Mysteries and Messages of Death and Life from a Forensic Pathologist
(New World Library)
by Janis Amatuzio, M.D.
Books Summary by John Hanson
In her first book, Forever Ours (for a summary, see book-forever.htm
), Janis Amatuzio shared many startling and heart-warming stories. These stories
all related to deaths that she investigated as a pathologist. She heard the
stories from the loved ones of those who had died. In her second book she admits
to feeling slightly uncertain about some of the original stories.
As a scientist,
she could not prove that people had visits from long dead relatives. She could
not say with certainty, for example, that a butterfly represented a message
from a recently deceased husband. There was always a tinge of doubt in her mind.
Beyond Knowing is an apt title for this book. In it, Janis shows that
she has come to a resolution about how to accept these stories. The stories
themselves are of the same kind as in her first book. Now, however, Janis tells
them from a different perspective. She speaks of knowing in a way that is beyond
rational. She also tells them with complete confidence.
Turn Your Radio On
The first story is of a grief-stricken woman who had just left her husbands
funeral. As she drove home, her emotions began to overwhelm her. She opened
the car window and turned on the radio. She hoped that listening to some oldie
music would calm her. The radio came on very loud, which surprised her.
What stunned her was the song that was playingit was her and her husbands
favorite. It was their song from 1981! Was this merely a coincidence?
This woman certainly didnt think so. She felt that that moment changed
her. She knew absolutely that her husband had used the radio to let
her know he was all right.
How could she be so sure that her husband was using the car radio to send her
a message? That is exactly the dilemma with which Janis the scientist struggled.
Certainly, the people who told these stories were sincere, but there could be
other explanations. Janis wondered if there were strong enough reasons to accept
these stories as true.
After the publication of her first book, Janis gained a reputation as an expert
on after-death experiences. One day a friend of hers asked a question that made
her think. It helped her get more settled about the reality of the stories she
was hearing. Her friend wanted to know how Janis came to be the way that she
was. She was asking about a part of Janis personality that for a long
time had taken a back seat to her hard driving, intellectual self.
In the pursuit of her goals, Janis believed she could do anything the put her
mind to, and she was right. However, there had always been a part of her that
was playful, imaginative, and able to see wonder in simplicity. Janis called
it the part that didnt believe in working quite so hard.
This simple version of Janis loved to be still and observant. She enjoyed laughing, listening, sleeping,
playing, reflecting. Being her simpler self allowed Janis to remember moments
shed forgotten. These included seeing and playing with magical beings.
However, because these experiences did not fit with a rational way of looking
at life, they had become invisible.
After a lecture one evening, a young man named Matt came up to Janis. She had
shared stories of how people who have died have nevertheless visited loved ones
to let them know that they were all right. Matt wanted to know why hed
never had experiences like that. His father had died ten years ago. He missed
him a lot, but didnt think his dad had ever tried to contact him. Janis
suggested that the dead are always trying to let us know that theyre okay.
Maybe we dont recognize the signs. Matt said he would think about that.
A week later Matt told Janis that hed remembered an incident that fully
answered his question. He and his dad used to hunt deer together. His dad had
built a stand next to a marsh. He put it there because of an opening in the
trees across the marsh. He was sure that someday a big buck would come across
the marsh right through that opening. Well, it never happened. Then his dad
The first day of hunting season after his father died was lonely for Matt.
He went to the stand with his dads favorite rifle, but alone. As the sun
came up, he saw a big buck coming towards him. For some reason he didnt
shoot. The buck disappeared into the woods. Then, a few minutes later Matt looked
up and saw the buck again. He was standing in the exact spot where his dad had
hoped to see a buck one day. He was looking straight at Matt.
Matt said that he could think of no reason for the buck to come back out of
the brush. He must have been there to give him a message. He was sure it was
his father, letting him know that he was okay. For ten seasons in a row Matt
has gone back to that marsh to hunt. He has never again seen a buck standing
in that particular spot.
The most important part of this story is that Matt had forgotten it. When he
let himself believe that his father might have tried to contact him, he remembered.
Why do we forget? Perhaps our culture has conditioned us out of remembering
events that are too strange to accept. The Western mind learns to judge by the
scientific method. This other kind of knowing requires a different way of seeing.
After another lecture, a woman approached Janis. She said the kinds of experiences
Janis was talking about felt very familiar to her. She said it was as if she
used to know of them, but had forgotten. She wondered how she could forget.
Janis didnt have an answer, but wondered if there was a reason that so
many people were all remembering together.
