Nothing could have prepared Mary for the death of her 19-year-old Marine son Chas, early in 2012. Mary’s spiritual education, an excellent therapist and journaling helped her move through her intense grief. And through this journey, she began to understand how she could be of service to others. With Chas’ guidance, Mary wrote her first book titled The 21-Day Doorway Across The Veil. And she recently published her second book, titled Never Miss a Chance to Shut Up: Listening for Our Loved Ones in Spirit. Mary is now a Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation. And she is also the founder and co-leader of the HPH affiliate called Connecting with Our Loved Ones, which currently has 1400 members.
Listen to the podcast here
Mary Bertun: Discover How To Expertly Open And Sustain Your Connection With Your Child As Well As Your Team In The Spiritual Realm
Helping Parents Heal assist bereaved parents in very significant ways. It provides personal and specialized support, tips, and tools for finding hope for those parents whose children have passed. It offers much-needed peer support which aids in the healing process going a step beyond other groups because it supports the open discussion of spiritual experiences and evidence for the afterlife in a non-dogmatic way. Everyone is welcome regardless of religious or non-religious background, allowing for open dialogues for those who wish to share their personal afterlife communications.
I am truly both delighted and honored to have been asked to interview some of the enlightened presenters who are at this conference. These insights provide uplifting interviews comprising a special new series on Grief and Rebirth that will illumine the wondrous healing work of Helping Parents Heal. The organization’s sole mission is to help other parents who have also lost their precious children, ensuring them that they need not walk alone through their profound grief. Thank you.
Our next interview here at the Helping Parents Heal Conference is with Mary Bertun, who is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a North Carolina fellow. Mary spent most of her working career as an adult education teacher and instructional designer while she raised her four children but nothing could have prepared her for the death of her nineteen-year-old Marine son, Chas, early in 2012.
Mary’s spiritual education, an excellent therapist, and journaling helped her move through her intense grief. Through this journey, she began to understand how she could be of service to others. As her awareness grew, she began noticing signs Chas was sending her way. Two years after he transitioned, Mary heard Chas’ voice. Communication downloads from him then followed. With Chas’ guidance, Mary wrote her first book titled The 21 Day Doorway Across the Veil and published her second book titled Never Miss A Chance To Shut Up: Listening for Our Loved Ones in Spirit.
Mary is now a certified coach with the International Coach Federation and she is also the Founder and Co-Leader of the Helping Parents Heal affiliate called Connecting with Our Loved Ones, which has 1,400 members. I’m looking forward to talking with Mary in this episode about her healing journey through grief, how to reach out and converse with a loved one as well as your team in the spiritual realm. The common signs our deceased loved ones send us and more for what is surely going to be an enlightening insight filled and very uplifting interview. Hi, Mary.
Thank you, Irene.
Welcome so much to the show.
Thank you. I am so excited to be here.
It’s wonderful to have you here and be sharing this experience with you truly. Let’s begin. Let me ask you our first question here. Would you like to tell us about your cherished son, Chas, your relationship with him, and describe how he transitioned in 2012?
My son Chas is an amazing soul, a beautiful young man here on Earth. More friends than I realized he had. I realized that only after his transition. He was a Marine and was very anxious to maintain being in the Marines, tried to be over and over again the perfect Marine and probably was. He had many friends. He used to have a cult following of younger men who would often follow him around. He wears his Marine insignia and things like that.
He’s very proud of what he accomplished. He had a failed love affair and that was possibly a trigger for him. He was very conscious of what the Marines required of him but he did leave this world by his own hand in 2012. Personally, I’ve never felt any anger over that. I had struggled for a while to understand it but I never felt any anger at him for that decision.
It sounds like you have tremendous compassion for what he was going through.
For what he was going through but for him, he’s a big adventurer. It was on to the next adventure, which was part of his demeanor in doing that. He was always full of a great deal of love as well as protection for others. I would see that in him in terms of things that he would describe to me. He has maintained that and maybe grown that perhaps as he’s once he transitioned. I will say it took me about two years of hard grief work.
