Q: My father passed away on Jan. 14, seven months after being diagnosed with glioblastoma. In his final weeks, he was unable to communicate with us. I desperately would love a clear sign from him like you received from your friend, Father Tom Hartman. In what manner did you receive the message? Any advice on how I can get a message or sign from my father? Our hearts are broken and we are sad every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Thank you for your time. -- From J
A: Dearest J, I wish I had a way to produce a sign from your dear father but I do not. Such signs and communications from the dead are beyond my pay grade. What I do know is that many of the people who offer their services as mediums and spiritual conduits between the world of the living and the World To Come are frauds and con artists. I don’t mean to be harsh or judgmental (well, yes I do), but preying on grieving people by inventing some cooked-up fantasy message is to my mind an act of cruelty and fraud.
I saw a so-called psychic give a room full of grieving Italian-Americans the following message: “I am getting a message from Maria. Does anyone here know a Maria?” Every hand in the room shot up. This is pathetic and it gives people who are already suspicious of religion good evidence that faith is a fantasy.
However, this does not mean that all communications and signs from the other side are false. Tommy was a believer that such communications were often real and often helpful. So when Tommy was dying, but still lucid, I asked him to send me “a totally unambiguous sign” that Heaven was real (which I already believed) and that communications between heaven and earth was possible. He agreed. Two years after his death in February of 2016, Tommy delivered the sign you refer to in your question that I wrote about.
Basically, this was the sign: Tommy’s spirit appeared to our friend Mike while he was shaving on the day when we were going to have lunch. The spirit said to him, “So, you are going to have lunch today with my best friend Marc. When you see him give him this message from me, “Sol thinks he is in charge of Heaven and heaven is the most beautiful place you have ever seen.” At lunch Mike asked me right away, “Who is Sol?” I was confused and surprised but after Mike explained the story of his morning shaving experience with the spirit of Father Tom Hartman, I understood everything. I said to Mike, “Sol is my dead father who died in 2009.” Mike and I had never spoken about my father. Mike did not know the name of my father, but Tommy did. There was no way Mike could have known Sol’s name. Mike was not a phony psychic. Mike was our friend who had introduced us to each other. Mike was the conduit for the unambiguous sign I had asked of Tommy and that he had finally delivered. There is simply no other way to interpret what happened to me and to Mike that day eating chicken salad at the Celebrity Diner.
So you ask me how this can happen for you and I wish I knew, but I do not know. All I can say is that it is possible. The barrier between life and death can be penetrated, but it probably cannot happen because you pay somebody to make the call. I also learned from my chicken salad "theophany" that you cannot stop your mourning waiting for a sign. You must move on with your grief work. You must accept the finality of death. You must accept your searing pain as a measure of the love you had for your father. That pain is proof of your love. That acceptance is the final stage of mourning.
However, I think it is fine for you to keep your eyes open for strange signs that your father’s soul is close to you and watching over you. Most of the messages I have heard from readers come down to this, “I love you. I am fine. Heaven is beautiful.” That’s basically what Tommy said to me through Mike.
Except one thing. Recently, Tommy sent me a message directly, “You have mourned me enough. Get off your butt and get back to work.” I immediately made some chicken salad.
Send me your signs.
God bless us one and all.
(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at email@example.com. Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)
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