After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil

After Death Chronicles: True Stories of Comfort, Guidance, and Wisdom from Beyond the Veil

by Annie Mattingley

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781571747938
Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/06/2017
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 820,526
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


Annie Mattingley has an MA in consciousness studies and has worked as a teacher, magazine publisher, and hospice volunteer. She is now retired and lives in Questa, NM. Visit her at www.anniemattingley.com.

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CHAPTER 1

RANDI, IS THAT YOU?

They just knew something that is, from time to time, forgotten except by the wind. How close the dead are. One song away from the living.

— Louise Erdricb, The Master Butchers Singing Club

Goose bumps ripple up my left side. Opening an eye, I cringe at how dawn barely brushes the window with faint light before burrowing back into sleep's amnesiac blanket. I strain to ignore the second rush, too. Because each moment I do not think of my daughter's death, it ceases to be true, every morning she dies anew, so I push to sleep past first remembering. When this river of energy courses through my entire body a third time, I sit up, confused, a little scared, and also, I suppose now, more than a little curious. "Randi, is that you?" I ask aloud, having no conscious awareness of why I would even think of such a bizarre question. "If it's you, give me a sign, move something, do something, so I know." For a moment the morning holds its breath.

Then I hear my daughter's dear and familiar voice say, Your body knows. There is a long beat while I mentally check out my body. She is quite right. My body — not my mind, which is still in a state of shock — does know. It knows this is my daughter's voice. It knows she is there with me. And most relieving of all, my body knows that she is all right. It is as though a wide doorway has been opened into an immense cathedral of possibility, allowing me to continue on. It is too small to say that I know my daughter is all right, because that knowledge bridges a chasm between my abject misery over her suicide and the cusp of new hope.

The cusps of things, the ineffability of consciousness, of conception and birth and of death and the process of dying, the mystical realms, have long been the heart center of my life. I attend to my dreams. I have sat with the dying. I am captivated by the enigma of death. I have studied and meditated on and prayed and done shamanic journeying over, avidly read about, and endlessly discussed the great mysteries all my life. How it is that I never before attended to the possibility of direct contact with our dead beloveds now seems to me a mystery in itself. It is as though the whole subject had been held in abeyance until the fruit of my life had ripened into this moment.

Soon the idea that the dead can speak became my daily reality. In the early morning hours of almost every day for many months, my formerly troubled, depressed, and pain-wracked daughter came to talk with me. I put a special "Randi Messages" notebook on my nightstand. Her visitations always began with that tingling, goose-bumpy rush, and that rush always came up my left side. Then we held internal conversations. That first morning was to be the only time I have ever heard her voice aloud outside my own head. She controlled the parameters of our exchanges. I could not invoke her presence, and I have never been able to see her. There were subjects she would not touch, like the last sixteen months of her life or her death or where on earth she had put her original will.

The next few pages have kept me awake nights pondering how best to handle writing about her death. Every author from Shakespeare to the romance novelist knows that one sure way to evoke tears and tug on heartstrings is to insert the death of a child, and any son or daughter, regardless of age, is still a child to a parent. This is the death that should never be, we are told, the one out of the natural order of life. Yet the moment my daughter died, I was initiated into a large clan of those whose children are dead. This book is a synthesis of research and personal experience that covers both objective and subjective realities, and to simply graze past my daughter's death, as I have so far, could give the false impression that our after-death connection stripped away all suffering. I fear this narrative might then collapse into the way we in our culture tend to bypass grief with pat phrases like, "I'm sorry for your loss," spoken without emotion, while not looking someone in the eye.

I fall back here, Dear Reader, on this old-fashioned method of addressing you, because sharing such an intimate aspect of my life requires that I consider you dear. I look you in the eye as I give you now a hint of what this most horrific circumstance was like for me. Then I will go on to the after-death communications I have experienced and been told about and their astonishing ability to transform and to heal.

*
I make no attempt to imagine when my daughter's dying began for her, in the depths of her psyche, but for me it began on a Sunday, the day after her forty-sixth birthday. It was May and still chilly in Colorado. She was still in bed. She was often still in bed then, or already in bed. Her bed was full of pillows and the pillows were full of dog and cat hair. Probably Angel, her blond dog, and maybe Shiloh, her blond cat, were on the bed with her. I don't remember. What I do remember is the tone of her voice, thin as a thread stretched taut and more full of suffering than any voice I have ever heard. I remember the animal hairs on her black cotton T-shirt, the way her back curved in on her body as she spoke.

"After Chelsey is out of college," she began, staring at her knees, "or maybe after she's married, I don't know. And after the animals die, I guess, all of them, after they all die," she said, "I won't be here."

"What do you mean, you won't be here?"