I can imagine. There was a shock also in everything else that went along with it. What I admired when I was learning about you is that you already had a spiritual education, a therapist, and journaling. This helped you with your unbearable heartache when Chas transitioned. How did that work for you?
I’ve always been a writer and so I had done a lot of journaling but as with the case with many people who have suffered significant loss, even like yourself. Oftentimes, family and friends are not necessarily a support. I didn’t know anything about this and about fourteen months into the process, I looked in the mirror one day and was like, “Something’s wrong with this picture. I need help.” I went to my healthcare provider and they have a triage system and a whole list to pick from. At the time, I thought I was incredibly lucky to end up with a therapist I ended up with. Now I know luck had nothing to do with it.
Why do you feel that you were synchronistically or vibrationally matched that way?
I would never have chosen her necessarily if I was given the credentials of people. It was choosing from the list and I was like, “Give me somebody near where I live.” She was somebody who had a lot of spiritual education herself. While she was very careful about the boundaries of what a clinical therapist has to do, she was also open, as I would repeatedly pester her with spirituality questions. She was open to sharing with me and explaining to me when something would occur to me and I didn’t have an explanation for it. She would sometimes send me to different resources. She’s a wonderful therapist.
How did that help you understand that you could be of service to others?
There was a much longer road in terms of that. My education came several years after Chas’s transition. The great medium and teacher, Suzanne Giesemann appeared in a place where I could drive. I could drive from where I was in Wisconsin down to St. Louis. Even though I’m a professional educator, it was still the best educational experience I could have.
It exposed me to a lot of concepts. That’s where I learned about Helping Parents Heal. I remember they had a sign-up list of people they wanted to get together in a group and clearly, there were people who were out of state at this session. I didn’t sign up at first but then I called them weeks later and I said, “I’m rethinking this. I want to sign up on the list.” They’re like, “We don’t know what to do about these out-of-state people.” I was like, “I work in education. I do online education and I’ll be glad to take those people, start a group, and start working with them.”
You were all online with people from all over the United States?
I started using Zoom at that point. We called it a mediumship development circle but most people called it Mary Bertun’s group. We met for about three years working on different spiritual topics. Sometimes people would bring in different resources to the group. Suzanne Giesemann talked to us at one point. We had some other speakers in that group. Some of us worked on and developed a lot of our skills in connecting during that period of time. Some of it also started with my therapist, Rose Gilardi, who would direct me to people who could answer questions that she could not answer, so that was helpful.
It sounds wonderful. Your presentation to Helping Parents Heal is titled Communicating with Our Loved Ones. Part of this theme and one of the points you make is that through mindful approaches to our loved ones, love, and gratitude, we can connect with them. We’re all ears, Mary. Tell us what that’s about.
We had the most wonderful workshop. The room housed 200 people but we probably have pretty close to 300 in there. The energy and the love in that room were so apparent. I could feel that the children know. They know ahead of time that their parent is going to be here. They know their parent is trying to reach them. We had some incredible things that happened.
There are many different ways for parents to connect with children in spirit. I will never profess to have the exclusive rights on that but we do know what works and what doesn’t work. What does work is having very positive, loving, caring, compassionate, and grateful attitudes. We know that we keep our exercises small, just a twelve-minute period. We will often say, “If you can keep these thoughts away for those twelve minutes, you can return to them any time.”
Do you mean the negative thoughts or the thoughts of grief?
The negative thoughts are because grief is normal. It’s going to go on as long as it’s going to go on. We often say to people, “Connecting with your child is a wonderful experience. However, there’s also your own healing experience. We know you can be very early on in your process and still connect with your child but if you ignore the part of healing, it’ll eventually turn around and kick you in the behind later on.”
What do you call the part of healing? What do you encourage them to do to heal?
I’m very lucky in that I have a co-leader of our affiliate, Tava Wilson. I have other people, Joe Greeny down in New Zealand who are very experienced and credentialed at the grief and healing part of things. We do have resources within our own groups and within my own classes where we can refer people to that.
