GAR 55 | Personal Stories


Irene Weinberg and Stephanie Barnhart reunite to read and discuss the brave and inspiring personal stories sent to us by our listeners Amanda Berken, Sonia Ibanez, and Corrine La Font. What an honor  to share these three very special stories from three incredible women with all of you!


  • Amanda’s story about her eating disorder, how she became motivated to change and heal after her daughter was born   and the “light switch” that went off within her, leading her to find her life’s purpose.
  • How Sonia gets accurate predictions as she dreams about people who will soon be crossing over and how her dear cousin who lived very far away said Goodbye to Sonia in a dream.  Sonia assures us that comfort and solace from connecting with our deceased loved ones can be a simple dream away!
  • Corine asks the question “What Is Love?” as she shares her amazing story of thriving in spite of the fact that she is “the bastard child” of a single unwed mother.  You will be inspired by Corine’s journey to self-love which includes how she learned to separate herself from the toxic people and relationships in her life. She insists that love starts and ends with you!

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Amanda, Sonia and Corrine: Our listeners share their stories with us!






In this episode, we are going to try something new for all of you, which is to read stories from some of our audience of Grief and Rebirth and how they have made it through very devastating things that have happened to them, which is the whole point of Grief and Rebirth, is to have all of you know that you don’t have to stay in your swamps of suffering and you can move through to better lives. Stephanie, would you like to speak before we get started?

Yes. I am your surprise guest co-host.

That’s true. I’ve been very rude. This is my surprise guest co-host, Stephanie Barnhart, who is back from all her technological duties of saving me and Grief and Rebirth to join us for this episode.

Like you said, we’re doing a fun little minisode. You’re going to read some stories from all your audience out there. If you guys like this, let us know. If you want to share your story, please do. They can also be anonymous. You can send these over to or also through our social media. I think it’s inspiring, and we pick these three because it’s important to see that we’re all humans. We all go through these different moments of grief. It’s not just losing a loved one. It goes from everything from divorce to your health to lots of different things. You’re the expert.

With Grief and Rebirth, we interview grief and trauma experts, mediums, healers, and people who have inspiring stories to tell. We’re going to, from our own audience, give you three inspiring stories. I’m going to also reference some of the healers and people on the show whose own stories correspond with these so that you can see how people can get help to heal through the wonderful people we’ve been interviewing on the show.

That is important to pinpoint. These audiences are sending us their stories, but we’re able to correlate these back to other healers and stuff on your show. Grief is just an overall encompassing type of emotion no matter what the trauma is that you experience. You have interviewed and met so many great people who are out there who can help you through your swamp.

That’s right. I have to say it’s been so incredible meeting amazing people and talking with them. I love sharing them with all of you. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from our audience. We even had an audience in New Zealand contact one of our interviewees. They are working together now, which is amazing. Other people have told me they’re reading and they’ve had different losses in their lives. It’s keeping them going. This is why I started this. Stephanie, it’s so heartwarming. It’s amazing.

Reading your blog every day make me feel better.

That’s what a lot of people tell me. The show is flourishing because of all of you. I have to tell you how grateful we are that all of you are reading and that we’re able to provide some comfort, solace, and healing advice in a way to you. With that, let me start with our first story. This comes from an audience named Amanda Berken, who shares her story about her eating disorder. She sent it to us after our interview with Audrey Zona, who you’ll find on the show.

I believe that’s Episode 49. It was just last season.

Audrey is a health and wellness coach who specializes in the psychology of eating. She went through an eating disorder herself. It’s worth noting here that the show is about grief and rebirth from life’s challenges. Here we go, opening up and talking about some of the more taboo topics on air, and let us hear from you about your own personal stories. Here comes Amanda.

“My story goes way back and began in high school where my disordered eating started. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I always felt very alone and very misunderstood. I just wanted to belong but never felt like I quite fit in. Food was one thing I could control. This control with food took over my life. I went through cycles of starving myself, binging, and repeating the process over and over. I never thought I would ever get out of this cycle.”

“When I was 24, I had my beautiful daughter and was thrilled to be a mother. However, I held so much guilt after she was born. As my beautiful daughter lay there, I felt so disconnected. I felt some of the deepest, darkest depression I ever felt at a time I should have felt the happiest in my life. My eating was out of control here. That led to more shame because I didn’t want my daughter to go through what I had. Through the binges, I cried as my daughter was there to witness.”

“One day, it was like a light switch had gone off in me. I was ready to change. I was done with the life I’d laid out for myself. I was ready to change for myself but also for my daughter and husband. I lost 90 pounds over a year’s time and felt better than ever. It wasn’t just weight loss, though. I really changed my habits and got into the mental aspect.”

