Halloween Haunts: I Hear Dead People: Communicating with My Father (and Others) in Spirit by Valerie E. Weich
My father was a Halloween baby—born on All Hallow’s Eve 1934. So Halloween was extra special in our household—Dad’s birthday and Trick-or-treating. Talk about your sugar high! As a smartass teenager, I used to tell Pop he was a trick instead of a treat. He had no snappy comeback for that one. Our church’s All Hallow’s Eve celebrations for the kids doubled as my father’s annual birthday party. No doubt he would rather have been partying somewhere else.
But the party ended on July 2, 2016 when Stage four lung cancer claimed my father. It’s an ugly way to die—the cancer eating through bone like termites munching through wood, compressing the discs in his spine and breaking ribs. The cancer spread everywhere, except to his brain.
My brother saw him two weeks before he died and said Pop looked like “hammered shit.” I planned to go home, too, to say goodbye to him before he passed. I had the plane tickets and was scheduled to arrive on July 5. “Don’t expect any Hallmark moments,” my brother warned me. “He’s on morphine.” Mom kept whispering in his ear to hang on, that I was on my way.
But Pop beat me to the punch. He checked out three days before I arrived. I never got to say goodbye. Instead, I wound up attending his funeral. And yes, I felt guilty that I didn’t make it in time. I chose not to view his body, but rather to remember him as he was before the cancer ate him alive.
Ours was a difficult relationship, yet his death hit me in a way I did not anticipate.
Understand I loved my father, in spite of—In spite of the fact that his personal demons tormented him for a lifetime and never let go. In spite of the alcoholism that ruled his life and so ruled ours until I moved away, far away, from home. In spite of him being a mean drunk who came home at night screaming obscenities at my mother or at me. (There was much more, but you get the general idea.) Many years passed before I understood there was a wounded, beaten child beneath all that rage, seething with pain, bitterness and despair.
So the depression I experienced following Pop’s death surprised me. I always imagined I would feel immense relief when he died, but that was not the case. His death dredged up too many painful memories. Yet I managed to stand in the pulpit at church during his memorial service and say only kind things. Wasn’t it some ancient Greek philosopher who said, “De mortuis nil nisi bonum” (“Of the dead say nothing but good”)?
Work helped me cope to an extent, but I sank deeper into depression before seeking out the help of a spiritual life coach. And then I met Diane Burton, a medium, in October 2018.
I should mention that I have long been on the clairaudient side myself, having received messages from Spirit sporadically over the years. I’ve even had other psychics and mediums in years past tell me I had a gift and I should develop it. But other than knowing Pop attended his own funeral, I couldn’t get a message. My vibrational level was not high enough, not attuned enough, because I was too quagmired in my own grief. I booked an appointment.
The first time I met with Diane, she was new to mediumship and wanted to practice. She was nervous, unsure of whether she could deliver. “No pressure,” I said. “Whatever happens happens.”
A pumpkin—a jack-o’-lantern—was the first image she received. She had no idea what
it signified, but I sure did. She had Pop on the line! She provided specific names like Gordon, who was my father’s co-worker and friend for over 50 years, as well as names of people from my old neighborhood in Virginia. Yes. It was Pop, no doubt. Now maybe I could have my Hallmark moment. He would acknowledge all the shitty things he did and tell me he was sorry.
Instead, the first thing he said (through Diane) was, “She turned out fine in spite of me!”
“Sounds like he’s being defensive,” I said.
Diane continued: “He said he did his best. Based on his upbringing, his parents and what he dealt with growing up, he did his best. You can focus on that he did his best, or you can focus on blame. Where you focus is where your life is going to go. If you focus on his best, that will be your best road.”
Pop acknowledged he was at his funeral/memorial service and said he was surprised by how many people showed up. I told him I was, too, considering how he behaved. He thanked me for what I said about him, the memories I shared, during the service. “You made it sound so much better than it really was.”
The tears rolled down my cheeks.
He said I taught him some good lessons.
“Like what?” I asked.
Diane received the name Suzi. I told her this was the family friend who was with him when he died. “Suzi told me at Pop’s funeral that she sang him into heaven,” I said.
“It was her singing that made me leave!” was Pop’s response.
Diane and I laughed. Definitely my dad’s sense of humor. He explained he waited until
Mom left the house (to run some errands) and then decided to leave because he wanted to make
his passing easier for her.
“Is that why you left before I came home?” I asked. “To make it easier on me?”
He complimented me for working on my novel. “It’s about time! You should have done
this a long time ago. You have the talent. Keep going and don’t ever go back.”
