When coping with suicide took an unintended detour

When coping with suicide took an unintended detour

What’s it like coping with suicide? The world changed the day Sally Daniels Taylor’s son took his own life, and she began a journey like no other–into worlds unseen, at least with our physical eyes. When I saw her Facebook post, I knew I had to ask if I could reprint it here. Like so many in our metaphysical world, her response was a gracious “Yes! By all means, if it will help others.”

If your heart has broken into a million jagged pieces after the death of a loved one; if you’ve ever wondered what happens after we die, or if we can connect with our loved ones on the other side; if you longed to hear from a loved one who has passed–if all these things and more, Sallie’s post will speak to you. At its core, it’s a story about love. I hope you’ll read it.

By Sally Daniels Taylor

How do you tell a story that really begins with the suicide death of your 17-year-old son? I had experienced much that life has to offer in the 44 years prior to that fateful day on September 19, 2012, but none that so fully altered my perception of self, personal direction, and meaning in life. It was in so many ways my great undoing, my dark night of the soul. Surviving the death of our son Todd felt completely out of context and out of time. My reality unraveled. My darling sweet boy had promised to take care of me in my old age. I had visions of his future, the sweet girl he would marry, and the children he always talked about having some day. I could foresee the joy he would feel at holding his own baby and in realizing that all the challenges faced in life are worth those precious moments of pure unconditional love.

My world had become completely altered. I shifted from plans of starting a new business to suddenly trying to remember how to breathe in and out. I couldn’t understand how the sun continued to rise every morning and how people seemed to go about their daily business. There were months of struggle just getting out of bed and getting dressed. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. It was difficult to walk out the front door. I leaned heavily on my darling husband John, who I knew was quietly suffering every bit as much as I was but in that reserved and stoic way that men are expected to grieve. I endlessly wept and screamed and I wondered how I could feel so much pain and somehow not die from the experience.

As an adult, having left behind the dogma of my conservative Christian upbringing, I had considered myself an open-minded skeptic. If I called myself anything it was “agnostic.” I simply no longer claimed to know what the nature of existence beyond death might be, if there was any form of existence beyond the physical at all. I had always had an interest in the psychic mediums I had seen on television. They were often very genuine and believable in my eyes and I was encouraged by the astonishing evidence they seemed to relay of a continued connection with those who had left the physical realm. Prior to Todd’s death my family would usually asked me “why did I watched such things and didn’t I know it was all a scam.” I wasn’t bothered by their opinions because I could remain an interested skeptic and not tie myself to a statement of belief in whether it was real or not. After Todd’s passing I no longer had the luxury of non-committal interest. I needed to know if any part of my son still existed. Could consciousness survive death? And if it did, what was the nature of that existence? Could I experience any meaningful contact? Would he still know me? Could he still feel my love for him? Was he still our son?

Were they visitations?

In the days and weeks following Todd’s death I experienced a precious few lucid dreams that felt to me like visitations. The most notable was the first one in which Todd vividly stood in front of me and stated that I could not have prevented his death. The visit had an odd sensation of a complete absence of emotion both coming from Todd as well as in my own body. It was just a matter of fact statement and then he was gone. The next day my sister Deborah came to check in on me and proceeded to tell me of a dream her daughter Annabelle had of Todd a few days earlier. She described in detail the exact same dream I had had the night before, even down to the detail of the missing sense of emotion. I was so astonished I couldn’t even tell my sister of the synchronicity with my own dream.

On another occasion some months later, I was alone at our family farm in Texas where Todd is buried. I slept upstairs in one of the cabins we had built for overnight stays. Todd came to me in a dream and told me how sorry he was for the pain that he had caused to all of the people who loved him. Again, it was very matter of fact and then he was gone. Could these experiences be based in any kind of reality outside of my own dreams and imagination? Was this a form of contact with my son? Was he really trying to relieve my guilt and grief and pain? Or, was it just my own psyche trying to survive an unbearable loss?

