In Spirit Untethered, Maiden recounts heartwarming stories of the deceased communicating messages of comfort and joy to loved ones left behind. Drawing on wisdom gleaned from both her own dance with death and her journey of mediumship, she illuminates the deathless nature of spirit and reveals that love is the vibration that links our world and spirit realms. If you're a skeptic or have ever wondered whether death offers a deeper meaning, then this heartfelt memoir serves as a reminder and gift for you.
This personal narrative presents a collection of stories of spirit contact, shared by a woman whose experiences with cancer opened her to spiritual connection beyond her imagination.
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You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.
— Joseph Campbell
Six months before I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I started to see dead people — or spirits. As of this writing, four years have passed. As Campbell said, we have to give up one life to receive another. And this is true. Through forcing me to give up so much, all of the world conspired to convert me, an average housewife and mother, to a psychic medium. They converted me so that I could write these words — their message to you. We never die. We merely depart our physical bodies. Invisible forces that anchored us to the body release, and the intact Spirit finds a home on a new plane just a hairsbreadth away from this one.
In stubborn ignorance, I fought my own psychic and mediumistic gifts for two reasons. First, I didn't believe I actually had this gift, and second, I was afraid. I was afraid of being labeled a charlatan or — worse — being accused of doing something that was not of God. Eventually, I yielded. Eventually, I learned. As of this writing, my learning process continues. I know that I shall always be a disciple of life. In the meantime, I'm still working to keep my own body going. One of the biggest motivations for being here is this: I fight to stay alive so that I can not only tell you we never die but also demonstrate it through evidential mediumship.
But no one arrives at their sacred destination unscathed. Most of us arrive war-weary and battle-scarred. For some people, physical survival itself feels like a miraculous accomplishment, let alone arriving with newfound spiritual enlightenment. It wasn't just the cancer itself that made space for this opening; I also had to face my own grief to develop the gift that allows me to share this story.
Before I could embrace my psychic and mediumistic gifts, my life blew up in a series of six metaphorical bombs designed to provide me with a divine, custom-created course correction. It worked. Under siege, agonizing events held me captive. My soul stretched to her furthest limits. If a soul could have physical stretch marks, mine would run jagged and red across my being — proof of how I've had to stretch and grow to survive. But this was all part of my spiritual education. Eventually, these painful lessons pointed the way across the veil — the place where Spirit dwells.
The first bomb was more like a hand grenade. While hand grenades can make a scary impact, they are not the biggest warhead in the arsenal — though they sometimes forewarn that bigger bombs will arrive. When this hand grenade struck, I did not know what was to come.
Nelly was my mother-in-law, and Nicole was her cousin. The two grew up together in France in the post-WWII era. Both Nicole and Nelly married American servicemen, and decades later, when their husbands retired from the military, everyone ended up living in Huntsville, Alabama. Nicole was a healthy, middle-aged woman and more gregarious than my mother-in-law. They had a sisterly relationship complete with mild competition, jealousy, and arguments. But love always won.
Everyone, including Nelly and me, was shocked when Nicole died suddenly from a heart attack. I went to assist Nelly with funeral preparations. This was my first experience with sudden death, and I had been very lucky because I was already thirty-one years old.
We entered the empty church where Nicole's funeral service was scheduled. Nelly dressed her tall, slender body in elegant styles. Nobody had better couture than my French mother-in-law.
When we were together, I had to up my fashion game. Our high-heeled feet made click-click-click sounds on the church floor as we walked with purpose. In a mindless mumble, I confessed, "I feel rather anxious. Uh, well, I've never seen a corpse before." The idea creeped me out. My mother-in-law confidently reassured me it would be okay. And as it turned out, it was; I managed to get through the preparations and the full funeral service without once seeing the corpse.
Although I escaped viewing Nicole's corpse, the universe scripted a much more painful plot. When I confided to Nelly that I had never seen a corpse, I had no idea that the first corpse I was destined to see would be her own! But before that could happen, the second bomb exploded. This one was like a nuclear bomb.
His foot, part of his torso, and one of his hands were returned to us. His mangled corpse was flown back in a too shiny, black, already sealed coffin. My thirty-seven-year-old brother, Rob, was dead.
Rob, a mechanical engineer, and his boss worked for Ingersoll Milling Machine Company. They had flown from Chicago to Indianapolis for a quick business meeting. Their meeting went well, so they wrapped up early, enabling them to change their flight and arrive home sooner. It was a cruel turn; they thought they would get back to Chicago earlier, and indeed they did — but not alive.
The American Eagle ATR-72 aircraft carried a full load of passengers and crew. As Flight 4184 approached Chicago's O'Hare Airport, air traffic control instructed them to hold. As the ATR-72 flew in big circles, ice built on the wings. The ATR-72 was instructed to hold between 8,000 and 10,000 feet, the ideal altitude for ice formation. This scenario is usually safe because airplane wings are fitted with deicing boots. When ice forms, a device on the leading edge of the wing inflates and breaks the ice up. It's an effective system, unless the deicing boots are not big enough for the wing size. The deicing boots for the ATR-72 were too small. Not just for that particular ATR-72 but for the entire fleet. And American Airlines knew it. Europe banned ATR-72s because they had too many fatal incidents in icing conditions. So American Airlines purchased the banned ATR-72 at bargain-basement prices. They purchased these planes with full knowledge of their crash history.
