Closer Than You Think: A Q&A with Author Deborah Heneghan

Closer Than You Think, a new book by Deborah Heneghan, is a guidebook of sorts for communicating with loved ones who have passed away.  Heneghan lost her sister when she was only 15 years old, and has had on-going communication with her ever since.  In fact, it was her deceased sister who prompted her to write this book, she says.

Heneghan answered a few questions for us about who she wrote this book for, and what she hopes people take away from it.

Why write a book like this?

Because we are all going to experience the death of a loved one at some point or another.  It’s inevitable, and yet the majority of the world cringes just from the word death.  The majority of the world denies the pain they feel from their loss; they bury their feelings and turn away because the pain is too hard to handle.  Burying your feelings only hurt you in the long run; it holds you back and pulls you down.  The emotions from your loss will come out in some form (drama, health issues, etc.), and the longer you hold them back, the stronger they’ll get.  My book was 100% divinely guided and inspired by my sister who passed away over 25 years ago.  I want everyone to understand the beauty, peace, comfort and love from spiritual connections, just like the connection I have with my sister.  I also wrote this book because as I’ve been helping people through the grieving process for a few years now, I’ve identified core fundamentals that indeed work to turn your pain into peace and to conquer (any) challenges in life.  It’s important to understand ways in which to work through painful situations; this book covers it all and provides great advice and guidance for anyone.

In the book you cover core fundamentals for working through grief and living a more fulfilled life; what are some of those fundamentals and where did they come from?

All of the fundamentals came from my own experiences and how I’ve been able to work through challenges in my life.  These fundamentals are also the tools I use with my clients to help them through their challenging situations.  Two that I like to highlight are key (although they are all key), but the 2 I want to mention are acceptance and love.  We all must accept ourselves for who we are, what we do, what we have or don’t have.  Accept ourselves for ourselves and love ourselves just the way we are.  If we can’t accept and love ourselves 100% truly and fully, then we will always be challenged with feeling, healing and living life to our highest potential.  It’s the hardest thing we’ll ever do, but we must learn to accept and love ourselves.  What’s important to understand is we all have what we need already inside us to feel fulfilled in life.  There isn’t anyone or anything external to us that can fulfill us.  If you are looking for something outside of you to feel accepted, or to find approval, or to find love, you will always be looking.  We must love ourselves and look within for fulfillment and the rest will just fall in to place.  We already have what we need within us to live a very fulfilled life.

Who is this book intended for and why?

Absolutely everyone.  We will all lose a loved one at some point or another.  We cannot avoid this loss, so I want to help people work through the pain, embrace the experience and understand how they can turn their pain into a positive healing energy that helps them continue forward with their life in the healthiest manner possible.

Death is very difficult to accept for nearly everyone, how can someone come to see the blessings and gifts (i.e. the positive side) from death?

It’s extremely difficult to see blessings and gifts in any painful experience.  The first step is to feel your pain, be in it, find an outlet for each emotion that surfaces, and as you begin to release some of those emotions and that painful energy weighing you down, you will feel relief.  When you begin to feel some type of relief, only then may you be able to see beyond the surface of pain and into the blessings that are within each experience.  There are indeed gifts and blessings in every experience – even if that gift is growth for you as an individual person.  Always remember that everything happens for a reason.  Every ‘single’ experience is a stepping-stone for what’s coming next in life.

One of the most beautiful gifts from my sister’s passing is the connection we have and the fact that she is my cheering section on the other side.  She provides me strength when I am weak; she provides me courage when I’m up against a fear; she sends me an invisible hug when I’m overwhelmed and stressed; she has helped me to realize my own gifts and talents and strengths and I’m forever grateful.  What a gift. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for her on the other side cheering me along. It’s up to each of you to open your eyes and your hearts to see the gifts and blessings from each experience. Sometimes you may not realize the gift until years later; just be open to seeing it when the time is right.

What are some of the key items to consider as one works through the challenges of losing a loved one, or dealing with any situation in life?

To feel your emotions.  You cannot HEAL until you FEEL!  This is fact.  Find an outlet for each emotion that surfaces (cry if you are sad; punch a punching bag if you are angry; do whatever you need to do to release your emotions).  Do not bury your feelings; they will only come out later bigger and meaner than ever.  Deal with what comes up, when it comes up.  This is absolutely key to living the most fulfilled life possible.  If you do not FEEL and acknowledge your emotions from your painful experiences, you will never heal.

What is the first step or the most common ways people can communicate with loved ones on the other side?