I became a woman on a mission to understand the nature of existence and consciousness. I read everything I could get my hands on. I read books on the science of consciousness and the workings of the brain. I read the lay versions of quantum theories and experiments that proved conscious intention and interaction alter the behavior of physical matter. I read about evidence of reincarnation, near death experiences, deathbed experiences, and out of body states. I read spiritual texts from a wide range of cultures, mystical traditions, and philosophies. I began to meditate, both as a way to cope with my grief and as a personal experiment with the Mystical and Eastern philosophies that claimed it was the way to experience the deeper complex nature of consciousness. I watched videos of mediums channeling spirits to discern for myself their believability and reliability. With mixed results I sat with mediums in person or by phone to see if they could connect with my son in ways that felt real and validating to me and the way that I knew him.

Then, another blow. Or rather, a gift.

Eight months after Todd’s funeral my Dad contacted all of his nine children to inform us that he had developed advanced stage prostate cancer and that his life expectancy was limited to a few months. He had chosen not to pursue any treatment. I went home to Texas to serve as his primary caretaker for the last three months of his life. My father may not have realized it at the time, but by allowing me to assist him through his own transition he provided me with a great gift. I was able to say to him all of the things I wished I had been able to say to Todd; how much I loved him and how important he was in my life.

Not that I didn’t say those things to Todd, but I never knew that the last time I said them would truly be the last time. My father and I talked about all of the meaningful elements of human life and how those things colored our perceptions and our experience. I was able to watch my father as he began to let go of this reality and move into another. And ultimately, I was able to hold his hand and “catch his last breath” as he had instructed me to do. I told him what a good job he had done and then retreated to the family farm as soon as I was no longer needed.

There were a number of astonishing things Dad related in his last couple of days of lucidity, but the two most meaningful for me were when he seemed to see and interact with Todd. In one instance, he was talking with me and one of my sisters when he looked off into the distance, pointed his finger and asked “Is that Todd standing on a plane?” Surprised, I simply responded “I don’t know Dad, but I sure hope so.” In hindsight I wished I had asked my father if he meant a “plane” like an airplane or a “plain” of flat ground. The visual is quite different (though perhaps unimportant) depending on how you look at it. On the next occasion, Dad had just woken from sleep. He had been moved to a hospice provided hospital bed in his bedroom and I was laying next to him in his king-sized bed. He opened his eyes, looked at me, and said “You are not Tom.” I have a younger brother named Tom and I said “No, I am not Tom.” Then he looked puzzled and said “No, not Tom, I mean Todd. I was just talking to Todd in the Celestial Room.” Once again all I could think to say in the moment is “I hope so.”

What is reality?

With time, all of my study and focus on the nature of consciousness led me to experiment with methods and processes that others claimed help open you to deeper experience. I was already meditating so it was an easy step to include visualizations that were supposed to promote out of body states. I soon started to experience a great deal of lucidity during dreams and startling out of body experiences of a convincing though brief duration. I was becoming convinced of the primary nature of consciousness. I was beginning to experience a wide range of synchronicities and became more aware of sensations in my body that corresponded with these events. Many sources claimed that awareness of and communication with non-physical persons and information was a skill that could be learned. If nothing else I have always been a good student. I surmised that if these things are learnable then why should I be less able than any other person to develop these skills?

In my own mind, I talk with my son and my father every day. I “hear” their responses to me. I looked back on experiences throughout my life and began to wonder if the odd (occasionally lifesaving) coincidental thoughts I had once chalked up to my imagination might actually have been communication from someone outside of myself. I started to differentiate between the negative internal voice that created doubts and difficulty and the more empowering positive messages that seemed to be a voice separate from my own; the voice that made leaps of logic and creative connections that seemed beyond my limited capacity. I began to suspect that this physical existence is the dream and that the greater reality truly is Consciousness itself.

So here I am nearly 6 years into my journey as a parent of a child in the non-physical. My relationship with my son and my father continues as does my connection with many other transitioned family members and guides. I now more confidently rely on my personal guidance and connection to further my own healing and have discovered that this skill can be helpful to others as well. I feel it is important for me to share with others validating evidence that we are vastly more than this physical body our egos so readily identify with, that our connection with and love for each other continues beyond the boundary of physical death. We never really die. We simply transition to the next conscious state.