“After losing 90 pounds, my daughter and I were in a car accident. We were fine, but another switch flipped in me after this experience. I was opened up to the spiritual world. This took my life to the next level where I began to dive into my life’s purpose, my purpose to help other people like myself who struggle with feeling like they can’t dig themselves out. I want every single person to know how divine, whole, and complete they are.”

This is from Irene. I’m saying to all of you that Amanda jumped into soul coaching, which she’s incredibly passionate about. She helps her clients become empowered, realizing that they are more than their past, their infinite souls worthy of their dreams. If you’d like to learn more or speak with Amanda, reach out to us at Amanda’s story and her spiritual awakening during that car accident reminded me of mine. We all have our individual stories. In some ways, we’re all the same. It’s amazing.

I agree. It’s worth noting here that Amanda is relatable because her grief isn’t with losing someone. It’s with her own demons within herself and her self-perception. One of the things you’ve always taught us from the beginning is self-love and to love yourself first. That’s why I loved the interview with Audrey. She goes into that too and how the weight loss and the eating are a lot of the stress, pressures, and things that you put on yourself. You can learn more by reading that episode.

I found it intriguing because even though you may not have a, per se, eating disorder, you may just be disorderly eating because you’re stressed. Especially as women, we put a lot of that pressure on ourselves. As Amanda said, becoming a mom put more on her. She was depressed. A lot of us can relate and help each other and break that stigma of understanding.

GAR 55 | Personal Stories

Personal Stories: Even though you may not have an eating disorder, you may just be disorderly eating because you’re stressed.

In a way, if you think about grief being about loss, Amanda had lost her own self. This was about how she found herself. Now, she’s using that knowledge and the insight she’s gained to help others, which is fantastic.

I love it. Way to go, Amanda. You’ll have to reach back out to us and give us an update on how things are still going.

For those of you who have weight issues, check out Audrey Zona’s episode. Now, we’re going to come to Sonia. I have to be transparent to all of my friends reading and say to all of you that I’ve known Sonia for many years. I met Sonia at a séance with Suzane Northrop. Suzane is also featured. She’s an amazing, internationally famous medium who is also on the show.

Sonia had lost her husband and I had lost Saul. I was getting into this world. I had learned about Suzane, and I came to the séance. There were 10 or 12 of us in a room. Suzane Northrop looked behind Sonia and said, “I see a male energy. It feels like your husband. He’s surrounded by five gerbils.” If anything taught me that afternoon that this is true when we go on, it was this experience with Sonia. She, without a blink, said, “Yes, my husband had five deceased gerbils who were his pets.” Even gerbils go to the other side, everybody. Sonia is so colorful and wonderful. I love my friendship with her.

Sonia, that’s a whole other story. We’ll have to go down and figure out this whole Suzane Northrop moment with the gerbils. That’s very colorful.

Also, Nikki Bodine on the show is another medium. She specializes in communicating with pets. We have something for everyone here.

If you go to, you’ll be able to look under this and we’ll mark all these specific episodes that reflect here that you can go back and read as well.

Here comes our colorful, wonderful Sonia’s contribution. “For years now, I realize that before somebody dies, I seem to get sympathy cards or cards for masses to be said for the soul of the departed individual. They come to me from religious organizations or missions that cater to the poor and needy without me asking for them. They do arrive 1 week, 2 weeks, or just 3 days before somebody crosses over. It could be former coworkers, friends, relatives, or just people. It never fails. On one occasion, I got three cards together. Sure enough, three people left this world at the same time, friends of mine in South America as a matter of fact.”

“I also dream about people. I know just before they leave this world, I will skip some, but the most recent happened on September 2nd or 3rd of this year. A very close cousin of mine lived in Mexico City for years. My cousin, Maria Luisa, was the daughter of my mother’s oldest brother, who was very close to both my mother and father. She always said that she had so much in common with my mother that it seemed as if she was my mother’s daughter. My mother always loved Maria Luisa. ‘She’s so elegant and ladylike,’ my mother always said. I have not seen Maria Luisa in many years, but heard she had health issues as of late. She was 83 years old.”

“My sister was visiting her daughter in DC recently. I had intended to ask her about Maria Luisa but forgot. I had somehow been thinking of Maria Luisa lately, but for no particular reason, then I had this dream. I saw Maria Luisa talking to my mother while my father listened. They seemed to be at some kind of party, and my parents were welcoming Maria Luisa, who had just arrived. The place looked like some kind of a garden with high walls covered in green vines.”