Early in Janis training as a pathologist, she learned an important lesson
about how to see. An older colleague told her a secret about forensic
medicine. He said that the work is about half what you know and half what you
feel. Thats why you have to keep an open mind. Thats when you notice
your gut feeling. He encouraged her to trust herself. That when she needed to,
she would know.
It is this kind of knowing that most of us have forgotten. For Janis Amatuzio,
it is a way to understand a different world.
One reason Janis became willing to accept these stories was that they changed
peoples lives. As more and more people shared their experiences, Janis
began to see patterns and themes. The messages all contained expressions of
love and peace, assurances that all was well. She also noticed that for those
who received these messages, they were life-changing. Here are a few examples:
Bills friend lost his daughter at age thirteen when a car hit her. After
the graveside service, Bill was walking with the girls parents. He paused
for some reason and looked back at the casket. Astonished, he saw forty to fifty
monarch butterflies hovering over the little girls casket. He looked around
at other grave markers. There was not another butterfly in sight. This scene
was especially poignant because Brianna loved butterflies.
A year later, Briannas father, Ted, asked Bill to go with him to visit
the grave. It had been a very rough year for Ted and his wife. As the two men
stood by the grave they heard a soft stirring. Then they saw a large cloud of
Monarch butterflies come up from behind them and hover over Briannas grave.
As before, the butterflies went only to this grave. The men stood in stunned
After Bill told this story to Janis, she asked him what his friend Ted had
thought about the experience. Bills opinion was that the butterfly experience
saved his friends life.
An Astonishing Phone Call
In another incident, a man died suddenly of a heart attack. This deeply saddened
his wife, Mary. Soon afterwards, her mother-in-law became very ill and her doctor
admitted her to the hospital. Mary visited her every day. Late one night, after
Mary had gone to sleep, the phone rang. Mary felt stunned to hear her late husband
speaking to her! His voice was unmistakable.
Even more shocking was what he
told her. He said that she shouldnt worry because his mother was with
him now. When Mary woke the next morning, she dismissed the incident. She quickly
changed her mind later, when she called the hospital. The staff said that Marys
mother-in-law had died sometime during the night.
Mary has since remarried, and her new husband was telling this story to Janis.
He had already read Janis first book. He felt certain that his wifes
experience and the stories in the book were true. Janis asked how the stories
made him feel. Had they changed his life in any way? He told her that all fear
in his life was gone, that he lived completely free of fear.
At a wedding reception, Janis got into a conversation with a woman named Susan.
Janis first book had changed her life. Janis asked how her life was different.
Susan hesitated as if she wasnt sure how to answer. Finally, she said
that she was more aware now of occurrences that before, she didnt understand.
She stopped talking again. Janis was afraid she might just change the subject.
Then Susan spoke up, sounding more confident. She had a story to tell.
Susan had developed a close relationship with an older man named Dewitt. He
was actually like an adopted grandfather to her, because she didnt have
any grandparents of her own. Grandpa Dewitt, as Susan called him, lived in a
nursing home near her. He had lung disease and had to have an oxygen bottle
with him whenever he went out. Susan carried his bottle for him when she went
Then Grandpa Dewitt had to move to another nursing home, farther away. He told
Susan that it was a very pleasant place. It had a pond and fountain with many
pretty flowers around it. He asked her often to come to visit so they could
walk to the pond together. He wanted them to sit, talk, and look at the flowers.
She said shed like to visit soon. However, Susans life became very
busy and she was unable to visit that summer.
One night Susan had a dream. Grandpa Dewitt came to visit her. She said he
looked wonderful. He appeared to be very happy. They walked down to the pond
together and had one of their most pleasant talks ever. Susan felt wonderful
and happy. When she woke up, the dream had been so vivid that she felt like
hed actually been there.
Susan decided right then to call Grandpa Dewitt, and go visit him. To her surprise,
as she reached for the phone, it rang. The voice on the other end belonged to
Grandpa Dewitts granddaughter, Susans best friend. She was in tears.
The nursing home had just called to tell her that her grandfather had died during
the night, in his sleep.
Susan had a choice about the meaning of her dream. She could see it as a mere
coincidence or a real visitation from her friend. This is the kind of incident
that she had spoken of earlier. These were the events that she hadnt understood,
but now was more aware. Now, she knew that connections between people continue
after death. She knew that they are no less real.
When Janis Amatuzio relates these stories, she is not talking about fantasy.
She is talking about a different kind of reality. In our modern society, we
learn early that reality is what we can detect with the five senses or figure
out logically. We learn that if its real we can measure it.
Why should we accept only this limited view? For as far back as we know humans
have believed in realities that are beyond the five senses. While it is hard
for some to look past these solid, reliable ways of testing reality, Janisas
a scientisthas done it. She has examined the evidence and found that there
are other, legitimate ways of looking at events.
