Validating wonders

“Since I had forgotten all about the idea to validate the experience it is only after some time that I realize: not only my grandmother, but also my great-grandmother is with me.”


Life in the Afterlife

It is the end of September 2015. I am in Scottsdale, Arizona to present at the conference: Life in the Afterlife. As the author of In the Light of Death: Experiences on the threshold between life and death I explain how end-of-life experiences correspond to Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), what transcendent and final meaning experiences are, and the importance of understanding the process of dying as essential and precious to every human being.

25 afterlife experts among who are mediums will be presenting during the course of this conference. I have always had a certain aloofness and a rightly critical attitude when it comes to mediums. However, I enjoy meeting Susanne Wilson and her wonderful, glamour-like image is smiling at me from the conference flyer. With a mixture of openness and aloofness I step up to greet her. In an instant, I am touched by her integrity, her modesty and my heart flows over with love and joy. I decide to join in when she is going to present the next morning.

Your spiritual team

As a medium Susanne is directly connected with her guides and in her presentation she makes herself rather vulnerable when she introduces her spiritual team to the audience. Deceased loved ones, passed away pets, spiritual guides and angels may all be part of your team. Susanne states that it isn’t necessary at all to build-up a personal relationship with your guides. Guides do their work regardless, if only you thank them once in a while, she adds with a beautiful smile.


Wishful thinking

Susanne also warns for wishful thinking. The more you want to connect with deceased loved ones, the more likely that you fool yourself. Personally, I have always found that we should let those who have left this plane, move on unobstructedly. However, I fully understand that those who grieve may need the reassurance which comes with the connection. Susanne teaches us that validation is the remedy to eliminate wishful thinking. By asking your guides or the Universe for a confirmation simply by means of a token, you validate your encounter. People often choose to find a special stone or coin, or they may want to see a butterfly or bird in the days or weeks that follow the possible encounter with a loved one who has passed on.

Two female spirits

When it is my turn to present I do experience an enormous serenity. I feel guided. I fully enjoy this hour and the positive response is overwhelming. In general, Americans express their appreciation and thankfulness more open than the Dutch. I also experience an enormous eagerness to learn more about the dying process though. After my presentation a man from the audience approaches and tells me that he has seen two female spirits on the stage. One of them had long, grey hear. Somebody else tells me he has seen a tall male entity just behind me. I am surprised and somewhat disappointed in myself for not asking any further information. Since I share a special experience with my grandmother with the audience and show her picture, I immediately feel that this must have been my grandmother and her mother. My ancestors come from Marken, a fishermen island which in 1957 has been made into a peninsula. My great-grandmother died at a very young age and a portrait of her in traditional costumes is what I remember hanging in my grandmother’s house. I know that my grandmother was very close to her mother. The male spirit just behind me, so I reckon, must have been my spiritual guide. However, he doesn’t have my attention and I hastily thank him for his presence. My attention is focused on my great-grandmother.


But, is she my great-grandmother? I wonder in excitement. I decide to ask the universe to send me a sign if the woman appears to be my great-grandmother. Not by means of a coin or a butterfly, that would be too obvious. No, I would like to see a little piece of traditional costumes as I laugh at myself by the idea to find a piece of cloth from one or other folklore. The cowboy and Indian traditional ware that I abundantly come across in musea and galleries in the art district of Scottsdale do not count. That would be too easy, I decide. During the following days  I find myself caught up with the idea of validation. However, in two weeks time it’s not on my mind anymore.

After I have returned home, I ask my dad about the portrait of my great-grandmother and he is going to check for me with his brother, my uncle. Uncle John is a orthodox believer and he rejects this kind of experience immediately. Within days I receive an e-mail from my uncle in which he critically interrogates me. Why do I want this picture? What am I going to do with it? How am I going to use it? It’s no surprise that he dislikes the experience and I decide to respond in a friendly and benevolent way. I reply in writing, and this is the truth, that for quite some time I have had a desire to learn more about my family history, especially the paternal female line. Since work and life itself have taken up too much of my attention, I never researched my background. The experience in Scottsdale is prompting me in that direction though. The man’s encounter with the two female spirits itself isn’t that important but indeed that seemed to be the case, I tried to explain to my uncle.


Frivolous girl in traditional costumes

The moment that I write this and I basically dismiss the experience as insignificant, I receive a whatsapp message. It is a picture. A frivolous girl, dressed in traditional costumes from Austria, holding a big jug of beer in her hand, is looking at me with a big smile. She is my sister who lives in the United States with her husband, both of them dressed up for a party.

Because I never felt the urge to convince my uncle and the whole idea of validation had long disappeared from my mind, it is only after some time that I realize: “not only my grandmother, but also my great-grandmother is with me.”

Ineke Koedam runs her own practice Weerschijn - for death and bereavement. She is an experienced hospice worker and trains workers in the terminal care. She is the author of In the Light of Death, Experiences on the threshold between Life and Death (ISBN 9789020209624.)

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