because too many people are sick at the same time.

It affects mostly the old and people with weakened immune systems. But, just like the flu cannon can kill other people. So, it’s something I think we take need to take very seriously. When people ask, “How is this different from the flu?” The answer I give is, it’s like it’s all of us getting the flu at the same time. If you think finding the store shelves bare becasue all of us bought toilet paper at the same time is bad, imagine this. Imagine us al getting the flu at the same time and what emergency rooms and hospitals would look like.

This pandemic is going to do damage to our economy. All of these shutdowns will hurt, particularly hourly workers and people who can’t work from home. That’s just a short term thing that we all need to get through.

I want to talk about some of the good things. This virus is kind of like the flu. So for most of us, we’ll get it, and we’ll get a little bit sick. We’ll get over it. Some of us won’t even know that we have it. The other good thing is I think there’s every reason to believe it’s seasonal. Viruses do not like warm weather. They are sunlight averse. Viruse are like vampires. In North America. We’re a few weeks away from spring. I think we’ll see this died down pretty quickly over the summer. I think it’ll be back in the fall and we will be ready for it.

For now, let’s use that fear to keep as many of us as safe as possible. If each of us takes personal responsibility, we can avoid massive disruption and deaths. I say, for now, shut it all down. I just voted to postpone our Helping Parents Heal conference, an event we’ve been working hard to plan for two years. We did not want to do it. But, it’s for the greater good. Do your social distancing. Wash your hands- you know the way you’re supposed to, not as I’ve done for so many years. Avoid crowds of more than 250 people, whether you feel like you’re vulnerable or not, because there are vulnerable people, and you can spread it to them. That would be my advice.

When it comes to fear, a little bit of fear is not a bad thing. As I said earlier, it keeps us safe. It’s what’s going to cause us to wash our hands. So it’s going to cost us to do the social distancing. That’ll keep us safe. Many say we are overreacting. This is just like all of those other things that were going to kill us all. I typically don’t have a lot of faith in people to do to the right thing. The toilet paper shortage reinforces that. But, the voluntary measures I see people taking encourages me. I hope in a few weeks, we can say that we did overreact, it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

I think we probably will be able to say we overreacted. But, I hope we don’t too quickly forget the fear. We need to learn a lesson from this. It’s exposing things about our healthcare system, where people don’t feel like they can afford to go in and get tested, for example. We’re telling people to stay home. They can’t afford to stay at home because they are hourly workers. Even if they’re salaried workers, many don’t have enough sick leave. What happens when we shut down schools months before the end of the school year? Who takes care of the kids?

We need to rethink these things. We need to consider our emergency preparedness. We need to look at how vulnerable we have become with so much manufactured in China.

Don’t have a cavalier attitude, even if it’s something that you don’t feel like is going to impact you personally. Let’s not be arrogant, assuming that nothing too bad can really ever happen to us. I understand why people might feel that way. Our generation hasn’t faced anything like this could turn out, our parents haven’t. We have to go back to like 1918 to see a really big global pandemic that killed a lot of people.

I don’t think this is going to be that our technology is so much better. We know how to control viruses better. We know how to test better, we will probably develop a vaccine. I don’t think that’s going to be for this initial wave. But I think we’ll develop a vaccine for this particular virus, you know, fairly quickly. So there’s a lot of reason to have hope that this won’t be, as bad as it could get. But it’s not going to happen through just magical thinking. It’ll only happen through action.

I think that this was sent to us as a lesson, as a wake-up call. And I’m hopeful that we will learn our lessons. If you don’t respond to the universe whispering to you, it will often start to shout to get your attention.

May all of our lessons be as painless as possible. Let’s do what we can to keep this curve flattened, to slow and maybe stop the spread of the virus. So be safe.

If you are feeling fearful, you’re feeling panicked, and you want to talk Talk to me. I’d be happy to speak with you. Go to my website and book an appointment with me.