That’s a blessing.
We’re lucky in that way but we know that it’s both things. Somebody approached me and they’ve been a matter of weeks or a matter of months. It’s not necessarily too early. We’ve had people make extremely successful connections early on, so we never say no because it depends on the individual and how receptive they are as far as what’s going to happen.
Did everyone who attended know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their child or children were there and encouraging them and very present with them?
I start by asking or telling them that I do sense them coming into the room with them and ask them to silently welcome their child. There’s a piece of mindfulness in terms of seeing your child while you’re going through the exercise. The very first person who gave us feedback, I loved her question. She said, “ I didn’t earlier but I was going to ask you, how do I tell the difference between what I make up in my own mind and my son hopping?”
He connected with me and she said, “I had no doubt,” because he was a poet and he wrote poems and he gave me a poem. She said, “I am not a poet. I can’t create poems.” To some extent, she answered her own question. What I tell parents are three things to distinguish that. The first is the speed at which the voice drops in.
If you look at your own thoughts and you listen to, say, creating a trip, creating a vacation plan, or something like that, you’ll understand the rhythm and the speed at which you create things in your own mind. The speed at which a child drops in is so fast you didn’t even have time to make it up in your own mind. Speed is a major indicator. We also say another way you can determine is that children will often use language or patterns of speech that you yourself would not use. The first time Chas connected with me, he used a curse term. I don’t curse as he curses, so it was pretty clear.
I knew it was him. Oftentimes, that’ll be a distinguishing way. Again, a lot of people are isolated and not in a section of family or friends where they have a lot of support. They can use a divination method like a pendulum to get a yes or no answer. Was that you, yes or no? If they do have a friend who has belief in the afterlife and has some spiritual experience, to review what they’ve experienced with that friend.
That itself can serve as confirmation of whether they’ve done that or not. It’s pretty common when I have classes and practices for parents to start out with. “I didn’t get much,” then they will tell you all these things that they received and you’re like, “What do you mean you didn’t get much? You’ve got a tremendous connection going here.” Doubting yourself is the human condition.
That’s the thing that stands in the way. Now you also talk about spiritual teams and we all have spiritual teams. Would you like to educate us? Please tell us what does a team do for a person? Is there a difference between connecting with a loved one who’s transitioned and a person’s team in the spiritual realm?
There is a difference only in the sense that I say this often to parents, our responsibility as a parent did not end because our child transitioned. People look at me like, “What do you mean? I support, guide, protect, and provide for my child on this earth. What do I do for them over there?” One of the things that you do is communicate with them regularly. My belief is that your child is on your spiritual team, at least initially in the first couple of years because they see your hurt and grief.
They wouldn’t come back. This is a hard thing to hear, they wouldn’t come back to this earth but they would do anything to help you out. Having your child there as part of your spiritual team is good but if you think about it, I say to parents, “How often did your child have to ask permission to talk to you?” Never. They interrupt you in the middle of whatever you’re doing.
It operates differently with different spiritual entities on your team, whether they’re guides, guardian angels, or whatever. They have to have the door open because you have free will. They’re in a different capacity than your child is on your team and you at least once have to indicate your openness to them coming in and helping you.
Invite them and your child’s not waiting for an invitation.
Those other entities are also pretty important on your team. Your children can’t be in constant contact with you. They are evolving and changing themselves. The other thing that happens that can be difficult for parents is if a child had, let’s say, an addiction problem or let’s say they were disabled and wheelchair bound or they might be non-verbal. All of that drops away from them when they make their transition.
One of my favorite stories is featured in my second book. There’s a lady named Ruth and her child had what’s called Angelman syndrome and Kevin was non-verbal when he was here. She would ask him questions like, “Do you want a sandwich?” She would imagine the answer in her mind and give him a sandwich or whatever.
