Finding Love in the Midst of Tragedy
It was a typical Monday evening in January. My husband Brett and I were relaxing on the couch after a busy weekend of speaking events, discussing my foundation’s annual charity event scheduled for the next day. I was particularly excited that my husband’s best friend Jim and his girlfriend Laura would be joining us for the event. Jim was the kind of guy who lit up a room with his smile, and Laura was outgoing and fun, so I knew they would be a great asset to our fundraising endeavors.
Our conversation was interrupted at 10:20 p.m. when the phone rang. Brett looked at the caller ID and said, “Laura is calling.”
My heart started to race as he got up to answer the phone. Then I heard Laura’s frantic voice on the phone say,
Brett asked, “Where is he?”
Laura just repeated, “Jim’s gone.”
She said this at least three times as my husband continued to ask where Jim was and if he should come over and look for him. As I witnessed their exchange, I realized that Jim was dead, and he had taken his own life.
We were stunned. We sat in silence for a few minutes blindly staring into space, wondering how this could have happened, and hoping the reason why was out there. I felt shock, sadness, confusion, and pain. My body began to tremble as I thought about his boys. I took my husband’s hand, and we knew we had to go over to Jim’s house and help Laura.
As we headed to the car, I felt as though Jim were picking me up and moving me in that direction. Jim and Laura had recently moved into a new home so he could be closer to family and friends, and I thought about this as I clutched Brett’s hand in the car.
As we turned onto Jim and Laura’s street just a mile away from our own house, police cars and yellow tape surrounded the perimeter of their property. Brett pulled up to let me out, and as he was parking the car I saw Jim’s parents. I immediately went to them, and as we embraced my heart broke. I could feel their emptiness, their sorrow, their pain, and their grief. I felt overwhelmed and nauseous. Then I saw Laura. Our eyes locked, and as we moved closer, I had no words.
I held her as we both cried, and I could feel the love of the archangels surrounding us.
You see, I am an angel communicator and psychic medium, and I knew that if there was ever a time I needed help to know how to support and guide Jim’s grieving family, this was it. I called in Archangel Raphael and Archangel Michael for help. For the next three hours, we supported Laura and Jim’s parents as they met with the police and coroner. After many questions, they wheeled Jim’s body out of the house on a stretcher. As a psychic medium, I felt the agitation and restlessness in his spirit. I could feel the density, desperation, and heaviness of a gunshot wound. But I also felt the serenity, calm, and peacefulness of the angels’ presence.
After the body was removed, Laura left, as did Jim’s parents, and I went into the house to turn off the lights and lock up. As I entered the living room, chills ran down my spine. I knew this was the energy of Jim, but it did not feel like the energy I was familiar with while he was in physical form. This energy felt disturbed. As I hurried to find the front door handle in the dark, I heard these words quietly, as if whispered in my ear: “Please come back.” The voice was eerie, and I quickly closed the door behind me and searched for my husband outside.
As Brett and I drove away, I could feel the pain, desperation, loss, judgment, blame, and anger—but there were also feelings of peace, relief, compassion, hope, and love. This contrast was confusing, and yet, it made complete sense. I finally settled into bed at 4:00 a.m., exhausted, as Jim’s death started to really sink in. My heart ached for everyone in Jim’s life—his family and friends, all of them walking their respective journeys without him. And then my thoughts went to my husband. How would he handle the loss of his best friend, sailing partner, and projects buddy? My heart ached more intensely than ever before as I wondered why our Jim would choose to take his own life. I struggled with those thoughts and judgments, though I said to myself, “I know better. I am a spiritual teacher!”
The human part of me was at battle with the spiritual being within. I knew and believed that all is as it should be, and everything happens for a reason. But I was so angry! I would feel intense anger, and then, within moments, a burst of love would move through me and I would feel the presence and peaceful energy of the angels. These waves of emotion kept coming over and over again.
In the midst of this, I kept hearing the angels say, “Trust the process of life.” They gently reminded me that no one can escape this physical life without serving their purpose. I heard them say, “Jim served his purpose in the physical world,” and I realized this was the truth, whether I chose to believe it in this moment or not. As my eyes grew heavy and my body settled, I wondered, “Who am I to argue?”
The morning came quickly, and Brett and I woke in tears. I looked over at my husband, who is an ex-marine kind of tough guy, and in that moment I saw his vulnerability. He had just lost his closest friend, his soul brother, and as our swollen eyes met we realized this was not a horrific nightmare; this was real. The depth of grief that we were now sharing was something we had never before experienced in our nineteen years together. We rolled out of bed silently, knowing that we were about to experience one of the most painful days of our lives. As word of Jim’s death spread to friends and family, I could feel the ripple effect of broken hearts. It was a somber day for all.
