The Other Side.

“Have you ever had a reading before?”


“Never before?”


“That’s exciting.”


I try to keep my tone upbeat, but I can hear the nervous tension in my voice as I say those words out loud. Fleur must hear it too, because she offers me a warm, reassuring smile.

“It’s not scary,” she promises. “Let me tell you a little bit about how it works.”


It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m seated across from her in a large, sun-filled living room. Even though the armchair she has offered me is plush and comfortable, I’m perched on its edge, the uncertainty about what’s to come rendering me unable to sit back or relax. Fleur is young (if I had to guess, I’d place her in her late twenties), and very pretty, with wide blue eyes and a delicate floral sundress to match. Her long twist of wavy golden brown hair is swept off her face and into a side ponytail. Her home is comfortable and decorated in minimalist California chic: no crystal ball, beaded curtains, or creepy talismans in sight. In other words, Fleur – and her home – are about as far away from the Hollywood stereotype of a psychic medium as you can get.

Yes, on the outside, everything looks pretty normal on this quiet Monday afternoon. What’s not normal is the reason I’ve come here: to make contact with the spirits of my dead relatives.

The day before my reading, butterflies swirling in my stomach, I texted a friend who’d seen Fleur a few months earlier. “Any advice?” I asked. What she proposed was simple, yet helpful: record the audio of the session on my iPhone so that I could refer to it later, come up with a list of questions that I wanted to ask, and – for me – the part that proved to be the most difficult: invite the people I wanted to see to show up.

It has been nearly four years since my mother’s death. My dad followed a few months after her, then my grandmother, and then, last fall, my grandfather. And in all that time – with rare, desperate exceptions – I have almost never tried to “talk” to them. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suppose it’s because doing so always made me feel awkward and silly. I never knew where to start, or what to say. But in truth, I think I have been holding back out of fear that it won’t work, that they’re not really out there, and that I’m just some foolish girl, sitting alone in a room, talking to myself.

Star Lantern

But the evening before my meeting with Fleur, I decided to try. I waited until it was very late at night, and then, extinguishing all the lights in my apartment, I switched on an ornate Indian lantern in the shape of a star, filling the space with a soft, turquoise glow. Using a wand of Nag Champa incense (my mom’s favorite), I lit a small, scented pillar candle, and, my eyes fixed on its persistent flame, I began to speak. At first, the words came slowly, haltingly. But as I sat in the kitchen, bathed in the lantern’s blue light, I suddenly remembered my parents’ house in Olympia at Christmastime, sitting in front of the tree with my mom, drinking wine in the dark and marveling at how twinkling lights and tinsel could make an ordinary evergreen seem like something made of magic. That feeling of calm and safety, of not needing to be anywhere else but right there, with her, was such a happy memory that I wondered how on earth I could have forgotten it. Tears formed in my eyes, emotion rose in my chest, and the words I hadn’t known how to say came tumbling out.

I don’t know where I stand on the idea of an “afterlife.” I don’t know what happens to people when they die. Fleur believes, as she told me before we began our reading, that the soul doesn’t depart when the physical body does, and that her job as a medium is to simply allow the spirits of those who have “crossed over” to “step forward and make a connection.”

Did that happen during our reading? I can’t say with absolute certainty. The skeptic in me will tell you that there’s plenty of personal information about me and my family readily available on the internet thanks to this blog, and that much of what Fleur conveyed to me during my time with her was rooted in common sense, the type of things that anyone who was grieving would want to hear. But the part of me that’s open to possibility and feels humbled by the mystery of all that we can’t explain can admit to you that there were details that came up during our session that arrested me. Private, painful details about my childhood and the months leading up to my mother’s death that I’ve never written down and that very few people – if any – know about. And I can also tell you that there were many, many moments during our fifty minute session that I sat watching Fleur, her closed eyelids fluttering as she described what she was feeling and seeing, that felt incredibly real to me. Moments like when she described my grandfather and the infectious sense of delight he brought to the world, causing us both to laugh out loud. “He’s really funny!” she beamed. “He is,” I agreed.

Mom and Grandpa

In the end, the thing that I had most been seeking from the session – a sense of peace and healing around my mother’s passing – was exactly what I received. As I sat in Fleur’s living room, she described a “feedback loop” of guilt and shame that I’d been stuck in, blaming myself for her death and reliving the events leading up to it over and over again in my mind, wondering what I could have done differently. “Your Mom wants you to stop doing that,” Fleur told me. “It is very important to her that you know that you could not have altered or changed what happened in any way. It was the path that she chose, and it’s not on you. You were the light of her life.”

When the session was over, not ready to go home and yet not ready to talk to anyone either, I drove to one of my favorite neighborhoods in L.A., Larchmont Village, and wandered the boulevard, losing myself among the hum of humanity in its sidewalk cafes and storefronts. Had my mother really communicated with Fleur, urging me to let my pain and regret go? And in the end, did it really matter? Whether Fleur could really speak with the dead or whether she was simply a kind, highly intuitive person who knew the words I most needed to hear, my heart told me what was true. In spite of her flaws and failings, my mother loved me more than anything and I know she wouldn’t want me to blame myself for her death. She’d want me to remember the parts of her that were about love, and let the rest go. She’d want me to allow myself to move on, and be happy.