“I could see other people in attendance. There was a man with a white tuxedo and horn-rimmed glasses holding a glass in his hand, but I did not recognize him. Everybody was dressed in white and they all looked to be in their 30s or early 40s. Maria Luisa had some kind of high neck, low light gown, very elegant, and her hair was carefully coiffure. How do you pronounce that stuff?”

It was a pleasant gathering, and then I woke up. As soon as I woke up, I thought Maria Luisa had died or was going to die. My parents have been gone for years now, but Maria Luisa was talking to them as if they were here. However, I heard nothing from anybody. I did not want to call my sister as I figured she would be recovering from her recent trip.”

“A few days later, I received an email from my sister-in-law in Columbia saying, ‘Maria Luisa died last night in Mexico City.’ I knew then that Maria Luisa had come to say goodbye in my dream. My parents were on the other side to receive her and welcome her soul into that heavenly social gathering I saw. I dream all the time with my loved ones who have departed, always wonderful dreams, very positive and uplifting. When I wake up, I feel like new. Our loved ones are always eager and willing to communicate with us. The way they do it is through our dreams. When our subconscious goes up one level, they in turn come down one level, so we meet in our dreamlike state.”

I have to say that comfort and solace from connecting with our deceased loved ones can be a simple dream away. If that doesn’t work for you or you need more than a dream to connect, we have many wonderful and inspiring mediums on the show. Sonia. I wish I had that clear intuition that you received.

Comfort and solace from connecting with our deceased loved ones can be a simple dream away. Share on X

Have you ever had anyone visit you in your dreams, Irene?

I’ve had dreams, but not like that.

I’ve heard of this a Lot. People get a lot of people in dreams.

I have a knowing. I get a feeling about something, and it usually comes true. I also am able to communicate with Saul and my spirit guides with a pendulum. My dreams are not as clear as Sonia’s, but I have pretty good intuition. I think all of us have intuitive abilities.

You just need to be more open to them.

I know a lot of people, like for instance, Lee VanZyl, who’s another medium interviewed on our show have classes in teaching people to enhance their intuition and all of that. You can learn to do that.

Irene, you and I joke a lot because you always say how you’ve just thrown me down the rabbit hole of all this spiritual stuff because when we first met, I was not into it.

Now, she gets this client who had a near-death experience and spiritual awakening and everything. I said, “Stephanie, I’m going to throw you right into the deep end of the pool with all of this.”

That’s a whole other story. Remember, I was like, “Are they watching me in the shower? What is happening?” Now, I feel like I’ve evolved a lot. I don’t want to say I’m completely intuitive, but I try to pay more attention to little things that happened that might be from someone who has passed, like my dad when he died a couple of years ago. There are moments when I’m with Max.

Max is her son. He’s adorable, by the way.

My dad was in a band, and he would play Dire Straits. Anytime that song comes on the radio and I’m with Max, I feel like it’s my dad.

It probably is.

I’ve never dreamed of anyone, but I do remember this one time my grandma passed away a few years ago. I remember this very vividly because. I was like, “I must have known.” The night before she passed away, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning like something was wrong. I don’t remember the dream. I don’t remember anything. Something just woke me up out of a dead sleep. I remember that happening, and then my aunt called me the next day and said grandma had passed away. I was like, “I wonder if that’s why I woke up in the middle of the night.”

She probably passed away at 3:00 AM. She was greeting you. I hear stories like that all the time.

To this moment, I still remember that. That was before I was deep into this. I still remember that happening. I was like, “That must have been because I knew and felt that she had left us.”

It was her way of saying goodbye.

I, at this point in my life, believe in a lot of this stuff, and that you just need to be open and understand that they communicate with you, but they choose different avenues.

GAR 55 | Personal Stories

Personal Stories: You just need to be open and understand that spirit guides communicate with you, but they choose different avenues.

They either choose different avenues or where we’ll be able to receive them in different ways. It’s a number of different factors, but it’s all out there for you, everyone. All you have to do is want to seek. The first place you can go to seek is on Grief and Rebirth show.

That’s a great tool. You’re right.

Here is the third story. Speaking of the show, this fabulous human being was also on the show. You can read her story. Her name is Corine La Font. As a sidebar, in addition to knowing her wonderful episode on the show, Corine is working on two books that sound amazing. I cannot wait to interview her when she comes out about them. I believe they’re going to be about love and relationships. With that, Corine’s contribution to this episode is called, “What is Love?” Here we go.

“I grew up under a single-parent mother, 1 of 2 outside children for a married man my mother was involved with for eighteen years. The term used back then was bastard children. How much more negative can it get? Growing up on the islands may seem illustrious to those of you reading this. Yes, the life there is a carefree one. My story itself, while unique to me, will surely resonate with you or someone you know.”