As I was getting myself ready for the day, I was listening to my angel’s guidance and waiting for any messages about how I could proceed. After several phone calls to friends, the messages came. I heard Jim’s spirit calling to me, and I shared this with Brett. He too had felt a calling of sorts, and we both knew we needed to go back to Jim and Laura’s house. At a deep level, we knew we were being called to be the “clean-up crew.”
I felt energetically clear about going to the house, but I was anxious. I wasn’t sure what I would see. But I held on to the absolute faith and trust that I was meant to be at that house, at that time, doing what I was called to do. As we pulled into the driveway, I invoked Archangel Michael and asked him to protect me and give me the strength to do what was needed. As I got out of the car, I felt his presence surround me and comfort me as I prepared for this profound experience.
I entered the house and felt that same chilling energy from the night before. The feelings were surprising and unsettling, and I felt very uncomfortable. But I knew Archangel Michael was with me, and I kept reminding myself that I had a bigger purpose in being there. I refused to let the heavy energy stop me.
Brett joined me then and we walked down the hall to the bathroom hand in hand. When we reached the doorway we braced ourselves for what we might see or feel. It was difficult to view the place Jim had died. We stood together, crying and embracing one another through the pain for a while. Once the initial shock was over, we surveyed the bathroom and took action with very clear intentions. Brett felt guided to clean up the area in a way that would honor the man he loved like a brother, and with each rinse of the mop Brett brought closure to their earthly friendship.
We both felt as though we were being guided to create peace and serenity, but my experience was very different from Brett’s. I was aware that Jim needed help in releasing his guilt and shame to move on, and I wanted to help him so his spirit could soar with the angels. I listened for my guidance, which told me to create a green fire to release the trauma that had occurred in this space, do a house clearing, and say a blessing. As the fire burned and I cleared the house, I could see and feel the presence of the angels.
Within two hours after Brett and I physically cleaned and energetically cleared the space, a sense of peace and calm came over the house. I could feel Jim thanking us for being there and cleaning up the unimaginable, and in turn we thanked him for trusting us and giving us the opportunity to honor him in his last moments on earth. It was a profound and sacred experience. We left the house exhausted, honored, and in awe of how much our lives had changed in the last twenty-four hours.
On the way back to our house, Brett brought up that we still had a fundraiser planned for that evening, and we had to decide if we were going to cancel it or not. As I listened within and talked with Brett, we both knew that we needed community and support. Jim assured us he would be there in spirit, so with devastation in the air and our spirits at the helm, we went.
We decided to dedicate all of the money raised at that evening’s game to Jim’s boys, and with that goal in mind we said a prayer and went off to our respective places in the arena to raise money. The tears subsided as we focused on giving and sharing, and the evening turned out to be a nice reprieve from the sober reality of the last twenty-four hours. I am also happy to say that we raised over eight thousand dollars—a record-setting amount in our book. We all echoed a thank you to Jim.
While we were at the fundraiser, Laura returned to her home. She was afraid of what she might feel and was quite anxious. She had no idea what to do with the dogs, where to stay, or whether she’d ever be able to walk into the house again. However, she was quite surprised to discover that the energy of fear, anger, and pain that she had felt the last time she was there was gone. Instead, she felt lightness and peace.
Laura didn’t trust her own feelings at first, but as she settled in a bit she felt comfortable enough to stay there and sleep. In the days and weeks that followed, their house became a place where she found comfort, and although the days and nights were long, the presence of the angels and their love was everywhere.
What happened after is still a blur to me, as anyone who has walked this journey well knows. I was called to be a supportive wife, mother, and friend, and I asked Archangel Chamuel to help me see through the eyes of love, share this love with others, and comfort those in pain. I also called on Archangel Uriel to help me see the bigger picture. I asked to see beyond the pain to find the purpose of this experience. With the energy and support of the archangels, my role was to be love, to see love, and to believe in love so that everyone could be brought together in love.
“We gather together today to celebrate the life of a man we all loved.” These were the first words I uttered at Jim’s funeral. I was asked to officiate his service, and as we listened to story after story highlighting the greatness of this man, I was honored to witness the abundance of love that poured out from this adversity. We all took a breath as we realized that divine intervention had offered us precious moments and memories with him throughout the years. Jim taught us all how to love through his boys and his life.
Sometimes we find ourselves thrust into tragic and unexpected situations. But even in moments of great sadness we must remember that we are not alone; our angels are here to help us. With the strength and guidance of the angels, I was able to help others find some measure of peace in the sudden and devastating loss of Jim. This experience I now pass on to you. When life takes an unexpected turn, my hope is that you too will lean on the angels for guidance. This will not only help you, but may also lead you to be a source of strength and support to others in their moment of great need. Learning how to do this has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Excerpt from No Mistakes Co-authored by Sunny Dawn Johnston