Escorting the Dead

 ellisnelson conducted an interview with TA Sullivan about her book Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp, and we have republished it here for you to read.

AN INTERVIEW WITH TA SULLIVANpsychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

One of my favorite movies is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring Rex Harrison (1947). In it, the ghost of a sea captain comes back for Lucy when she’s ready to pass. I always loved that he came back for her when it was time. Many of us will have heard stories about people getting close to death who see their loved ones, or sometimes angels. Beautiful, satisfying stories. But what if they’re not stories? What if that’s precisely what happens for many of us?

I recently finished “Escorting the Dead: My Life as a Psychopomp” by TA Sullivan. It’s a fascinating read about her experience as a death escort for the recently departed. As a child she was sensitive, but it wasn’t until she had her own near-death experience (NDE) that her life took a turn and she started to train as a guide for the dead.

Please welcome author and photographer, TA Sullivan. Thank you for agreeing to talk about what is a difficult subject for many.

Can you briefly describe your NDE when you were hit by a van? How old were you then?

What I remember most about the NDE are the emotions—the feelings of loving acceptance and joy that surrounded me like a warm comforter on a cold day. But what stayed with me the most, was the feeling that I was finally at home.

As for my age…well, I was old enough to know better, yet young enough to ignore my own advice. I’d just hit my mid-forties and had no idea what a crazy ride life had in store for me on the other side of that mid-point.

At the time of the accident, had you been exploring any deep philosophical questions or were you at a turning point in your life?

At the time of the accident, my life was in a bit of a turmoil. My mother had just died, my spouse and I had just relocated (changing states and jobs), and one of my close friends had just been diagnosed with cancer.

With everything that was going on in my life, I was feeling somewhat uncentered and scattered. The accident and accompanying experience, actually helped me put things back in perspective. It made me realize just what was important and what wasn’t.

What is the basic role of a psychopomp?

We ensure that the death experience is what the soul (person) wants.

Think of your life as a movie extravaganza, where you are the director and star. The psychopomp would then be the set designer, prop master, and extra in your death scene.

Can anyone take on the role of psychopomp or must a contract be in place prior to an incarnation?

Anyone can function as a psychopomp at any point during their lifetime without making it a full-time commitment, such as I have done. Someone can ask you (at a soul level) if you would be there for them when they die. Often, it is referred to it as a shared death experience. Whatever name you give it doesn’t really matter, though; not as much as your being there for someone who needs you and your support during that transitional period.

What have you learned as an escort that could help alleviate people’s crippling fear of death?

That life is eternal. It doesn’t stop just because the body dies.

This isn’t some abstract belief based on religious teachings. It’s a belief born of experience. I’ve been there (multiple times), and so have you…you have simply forgotten. Let yourself remember. Remember the encompassing feelings of love and compassion; remember the feelings of acceptance and peace; and remember the feelings of belonging.

If you want to help someone overcome their fear, just give them love. John Lennon said it best, all you need is love. Believe in the love, and the fear will disappear.

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What are some healthy ways to communicate with loved ones who have died that won’t create the negative energetic cords you caution against?

Communicate, but don’t cling.

Love them, but without strings.

In other words, accept that they are physically dead and not a part of your reality anymore.

Speak to them, if it helps you. But don’t cling to expectations of getting a response or seeing a ‘sign.’ You all have to move on. After all, some souls may wait for you (as depicted in the movie ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’—one of my all-time favorites, also), but others may move on to take on new lives and new families. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you; it only means that things need to change.

Also, don’t expect literal responses to your communications. After all, once released from the physical constraints of our world, most souls aren’t all that concerned with where they stored the insurance policy you can’t find or where they hid that winning lottery ticket.

What is the most satisfying aspect of acting as a psychopomp? What is the most challenging?

The most satisfying part of being a psychopomp is seeing a transitioned soul awaken. It’s the moment that a transitioned soul realizes that he/she isn’t confined by who or what he/she was on Earth. It’s when the soul suddenly recognizes that he/she is more than just Billy Ray, husband and father, or Mary Francis, business woman and wife. When they see the bigger picture, the awe and wonder expressed by them is wondrous. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.

The most challenging part of being a death escort is not interfering. I mean, it’s human nature to want to help; yet, if someone wants to believe that they are completely alone when they die, then we have to remain hidden. Or if someone wants to experience excruciating pain (emotional, mental, or physical); then we have to let them, even though we know we could help them alleviate or overcome it.

Is the work energetically draining? Do you wake up exhausted?

There are times when I’m so drained by an experience that I just want to spend the next day in bed or simply lazing around the house. But there are other times, times such as when you get to see and share that awe of awakening with a soul, that it energizes and elevates you. Then the next day seems brighter and nicer, and I feel more energetic and full of hope and joy.

How do you protect yourself emotionally in difficult cases (i.e. deaths of children, murders, accidents, etc.)?

I used to find myself emotionally drained and my aura shredded from all the turmoil that I encountered. However, as I’ve grown into this role, I’ve learned more (and better) techniques for creating safeguards (barriers, cocoons, walls) around myself to keep the backlash of emotions away.

