Celebrating Day of the Dead by connecting with the departed

Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to The Aspen Times

While I’ve had my own encounters with deceased loved ones, I hadn’t considered consulting a medium to receive messages. But, for the upcoming Day of the Dead, I thought it might be fun to see what would “come through.”

I didn’t know what to expect when Cheryl Murphy — a psychic and medium who recently moved from Colorado to California but still offers classes on developing intuition in Carbondale every summer — started my reading last Thursday. I didn’t say a word or ask any questions, other than the usual general greeting and request to record the Zoom session.

Intuitive, medium, and psychic Cheryl Murphy.
Courtesy photo

Immediately, she began talking about a man around my age, “a colleague … who you spent time with outside of work; you knew him really well … he was funny,” liked to drink and “had music around him,” was a good storyteller, lived far from his family, and had been at the same company for a long time. This man also mentioned I used to wear a lot of sparkly jewelry, “but not so much anymore” (which is phrasing he’d use). Without any validation or information from me, she also accurately told me how he died.

It could only be one person: Dan, who worked at The Aspen Times, Aspen Skiing Company, and a few other Swift papers and ski resorts, including Beaver Creek and Breckenridge. He talked about how “everybody” knew him and how he loved writing (even though he didn’t predominantly work as a writer at The Aspen Times, Vail Daily, or Summit Daily). And, though it’d be uncharacteristic for the formerly embodied Dan to describe writing as “a very soulful experience” as Murphy termed it, when he was alive, he did describe our time pumping out the Summit Daily’s weekly A&E sections as creating “our baby” (I was the A&E editor well over a dozen years ago, and he laid out the sections), so maybe he’s getting a little more touchy feely on the “other side,” using more soulful words.

Regardless, Murphy was spot on about details she couldn’t have possibly known otherwise, including specific messages to me about where to focus next in my own life and messages Dan wanted to give me.

While I will keep some of the deeper details private, as it’s his life, too, and I can’t run this story past my departed, former copy editor for his red-pen deletions, overall he seemed to want me and a few others to know that he’s “trying to walk the straight and narrow” and asking for forgiveness from anyone he hurt. He thanked me and other people for “doing favors” for him and wants us to know he’s “not lonely and he’s not cold,” so “please don’t shed a tear for me.” As he himself wrote in his obituary (OK, it’s a little weird, but he was a newspaperman): “Dan was here for a good time, not a long time; so don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” His obit ended with a quote by Maynard James Keenan: “Recognize this as a holy gift, and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing … Embrace this moment, remember: We are eternal — all this pain is an illusion.”

Though Murphy hasn’t read his obit, she adds that fear is also an illusion. She said, “The real power is love,” that we are “moving toward a heart intelligence world. … Everything is pure love in the spirit world; man makes his own hell; if you create a lower vibration, you attract a lower vibration.”

As a result, she encourages people to increase their vibration through practices like forgiveness, compassion, love, and meditation. She tells skeptics to ask questions like “what if” and “could it be” and gain their own experience to develop a belief system or trust in the spirit world.

She says anyone can communicate with their departed loved ones, though she specifically raises her vibration and says spirits lower theirs to communicate with humans. Still, they make their love and presence known through symbols to people who open up to it. She suggests a three-step process:

  1.  Ask the spirits (or your guides) for a sign.
  2.  Thank them in advance with gratitude for the sign.
  3.  Let it go, and go about your day, knowing the sign is going to bring a thought to mind or come “so loud or so vibrant that it will stop you in your tracks. … It will ring true to you in your heart, and that’s how you know it’s from your loved ones,” she said.
Loved ones might send us messages of support and love through things like feathers, pennies, or other items significant to us.
Courtesy photo

“Our loved ones are supporting us the whole time. They’re with us, and they do send us messages; they send us signs. They can send us a feather or a rainbow, they can send us a feeling even, they can send us a memory, or they can support us — perhaps we feel them nearby, like when we’re baking their favorite meal for dinner or when we would have coffee with them in the morning — we might feel them making that gesture or hanging out with us,” she said. “They’re with us the whole time. … They’re here. They’re just a thought away. When we feel the love in our hearts, that’s where they are. They’re in our hearts; they’re in that loving vibration or in the power of love.”

El Día de los Muertos

During The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos) Mexican holiday, relatives and friends welcome and honor the souls of the deceased. Traditionally, the gates of heaven are said to open at midnight on Oct. 31, when spirits can rejoin their families Nov. 1-2.


If you want a reading…

Who: Cheryl Murphy

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