“I grew up sheltered, to say the least. Now that I look back, it is clear to me that my mother had a lot of fears, and she still does. Yes, she is still alive at 79 and being her true self. My father passed away a few years ago. My life has been a good one, one that I am quite happy with. To be honest, I have no regrets for I believe everything happens for a reason, and the choices we make at the time are based on what is before us in terms of information and circumstances. Most of all, our programming or what we as sociologists term socialization.”

“I turned a young 50 in August. I pray to reach that milestone. I’m elated to be above ground and healthy. It says to me that my purpose on this earth isn’t over yet.” I agree with that, Corine. We have to keep you around for a long time. You’re fabulous. “Between the ages of 48 to 50, life threw me so many lessons. I have grown in my mind exponentially within these two years more than any other time in my life.”

“After being in a relationship for 27 years, having two wonderful boys ages 24 and 16, living in Jamaica for 21 of those years, traveling, working, having an online business, becoming an author, a speaker, and a podcaster, I have realized that I didn’t love myself. Imagine that. Why would I say that? Here’s why.”

“I stayed in a toxic and abusive relationship for 27 years. At the time, I didn’t know. Like I shared with a friend, it’s like that story of the frog and the hot water. The heat has turned up slowly and that frog does not realize that it is slowly dying and it gets comfortable with the heat. Why would I not recognize that I was in a toxic relationship and get out? I was lacking self-love and was programmed, socialized, and trained to be a pleaser, a giver to keep pouring into others while not pouring into myself.”

“I became self-sacrificial for I believe that by doing so, I would be loved and appreciated. The more I did, it didn’t make a difference. It took me a long while to realize this, though there were signs along the way and my intuition was telling me so, but the programming told me otherwise. I made excuses for the behavior that was needed out to me and my children and blame and guilt to myself for even thinking such thoughts.”

“There comes a point when you wake up. That point came to me in 2015 when a change had to happen or I would have boiled to death. I got a flash of my life in the future and I didn’t like what I had seen. It was now or never. I couldn’t do this alone. Whether you are a believer in God doesn’t matter to me. That’s your own choice and decision. I can only tell you that it was only through God that I am here sharing my story with you.”

“It’s been four years to date since God helped me to escape my toxic relationship and know it wasn’t as easy as in any type of escape. There were sacrifices along the way, one of which was my children. Again, I reiterate my faith in God and my belief that everything happens for a reason plus the choices you make, as I said before, I trust that all is well and all shall be well.”

GAR 55 | Personal Stories

Personal Stories: Put your faith in God and in your belief that everything happens for a reason. Trust that all is well and all shall be well.

“When I exited my relationship and left Jamaica to return to my country of birth in 2015, I had no idea how I would survive or what I would do. I just knew I wasn’t giving up. It’s not part of my DNA to give up anyway, so that was covered. Additionally, I knew what was against me. I needed backup, and I found that support in God. That was also covered. I am thankful I had a home to return to, so shelter and food were covered. I still had my online business, which I needed to push more to not be as dependent. That too was covered.”

“The thing is, if you have read this so far, you would’ve realized that you come to a point where you have to totally focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have and start to put it to work for you. I still have that approach. It’s been four years since. What have I learned? Here are just a few. Spending more time in silence and meditation, I learned a lot about who I am and what I truly desire. Because of my upbringing and programming as a child or even epigenetically, I attracted toxicity to my life.”

“This may sound like blame towards my mother, but I have come to forgive her for she didn’t and still doesn’t know better, but I do. The onus is on me to break the cycle and start anew, as well as share my story as I am doing now to help others. I continue daily working on myself, setting boundaries, practicing self-care and self-love, and no longer making excuses with my intuition, which is the internal GPS that guides me to greater joy and happiness. I have also learned to forgive myself, and most importantly, to live.”

“I now only do the things that bring me joy and happiness. This extends to people too. If someone doesn’t add value to my life or bring me joy and happiness, I do not hesitate to block and delete them from my phone and life. Rejection is one of life’s most painful feelings, but I will tell you this. It is linked back to your childhood, which can lead you to accepting, giving permission to, and tolerating negative circumstances and people who mistreat you. I now celebrate when people fall out of my life as it tells me I am worthy of better and space is being creative for the right people to come into my life. What is love? Love starts and ends with you. You are love. God is love. While toxicity does try to creep in, I now quickly recognize it for what it is and wish it well on its way out of my life.”