I always tell my clients to just start talking with your loved one.  Talk to them out loud, inside your head, write them a letter – whatever feels comfortable to you, do it.  Just start talking and asking questions.  And be open to receiving answers or messages in any form or format.

What is the difference between subtle signs and rock star moments?

Subtle signs and synchronicities are those which may be a bit hard to recognize, or that may be experiences that you declare as coincidences.  Things like your loved one’s favorite song coming on as soon as you get in your car after a long, bad day; finding their favorite piece of jewelry in a very unusual place; receiving a call from someone who, out of the blue, tells you a story about your loved one; having a stranger do something nice for you or say something nice to you for no reason at all.  There are so many subtle signs, too many to even realize, but be open to seeing these small gifts because they are indeed plentiful and powerful.  As for rock star moments, these are the moments that can’t be denied: your loved one appears to you so you can actually see him/her; you hear your loved one’s voice speaking to you; your loved one comes to you in your dream and it’s very vivid.

No matter what kind of sign you receive, rock star or subtle, they are all beautiful and powerful in their own way.  I cherish each one because it was meant just for me.

Can everyone have a connection with their loved ones on the other side?

Yes, everyone can.  You do not need special powers or abilities to connect to loved ones.  I bet if I could ask everyone out there if they’ve ever felt their loved one since their loved one passed away, they would all answer yes.  In some small or big way, everyone has been touched by their loved one – whether it’s seeing their loved one in a dream; or whether they heard their loved one’s voice; heard their favorite song; smelled their scent – no matter what it was, everyone has had it happen to them.  And when this happens, the feeling that you received during that moment was indeed beautiful; very comforting, loving and warm in your heart.  This moment, this experience is what I call a spiritual connection.  Everyone has these connections; you either don’t realize it, you think it’s a coincidence, or you don’t know what to do with it.  It’s up to each individual to cherish your experience and leave it at that; or to cherish your experience and set the intention to have more connections.  You can take your spiritual connection with your loved wherever you wish to take it.  Always take what feels right to you.

Is it possible to miss signs or messages from our loved ones on the other side?

Yes, it’s very possible to miss signs, especially those who are overwhelmed with grief, sadness, depression, denial, guilt.  These types of emotions could cloud the messages that are already coming in.  Beliefs can also cloud messages because some people have a deep-rooted belief that they can’t (or maybe shouldn’t) be connecting with their loved ones.  Beliefs are a large part in whether you will receive messages or not, as are emotions. Be sure to settle and calm yourself and set the intention to be open to receiving messages and signs from your loved ones.  Also, be sure to understand your beliefs.  If you don’t believe you can/will receive messages, then you won’t.  Let go of the beliefs that no longer work for you.

What does faith have to do with having a spiritual connection with loved ones on the other side?

Faith has everything to do with having a connection.  If you don’t believe or have faith that you can receive a message or sign, then you won’t receive them.  It’s that simple.  You must have faith and believe something can occur before it will.  This is with anything in life.

How long after a person passes on do they typically visit those of us who remain here on earth?

This is different for everyone.  There is no set timeframe as to when it will happen.  It will happen when both parties are ready for it.  Sometimes our loved ones may not be ready to come back because they need to attend to items on the other side.  Sometimes those of us here on earth aren’t ready, so our loved ones respect this.

Is it possible to have a long-term connection with those who pass on, or is it typically something that only occurs shortly after he/she has passed?

Absolutely it is possible to have a connection forever, if you’d like.  I’ve had a connection with my sister for over 25 years.  Again, this is up to each individual.  Take what feels right to you.  If you want to remain connected with your loved ones long term, then make the intention to do so.  Reach out to them often and keep that connection open.  It’s different for everyone.  Please know, however, that there will be times when you don’t receive messages or the connection seems quiet.  This is normal, but it doesn’t mean that your loved one isn’t right beside you.

What percentage of people, in your experience, actually sees or hears their loved one from beyond?

It’s extremely high.  Most people are more comfortable to share their experience now vs. years ago.  The fact is, I believe everyone has at least one story to tell.  I’ve not met one person yet who doesn’t have some type of story to tell – whether it’s a rock star moment or a subtle sign.  The question isn’t around whether they’ve had an experience or not, it’s more around will they be open to share it or not.

If a person has a connection with their deceased loved one, are they holding that person’s soul back from the work they now need to do on the other side?

Absolutely not.  Our loved ones are free to visit and to leave when they wish.  If they are busy on the other side doing whatever they do, they will not come to visit at that time.  If they are not busy and we are open to connecting, then they will come.

About Deborah Arca

Deborah Arca is the Managing Editor of the Progressive Christian Portal and Book Club at Patheos.com.


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