A native of North East Texas, Sally Taylor now resides in Loveland, Colorado.  A former high school art teacher, Sally is a private art instructor, sound and energy healer, holistic tarot reader, and developing psychic medium.  You can message her for information and services at info@theelementalfox.com or visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theelementalfox/ .

If you’d like support coping with grief, please check out our resources, here.

What the soul knows

What the soul knows


I’d love to be perfect.  The fact is I’m not. Soul guidance is a necessity for me.

Oh sure, I’m pretty nice and accepting and mostly non-judgmental.  “Mostly.” Because I do have my moments.

The other day someone snarky pushed my buttons in a big way. Instantly, I went to that person’s faults. How negative they are. How ridiculously arrogant even when wrong.

And then, I received this a day later in my daily email from Sanaya, medium Suzanne Giesemann’s guides:

How silly you are when you are stuck in human thinking!
The soul knows only love.
Be that which you are, Love, and laugh at the alleged “faults.”
They are part and parcel of being human.
And what of them?
Set them to the side and know true Love. ~Sanaya

All I could do is smile, and say “Touche!”

The Universe ALWAYS gives us what we need, when we need it, doesn’t it?

In this case, a reminder that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors and yes, personalities. And they are all just, well, human. WE are all human.

A good reminder.

Interested in accessing some soul guidance for yourself? Check this out!

How past life regression can help you heal

How past life regression can help you heal

past-life-regressionIt’s true that many people have a past life regression out of simple curiosity, wondering, “Have I lived before and if so, who was I?”

What they may not understand is how a past life regression can help heal, even in this life. For many of my clients, a past life regression has helped find the roots to issues in this life, and by healing the issue in the past life, they find resolution in the here and now.

Because we are, in fact, immortal souls who never die, we’ve got a very long history during which many things have happened. Some issues do carry on life after life.

Benefits, even if you don’t believe in reincarnation

And oh, by the way, you don’t have to believe in reincarnation or have any spiritual belief at all to benefit from a past life regression. That’s because regressions help you access your subconscious mind, where all of your memories reside.  The subconscious can have a lot to say and can offer a whole lot of healing in a single session. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it’s not unusual.

A past life regression can help you release limiting fears or beliefs about yourself, find the roots of phobias and even pain and illness, and even access that elusive inner peace. If you’ve noticed repetitive patterns in your life, a regression can often help uncover its roots and help you break free of any dysfunction.

A  between lives regression can take you to the afterlife, to visit the planning session for this life in which the purpose of this life and the people in it can become clear. And so can some of the challenges you are facing in this life. You can meet your spirit guides and connect with the essence of self that is your immortal soul.

A safe place to explore

I’m known for creating a safe and supportive atmosphere in which my clients can access even difficult memories and begin to heal.

Does everyone travel back? Many do relax sufficiently during the first session to have vivid recall that is rich in detail. Others may need another session to relax deeply enough. That’s what it’s all about–relaxing deeply enough so that the conscious mind is turned off. And clients do that by following my voice down deep into relaxation, like the deepest meditative state you’ve ever been in.

Talk is cheap. In fact, it’s free!

I’d love to talk with you about it.  If you visit this page and scroll to the very bottom you’ll find a scheduling button for a 15 minute phone call with me to discuss. No obligation–just a talk. Let’s see if it fits.

And if it does, I’m prepared to offer you $20 off any regression if you mention this post. That’s because I believe so deeply in the work I do I’d love more of you to benefit!

So schedule the phone call and let’s just talk about what a regression is like. Then, you decide.

We cook to keep them alive. Even when we can’t.


I’m a writer.

It’s how I think, how I process life and what I love to do.

Back in 2010 I started this essay, We Cook.  My girlfriend had been battling multiple myeloma for a long while and was in a rough patch, so I was making her the things she loved to eat. And while I cooked, I began this essay.

And then, she survived. And I forgot about the essay.

Five years later, she died and the morning after, I remembered it. I don’t know how it came to mind after years buried but it did and I decided to finish it.I  sat at my computer in the quiet before dawn and began to add copy. Suddenly, a wicker basket jumped off the shelf above my desk and into my lap.