Those of you who know my story, and I wrote about it in my book They Serve Bagels in Heaven, when they pulled me out of that car, the voice that boomed into my head said, “Be loving and kind to everyone.” Over time, through my process, just like with Corine, I realized that also means being loving and kind to myself. That’s so important. The idea of loving others is easy, but for many of us, being loving to ourselves is so much tougher. Corine states this elegantly.

GAR 55 | Personal Stories

They Serve Bagels in Heaven: One couple’s story of love, eternity, and the cosmic importance of everyday life

It’s true because a lot of us struggle with that. It’s just the judgment, even overall society that puts this guilt on us that we shouldn’t take that time, even if it’s because you have to work all day and you don’t have time to go to yoga or meditate. People barely even take lunch breaks now. It’s hard to find that time because then you got to go home, you got to be a mom, you got to be a wife. You don’t have time to dedicate to yourself. It’s clearly disrupting all of us. We feel that challenge to be loving and kind.

I want to say that we are also good to other people in our lives. Aren’t we as precious as important as any of them?

It goes back to that story or that comment or reflection that people always say on an airplane. When the airplane’s going down, you got to put the mask on yourself so that you can help others. You can’t help others before you help yourself first. I feel what’s always stuck with me is some people may judge or think, “You should be doing this instead of this.” Corine puts this beautifully.

She did something terrifying for many of us. She walked away because she knew it wasn’t what was in her best interest. A lot of us are very scared of that. She’s shown us and inspired us to see that life goes on and it’s okay. She’s much happier. We’re afraid of that hump, but so many people have taken that leap. She did and it shows right here.

For another plug, if any of you want to take the leap but don’t know what to do or don’t feel you have the courage to do it, read about Lorna Smith on the show. She has an amazing story about how she took the leap and what she did. You can read about Corine’s s, and there are quite a few other people who have made tremendously courageous leaps and it worked out for them after they learned through their travails. There are also people on the show who are counselors who could help you work that through.

It’s like you were saying earlier that it’s your swamp. You’ve got to get out of your swamp. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to help you, even if it’s just like Corine said, your friends and your family and to cut out those people who aren’t there to help you and to know your wagon train.

I always liken it when I lost my husband and I went through all that I went through where I had a little wagon train around me. There were different people who had different roles, including my mom, who was also a widow. I had a counselor. I had a spiritual person who’s also on the show, Seta Shahinian, who helped me

I needed an attorney. I needed a few people. I had a very dear friend who witnessed me, validated me, and helped me. These 5 or 6 people were my wagon train. The people in my wagon train have changed through the years as I go through different things, but a lot of people feel that they need to be independent and do everything on their own, which is not true. You’re not an island. You need support, especially when you’re going through something that requires a lot of courage. You’re going to have all kinds of emotions about that and all. Get professional support if you need it. Get your friends to help you. Get whatever you need to have around you and love yourself to get that help.

You’re right. There’s so much out there to help you. The stigma of therapy, counselors, or using mediums and spirituality is diminishing. You shouldn’t be afraid to admit that maybe, not to say that you need help but to reach out. You shouldn’t do it alone. I learned that too. It’s hard sometimes being a single mom. I don’t have any family here in New York City. Irene, you’re a part of my wagon train. I know I can always depend on you for certain things. You need to define who that is for you and not be afraid to reach out.

The stigma of therapy, counselors, or using mediums and spirituality is diminishing. You shouldn't be afraid to admit that you need help. You shouldn't do it alone. Share on X

In defining, make sure they have positive influences in your life. Like Corine said, if they’re negative toxic people, you don’t have to get crazy with them. Detach with love and say, “Maybe I’ve outgrown this relationship. Maybe this person is bringing me down. Maybe this person isn’t right for me at this time of my life.” You can do that out of loving yourself.

I feel very loving now talking about it.

This is our last episode in this segment, and season seven is coming. More amazing people are going to be on the show and we are so enjoying reaching out to all of you.

I can’t believe it’s already going to be season seven. It’s been flying, but there are so many amazing people out there to talk to. Every season gets better and better.

I can’t wait to share all these amazing, wonderful people with you. They’re your resource. If you’re feeling down, you want to know if mediums are real or which mediums are real, and you want to find out how you get through whatever trauma you’re going through, it is Grief and Rebirth. There should be someone on that show who could help you.

If there isn’t, reach out to us. Let us know how we can help. What kind of experts do you want to hear from? We have a couple of people coming up this season based on previous audience recommendations and what they wanted us to branch into. We’re here to make this a community. Your thoughts, they count and they matter.

We’re growing with you.

What do you famously love to say, Irene?

To be continued with much love. Bye for now.  

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