What Does the Afterlife Look Like?
Written by: the Editors of goop
Published on: June 6, 2019
Updated on: July 26, 2022
Photo courtesy of Sophie van der Perre
Susan Grau stumbled into mediumship young. After a near-death experience when she was four, Grau woke up to visitors—from the other side. Trauma and mediumship sometimes seem to go hand in hand, and her strange new ability would prove the easy part of life.
Like the rest of us nonclairvoyants, mediums grapple with grief and the physical separation of a loved one through death. “Mediums probably grieve more than the average person because we can’t understand why we can’t keep calling the dead forward,” says Grau, whose mother and two brothers died by suicide. Today, Grau is on the board of directors of Eric’s House, which is focused on supporting the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of those impacted by suicide or addiction loss. This work has changed her understanding of mediumship.
Grau sees emotional mediums, like herself, as an integral part of the evolving future of grief. A future where the gifted can offer closure and support to those in need. It’s a beautiful vision, and if anyone can bring it to life, we trust Grau’s sensitivity and evidence-based practice to be a step in that direction. She also speaks extensively about the glimpses of the afterlife she saw as a child. That vision includes angels, dogs, and an infinite library of books. We hope she’s right.
A Q&A on the Afterlife with Susan Grau
I was four and a half years old, and some boys told me that if I got up in the freezer in the garage that they would let me play with them. I did. I thought there would be Popsicles inside. They closed the freezer door, and they closed the garage door, and they ran home. My mother said it was well over two hours I was missing. She kept hearing, “Your baby’s in the freezer. Your baby’s in the freezer,” but she didn’t believe it, so she didn’t look.
In the freezer, I remember an angelic presence—actually three, but one in particular was very strong. I remember crossing over; it was very peaceful. I didn’t see a bright white light or get sucked into a tunnel. I felt very knowing. I don’t know how else to put it. And then I popped into this room.
It was a Greco-Roman room, and it had beautiful colors. Inside this room was a round, giant circle, and I looked down into the circle and saw movement. There were words and sentences intermingling like strands of DNA. I said, “Where am I?” And they said, “You’re in the room of hearts’ desires.” The prayers of every living soul. I said, “Do you answer all those?” And they said, “Oh, Susy, sometimes what people desire the most isn’t good for them.”
I looked forward, and I saw this beautiful yellow brick road. At the beginning of the road, there were bricks that went up into a pyramid. And I was watching humans pulling these beautiful golden bricks from the bottom of the pyramid, one by one, and trying to pave their paths forward. “What’s going on?” I asked. And the angels said, “Well, they’re acting through their free will. In free will, we can’t disturb them. They’re trying to pave their path.”
I saw people begging. They were saying, “Please help me.” Their paths were crooked and bumpy and broken. I saw the angels swoop in and put the pavers back where they belonged. Those people’s free will was removed.
The second thing I understood is that when you pull from the bottom of the pyramid, it becomes unbalanced. The angels explained to me, “We are the pavers; you are not. All you have to do is walk it.” I asked, “Well, how do you know if you’re walking it right?” Because I was four and a half and a little precocious.
And they said, “Because we’re always blessing and blocking your path. When we block it, make no mistake, you can get through the block battered and bruised at best, or you can shift. And if there’s still a block, you shift again, Susy. And if there’s still a block, you shift again. Until you see us on a path paving for you. And all you have to do is walk it.”
Then I went into another room. This beautiful room had stacks and stacks of books, but they weren’t really books. It’s hard to explain it; as young as I was, and this didn’t really exist then, they resembled modern-day e-readers. They were everywhere. And I said, “Where am I now?” And the angels said, “You’re in the room of knowledge.” People today call that the Akashic Records. They told me that everyone has a purpose and there are contracts within that journey. So you can be contracted to be married, but whom you marry, how long you’re married, what marriage feels like to you, how you treat the marriage, and what age you are when you get married are all in your free will.
Then I popped into a room where I saw angels. When they opened their mouths, the words and the music came out at the same time. I was watching human spirits lifting up higher than me, and the angels were saying to them, “Good job, you were so brave. Good job.” It didn’t matter how they died; it didn’t matter what they had done on this planet. These were the good souls, and the angels were praising them for having had the courage to come here.
