unfinished painting by Benjamin West
unfinished painting by Benjamin West

I think we all generally agree on what constitutes unfinished business while we are alive: unfinished projects at work or home, unresolved disagreements, unsolved mysteries, incomplete estate paperwork, unsettled disputes.  But what constitutes unfinished business once we’re dead?  Good question.  In my work as a psychic medium, I deal with the unfinished business of the dead all the time:

A young man committed suicide and didn’t leave a note.  He did this to hurt his parents, wanting them to be left not knowing.  But he did not realize that it would also hurt his sister and his closest friends.  He had a tremendous amount of guilt and regret over this and other things, as he witnessed their unending torture from the unanswered questions he left behind.  The guilt and regret were unfinished business for him.

A middle-aged couple was murdered and the person who was convicted and punished for the crime was not the person actually responsible.  Their anger over the wrongness of this was unfinished business for them.

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despairFrom a woman whose husband just died: “I don’t know what to do.  How am I going to live without him?”  From a young man whose father died unexpectedly: “What did he do, what did we do to deserve this?”  From a mother whose daughter committed suicide: “Will God forgive my daughter for having a bad mother?”

All of these statements are great opening lines for a lamentation.  An expression of woe that concludes with a statement of hope, there are times when a lament just rolls off the tongue or pours out of the heart, when the feelings of loss are almost too much to bear or too big to hold in.  Loss can come from anywhere — certainly from the death of someone close to you, but also from the loss of a job you loved, or the loss of your health.  And with any loss, there is grief, and grief demands expression.

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open book 2I was sick with a bad virus this past week, so my apologies for missing my usual posting day.  My apologies also for this column, which is going to be a digression from my usual.  I am on the mend, but I do not have it in me right now to delve into the greater mysteries of the universe, like death and life beyond death.  And so I am going to write about books, specifically books that expand your mind, challenge your beliefs, and are good for your soul.  This list is by no means exhaustive, as it is a list of the books of this sort that I know personally and can recommend without reservation, but it is a start.

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IMG_2032In honor of Halloween, I decided to deal with the ghosts in my own house this week.   I have known the house was haunted since before we moved in last spring, but the resident ghosts stuck to the third floor and didn’t cause mischief, so dealing with them was easy to put off.  That said, it did bother me that there was an old lady ghost at the high front window, looking down at us every time we pulled in the driveway.

So, armed with my keen intellect and a pad of paper, I went up to the third floor.  To set the scene……our house was built in 1885 and the third floor is in desperate need of a gut-it-to-the-studs renovation (photo provided).  It looks like the setting for the climax of a Stephen King novel — crumbling plaster, 1800’s wallpaper peeling and falling off the walls, curtains at the windows that haven’t been washed since the 1950’s, scraps of incredibly old linoleum covering the floors.  There are two big bedrooms (with closets!), but I can’t imagine anyone alive agreeing to sleep up there.  We use one of the rooms for storage and the other for nothing.

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ashtrayThe internet is a weird and wonderful thing, and this past week it connected me with a man who lives halfway around the world and is struggling with the death of his mother.  I am about to do a reading for him, even though there is a language barrier — I only speak English and his deceased mother only speaks a regional dialect of her country.  Everyone but me is concerned about this.  I am not concerned because language is only one way to communicate, and is not the preferred way for spirits of the dead.

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wave goodbyeMy husband is a hospital chaplain and told of a man in the intensive care unit (ICU) who was dying of stomach cancer.  The man had been fighting the cancer for several years, and was brought to the brink of death much faster than anyone anticipated.  He had a wife and grown children, and the wife was angry — angry that he was dying and losing the fight.  She wanted to be married to a winner, did not want to talk about death, did not want to make plans for when he died, did not like what the doctors were telling her, and dealt with this by refusing to visit her husband.

When someone you love is dying or has died, it is easy to get caught up in the fantasy of, “If I don’t say good-bye, they won’t leave.”  But it doesn’t work that way.  Death has a way of taking people away from us whether we like it or not, and whether we say good-bye or not.

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demonI’m not sure what I believed about demons before I met one.  As a Psychic Medium, I probably should have read up on them and contemplated their existence, but aside from their portrayal in movies and the TV show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” I really didn’t think about them at all.  But I think about them now.

I encountered the demon Jonathan in my basement.  I had no inkling that he was there, so the confrontation was sudden, shocking, and terrifying.  Which is precisely what he was going for.

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A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she had been the victim of a racial attack while walking across a parking lot to her car.  She is Korean-American, and the attack came from a Caucasian man screaming insults out his car window.  This bothered me.  A lot.  And not just because this woman is my friend and a wonderful human being.  It bothered me because I couldn’t understand it.

I don’t know what you believe or know about reincarnation, but I believe and know that when we die, our bodies die for good, and our spirits live on, ascend, and are reincarnated into a future body and future life.  Our spirits gain a wide variety of experiences, as we move through different lives that can have us living as one gender, one race, and one sexual orientation in one part of the world, followed by a life as another gender, another race, and another orientation in a completely different part of the world.  Over millennia, we grow and develop a perspective that is naturally inclusive, as we have been a lot of people during that time.  To be racist feels to me like hating myself.  If everyone has been a lot of someones over time, how does racism still exist?

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ghost-with-a-bagMy heartfelt thanks go out to my friend and fellow blogger, Christina Krost (www.thekrostfamily.blogspot.com), for sending me questions that actual children (hers and others from their elementary school) actually asked about ghosts.  Their questions show a level of basic understanding and sophisticated inquiry that surprised me!  I have added two questions that were asked of me by another child, and shall now answer them all.  (A quick aside about terminology: our spirits are our spirits in any state — alive, Earth-bound in the afterlife, or ascended in the afterlife — but ghosts are spirits that are Earth-bound in the afterlife only.  Once you ascend and go to heaven, you are no longer a ghost.)

Are ghosts always the age they died at? How does age work? Do ghosts have birthdays? 

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archangel michaelI met Archangel Michael when I was dealing with a rather pesky dead mother-in-law (someone else’s, not mine) who Would. Not. Ascend.  I had done a Reading for the daughter-in-law, who was troubled by the circumstances of the woman’s death, and other family matters.  The Reading went well, all the daughter-in-law’s questions were answered and her mind was put at ease, and I felt good about all the loose ends I was able to help her tie up.  But that was not enough for the mother-in-law.  Her spirit was at peace, but she was bound and determined to continue to haunt their house and be a meddlesome pest.  I, on the other hand, was determined to see her ascend and spoke a quiet “God help me” prayer under my breath.

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