Ten more minutes remained until Flight 4184 was cleared to land. The captain noted to the copilot that he had seen that a portion of the wing had some ice. But neither could see the rest of the ice on the wings. What happened next is best described in Stephen Frederick's 1996 book, Unheeded Warning.
The aircraft rolled violently to the right, stopping at a 77-degree, right-wing-down position. Everyone aboard the aircraft was tossed to the left and then quickly to the right as G-forces caught up ... Neither pilot could have known what was happening to the aircraft ... Flight 4184 was falling at 30,000 feet per minute ... The aircraft exceeded 373 knots. G-forces reached 5.2 and the aircraft broke. The outer 10 feet of both wings and the horizontal tail separated from the airliner. The aircraft smashed the ground and disintegrated into pieces. The cockpit area microphone picked up a loud crunching sound ... The quiet returned and the wind and rain were audible again.
After the ATR-72 crashed, the site was immediately cordoned off. A critical response team was assembled and sent to recover remains. The team trudged through miles of soybean fields dotted with mangled aircraft debris and mutilated bodies. Their gruesome task was to locate and collect body parts. This part of crash recovery is called "bag and tag." I accidentally saw some of this process on the nightly news. An aerial newscast filmed the crash site. In revulsion, I watched people in biohazard suits place colored flags next to human body parts and broken aircraft. It looked surreal. I stood up. I walked closer to the television. I scanned the screen to look for my brother. Anything. This horror film held me captive. The aerial journalist seemed excited to explain the process.
It turns out that when human remains are bagged and tagged, they get a free ride to a makeshift morgue. In this case, that instant morgue was an empty local high school. A team of coroners from Washington, DC, arrived. They performed tissue typing in an effort to match human remains with dental records. Their goal was to identify every passenger and crew member who perished.
The entire town of Roselawn, Indiana, mourned. Because parts of bodies and aircraft were scattered across a five-mile radius, anyone could find anything anywhere. What a perfect backdrop for a horror flick. Fate signed its unique signature to this event. It just so happened to be Halloween Day, 1994.
Rob's lovely wife and two young sons were as broken apart as that airplane. Our parents never fully recovered. The boys grew up, Rob's wife remarried, and life dramatically changed for our family. Until this point in my life, I hadn't known much about death; it never had touched me deeply. But when death did touch me, it nearly took me with it.
After my brother's death, I became unstable. My weight plummeted to an unhealthy level because I could not make food go down my throat. I was exhausted, but sleep eluded me. I cut off all of my curly blonde hair and dyed it dark auburn. And to round out this glamorous vision, I subconsciously pulled out all of my eyelashes. I drank too much. I considered suicide. I sank deeply into the dark abyss of suffering.
Grief inhabited me, and I inhabited grief. Like Siamese twins, we seemed permanently joined. My grief forced me to put my life on hold and take a leave of absence from graduate school. I wanted evidence that my brother was okay. I wanted proof that death is an illusion and that love creates continued bonds. I searched for verifiable psychic mediums. I asked people who I thought would be receptive to my question and made many phone calls to find someone who could authentically communicate with the dead. I read every book I could get a hold of on the subject of life after death and mediums. So did my mother. Together, we were on a sacred hunt to find the real deal. Our hope was that someone could provide us with detailed, specific evidence that would prove — without a doubt — that Rob was still alive in spiritual form.
Together, we identified several mediums who seemed sincere and did deliver some accurate data. But my skepticism kept me from completely believing. My need to understand what happens after death and that we really never die drove me toward increased neurotic behavior. I became obsessed with my search. It was as if I could not stop dialing-a-medium to prove that life after death is real. Because my husband and I did not have any children yet, and I was on leave from graduate school, I had abundant time. Sometimes, when my husband, Robin, returned home after work and asked me what I had been doing with my day, I was too ashamed to answer. I collected the names and contact information of possible psychic/mediums in a logbook, which I kept hidden from him. This was far more indicative of my own shame and embarrassment than anything else; as I later found out, Robin was very supportive, and the need to hide my interest in medium-ship was purely my own.
Thanksgiving arrived, and my family gathered in somber observance. Then, it was as if the calendar had wings, and Christmas arrived too soon. My husband and I departed Chicago and flew south to Huntsville, Alabama, to spend Christmas with his family. Nelly, my mother-in-law, worked hard to create a joyful holiday for us. Everything was lovely. But grief hijacked my joy. Without permission or warning, tears would suddenly spill from my eyes like a swollen river floods its banks. I felt like the walking dead — though I did not know then that the dead were walking with me. Literally.
Here's the truth of the matter: in Spirit form, your loved one does everything and anything they can to grab your attention in an effort to comfort you. Through this grief, my brother, Rob, was trying to grab ahold of me. I know this because Spirit has shown me, over and over again. But before these truths were demonstrated to me, I had more growing pains to endure. Rob's death called my attention but not enough of it; I still needed to be broken wide open.