It all sounds so simple as I type those words on the page: forgive myself and move on. I know the reality is much more difficult, much more complicated, just like my relationship with my mother was, just like love itself is. And yet – after Monday – I felt lighter somehow. The mere possibility that I might be able to let go of the weight I’ve been carrying these last few years filled me with a kind of hope I haven’t felt in a very long time. It’s the kind of hope that Dorothy must have felt when Glinda informed her, “You’ve always had the power my dear: you just had to learn it for yourself.” And armed with that hard-won knowledge, Dorothy bid farewell to the dear friends who had helped her on her dark and treacherous journey to the Emerald City, she tapped her ruby slippers together three times, and she went home.

Until next time, friends.

Me and Mom

P.S. * – If you’d like more information about Fleur, or are interested in booking a reading with her, visit:

I also recommend picking up Claire Bidwell Smith’s beautiful book After This, which contains a chapter about Fleur and is the reason that I discovered her.

*Please note: I received no monetary compensation for this post or for the information contained herein. I simply wanted to share my experience in case, like me, you are seeking peace and healing around the death of a loved one, and are open to exploring the mysteries of all the things we cannot know.

11 thoughts on “The Other Side.

  1. EDM—Thank you for beautifully sensitive look at the residual of emotions that continue to linger after a parent’s passing; particularly poignant are the reflections that persist in swirling around the brain when there have some challenges within the relationship. Thank you so much for sharing…XO DWD

  2. That photo image of you embracing your mother Sarah Kelley is very stunning’ to say the least of it’ radiating of love and beauty if I may say so’ as ‘non intrusively’ your smile is beaming a million galaxies of awesome stars. Beaming and awesome Sarah… how could possibly hold onto such self conviction and sadness when you have that image of you two embracing and together generating such beaming love and joy. You even felt a iota of love of which we feel over there’ you would high on that pure love for days.

    ‘As that’s what happened to me’ when a dear kindred friend passed, and I refused outright to embrace sadness of heart.

    ‘When we remember them in all the times shared of love, and do not allow for any sadness or pain or hurt to posses our spirit and heart. Then and only then can we only understand the awe and love of ‘over there. When we pass’ the very moment our body inters into the Plane of the earth, into the earth is when our body is lowered below that level plane of which we walk upon here. There is no decay’ not hurt’ no pain’ not sorrow’ even the light over there’ is not based upon a sun which is like our here within a process of dying.

    And so it is a pure light, a love so immense Sarah. And no pain to gaze upon such a light’ no pain or sadness what so ever over there, that is the first thing you will become very aware of over there.

    She is nothing of sadness Sarah’ when you embrace her in pure love then you will be fine.

  3. I too, had a reading with Fleur! She was able to connect with my mom who had passed away 4 1/2 years earlier. It was amazing-some of the details like the fact that my mom is around me often and that she like the new color of my bathroom wall. Totally specific stuff like that. It was healing to hear the outpouring of love and pride from her too. What a profound experience we have been both blessed to have had thanks to the lovely Fleur. And our mutual friend Claire😊

    • Hi Anne, Thanks for reaching out! Yes, we had very similar experiences! I can’t explain how it works or how she knew what she knew, I only know that I received something profoundly needed from my session with her. Claire is wonderful! Maybe someday she’ll introduce us! 😉 Are you in L.A.?

      • Hi Sarah,
        I am in Florida actually. I’ve been to Claire’s first grief retreat in Ojai and also the Story and Soul retreat there last February. Doe Bay in 2014. Have we crossed paths?! Strangely, Fleur mentioned something about a Sarah to me. I don’t know any Sarah’s or have any family but a cousin I don’t know. She said for me to just keep it in the back of my mind. Perhaps I was meant to find your blog-who knows!

      • Wow, Anne! When were you at Doe Bay? I was there in October of 2014, and then again in Oct 2015. I haven’t been to Story and Soul yet but I’m hoping to go to a future one. That’s so wild – I wonder if Fleur was talking about me!

      • I was at Doe Bay in April of 2014 right after I had attended Claire’s first grief retreat in Ojai that January. My mom had died in 2011 and my grief fully hit in 2013 but also found (by miracle I believe) Rules. Long story short, ended up at her grief retreat which helped immensely and at Doe Bay, where she was a presenter. That kicked off me pursuing my real dream of writing. I will do Story and Soul again too!! As for Fleur, she said a “Sarah and a baby” over and over. Email me if you like!! 😊

  4. I had a reading with Fleur in May, 2015, not to connect with my mother, but rather, my son. I have always believed in the ability to connect with the after life but I guess I never really knew, or understood, just what that meant. My son had only been gone for 11 months so my expectations were high, as were my nerves. As the mother of child loss, I had such a need for answers, of something that made sense, something to hold firmly to. I had taken my future daughter in law, my son’s fiancé, with me to the reading and as we sat on the edge of our chairs, we listened to 58 minutes of Fleur “discussing” things with my son. Thru tears and laughter, we were reminded of his very strong personality, his quick wit, and his huge heart. We both walked away feeling a great since of relief, I can’t put my finger on one specific thing that did it, but we both felt great. It wasn’t till 11 months later, when my mom passed that I realized the full effect this reading had on me. You see, it wasn’t one thing or even two, it was the whole thing. The feeling of knowing that my only child was ok. He was happy, warm, and not hungry. He was ok! I think back on this with such warmth and contentment and know, my healing began that day. I’d like to sit with her again someday and hear from mom, but for now I’m content just knowing he’s ok. Sandy

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