Introduction

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very day of my life I talk to people who have died. However, I know that people don’t truly die. Trust

me; I talk to them. I am aware that I am mind, body, soul and spirit. In my early years as a practitioner and intuitive I used the word soul and spirit interchangeably, until I came to understand that there are four layers to our being. Beyond our mind and body is our soul. It is the soul that moves in and out of each lifetime, experiencing itself through the human body and personality. The spirit is a field of energy

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that rests beyond the soul and comprises the same energy that others refer to as God, the universe, Allah or Buddha. We each have our own spirit with a unique energetic vibration that defines us, like a fingerprint. Our spirit is all-knowing, filled with pure wisdom and love. My intuition draws on the part of me that is spirit energy. My intuition therefore is pure in its intent and connected to the wisdom of the universe. This knowledge has changed my life, and it has given me the greatest gift of all—peace of mind. I am also a social worker. For ten years I worked with people experiencing trauma and death in a hospital emergency department. I supported the family and friends of patients who were dying and had died. While some of the deaths were expected, and the transition was easy, many deaths were tragic, unexpected and traumatic. Until I began working at the hospital I would have described my life as having two paths that I lived simultaneously: the path of my soul, full of intuition, connecting with spirit and spiritual development; and the practical path, my career. Little did I know, when

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I took up the position, that my hospital social work would be aided and enriched by the spiritual realm, through the souls of hundreds of people who came to the end of their lives before me. But so it transpired. And I began to see that each time I assisted a patient’s soul to make sense of their death I was taking part in something that held a meaning far greater than myself. For ten years I was held in a unique tension: in my career surrounded by death and those acutely touched by it, and in my spirit able to communicate with the souls of those people who were dying and had died. It was a path with ethical considerations, and I was careful to keep the spiritual aspects completely apart from my professional work. My first priority was always my professional role as a social worker and I never compromised that. But for me personally the two paths were interwoven, creating unique insight into the nature of life, of death, and of the mingling of the two. I saw life after death, and I felt myself change. Over time I began to notice that I altered the way I lived my life. I noticed afresh the rich colours of the pansies in

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the garden, the feeling of the wind on my face, and the delight of my girls’ wrapping their arms around my neck. I began to breathe in as many moments as I could. I now live with an understanding that each moment I have is the only moment I can rely on. The result is that I live differently from other people. To begin with, I do not fear death; it is simply a passing, not an end. I live in each moment, aware that it could be my last in this life and that how I live it affects everyone around me. I believe that the lessons I have learned can be of benefit to everyone, which is why I have written this book. In it I describe my personal experiences with the afterlife, mostly through stories of my spiritual encounters at the hospital. The impressions I have received from and the conversations I have held with souls of the dead and with my spiritual guardians have given me insight into what happens at death, but also wisdom for how to live life, and I have aimed to pass this on in the stories that follow. In order to protect the identities of my clients, all names in the stories have been changed, along with some

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of the peripheral details. I believe that the stories speak for themselves, and therefore I have allowed them to do so, giving them prominence throughout the text, while also describing some of my role’s practical consider­ ations that may be of interest to readers. It is my hope that through sharing these stories I will pass on the insights I have been given, so that you too may understand more about death and, through this, reconsider how you might live.

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An unusual perspective

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I have an unusual view of life and death. Many frontline health-workers, emergency personnel and palliative-care professionals are the same. Working closely with human tragedy changes the way you perceive human existence. For me there’s an added dimension: I talk to the souls of people who have died. Some of those I met as a social worker died in traffic or workplace accidents, or through suicide, heart attack or stroke; some died gently in their sleep. All taught me a great deal.

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1 Finding my way to spirit

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lay in bed. The house was quiet except for the distant hum of the fridge. Suddenly, a howling wind started

up outside, prompting my heart to a faster beat. I pulled the covers up close beneath my chin. To my eight-year-old ears the wind sounded like a monster trying to blow our house down. My father appeared in the doorway, and he used what were by now familiar words to try, for the hundredth time, to soothe away my night-time terrors. ‘Rabbit, it’s the sound of the wind. There’s no need to be afraid.’

