Jena Kirkpatrick was hesitant to visit a medium after experiencing the death of her 19-year-old son, Ellis McClane, who died in a car accident in 2011. But five years after her loss, Jena decided to take a chance and scheduled an appointment.
“That’s something everyone wants for the people who have passed — to talk to them again,” says Kirkpatrick, who also works at Evermore coordinating communications and outreach.
However, Jena felt uncomfortable during her reading. She was keen to the medium’s overly zealous attempts to know her son, and she struggled to make connections between the medium’s messages and her personal experiences. At one point, the medium told her Ellis had become frustrated because she wasn’t catching the references in the messages he was sharing.
“It hurt my feelings,” says Kirkpatrick. “I let myself be vulnerable in the situation, and then I felt a little pissed off that the medium hurt my feelings because I didn’t understand his message. … I just wanted to hear that my kid loves me and he’s okay.”
Psychic mediums claim they can receive messages from the spirits of people who’ve passed on and can act as channels between those who have died and their surviving loved ones. This is why psychic mediums can be an attractive choice to aid in the grieving process. However, every psychic reading is a unique experience — some leave grieving loved ones in more pain and distress, while others provide a deep sense of spiritual connection.
For her part, Kirkpatrick was undeterred by her disappointing experience and decided to reach out to another medium, this time a friend who was beginning to share her clairvoyant gifts with others. To Kirkpatrick’s utter delight, this reading experience was much different.
“We did a couple of readings, and they were phenomenal,” says Jena. “It was much more positive. I felt like she was a lot more kind and empathetic and really took [the reading] in this beautiful and spiritual way.”
It was in this reading Jena finally received the message she had been yearning for — her son is always with her. Jena already had a strong sense that she was receiving messages from Ellis — she sees him in her dreams and often encounters butterflies while in nature — but now she had more reason to believe she really was hearing from her son regularly, in various ways.
“He said, ‘I can always be with you because I’m everywhere, Mom,’” says Jena. “I am always watching out for you, and when you hear me talking to you, it truly is what I’m saying.”
The permanency of losing a loved one can be one of the most perplexing parts of coping with death. It can be unfathomable to accept that you will never speak with your loved one again. This may be one reason why so many people choose to work with mediums after experiencing the death of a loved one, as suggested by research.
A 2012 study found that grieving parents reported finding support groups and psychics as the most helpful coping methods in their grief. The same study also found that about 30 percent of grieving parents received a reading from a psychic within the first four years of their child’s death.
Furthermore, a 2014 study revealed that grieving people experienced less intense grief after a psychic reading when compared to a visit with a mental health professional.
Barbara and Walt Szewcyzk visited multiple psychic mediums for readings following the death of their son, Alex Szewcyzk. Alex died by suicide five years ago in their home after years of struggling with his mental health and alcohol use.
Almost immediately after his death, Barbara began to feel as though Alex was still communicating with the family. As they gathered around the kitchen table to discuss funeral arrangements along with Walt’s sister, Barbara suddenly got the feeling that Alex was not a fan of the lavish service they were putting together. Moments later, Walt’s sister’s phone began randomly playing the popular ballad, “Hello” by Adele, even after being turned off.
Barbara took this as a sign from Alex, and soon after, she decided to see a psychic medium.
“I got there, and she started talking about Alex,” says Barbara. “She described his death, and she wouldn’t have known, she couldn’t have known. She gave me a lot of insight and I left there [feeling] pretty comforted.”
Barbara was able to find the confirmation she had been looking for — that Alex was always around her, watching over her.
As she watched her husband struggle with the death of their son, and in an attempt to aid her family through their grieving process, Barbara encouraged Walt to speak with the same medium that provided her initial reading. Walt told Barbara he would trust her, and she booked him an appointment.
“He said to me, ‘I just wish Alex had given me a letter. I just wish he had explained to me what was going on,’” Barbara says of a conversation she had with her husband shortly before his visit with the medium.
Much like Jena Kirkpatrick, Walt had his reservations. His religious upbringing and scientific training made him question the legitimacy of psychic readings. He also worried about the medium’s credibility and authenticity. But after finding himself lost after the death of his son, Walt decided to be open to the possibilities.
During his reading, the medium presented Walt with a letter written with words she channeled from Alex — the letter Walt had always wished he had received from his son after his passing.
“The experience with the medium blew my mind,” says Walt. “I felt wonderful after I left [the appointment]. It reinforced that something is here, and that led me to an organization called DOPS.”
DOPS, or the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia, is a “university-based research group devoted to the investigation of phenomena that challenge mainstream scientific paradigms regarding the nature of human consciousness,” according to their website. The research team at DOPS seeks to explore human experiences that may provide evidence that consciousness does survive a bodily death.
“When you tie that in — science with real life experience — you really find that there is something there,” says Walt. “Life does exist and there is a realm around us that we can’t see because of our physical limitations.”
To others curious about whether they should see a medium to connect with a loved one who’s passed on, Walt suggests really looking into the messages that the medium provides, not forcing yourself to make connections where they don’t exist, and being open to a new reality that may call into question your current convictions.
“These mediums — the genuine ones that can bridge that gap — can provide not just healing for those who are grieving, but a renewal of an individual’s consciousness and help them grow,” says Walt. “My grief has been transformed into an energy that drives me to be a better human being. One that I think is truly rooted in the message of Christ.”
Yanie Brewer is a psychic who visits with hundreds of people like Walt and Barbara as part of her work. She says she’s been able to see and hear the spiritual world since birth. At the age of three, Yanie was nearly legally blind. As a result, she could see more of the spiritual world than her own earthly reality. As she got older, it seemed only natural that she uses her intuitive gifts to help others.
“It’s very healing because, on the other side, people only tell the truth,” says Brewer. “It can be very healing for people to understand that their loved ones still have life on the other side.”
Yanie advises people not to let one “bad reading” ruin the opportunity to connect with a loved one. Andrew Witt, who also works as a psychic agrees, and recommends that people seek out multiple readers to find someone they can connect with.
Witt also stated that the quality of a reading can largely depend on the beliefs, expectations, and openness of those seeking answers. He added that it’s also important to work with the medium during the reading to get confirmation that the connection is happening with the spirit of the intended person.
“Nothing that comes from spirits is judgmental,” says Witt. “[The messages] are always very respectful and always very empowering. If [the reading] doesn’t meet those criteria, then that’s something that’s not the real deal.”
Working with a medium after the death of a loved one is a personal choice — one that should only be made when it feels right for you, and if you feel ready to try the experience. If you know friends who’ve worked with mediums, you might first ask them to refer you to someone they’ve had a positive experience with.
Before scheduling an appointment, check out the medium’s website or social media presence to explore whether you feel connected to the person. When you identify a medium that feels like a good match, go in with an open mind and heart.