When she asked him during one of our practices, “How do you want to communicate with me now?” His answer was, “The same way we always did when I was on Earth.” She came to realize that he was answering her. She thought it was her but he was answering her. She received that answer on earth, so he’s like, “This is no different. Now I’m talking to you.”
Tell us about your book, Never Miss A Chance to Shut Up. That’s a great title. How did you get that title?
I was given that title. I was told to use it, so I was like, “This is what we’re going to do.”
You channeled that title.
They just dropped in on me and said, “This is what you’re going to call it.” They did that with the first book too. I didn’t realize at the time it was my son because the language he was using was different for him but that book got written in like 5 or 6 weeks because he had just downloaded it. Every time I thought I was stuck, he redirected me.
In this case, I wanted to focus on stories of more than just Helping Parents Heal. Although there are a number of those in the book, I wanted to also focus on stories of people who like yourself, have connected with a loved one that they’re close to. It might be a partner or a parent but have a definite connection. As I say in the book, love is the currency of the universe and that’s not restricted to a certain position, even though losing a child is a terrible experience. My favorite story came during a workshop when someone said, “I don’t know if I believe this stuff. I hear these people talking.”
This person came to the Helping Parents Heal Conference and they’re sitting there saying, “I don’t know if I believe this stuff?”
They had their child had transitioned three years earlier and she said, “I begged and pleaded to receive a sign from him, something, a word, anything. I got nothing. When we walked through this exercise, he stood in front of me and then stood behind me. He wrapped his arms around me, hugged me, reached over, and kissed me on my temple just like the last kiss I gave him on this Earth.” To me, that is again the example of someone who could blend energy and is a beautiful story. For three years, she had no contact and now, she has definite contact. Who wouldn’t take a hug, right?
Are there certain steps you suggest for effective spiritual listening when people are trying to get those messages to connect?
It’s hard work. I would suggest that people, and have suggested this several times, set a specific time of day that works for them. It can be morning or night. It doesn’t matter. Even if it’s only once a month or once a week, their loved one will get used to this as a schedule and this is when we’re going to talk.
Do you need to keep a schedule for them?
To some extent, it’s helpful to them because if it’s not enough, they’re going to bug you. You do respond. You make it more regular. I suggest that as a way for them to improve their communication. There’s only one book I’ve found out there that’s useful and it’s not one that’s normally recommended. Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, also wrote a final book called The Listening Path. The Listening Path is about directing your attention to matters of spirituality.
When you think about it, being creative is a very spiritual practice. It’s a wonderful book. It has some great advice about directing your attention to how you get in that listening mode but no joke. Listening is hard work. It’s hard work to maintain the focus and to listen, particularly if you feel you’re not getting anything. We work through a process on the front end where we take people’s attention to the different levels of spiritual awareness.
I call it the five levels of spiritual awareness. It’s out on my website and I’ve got a copy of it that I use during practice. We bring people’s attention to that. We let them focus on that level of attention-like energy for fifteen seconds or so, then we move on to the next descriptor. That helps bring somebody’s attention to the observer role, to be open to whatever occurs.
You also talk about a channel thing, Channel 11 and they’re on Channel 3. Tell us about that. You’re teaching people how to raise their vibration to be able to hear their loved ones, their spirit, right?
That analogy comes from a good friend of mine, Bob Jacobs, who’s also a medium. I asked him to explain to someone what he does and he said, “They just pop out at me.” I’m like, “What do you mean they just pop out at you?” He said, “I’m a guy and when I get strong emotions, I know to pay attention to them. That’s when they make themselves evidence and I talk to them.”
He describes the level of where we are now, Channel 3 and where they are, Channel 5, and trying to draw those things closer together. One of the things we do is advise people, first of all, to communicate regularly, to either talk out loud or silently to their child. It doesn’t matter. The other thing we have them do is write a letter to their child. It can be a very brief letter but we say it should be only full of love and gratitude. We ask them to reread that letter to themselves right before the practice. That does two things. The kids love it.
Everybody wants to hear.
