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Reincarnation/possible grief from past life


QUESTION: Hello Stephen,

There have been a couple times when I suddenly had very vivid images, sounds, smells (a pale yellow dress, horse hooves on cobblestone, wood, kerosine, etc) that seem to be from the Victorian era in Britain -- maybe 1870-1890. These images are fragmented and I seem to be extremely happy. Then suddenly, an overwhelming grief seems to smash into my chest. I begin to sob, have a hard time breathing, tremble and feel as though I am drowning in tears. I don't know why. It's like I am emotionally eviscerated. I have to keep telling my self that it's 2014 and I'm ok. It takes several minutes to begin to calm down.

In this life today, I am not a person who easily cries, nor do I become easily attached to people. I don't understand why this memory (if it is that) leaks through. Is there something in it that weighs me in this lifetime? I'm afraid to know what it was. I'd rather just release it and let it go. Does any of this make sense?

Thank you.

ANSWER: Hi Sheila,

I'm not psychic, but I can compare what you're describing to known patterns in past-life memory. You didn't tell me two crucial details--whether there is any trigger for the memories, and, whether any of these things ever surfaced in childhood (in dreams or otherwise).

Just to take a guess at it, it does sound as though you may have lost someone close to you in that era, which might have some bearing on your not allowing yourself to get close in this lifetime. It is odd that you are extremely happy at first, and then the grief hits you, without remembering any corresponding events. Although, when I was grieving for my young son, I would sometimes have forgotten about it briefly, and then suddenly I would be reminded, say, when I first woke up. It sounds a bit like that.

Not to alarm you, but spirit attachment is also a possibility, if an attached spirit had these experiences. I doubt it, though, as this sounds personal, for you.

I'd still be looking for a trigger (sight, sound, smell, or even a person) that sets it off; and, for any event or cause of the grief back then.

Do you think you were told of the death of someone close? Like you might have been expecting to see the person, and then were told the person had died? That would fit.

If this experience repeats and persists, past-life therapy is an option. The purpose is to get it out in the open, consciously, so you can release it. One must be careful to find a competent, experienced therapist. Given the power of the emotions associated with the experience, I wouldn't recommend self-hypnosis CD's, or allowing a friend to try it on you. Just common sense.

As I re-read your letter, I wonder, again, if you couldn't have been going expectantly to meet someone, only to find that they had been killed. Does this ring true? In that case you would be reliving that intense experience.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response, Stephen.

Regarding the trigger: This sounds strange even to me; but I'll just say it anyway. When I was 12 years old I saw a photo of a famous musician and nearly fainted. I didn't even know who he was at the time but I felt like I had known him forever -- like I had seen him in dreams. I am now 50 years old and he still has the same impact on me except normally I stay mentally in the present. When I have these Victorian images, they seem to be triggered by him in some way -- a photo or even a thought. The grief that I've felt those two times was more intense than any sorrow I've felt so far in this lifetime and it just seems bizarre that I can't even say why.

Do you have a recommendation for a competent, experienced past-life therapist in Colorado?

ANSWER: You would not be the first person whose strong past-life feelings were triggered by a famous figure. See, for example, British author Jenny Smedley's book, "Ripples," where she had a similar reaction to seeing American singer Garth Brooks on TV, despite knowing almost nothing about him. Whether that person strongly *reminds* you of someone when this happens, or whether it is the actual person from a past life, we don't know.  From my research, a person who is even, say, 60% similar can trigger past-life emotions (as, for example, being attracted to a person because they are your "type"). When strong grief like this is triggered, perhaps the resemblance is higher, say, in the 85% range. Or, I won't discount the possibility it could be the same person (as it is usually interpreted). But I think what you have, at the very least, is a strong clue as to what that person you may be unconsciously grieving for, from the Victorian era, looked like.

What is happening is that the subconscious mind is not very discerning. It sees through a hazy glass, as it were, and when it thinks it recognizes someone, it sets off the alarm: "There he is!!!" The emotions that are triggered come through unfiltered, as emotions from past lives are always coming through, unbeknownst to us. The cognitive memories come through with more difficulty, but where they are attached to very strong emotion, they can come in brief vision-glimpses, or in dreams, or in altered states like hypnosis.

If you go to the website for former past-life therapy organization IAART, at IARRT-dot-org, they still have up their list of member practitioners. There are a few listed there for Colorado. Though the fact that they joined the professional organization doesn't necessarily indicate their competence, it's a start.

Note there are two schools of thought in past-life therapy. One school is to provide a safe place for you to experience the full force of the past-life feelings, in order to release them. The second school of thought is to "cushion" you so that you see it from a distance, and don't experience the full force of it. Those using the "Netherton" method, which relies on association rather than hypnosis, are of the former school--many hypnotists (though not all) are of the latter. Personally, I tend to think the former school is probably more correct, but that's just a personal judgment. Obviously, if you're going to go through the "full bath," you want a competent therapist to be there for you while that is happening.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I had a near death experience when I was 14 months old in Dec. 1965. The musician person also had a NDE in Dec. 1965. Do you think this could be relevant?

Thank you.

It's possible, but it wouldn't fit any past-life memory pattern that I'm aware of. I suppose two people could be so closely connected by karma that they have similar experiences in the same time-period. If it was *exactly* at the same time, that might mean something, that you connected during the experience. Otherwise, there might simply be a shared karma from a past life, but I just don't think there's enough to go on to do more than make a hypothesis about it.



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Stephen Sakellarios


I can answer questions about reincarnation (from both Eastern and Western perspectives) and life after death, and how these topics relate to religion and spirituality.


I produced a documentary entitled "In Another Life: Reincarnation in America" which aired on PBS station KBDI in Denver, CO, Jan. 2003
I have a masters in counseling from FSU, and over thirty years' study of Eastern mysticism from carefully selected sources, plus eight years' study of contemporary Western reincarnation studies. I've published nine related articles online and in print. I offer an online class on the subject and maintain an extensive educational website at, as well as giving talks and radio interviews (archived on the website).

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