"You know," she shrugged. I didn't. Her voice was flat, as though she were telling me about going to the grocery store. "I won't be here." She said more, like that God surely wouldn't let her feel so much pain in heaven. More. Once it finally penetrated that she was circling around that she would be dead, and by her own hand, my vision went fuzzy, my breath ragged. Her words sliced me open. I longed to cuddle her on my lap, and then to take charge. "You can't do this — not to yourself, not to me, not to Chelsey. I will not allow it." Yet as I looked at her stricken face and body, I felt I had no right, that to say such words would be to sentence her to an infinite amount of suffering. What did I know of how it was to live for twenty-five years with chronic pain from being kicked in the jaw by her horse? What did I know of her inner demons? When I touched her, her body was brittle and resistant. When I spoke, she resisted my words of love in the same way. I made fervent, silent vows about supporting her through and beyond this.

The next sixteen months were our family's private hell as she spiraled down and away from us. She made a mild suicide attempt. She was demoted from her position as head of the doctors in the women's clinic where she worked as an obgyn. She went through the motions of psychotherapy and psychiatry, yet she did not seem to benefit. She made a second, more serious suicide attempt. Eventually her short medical leave became a long one, and finally her job contract was not renewed. She went on permanent disability. Despite the efforts of many, she stored up her prescribed pain medication and took her own life. Her daughter Chelsey had only just started her first semester in college. Angel the dog and Shiloh the cat were still very much alive, and Speedy the turtle was, too. For me, those months were a reverse gestation, ending in my desperate call for a police well-check, a reverse labor where her life, instead of beginning with a cry, ended in what I assumed (incorrectly!) would be the eternal silence of her death.

At first the refrigerator was a baffling cave, the stove a confusion of knobs. Others cooked. I ate what was put before me. Who knows when I changed my underwear or brushed my teeth, though I anchored myself in Spirit. Every day without fail I did my mantra practice; in this way I did not become totally unmoored. And rather to my surprise, I got through the days and somehow a few weeks passed. It was then that her visitations began.

These offered more succor than I could ever have hoped for. For now, I'll give you just one example. She was giving me guidance as I explored a dream, clarifying a significant understanding. As happened sometimes if a visitation went beyond fifteen minutes or so, I began to tire. My mind wandered back to one or another of the difficult moments toward the end of her life. It felt as if she leaned forward and laid her hand tenderly on my thigh. Mom, she murmured, do you think you could let go of that stuff now? Had anyone else, no matter how well-meaning — husband, friend, therapist — asked this of me back then, I would have been staunchly defensive — arguing, Are you crazy? I don't know how to let go of this. Instead, the memory was totally erased as if my mind had been magically wiped clean, the first infinitesimal step in releasing my suffering over her dying and her death. Her wisdom and guidance, not of this plane, carry a different weight than what comes from those of us in the physical. The strength of our months of nearly daily communication was so healing and so empowering I longed to do something to let the world know just how close our beloved dead can be. When the idea came to me to write this book, Randi endorsed it passionately. Since then, through my interviews, I have come to understand how much the dead want the living to be aware of their presence among us, just as we all yearn to be recognized and acknowledged by those we know and love.

*
My communications with my daughter, which are related in more depth in chapters 3 and 8, as well as here and there throughout the book, were primarily verbal and felt in the body, but — as you are about to find out — visitations come in as many guises as there are people to die and return to visit us. I will start by introducing you to a patchwork quilt of ADC expressions from their vast and colorful array. One common way for the dead to make contact is through some aspect of the natural world, especially with birds and butterflies. I have often migrated south to the Mexican colonial city of Oaxaca for the winter. My community there includes my Spanish teacher, Flor. When I shared what I was writing, she said, "Tengo un cuento para ti. I have a story for you. My mother has been visiting me as a white butterfly ever since her death." Flor's sister scoffed derisively when told of these visitations, until a white butterfly began coming to her so often, and so uniquely, that now she too fully accepts this as an after-death communication.

A decade of these butterfly visitations has passed. Flor's twenty-year-old niece Sandra is visiting from the States. "Tu abuelita, your grandma, still comes to me as a white butter-fly," Flor tells her.

"Tía, that's crazy. I don't believe that stuff."

"You'll see," Flor answers. Later, as they stroll through Oaxaca's Parque Llano, Flor points out a white butterfly off to the side. "There's your grandma," she says, stopping on the path.

"It is not!"

"It is."

"Okay," Sandra thrusts her arm and pointed finger like a sword at the butterfly. "If you are my grandma, you come right over here!" she demands, signaling with her finger two inches in front of her chest. As if yanked by a leash, the white butterfly zooms to her chest and Sandra's view of contact with the dead instantly alters. She bursts into tears, feeling certain that the essence — not the body, of course, but some equally recognizable aspect of her beloved grandmother — is there with her. This has swept away the skeptic in her. Flor's assistance has helped Sandra to step outside her rational mind long enough to experience with another part of herself someone she has known and deeply loved.