Did we have an earthquake? Quickly, I checked to see if anything was moving. No. There was no logical explanation. The only possibility was that my friend had made it happen from the other side. It was the first of several connections she made from the other side in those first months.

As luck would have it (ha) I noticed that an anthology called Here in the Middle: Stories of Love, Loss & Connection from the Ones Sandwiched in Between was still seeking essays. I sent We Cook in and it was accepted almost immediately. Two years ago, it was published. Here it is:

We Cook
for Marilyn

by Carol A. Cassara

We cook.

When we don’t know what else to do, we cook.

Seasoned tri-tip roast nestled in a bed of organic broccoli slow-cooked to palate-tempting perfection. Beef for stronger blood, broccoli to repair the immune system. Dishing out hope against hope, heaping spoonfuls of guarded promise carefully plated and set on the table.

Pulling a big knife from the block I chop watermelon into sweet red cubes, dice redolent minty green leaves and section an orange. Sprinkling feta cheese over the mix I serve it up on a white plate, a life-restoring offering.

If only.

I stand over a stainless steel pot of black beans infused with onion, garlic and spices, my wooden spoon moving in slow circles to meld the flavors, my nose twitching at the aromas. She loves my black beans and will ask for them several times this week. How little it is, but it is all I can do. We are all helpless when we see death in the waiting room, biding its time.

Broad layers of pasta noodles in the casserole topped with meat, yellow and green vegetables and scarlet marinara remind me of the cooking course the two of us took outside of Rome that autumn week. We cooked two huge meals a day—and ate them—laughing the whole time, learning from Italians who had no English. We were fluent in the language of the kitchen and we speak it still, even as we watch the stopwatch tick steadily the minutes of her life, our lives.

We will speak it until the end.

How did we get here so fast? I wonder, as carrots, zucchini, onion and green beans simmer in the soup pot, my face hot in the steam, holding my tears in the corner of my eyes, blotting them before they fall. I am afraid if I let them go they won’t stop: tears for the women we once were, the women we are now, but mostly for what she’s going through, her disease picking up speed now. They can’t infuse bags of blood and platelets fast enough to keep up with it. I can’t infuse food fast enough, either.

I didn’t draw a lucky family card and longed for the kind of sister mine would never be. I was 33 when I got someone better, this sister-friend who is now dying.

Who can explain the alchemy of sisterhood, when masks drop away and souls connect? How is it that we can have it with one and not another? What will I do when she is gone?

We’ve sat together at many tables, for meals, for cocktails, pouring wine and pouring out our souls. Now, she insists on rolling her walker to the dinner table and sitting for as long as her disease will let her, even if it’s just minutes.

Through onion tears I can barely see the knife move on the cutting board. If I’m not careful I could slice my finger and I almost want to, to feel something other than gut-wrenching sorrow.

Endings have never been my strength; I’ve always kept people in my life long after the relationship had wilted around the edges. But this one stayed fresh through each stage of our lives, though we had little in common, nothing obvious, anyway.

I grab seasonings from my rack. She’s always loved her food spicy, but now it takes more than simple spices to tempt her palate. I double my usual measured spoonfuls and add oregano and seasoned pepper to the waiting stock pot, and then, hot pepper.

When we met she was a stay-at-home wife of a prosperous executive and mother of two. Divorced twice and childless, I was trying desperately to find a job in a new city, new state and new industry. Her long, graceful fingers sparkled with diamonds and gold, while my one solitaire sat in a drawer, a symbol of my failure. Her friends were all ladies who lunched and I was a woman with a briefcase and a 1980s business suit.

But we “got” each other instantly. Maybe it was because we shared Italian heritage, maybe because we were both transplanted Californians from the northeast. I can’t explain it, and really, it’s not important. What’s important is that we connected. It stuck, too. Our bond would carry us more than 30 years, through love affairs, divorces and remarriage; through new jobs and graduations; through earthquakes, dinners in Italy and wine drunk in in Napa. And through secrets, shared and unshared.
Later, it carried us through ambulance rides to the emergency room, three different wheelchairs, two walkers, stints in the intensive care unit; through chemotherapy, opportunistic infections and then, through celebrations of miraculous rallies. Now, though, in a final test, it’s carrying us through her death.

