Grieving: When to Leave Skepticism at The Door

A question that’s been posed to me many times is, when is there an inappropriate time to implement or push skeptical values?

This is something that is easily debatable given that skepticism is a very important part of appropriately discerning what has the possibility of being paranormal and what most likely deserves rational explanation. But is there ever a time that maybe we should keep our opinions to ourselves? I believe so.

As someone who spends a good portion of her time talking to people in the paranormal community via social media, time and time again I see people coming online looking for validation that their family members, who’ve passed away, are still with them. This is pretty much the only time I will personally bow out of a debate over paranormal vs. rational explanation.

Many who view the paranormal world through skeptical eyes may disagree. Matter of fact, I know a few who would adamantly insist that this is incorrect. I myself, base my opinions on not only logic, but also compassion. I do what I need to, to bring solace to people like myself who’ve lost loved ones. While I will not feed into their speculations of material being evidence of their loved ones – I won’t argue either.

My Experiences

As many of you who have followed my research, You probably know that I’ve lost both my parents. My mother in 1990, and my father in 2001. I understand how it feels to long for some sort of sign that they’re with me. My mother I hadn’t really received messages that were overwhelmingly solid, that I would consider “paranormal” from her, aside from an experience the night she died. My dad on the other hand, has to me, been somewhat different.

Are my experiences paranormal in nature? I don’t know. But the question is, when these things occurred, did I find relief or comfort from them…. absolutely.

Here is an excerpt from a post I made about my experience, written April 20, 2012:

“At the young age of 13, I lost my mother to suicide. I was tormented by this, but her comforting spirit has managed to come through many times. Usually at times of stress, without thinking of her I suddenly get an overwhelming sense of calm and well being..and then she automatically come to mind. Through her scent, and even once…a loving touch as a “good bye”. I knew there was more to life, after death, although I didn’t understand, and was even frightened by it. I knew this was part of my life.

I also lost my father in 2001. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He grew sick very rapidly. Only a month after diagnosis, he had passed away. I took care of him that entire month. I was running on little sleep, little food, and a lot of love. On his last day of clear lucid thinking, he called me to his bedroom.

Thinking something was wrong, I rushed in. He asked me to please grab a book from his book shelf and to come lay by him. It was the National Audubon Society’s Bird watchers book. He quickly flipped through the pictures and opened the page to a beautiful yellow and black bird. With tears in this eyes he pointed and said “This is my favorite bird. When I was backpacking in the mountains, this bird was always with me. They aren’t native to the valley….but I promise you…if there IS life after death. I will let you know”.

I didn’t invest much thought into it. All I could think of was that my best friend was dying, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I watched him daily grow from the man I thought of as superman, to the equal of an infant who depended on me to love and care for him.

He died two days later.

Several days passed after his death. It was all business. I did the majority of my deepest grieving the day I knew my dad had a terminal illness. I hadn’t had time to really absorb the situation, even though I laid with his body for quite some time before I let the coroner take him away.

The funeral passed, and I was numb. I felt nothing.

On the day in question, I was going through a box of his things that were given to me and it suddenly hit me – He was GONE forever. I dropped everything in my hands and slide them over my face. I let out a deep heartfelt, sorrowful howl. I cried harder than I can ever recall doing before.

I was beside myself with grief. I couldn’t bring myself to catch my own breath. After a few moments I gathered myself and shook my head. I took a deep breath and looked out my living room window. There in my lilac tree sat this magnificent yellow bird. I put my hands over my heart, took a deep oxygenated breath, and sat still. I was in shocked yet, totally calm. A warmth washed over me that I couldn’t describe better than being freezing, and suddenly having warm water rush over you, redirecting your train of thought.

I felt nothing less than love and comfort. I thought to myself “Everything’s going to be alright.”

I have seen that bird native to the Sierra Nevadas, on numerous occasions (and other bright yellow birds). Even having a family of them living at 2 houses I’ve lived at since. NO ONE can ever convince me there isn’t life after death…..never ever…”


Now, I can’t say with absolution that my experience was paranormal. But, what I can say about my experience is, that I was absolutely lucid. I was thinking clearly and I was not on any drugs, or mind altering medications. I have no diagnosis of mental illness that would interrupt cognitive function or cause hallucinations. And most of all, I am being 100% honest about my experience. I wouldn’t lie about something like this.

Was it paranormal? I do not know.
Did it bring me comfort? You bet it did.
Would I allow anyone to cheapen my experience with some gibberish about reality vs. fantasy?
Hell. No.

Where Does the Responsibility Lie?

When we’re on the internet, a few things happen. One, we’re asked for opinions. Two, we’re willing to give it. Three, sometimes people just want to share an experience without unsolicited advice or opinions.

Is it possible to hear another’s story without being so quick to pick it apart? When are opinions unnecessary?

In my opinion, there’s a line to be drawn between educating, debating, analyzing, and just listening. Sometimes we should be able to see a story at face value, and take it for what it is; a personal experience. No amount of analyzing or speculating will convince a grieving individual that their experience is merely a dust ball, a hallucination or fluke.

In fact, I think if we catch someone in a very fragile state, our words or actions could be detrimental. Over the internet talking to strangers, we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

Had someone taken the time to pick my experience apart in my state, I would have been crushed. Whatever happened, paranormal or not, helped me get through that box of my dad’s stuff. It helped my get my kids to school that day. It helped me to get up and cook dinner. It helped me to open a photo album and talk to my kids about my dad and how much he loved them. It helped me make it to the cemetery every time without worry that this was it – forever. It helped me get dressed every morning after I the man I loved more than anything in the world- and so on.

I think most of you can get my point here?

If I was delusional or had a lapse of sanity in my state – so what? It helped me cope with my situation. It brought me comfort. Today, 14 years later, I’ve learned to cope with my loss. I’ve been able to look at my situation and say, “ok there’s a possibility I just happened to catch these birds during their migration, or maybe its a totally different breed that is native”.

It doesn’t matter. It served it’s purpose in a way I needed

Is it possible that both these are true, but in some spiritual way, spirits able to effect nature to be present at such a time when it’s needed? I don’t know. Maybe this is meant to be a type of coping mechanism. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do think between the drive to be honest and the mission to seek truth, sometimes makes us forget that we also have responsibility to care for one another. We need to practice empathy and compassion. Before opening your mouth, determine if what you’re about to say has more good coming from it, than harm. Weigh the odds. Use common sense.

Truth will always prevail, in it’s own time.

People will find their truth when it’s the right time, for them. And if they don’t? That’s not our problem. Getting into a debate with someone in a fragile emotional state is not the time, nor place. We shouldn’t impose our belief, (or research for that matter) on another at the price of causing damage. To me this is reprehensible.

Know when to speak up, and know when to shut up. Learn to let shit go. We don’t always have to be right. Your words are your responsibility. Therefore we are responsible for the damage they cause.

Take care of one another. 



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