Gloomy winter passed. Spring arrived — and so did my hope. I began to reengage with life. Part of my survival strategy included researching everything on death, the grieving process, and evidence of life after death. I engaged the help of a therapist who was knowledgeable about grief, and emotional stability felt just around the corner. I was ready to restart graduate school in the fall, just a few weeks away.
Before academic responsibilities resumed, my husband and I invited his parents to visit us. We all loved water activities, and we were eager to take them for a weekend out on our boat. I also wanted to prove to Nelly that I was emotionally mending. The last time we were together was the disastrous Christmas six months prior, when I was in the initial phases of my grief. Everyone anticipated the upcoming visit. It was all planned.
As it turned out, a third bomb was headed our way. Nelly never made her visit. Instead, Nelly was murdered.
Less than a year after we arranged Nicole's funeral, and eight months after my brother's plane went down, Nelly was shot in the head. She worked in a quaint boutique owned by her best friend. That July day, the Alabama heat and humidity made people's clothes come off. Nelly, chatting on the phone, told the person on the other end that she was concerned. She could see through the window that a man in a leather jacket was approaching the store, and who would wear a leather jacket in such heat? The jacket concealed his hand. His hand held a gun. Nelly ran toward the back door, but two other accomplices blocked her departure.
These men thought the boutique had a safe full of cash, but they were wrong. It wasn't just that this shop did not have much cash; it did not even have a safe. Somebody did not do their homework. The men got mad. They roughed Nelly up. In a final effort to force her to disclose the location of the non-existent safe, one of the men shoved a gun barrel to the back of her head. Whether intentional or not, the gun discharged. The bullet penetrated her brain and exited her jaw. Nelly was dead.
How can a single bullet feel as big as a bomb?
The fatal gunshot created facial trauma. The funeral home sensitively draped a cloth over Nelly's face. Her familiar frame lay on the funeral home's gurney. Her lovely hands — those hands that previously carried so much life as they prepared delicious meals and wrapped gifts for us — lay uncannily still, but her hallmark manicure appeared fresh. Fringes of her black hair peaked out beneath the facial cloth. As my eyes scanned her corpse, I wanted her to know that we loved her. My husband, Robin, needed to see his mother's face one last time. He needed to see where she was shot. He needed to lift up the cloth that masked his mother's fatal gunshot wound. I could not emotionally handle seeing this type of trauma — so I opted to step out of the room. When I stepped out of the modern crypt that held Nelly's corpse, this gave my husband private time to witness the exact area the bullet had entered her head and exited her jaw. This was something he needed to see. He needed to have private time with her.
Removing her facial cloth to view her face was one of the hardest things my husband ever did. Life became forever defined as before or after his mother was killed. Death posts a permanent mark on a survivor's calendar. This is how it was for him.
But I couldn't connect with Nelly because her lifeless body felt like a vacant house. It felt empty. Nelly was not in her body. Her energy was gone. In that nanosecond, I got it. I. Got. It! We are not our bodies. Our body is just the vessel our soul temporarily borrows. The body dies; the soul continues. I get it! But this knowledge did not stop me from ever grieving again.
The best present Nelly ever gave to me was the privilege to see her corpse. Seeing Nelly's corpse taught me that death is an illusion. The very thing I had avoided doing — seeing a corpse — ended up bringing me a divine gift. My greatest teacher was the sum of these experiences. My ignorant arrogance needed to be blown up and reconstructed before I could understand. I needed first to be able to fathom the depth of emotional pain people endure when their beloved dies. I needed a whopper of a course correction toward The Call — toward my sacred destiny. I needed bombs to irrevocably blow up my life and force me onto a new path. Before I would ever be blessed with seeing spirits, I was deconstructed to be reconstructed. A kinder, more patient, more tolerant Suzanne emerged. Like a lotus blossom erupts from mud, tapping its roots deep down into the muck. And when I eventually emerged from the murky depths of agonizing grief, my soul softened, and I felt a surge of loving compassion for all people.
Life and death. Death and life. My grandmother Grace used to say: "Life and death always come in threes. When one person dies, be ready, because you'll hear about two more. If one baby is born, you'll find out that two more women are expecting." That sounded like a silly old wives' tale. But my grandma knew some stuff. Three weeks after Nelly's murder and just months after Rob's death, I discovered I was pregnant.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Spirit Untethered"
Copyright © 2018 Suzanne Grace Maiden.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Barry Williams, PsyD, ix,
Introduction by Marjorie Woollacott, PhD, xv,
Chapter 1 The Call, 1,
Chapter 2 First Contact, 18,
Chapter 3 Diagnosis: Terminal Cancer, 31,
Chapter 4 The Naked Medium, 44,
Chapter 5 Animal Spirits, 55,
Chapter 6 Discouraging Friends and Unexpected Support, 68,
Chapter 7 Spirit Is Relentless, 82,
Chapter 8 Believe, 92,
Chapter 9 Signs, 105,