I asked the angels, “What happens to bad people?” Because I’d had bad experiences even though I was young. And they said, “There are no bad souls, but what we do is we take souls that have struggled to something like what humans call a hospital, Susan, and we heal them. Then we let them back out to be where they want to be.”
By now, my mom had finally listened to the message “Your baby is in the freezer,” and she went running out to the freezer door. When she found me, I looked like clay. She started screaming. I fell out. I split my chin open—I have a scar to remind me—and I took a breath. My mother was afraid to take me to the hospital because the freezer should have been bolted and turned toward the wall, so she sent me to bed.
I went to sleep, and when I woke up, I could see people. They just could talk to me. I didn’t know if they were dead or alive. I didn’t know the difference. I was too young to know. And they were looking in my windows, at the corner of my bed, down the hallway. During the day, I would play with them, until I realized I was playing with people who weren’t really there. I didn’t know it was different. It was my normal. Kind of like the boogeyman—everyone has one and no one talks about it. I thought everybody saw what I saw but nobody was talking.
They did in the beginning, and I can still see their form very clearly when they first die. Imagine seeing someone with your eyes open in the dark, after your eyes have adjusted a bit. You’d see an outline, and you’d see their eyes, but you wouldn’t really see everything. I started getting woken up by spirits at what I call TOD—time of death. I’d get shaken awake, and I would open my eyes, and there would be someone standing there in front of me, and they’d say, “I just died. I’m so-and-so’s little brother, and I passed away, and this is my name, and this is how I died, and I want you to give them a message because you’re going to hear about me.” And I’d write it down. It’s shocking to be woken up by something standing there. Even today, I still get scared. But when they leave, they turn into an orb, a ball of beautiful light that flickers and is made up of different colors. They’re beautiful.
I would probably go to another medium for that. It’s always better—like a doctor going to another physician for a checkup. I do connect to my brothers. My mother was a very painful loss for me, so I do not connect to her, although I do feel her presence sometimes.
Mediums probably grieve more than the average person because we can’t understand why we can’t keep calling the dead forward. What I was told by spirit is: “If we could call the dead forward whenever we wanted, or, say, if we could see them in a dream every time we went to bed, would we ever get out of bed? We would never do anything with our lives.” Grief is a part of everybody’s journey. It starts from the time we are born. Every loss prepares us, hopefully, for the big one, which is death.
You absolutely can. They will help you, and they are always around us in some form. You can ask for your own help and guidance, or you can go to a medium who can share what they’re saying to you. But they’ll guide you regardless, whether you can hear them or not.
You don’t know until you do it enough times. You have to be willing to be wrong to know how to be right. I learned what correct felt like by experiencing what it felt like when wrong information came through to me.
Being wrong is spirit teaching you something. A good portion of that is to not tell stories. We are people who want to finish the story for others. So if I see a bell, I may say, “There’s a bell, and that means they went to church,” and that’s my story. But the person I’m reading for may say, “Oh my god, every morning before breakfast, we rang a bell.”
It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense for me. I just have to give what I get. It’s like delivering the envelope and not opening it. We’re the deliverers of the message. We don’t decide what the message means.
Anything. I mean that. But I think this change will come many, many centuries from now or at least decades. Our minds are full of endless potential. If we came here with the power of our minds in one lifetime, it would be overwhelming.
In the future, I see medical mediums being very powerful and emotional mediums helping people grieve differently. Imagine if the day we lost someone, we chose to visit a medium who could give evidence of that spirit’s life on the other side. It doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to grieve, but you’ll grieve in a way that won’t pull you under or hit your self-esteem.
I believe in walking our paths as paved by the angels. If we remember that, when we have the bumps we see as uncomfortable, we can remember that everything is working for our greater good. Life isn’t meant to be easy—if it were, our souls wouldn’t evolve, and we might as well stay in heaven.
Our goal is either to return to earth and learn more or to finally achieve a divine space of existence where we don’t need to return any more. I think that takes many lifetimes. I have a lot of flaws and a lot of character defects to work on, and I’m meant to—that’s how I learn to be more.
Susan Grau is an evidence-based medium, a spiritual teacher, a psychic author, and a hypnotherapist in Tustin, California.