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Later, as I lay wide awake in the darkness, I felt the hairs across the back of my shoulder blades and neck stand erect. My pulse beat loudly in my ears, and fear raced down my arms, nearly exploding out through my fingertips. I could feel it again. It was there. I rolled over slowly to face the doorway. In it there stood a ghostly apparition. I closed my eyes. But the figure was still there, even clearer in my mind’s eye: a man, tall, with a beard, and wearing blue overalls. He stood motionless at my door. Just there. I had often sensed he was there, but until that night I had never actually seen him. I leaped out of bed and raced through the darkness towards my sister’s room. ‘Ruth! Can I sleep with you?’ As always my sister obliged and with a sleepy ‘Yes’ moved over, allowing me to climb in next to her. Wrapped in the rhythm of her breathing and her warm presence, I felt safe once more. My heart finally returned to its usual beat, and I slipped into sleep. The next morning, as I ate my breakfast with my dad, I described what had happened. He listened to me with

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an unusual expression on his face. He was calm, quite matter of fact, as he explained that I had seen a ghost, possibly the ghost of the man who had once been married to a lady my dad was currently dating. I smiled. In the safety of the morning light I felt happy that I could perceive ghosts, lucky to be able to see the unseeable. Dad told me that it was a special gift that others in our family also had. I was excited. I felt magical. On the way to school I told Ruth what Dad had said. ‘Wow, you can see ghosts? That’s cool!’ Later on I heard her telling her best friend that ‘Katrina can see ghosts.’ For the rest of the day I walked with a spring in my step. I was happy. My mind delighted in my newfound understanding of my world. But that evening, as I was getting ready for bed, I was struck by the reality of the long night ahead. The enchantment of my newfound ability dissolved. As the light waned my wonder and excitement were replaced by fear. I knew that with the darkness came the ghosts. Most people believe that the souls of dead people are in heaven, but I knew they were down here with us, and

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I didn’t like it. I said a prayer begging God to take them up to heaven with him. When my father tucked me into bed I pleaded with him to leave the light on. He tried to talk me through my fear, but his words made no difference. The terror that grabbed my chest and clutched at my back could not be talked away. As the years passed this became the rhythm of my life: happy with my intuition by day, full of fear by night. And so my extraordinary adventures began.

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By the time I was fifteen years old my life had changed dramatically. My father had remarried, and my home life had become unbearable. Home was no longer a happy place to be. Ruth and I moved out. Ruth went to live with our beloved grandmother, while I was taken in by our kind Aunty June. In the school holidays I would travel to the country to stay with another aunt, my Aunty Gwen, who is a psychic and clairvoyant.

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Aunty Gwen introduced me to a wondrous world. My years of learning with her gave birth to a lifelong journey of discovery that I continue to live today. We immersed ourselves in a daily practice of reading the cards, meditation, and crystals. She taught me many different ways to connect with spirit on the other side. She also taught me how to control my metaphysical experiences. I learned how to make contact with spirit only when I wanted to: I could decide when, where and how I experienced my intuition. After those years of frightening night-time encounters with spirit, I found learning to control the way I experienced my sixth sense liberating. At times I was still scared at night, yet in Aunty Gwen’s presence I always felt comfortable. Having family members who were supportive of my intuition was a great gift. Not all children have this support; some are told that what they are seeing, feeling and hearing is not real. I feel for those children—it creates unnecessary confusion. For me, those years represent a time of returning to the familiar.

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Aunty Gwen was involved in a new age group— people who were psychic or simply interested in the paranormal—that gathered in the village regularly. When I was visiting her on holidays she would take me along with her. The group members were everyday people: if you’d passed one of them in the street you wouldn’t have guessed that only the night before they might have been sharing time with the supernatural. I loved every moment of attending that group. It was exciting to sit in a room full of people whose life was full of spiritual phenomena and intuitive practices.

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With maturity and experience I have grown to under­ stand my intuition and use it powerfully in my life. My intuition helps with everyday living as well as tackling broader issues, in areas ranging from whether I will be able to get an emergency appointment with my hairdresser today to whether a patient in the emergency department will survive.

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Sometimes I am asked how I communicate with spirit and experience my intuitive impressions. It’s difficult to describe succinctly, because I receive them in many different ways. Sometimes they come to me in the form of words, images or an overwhelming emotional feeling, which I call impressions. At other times I am given a whole concept. Depending on their subject, messages generate a range of feelings. If I receive a strong impression that I am going to get a job I am applying for, then of course that feels good, but if an impression comes to me that there is conflict in a relationship, this feels unpleasant. An impression concerning a future event will remain with me until the event has transpired. I rarely find fault with my impressions, though at times I haven’t liked them. Occasionally I feel the presence of an impending death; in fact, I am able to know that I am going to experience a tragedy well before it happens. This is something that I can turn on and off at will. I have control over whether I feel it or not; impressions come only if I ask the question. I am fortunate in this, as it is not the same for everyone: some people are continually

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flooded by intuitive messages and feelings as they go about their everyday lives. For these people it can happen any time—they might be walking down the street and as they pass another person they will suddenly know something about them. Some people might describe this as their gut instinct; I describe it as powerful intuition. Our society is not yet at a stage where knowledge of the afterlife is considered a normal part of everyday life. But everyone is intuitive; everyone has the capacity to connect with the spiritual world. When we discover that there is no veil, no separation between the physical and the non-physical world, our fear and grief are softened a little. I hope the following chapters will help you to understand and connect with the spiritual realm, leading you to a fuller life as a result.

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