When you touch someone to see what type of experience they want, you need to have a filter, of sorts, in place. This ‘filter’ enables you to keep out the physical and emotional trauma that the person may be going through so that you can focus on what the lesson is the soul is trying to create.

The filter is like any other barrier that many empaths and intuitives instinctively learn to erect around themselves. It allows a limited amount of energy from other people to filter through…just enough so that the empath or intuitive can relate, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed. In the case of death escorts, we must learn to focus these filters so that we can pluck out the information we need without becoming overwhelmed by the situation or the people participating in it.

Do you know anyone else (in person or online) who is doing this work? Is it lonely or isolating?

I met another death escort online a while back. He had shared a comment on an online article, and something about the way he worded things sort of gave me a start. So, I contacted him directly and as we chatted, we recognized the shared connection. It was nice being able to discuss things with someone who understood the ups and downs of this ‘job,’ and who grasped why we wanted to do it, anyway. We also shared some of the ways it brings weirdness into our otherwise mundane lives (getting pulled across in the middle of the day, which might mean telling your boss you’re not feeling well, so you can answer the ‘call,’ that sort of thing).

We continue to communicate once in a while. In fact, he’s even found a couple more like us, so we now have a group of 5 that we can share our triumphs and sorrows with. It’s nice. We were a group of 6 for a very short while; however, TJ died soon after joining our group and my friend had the privilege of escorting him across. Very surreal.

What are you currently working on?

My current writing project is book 2 of my paranormal romance series.

The first book, “The Past Rekindled,” will be coming out this November. “The Past Rekindled” has Terra McGinley dividing her time between writing how-to procedures and escorting visitors to the astral plane. Her new partner is a by-the-book, hard-to-deal-with transitioner with a secret, whom she finds attractive, yet exasperating. But when one of her charges contacts Terra directly for help, she encounters Death, who has his own plans for her. Now she must decide who she can trust with her life and her heart – past love or new partner?

It kind of reflects my own life (but without all the drama), inasmuch as I’m also a techwriter and a death escort, but Terra has a much more twisted sense of humor than I do…

Thanks for joining me today to talk about your role as a psychopomp and your writing! For more about TA Sullivan’s work and books, check out her links below.

My blog, Tas Through the Looking Glass, can be found at https://taslookingglass.wordpress.com/ and contains book reviews, essays on the paranormal, and wanderings of my mind. I also have another blog called Insights and Awareness (https://michaelreadings.wordpress.com/), which is a cosmic Q & A site—I, and other intuitives and psychics try to answer readers’ questions.

Twitter (@tasinator)

Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tricia.o.sullivan.5)

Amazon (https://amazon.com/author/tasullivan)

 

 

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Do You Know About End-of-Life Experiences?

veilbetweenworldsSeeing loved ones, angels, or other guides to the afterlife is a common occurrence for those who are dying. However, many living (and healthy) people find the concept ludicrous, frightening, or just plain fanciful. Yet, ask any hospice worker or doctor and you will find that they have hundreds of stories showing just how often this occurs.

Is it simply a daydream, nightmare, or hallucination induced by the dying mind or the drugs? Not according to most doctors and nurses.

As a psychopomp who escorts the dead to the afterlife, I’ve often been the stand-in for some loved one that the dead and dying expect to see–a loved one who has already moved on to another life or who is otherwise ‘unavailable’ to make an appearance. psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2

You can read more about end-of-life experiences and people’s reactions to them, here:

Near Death, Seeing Dead People May Be Neither Rare Nor Eerie

After-Death Experiences

ovaldoveDoes consciousness reside in the brain, or is it something else? Is the soul, ka, spirit, psyche, or essence that is you a force that interacts with the physical body and provides the consciousness for the being that is you?

One doctor and researcher, Dr. Sam Parnia, seems to think so.

It could be that, like electromagnetism, the human psyche and consciousness are a very subtle type of force that interacts with the brain, but are not necessarily produced by the brain.

He discusses his ideas, his work, and his research in his book Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death.

Read more about Dr. Parnia’s research regarding consciousness and the after-death experiences that he has gathered from some of his patients.

Bring Dying Into the Light

psychopomp-3d-dls-8pxls-2We need to stop being so afraid of death and dying that we can’t even talk to each other about it. Tip-toeing around the subject will not make it go away. It is part of the cycle of life.

To hear more about why we need to rethink the way we handle discussions with those facing imminent death and those left behind, watch this video:

Shared NDE

This video illustrates a rare and wondrous occurrence: a shared NDE.

Come along now and listen to Scott Taylor describe his shared experience of death when his nephew dies.

It is just another example of how mystical and magical life is; and how life-altering it is to discover that death is just another step along life’s path.

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“A compilation of book reports with anecdotes”

CarolBowmanBookChildren’s Past Lives by Carol Bowman

Summary: Has your child lived before?

In this book, Carol Bowman reveals overwhelming evidence of past life memories in children. Not only are such experiences real, they are far more common than most people realize.

