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1. What types of cases did you investigate as a private investigator—before you began investigating life after death?
When I was a private eye, I began my career investigating domestic cases where I followed people around who might be cheating on their spouses. I also worked undercover investigating employee pilferage cases. From there I moved on to criminal cases where I investigated major crimes, including murder cases. In these investigations, I was hired by the alleged criminals' defense attorneys because, of course, the police were investigating the crimes in order to put these people behind bars. Finally, I eventually settled on investigating personal injury and worker's compensation cases for plaintiff attorneys. For example, I investigated many cases for a personal injury attorney from Boston who filed lawsuits against manufacturers of dangerous toys that crippled or killed children. Aside from compensating the families for the negligence, these cases often helped to get dangerous toys taken off the market or altered to make them safer.
2. You were once a skeptic. What prompted you to begin investigating the afterlife?
My father died in 1997, and for the first time in my life I wondered what happens when we die. This was probably prompted by my age (mid-thirties), but also something interesting happened as my father was dying that made think there might be more to life and death than I realized.
I'll never forget the scene. My mother, sister, wife and I were surrounding my father's hospital bed and holding him tightly as the doctor removed the breathing tube that was keeping him alive. For ten minutes, we watched as he took his last few breaths and listened as the monitors signaled his vital signs with a beeping that slowed in rhythm. At one point, my mother burst into a panicked wailing of tears at the realization that her life-long best friend was leaving her, and the monitor's beeping then escalated as if to say, "I'm sorry honey, I will try to stay for you a little longer."
Upon realizing that my father was hanging on for her sake, my mother gained control of herself and the beeping slowed once again. Then she did this two more times, and my father attempted to hang on with each fit of tears. After my mother calmed down the third time, my father’s face lost all color and the beeping came to a stop. And it was this surreal experience that got me wondering where my father went upon his passing, if anywhere.
3. What evidence exists to suggest that there is life after death?
There's quite a bit of evidence. We have what we learn from mediums who can tell us details about people in spirit that these mediums could never simply guess. We have testimony of people who have had near-death experiences. These are people who technically died for a few seconds or minutes and had experiences during death that they say took them into the spirit world. We also have experiences from people who have been regressed using hypnotism and have visited the "life between lives" during their regression. And we have a wide variety of experiences that are known as after-death communications. These experiences run the gamut from dying people seeing their loved ones in spirit before they die, children seeing visions of their deceased relatives (sometimes these are relatives who died before the child was born), and people being visited by their loved ones in spirit in their dreams.
There's a lot more than I can explain to you briefly here, but those are some of the most compelling evidence that exists.
4. You write that no one will ever “prove” that the afterlife exists, why is that?
Most people erroneously use the word ‘prove’ when talking about the afterlife. The correct word to use is ‘evidence.’ No one is ever going to prove the afterlife exists to everyone because proof is subjective. This is why we could have two juries look at the same evidence of an alleged criminal, and one jury could say the man is guilty while the other jury could say he is innocent. Because proof is subjective, we can show the same evidence but get two opposite verdicts.
Evidence, on the other hand, is objective. If we have a video of the alleged criminal committing a crime or the gun that shot the victim with the alleged criminal’s fingerprints on it, that video and gun are impartial evidence. No one can protest otherwise.
Notwithstanding the objective nature of evidence, however, the degree of weight each piece of evidence holds is also subjective. Said another way, deciding whether the evidence is compelling enough to lead one to believe it’s proof is an individual choice. I might suspect that the video had been altered in order to frame the alleged criminal on trial (thereby providing little or no weight as evidence), while someone else could believe that the video was unaltered and, therefore, compelling enough to equal proof (to them) that the person on trial committed the crime.
Since evidence is objective and proof is subjective, no one will ever prove to the masses that an afterlife exists. You can show some people the evidence and they might conclude that the evidence equals proof to them, but there will always be just as many people who are unconvinced by that same evidence.
5. What signals might our deceased loved ones be trying to send us from the
There are multiple signals or signs that spirits send to their loved ones here on the physical plane, which are known as after-death communications or ADCs. I’ll mention some of the most common ADCs.
Smelling a fragrance is a common after-death communication. If you’ve ever been in a room and the scent of your late father’s cologne suddenly fills the room, it’s probably an ADC if there’s no logical reason for smelling it. You might smell the scent of your deceased grandfather’s pipe or the scent of banana bread, which might remind you of your late aunt. The point of the scented ADC is that there is no logical way to account for the smell so that you know it’s a signal from your deceased loved one that she is present.
Some people have actually seen visions of their loved one in spirit. The most common vision occurs when people wake up from sleep (or are falling off to sleep). This somber state of mind (like a deep meditation) is the best time for us to be able to see a spirit. Visions, however, don’t have to take place in the bedroom or when you’re half asleep. One young man told me that he saw the apparition of his sister standing beside the gravestone at her burial. Other folks have seen them in different rooms of their home or even while driving their car. The key is to not get frightened. There is nothing scary in this situation. In fact, it’s quite a beautiful sacred experience. Seeing a vision of your departed loved one is just their way of saying hello.