Afterward, I explained the jack-o’-lantern to Diane, what it symbolized and the significance Halloween plays in my family. The session with her was all I hoped for and more. It gave me peace and comfort, and it removed the crushing sense of guilt I had carried for over two years. And—the best part—it opened me up to receiving direct messages from Pop. Granted, much of what I heard was about checking the oil in my car and calling my mom, but that was okay. I knew he was with me and we were connected.
Six months later, when Diane and I met again in April 2019, Dad’s demeanor was less defensive and more contrite. When he came through this time, he said, “I can’t believe I was such an ASSHOLE!”
Diane and I shared a laugh.
“It’s good to hear you finally admit it, Pop!”
He said he had “a lot of making up to do” and expressed concern about Mom. He also said I was much further along the spiritual path than he was. “Even though you’re ‘down there’ and I’m ‘up here,’ I have a lot to learn. A lot of catching up to do.”
He saw a children’s book in my future and told me, “When you get to the next level of your dreams coming true, you will remain humble.” I thanked him for coming through.
That month I also joined the HWA. In May, I was accepted into the HWA Mentor Program and paired with J.D. Barker, for which I am eternally grateful. Thanks to this amazing HWA program and J.D.’s generosity, I learned how to edit and shape a novel. I also wrote an article about Lord Byron, Dr. John William Polidori and the 200th anniversary of The Vampyre for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND.
A few months later, Pop visited me one night at 1:00 a.m. I flashed back to Dad’s
memorial service and received images of movies, books and music he shared with me when I
was younger. I cried, but I knew the tears were really coming from my father. I could sense him leaning over me, the tears running down his cheeks onto mine. This was his reminder to focus on the positive things he had shared with me rather than the negative.
My third session with Diane in August brought an even bigger surprise. Yes, Dad came through to say he was learning more on The Other Side. Diane noted his photos had a higher vibration than before. He said he liked the way I was communicating with him more at home, and to let Mom know he visited her, too, so she wouldn’t be alone. (I noticed I sensed my father’s presence mainly in the kitchen when I was washing dishes, which makes sense since Spirit energy manifests best through water. I also knew he was hanging around when my cat, Dharma, wedged herself between two cabinets, looked up and chattered away, making sounds I had never heard from her before.)
The second Spirit was most unexpected, and yet, I knew someone had been hanging out with me for years, inspiring me to write my in-progress novel. From the time I started writing it, I could feel a presence hovering over me, their energy pressing against me, while the words dropped in at such a rapid rate, it felt at times like I was taking dictation. I could even see the story as a movie in my head. Diane said I had received a “download” from Spirit.
Our Spirit guest announced himself with, “I’m famous!”
Turns out my ghostly roommate all this time was, well, Lord Byron. (Yeah, I know how crazy that sounds.) What was Lord Byron doing hanging out with me? I asked if I had been part of his group at Lake Geneva. Yes. And this was his way of making up for what he did to me in that lifetime. He wanted to confirm it was him all along. And he was here to chastise me with,
“You’re slowing me down. Now get to writing!”
I continued receiving direct communication from my father, including a message that Jesse (my 15-year-old cat) was about to leave my life. Sure enough, in September he presented with a thyroid condition (which was treatable), followed later by kidney failure (which was not). I put him to sleep in December 2019. On another occasion, Pop shouted at me (not in a bad way), saying I should stop speaking to a particular neighbor immediately. He said I was allowing her to take up too much of my time and energy, which was true.
The Spirit connection I have with my father has been an incredible blessing. It has allowed us both to heal from anger, resentment and trauma, which in turn, allows for ancestral healing—like a ripple effect spreading outward, except backward in time. As a Spiritualist, I believe we choose our parents and siblings before we incarnate to work on our soul growth, past life karma, or a combination thereof. And I have no doubt that Pop and I lived previous lives together, especially in medieval England during the period of the King Henrys (IV and V) and the King Richards (II and III).
So here we are again, still learning from each other after hundreds of years and countless lifetimes. One thing I discovered from my sessions with my father is learning never ends. Even after we “die,” we transition back to pure energy, return to Source and continue learning and evolving.
It has taught me much about forgiveness, letting go, acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. Most important, it has taught me much about unconditional love.
I heard someone in Spirit say to me, “Choose love, choose love, always choose love.”
Speaking of which, I’d like to tell you about my visitation from the spirit of Leonard
Nimoy. He’s been hanging out with me for six months now with a message for a certain
someone, but that story will have to wait for another time!
Valerie E. Weich, a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), was a Bram Stoker Award® finalist in the category of Superior Achievement in Short Non-Fiction in 2020. She was also a nominee for a Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award. Her article, “Lord Byron’s Whipping Boy: Dr. John William Polidori and the 200th Anniversary of THE VAMPYRE,” appeared in FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND (#291), October 2019. She is currently seeking representation for her debut novel.