Bowman’s extraordinary investigation was sparked when her young son, Chase, described his own past-life death on a Civil War battlefield; an account so accurate it was authenticated by an expert historian. Even more astonishing, Chase’s chronic eczema and phobia of loud noises completely disappeared after he had the memory.

Inspired by her son’s dramatic healing, Bowman compiled dozens of cases and wrote this comprehensive study to explain how very young children remember their past lives, spontaneously and naturally. In this book, Ms. Bowman tells how to distinguish between a true past life memory and a fantasy, offers practical advice to parents on how to respond to a child recalling a past life memory, and shows how to foster the spiritual and healing benefits of these experiences.

Recommendation: Mixed feelings (In Amazon’s world, maybe 1.5 to 2 stars)

Review:  If you enjoy reading anecdotes of people recalling past lives, then you’ll find the book mildly interesting. If, however, you want a book that truly provides evidence and science-based research into past lives, then this book is not for you.

The first half of the book is little more than a compilation of book reports, which in its own way was helpful to me, only because I didn’t have to go far to find a list of better resources for what I wanted (science-based information on reincarnation). The author condensed each of her reference books into a synopsis and summary of the main topics, and then wrote that up as separate chapters for her own book. She then borrowed one or two anecdotes from the reference book and incorporated that into said chapter. This made it quite helpful for me to determine which of those reference books I wanted to use to gain more insight into this topic.

(I do understand that she was doing this to show her readers that she had done her homework, and wasn’t just a silly housewife writing a book. However, this material should have been included simply as a bibliography, not as chapters in her book. Although, without these as chapters, she wouldn’t have had a book, since they did make up a little more than half her total page count.)

The second half of her book was divided into two sections. The first, contained snippets from her own life and family struggles in figuring out how to write the book while attending conferences and symposiums that would help her gain notoriety and aid her to launch her career as a regression therapist. The second, contained the instructions for parents on how to handle their children who may be remembering past lives.

The whole theme running through her narrative is that this book will help parents deal with their children’s sudden past life memory eruptions. Yet, that information garnered only twenty or so pages at the very end of the book.

So, if you’re looking for other materials to read with more science and more depth, then read the first half of the book for her book reports. If you’re looking for an anecdotal biography of Carol Bowman, then try the first part of the second half of the book. And, if what you really need is some help recognizing when your child is spouting information about a past life he or she may have lived, then try the last few pages. The author does present some fairly sound common-sense ways to tell whether your child is making up stories or actually remembering something from a previous life. However, on the whole, I would give this book a pass and find one that is more comprehensive and useful.

Death and Dying

butterflyDeath, like a butterfly, comes on wings of beauty. It is a ray of light that carries you to glory. But dying…dying is a vulture that devours the body. It swoops in like a raptor, ripping you from your life. — Tricia A. Sullivan

That’s a poetic way of saying that death is not ugly or harsh. Death is quiet and full of beauty. It is the dying that can be harsh.

Dying is different than death. Dying is the affliction that causes the physical body to shut down and die. Death is the transitioning of the soul from physical life to afterlife.

You might be dying of cancer, which is painful; yet, your death, when it occurs, can be filled with joy or loneliness—whichever you choose. You can die from any number of afflictions—illness, trauma, poison, murder, accident, old age, or even nature’s tantrums. But your death can be calm, tumultuous, lonely, joyous, frightening, sad, filled with regret or hope, or any way you choose. Both death and dying are chosen by you (at least, most of the time). There are some exceptions, and an imbalance of energies (aka, karma) is usually involved; but, overall, we each choose the manner in which we die and the way in which we experience death.

It seems like such a fine distinction—between dying and death—but it is a distinction that can affect the entire experience. For instance, perhaps you wanted to experience being murdered (yeah, I know, who would choose that? Believe it or not, most of us do choose it in at least one life). So, the cause of death (the dying) is supposed to be a quick gunshot to the head; while, the death itself (the transition from life to afterlife) is supposed to be filled with joy for having taken the bullet to save someone else. However, the person who agrees to be your murderer makes the killing more painful than it needs to be; perhaps, wounding you several times before killing you. So, now your death also has fear, pain, and maybe even regret for having acted bravely instead of the joy you originally planned.

The way you die can color the whole death experience, changing it, twisting it, or (sometimes) making it even better than you planned. For instance, you may have opted to take an overdose of pills because you believed that no one cared about you. Therefore, you planned on a death filled with the same type of loneliness and depression that you had faced in life. However, the person who finds you, holds you and cries for you as you’re dying, and you realize that someone cared. This may make your death (your transition to the afterlife) more joyful and less traumatic because now you know that someone really cared about you.

Dying and death are usually planned as a unit, which enables each person to create a full experience for themself. However, plans can change, needs can vary, and other people’s choices can interfere. That means you may need to re-evaluate your original plan and try something else. And, while death escorts can step in and help, most souls prefer to just accept the experience as is (changes and all). After all, that’s what life (which includes dying and death) is all about…experiences, with all the unpredictability and fickleness that goes with them.

So, the next time you speak of dying and death, remember that they are two distinct steps in the overall experience we call life.