The next best thing to actually seeing a vision of your loved one is having them show up to say hello in your dream, which I discussed earlier. This too is an after-death communication and a wonderful gift to receive.
Many people say they’ve heard their loved one’s voice. In most cases, they heard their loved one in spirit calling their name. In these ADCs, people are not always physically hearing the voice with their ears but rather are hearing the voice in their mind (telepathically). Either way, it’s a sign that your loved one is present.
In a similar way, lots of people claim to have felt the touch of their deceased loved one. Some say they felt it as a slight brush of their hand, a caressing touch on their neck, or even a kiss on the cheek. Others have felt an outright hug.
Possibly the most commonly reported after-death communication is when people feel the presence of their departed loved one. You don’t see them or hear them, but you feel their presence—you just know they are in the room.
6. Why would people in spirit want to contact us?
People in spirit want us to know that they are okay (they are happy, healthy and safe), they still exist but in a different dimension, and they are watching over us. It's that simple.
7. Do people in spirit attend their own funerals?
Yes, people in spirit attend their own funerals, but probably not for the reasons that most people would assume. Spirits are primarily interested in helping their loved ones who are grieving. They want to ease their loved ones’ feelings of loss and heartache. And they want to make their presence felt, if possible, so the bereaved know they are still around them.
People in spirit also attend their own funerals (and memorial services) because they feel the love that those in attendance radiate for them. Since the most important quality of life is love, it increases a spirit’s vibration to feel the love being expressed at such services, which helps them with their own spiritual evolvement.
8. Can our loved ones in the afterlife see everything we do—even in the shower and
Yes, our loved ones can see everything we do, even in the bathroom and bedroom. But they have no interests of a physical nature now that they are in spirit, and they are fully respectful of our privacy. Keep in mind that people in spirit have about as much interest in watching you run around naked as you do watching your cat or dog run around naked—in other words, none. They no longer have any attachment to the flesh.
9. Is there any evidence for past lives and reincarnation?
The most compelling evidence we have for reincarnation and past lives is from past-life regressions and past-life memories.
The first evidence we have for past lives (and, therefore, reincarnation) is past-life regression. I put this evidence first because anyone can experience a past-life regression. A past-life regression is when a person is guided into a meditative state of mind with verbal imagery and then experiences a past life through hypnotic suggestion.
Hypnotic suggestion, however, only suggests the direction to take your focus without offering any details of what that experience will be like. For example, the hypnotic regressionist might suggest that a person “remember their most recent past life.” The key is that the regressionist is not making any suggestions of what that most recent past life looks like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like, or feels like. The hypnotic suggestion is merely the vehicle that steers them to that past-life memory by suggesting the person go there.
I have experienced past-life regressions myself. These are some of the most eye-opening, life-changing experiences of my life.
The second evidence for past lives is past-life memory. Past-life memory is when a person recalls memories of a past life, meaning that they remember details about the past life as if they were remembering what happened to them yesterday.
This is more common with children than adults because we tend to forget our past-life memories as we get older. The theory is that children recall their past lives more often than adults because they have only been away from the spirit world a short time—the veil between the spiritual realm and the physical realm is thinner. It seems that the older we get, the more we forget.
10. What’s a near-death experience, and what do NDEs teach us about the afterlife?
A near-death experience is when a person dies for a brief time (a few seconds to a few minutes) and then comes back to life. During this brief period of death, from the person’s perspective, he leaves his body, views it from above, and then moves toward (and often into) the light of the spirit world. At this point, he is greeted by deceased loved ones or other spiritual beings with whom he will review his life and recognize the lessons from it. Soon, he is told he must go back to his physical life, at which point he finds himself back in his physical body. In many cases, information that the person obtained while out of their body has been confirmed—for instance, what doctors said or did in the emergency room—that the person lying dead could never have known otherwise.
Near-death experiences don't teach us everything about the afterlife, but they sure do give us some clues as to what it's like there. Most people who have had this experience will tell you that life after death is peaceful, joyful, safe, and loving. We also learn that we can be, do, and have anything we want in the spirit world. Even more, we learn that we tend to get what we expect there; so if you expect that you might be going to hell, that might certainly be your experience, at least temporarily until you realize you can change your experience by changing your thoughts. It's just one more great reason to learn about the afterlife while we're still alive. And reading about people's near-death experiences is one great way to do this.
Bob Olson is a former skeptic and a private investigator who has been uncovering evidence of life after death for the past 15 years. His expertise in this field led him to create BestPsychicMediums.com,BestPsychicDirector.com, and AfterLifeTV.com. He also has a course for mediums at PsychicMediumWorkshop.com. His new book is Answers about the Afterlife: A Private Investigator's 15-Year Research Unlocks the Mysteries of Life after Death (Building Bridges Press, 2014).