By so freely sharing her ADC experience, without concern for ridicule or skepticism, Flor (with the help of her mother and the butterfly) has opened two relatives to visitations from their mother and their grandmother. Now the white butterfly comes often to Sandra back home in Texas. I say "the" butterfly, fully aware that there are many butterflies, but also aware that to cultures that honor and respect the energies of nature's creatures, one eagle or one butterfly represents all eagles, all butterflies.

*
Once again, simply by mentioning this book, though this time in English, I heard a story. My multitalented hairdresser Lauren, who is also an accomplished fine art photographer and documentary filmmaker, told me the following as she cut my hair. She had been at her computer, behind her the larger-than-life photo of her dad she had taken toward the end of his life, his oxygen cannula prominently in view, when she noticed two disparate odors. The first was clearly liverwurst. The second, equally as definitive, was that of A&D Ointment. Then came the pivotal moment — the one that initiates us into another realm. She swiveled her chair around, faced the photo, asked, "Dad?" and received an answer. Inside her head, she and her deceased father engaged in as lengthy and as satisfying a conversation as though he were physically present.

"Why liverwurst?" I asked. A favorite food of his, Lauren told me, and one he had been urged to eat to keep his blood pressure up. "And A&D Ointment?" It was what the family had used on his diapered bottom as he lay dying at home. What else could have been more specifically and uniquely connected to her father, nearly instantly recognizable, even so out of context and long after his death?

Because I don't have a particularly well-developed sense of smell, I may never have an olfactory visitation, and I have not been told of many, but for some, smell is what opens the door into the other worlds. Two women mentioned the scent of a man's pipe smoke. One experienced this in impossible places like her college dorm room, with the comforting sense that her deceased grandfather was checking to see how she was doing. The second woman's family and friends reported smelling her dead husband's pipe smoke so many times it made her jealous. Why wasn't he visiting her?

I have heard similar complaints from others lost in the abyss of grief. Sometimes the closest people are not the ones to receive contact. I suspect this is because, as much as they yearn for it, they might be too disturbed if a visitation did happen. This young widow had been bursting into tears in the produce aisle of the grocery store at the sight of broccoli — her husband's favorite vegetable. Can you imagine the overwhelming emotions the scent of his pipe smoke at home might have stirred up within her? Perhaps the dead avoid stirring up such strong emotions within themselves as well.

*
Few of us are born seers or psychics, but the ability to experience and to recognize a visitation appears to be a skill we can develop. The first surprising one may awaken our inner vision and lead us to the second. It is as though once we have slashed a path through the jungle of the mind, we can more easily follow that path later. Many people shared numerous experiences with me. This may not be because they have been endowed with some special skill, but because, through their own experience, they have learned how to continue receiving in this way.

Susan is one example. At the time that her husband Jesse died of unexpected issues with a blood disorder, I had known them for all but the first few of their forty-five-year marriage. A former kindergarten teacher turned psychotherapist, Susan reminded me, as she began to share her experiences, that she was not prone to the mystical, and she had neither looked for nor expected a visitation from Jesse. She told me how she cherished the memory of the two of them listening to classical music together. The emotional pull of music was so intense that after his death she had avoided it completely, until friends, to distract her, whisked her off to a student recital, where an unassuming teenage boy ambled up to the piano. To Susan's surprise, he gave a thrilling performance. In the presence of such exquisite sound, she relaxed, and her relaxed state allowed her to "half-see, half-sense" Jesse. Up until that moment, she says now, "My myopic grief kept the channel closed."

Thus began an adventure that has continued for years. She can physically feel his body and his touch. He comforts her, holds her, rocks her. He warns her to slow down when she doesn't notice that the traffic has stopped up ahead. When she couldn't find an essential item for their swimming pool, she asked, "Jesse, where did you put it?" He told her which outbuilding to enter, which direction to turn once she did, and precisely which shelf to look on; there the part was. At the close of her first yoga class, as she lay on her back relaxing in Savasana pose, he plopped himself facedown on top of her. She was as astonished as she was tickled. When I told her that Savasana pose is also called Corpse pose, we were both convinced he was aware of this pun. Susan has always considered his sense of humor one of the best aspects of their relationship, since she tends to take life quite seriously; it seems he's still helping her with this.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The After Death Chronicles"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Annie Mattingley.
Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
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

Acknowledgments,
Preface,
Introduction,
Chapter One: Randi, Is That You?,
Chapter Two: Tell Freddy I'm Not Mad at Him,
Chapter Three: Like a Guru in my Pocket,
Chapter Four: Is This a Vibrating Chair?,
Chapter Five: Just Checking In,
Chapter Six: Is There a Shadow Side?,
Chapter Seven: Nothing Can Touch It or Take It Away,
Chapter Eight: To What End?,
Chapter Nine: One Life, Abridged,
Chapter Ten: Parting the Veil Between the Living and the Dead,
Notes,
Selected Bibliography,

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