That 30-year span of friendship was unfathomable when we met, but now, as the end is foreshadowed, I’m startled at how quickly the days have passed and are still speeding by, way too fast. I want to stop time, freeze it in place, keep her with me. I can not fathom the world otherwise.

I hold on to the cutting board as if I were holding on to her life, chopping furiously, furious at the loss that is to come, each chop a No!, half pleading and half demand.

Broth is simmering on the stove, waiting for me to add the last cup of her favorite vegetables. She’ll have the soup for dinner tonight, served hot, not lukewarm. She hates her food lukewarm.

I scoop bright green florets of broccolini into the water, add seasoning and cook.

Carol A. Cassara is a writer whose essays have appeared in Skirt!, the Christian Science Monitor, Blood and Thunder literary magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, on KQED public radio, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books and other publications and anthologies.

Marilyn inspired this business, A Healing Spirit. You can read her story on the home page and you can buy the wonderful grief and healing toolkits to help support loved ones who might need a lift.

You can buy the book and read everyone else’s essays at this affiliate link.

Check out the best afterlife reading list

Check out the best afterlife reading list

afterlife-reading-listSo this is what I consider the best afterlife reading list. People who know even a little about me know that I am a believer in the afterlife, but not in a traditional sense. We all want to know, right? But we don’t want to die to find out. So we’re not dying to know and we won’t know for sure until we die.

Or almost die.

Still…there’s plenty of scientific evidence and even more anecdotal evidence. So from time to time I’m asked, ” what should I read if I want to get up to speed on the latest afterlife evidence,?”

This list contains some of my favorites. It isn’t definitive, but it certainly gives a really good overview of what’s being done by the major figures in afterlife studies. All of the titles are live links.

The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death by Gary Schwartz, PhD

The G.O.D Experiments: How Science is Discovering God in Everything, Including Us also by Gary Schwartz, PhD

Gary’s a big deal. His studies are scientifically rigorous and his results are mind-blowing. I’ve seen him many times at conferences and symposia and let me tell you, he goes over his scientific method in detail in those loooong presentations. The books aren’t quite so dense! Anything he’s written is worth reading, these are just two of them.

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander MD

I really believe certain people are called, usually doctors, because they have that medical credibility going for them. There are at least two docs who had near-death experiences and wrote about them.  Here’s one. Yes, there have been attacks on Dr. Alexander’s credibility. However, his story is worth reading.

The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming our Fear of Death by Julia Assante, PhD

I’ve seen Julia a few times, too. This is a pretty comprehensive book and one of my favorites.

The Afterlife Unveiled: What the Dead are Telling Us About Their World by Stafford Betty, PhD

Dr. Betty is a riveting speaker and his book is super-intriguing.

Wolf’s Message by Suzanne Giesemann

It’s riveting. But anything Suzanne writes is riveting because she has so much credibility. She is a former Navy Commander and aide to the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is now a medium. Yes, you read that right. I’ve seen her a few times and I love her! Anything she writes is worth reading.

A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife by Victor Zammit.  

I’ve met Victor and he and his wife, Wendy, are amazing. The link takes you to a free PDF of his book. Free because he believes that strongly and wants to get the message out.

I’m Not Dead, I’m Different by Hollister Rand


Hollister has read for me many times. This is probably the easiest to read and best written of any of the books–and it’s not just about kids, actually. Even though that’s how she titles it. It’s a tremendously good overview of the afterlife and what souls are all about.

I suggest you look at the book reviews online and sample pages to see what appeals to you most. They’re all excellent; what you might like is an individual thing.

I just read this post about the best afterlife reading list again as I prepare to schedule it and I realize just how deep my own study of this subject has been and how many of these people I have seen and heard speak. And of course, I’ve read all of the books. If you have any curiosity at all, I hope you’ll pick one or two up. Be prepared to, well, just be prepared!