It is important to remember that one cannot find this reality with logic alone. One must be willing to be
open to the experience and its meaning. There is always a choice. Heres
another example, one that happened to Janis herself, that illustrates the choice
we have of how we interpret events.
Tell Her I Love Her
During her internship, Janis accompanied one of her patients to the hospitals
X-ray room. They were trying to find out what was causing Andy Nelsons
chest pain. Janis was not part of the procedure team. She sat at the head of
the table to give support to Andy. He would be awake during the procedure. The
procedure did not go well. During the exam, the doctor accidentally tore a hole
in one of the hearts arteries. Andys heart began to bleed; this
was an acute emergency. They rushed him to the operating room. However, in spite
of everyones efforts, he died.
Janis went with the surgeon to speak with the family. She volunteered to stay
for a while with Mrs. Nelson, who was alone. Other family members were on their
way. The two women spoke a little, cried a little, but mostly there was silence.
Mrs. Nelson was having a very hard time believing that this had happened. Her
husband had been so sure that everything would go well. He had told her that
he would be watching and would be fine.
Those words sent a shiver down Janis spine.
Before the staff rushed Andy to the operating room, Janis had seen something
unusual. Mrs. Nelsons words jolted her into remembering.
Andys eyes had fear in them as he asked Janis if he was going to be okay.
She wasnt sure what to say. She promised him that regardless of what happened,
she wouldnt leave his side. When she said that, Andys eyes changed.
Janis saw something that hadnt been there before. Andy squeezed her hand.
He whispered that he was afraid, but he was going to get through it.
Janis reassured him. Then Andy asked one more favor. Would Janis please tell
his wife that he loved her with all his heart? She promised she would.
The anesthesiologist then put Andy to sleep so they could hook him up to a
heart-lung bypass machine. Suddenly, Andys heart began to beat irregularly.
The doctor shocked it back to normal rhythm. Janis had nothing to do at that
point but watch. Suddenly, she noticed a shimmering light near the ceiling.
It was at the end of the table where Andy was laying.
As she watched the light, she experienced a very profound, calm presence. This
was is in stark contrast to the frantic activity in the room. Janis felt puzzled
and disturbed. She wondered what was going on and if anyone else could see it.
Was she losing her mind? Then, as she continued to stare at the light, she felt
someone tell her something. They said that he was watching and that he was fine.
Janis didnt know what that meant until she spoke with Mrs. Nelson after
Andy had died. Suddenly, she knew.
Was the change in Andys eyes the beginning of his journey to the other
side? Was his request that Janis tell his wife how much he loved her a premonition?
Was the shimmering light really Andys spirit as he left his body? Was
Janis experience of deep peace the result of connecting with that spiritual
light? Were the strange words that she heard so clearly a message from another
plane of consciousness? One could answer yes to all those questions or explain
them in some other way. This is the difference between seeing and not seeing
that other reality.
A New Voice
At the age of ninety-five Charlottes mother suffered a massive stroke.
She was unable to move or speak. Charlotte visited her mother in the nursing
home every day. One month after the stroke, the nursing home called Charlotte
to tell her that her mother was near death. Charlotte sat by her mothers
bedside quietly reflecting on her life. She felt very much at peace.
Without warning, Charlotte suddenly became aware of a small but powerful whirlwind
that entered the room. It moved to her mothers bed and hovered over her
for several seconds. Then, Charlotte very clearly heard her mother speak. She
told her that she was all right now and the Charlotte could go on with her life.
Then she left.
How did this experience affect Charlotte? She says that she relives the experience
every day. The memory fills her with such wonder that has never ceased feeling
amazed. The experience was as real as anything she had ever seen before. She
still wonders about the implications of what she saw.
Its possible that Charlotte imagined the whole event. It is equally possible
that she opened her eyes that day to the other way of seeing, to the other knowing.
When her young sons uncle died, a mother told him a story that explained
death to him. It was a story of how water bugs turn into dragonflies. Every
so often, a water bug would crawl up onto a lily pad and would change into a
dragonfly. That would be the beginning of a new kind of life. When water bugs
became dragonflies they often looked down to see their friends and family in
the water. However, the water bugs never saw the dragonflies because they never
looked up. This story became one of the little boys favorites.
When the boy was nineteen he died after being hit by a drunk driver. At his
funeral, his mother noticed that a beautiful dragonfly had landed on the lapel
of her suit. It stayed there for several minutes. She knew.
Throughout her career Janis has heard many similar stories. There are so many
that she can no longer see them as random coincidences or hallucinations. She
knows that they are real.
To order this book from Amazon.com, click