They’re just looking over it, then they share notes and all that stuff. The other thing it does is if you reread that letter to yourself, it brings your vibration up. It lets you know that you’re supposed to be focusing on love. It’s not meditation. Although, I’ve heard people talk about it as meditation. We go through the twelve minutes. If thoughts are intruding, you can do 1 of 2 things. You can ask your guardian angel to help you, keep your mind clear, and they will.
The other thing that you can do is just simply focus on your child. You can look at a picture of them. You can send love to them and try to keep all other thoughts out. It’s only a twelve-minute period. You can do twelve minutes type of thing. If someone is successful in keeping a blank slate, the children can drop in any number of ways.
You have an online class. You have a Communicating with Our Loved Ones class, online classes, and coaching. Tell us all about that.
Usually, a couple of times a year, I run classes. They’re usually five sessions. I try to keep my groups small, both my classes and my practice groups. I run practices two times a month, usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The hard part is that the kids don’t care about anybody’s schedule.
There’s no time where they are.
They can be in multiple places at once. They might connect with their parent on a Wednesday but they’ll show up in Thursday practice as well, in somebody else’s message. We do find that they like each other. They have given themselves a name. I didn’t come up with this. Somebody else in our group received this message. They call themselves The Chosen Collective and they like spending time together. They like hanging out. They spend their time hanging out but they’re also in touch individually with their parents. They work together to make that happen.
A quick story, they also work with other children whose parents are not in the mode that we are of trying to reach out and connect with them. They showed me a picture of a little boy who passed away a few years ago in Canada, who’s been trying to reach his mom. What they suggested to him was, “Find something in her household she uses regularly.” He says, “She cooks a lot.” They said, “Perfect. Use a stirring spoon or a dish or something that she always places in the same place, then start moving it to other places in the household. Move it to the bathroom or to the garage.”
The first couple of times, she’ll be annoyed. Eventually, when it keeps happening, she puts it in the same place but it shows up somewhere else. She’ll realize that you’re saying hello to her. I thought that was incredibly clever. It’s something I would never have come up with myself. They work pretty actively to make sure each other’s successful as well as the other children that they recruit to their groups.
For people who are reading, they can play with energy. They can move things around.
They can even change our DNA. That seems a little frightening to people but they have the ability to change our DNA to affect our mood but to also try and tweak things, so our vibrations can get on the same channel. They work pretty hard to make that happen.
What would you like our audience to know about Helping Parents Heal and how it helps grieving parents?
It’s a wonderful organization. There have been more hugs than I can count at this conference.
There’s a lot of love.
There’s a lot of common belief and support that happens as well as the leaders of our organization, Elizabeth Boisson and Irene Vouvalides, who hold at least 4 or 5 sessions a week by Zoom where there are mediums, healers, and people that they can listen to and simply be advised of what’s out there so they can keep that education process going.
There are affiliates like us who have usually once-a-month meetings or something like that where people can have more intimate discussions if they want to. It is a wonderful organization and this is a wonderfully organized event. Who would want to leave this setting and these people here? It’s tremendous.
People come very sad and leave very uplifted and hopeful. They know their children are with them. That’s priceless. How are all the ways members of our audience can connect with you now that they belong to your affiliate link and maybe take a coaching class or whatever? How can they get ahold of you?
The easiest way might be to email me and my name is MaryBertun@CWOLO.com, which stands for Communicating With Our Loved Ones. People can email me that way. The website is also www.CWOLO.com so they can reach the website that way as well. I am going to launch into another series of classes. Probably one in September and one in October 2023 because working with different timeframes and people’s work schedules can be different. I try to keep groups small. I try to keep classes to know more than eight people. I try to keep practice sessions to know more than twelve people.
You connect individually with each of the people you’re working with.
We get to know each other and feedback on your connection is important for other people to hear. It’s important for us to hear. We heard some wonderful stories. We’re still hearing stories of what has happened for people. I’m happy about that.
I have a question. Can grief and joy coexist, Mary? You’re a person who would know about that. Do you have a tip for finding joy in life?
They can coexist. The more you move into the joy and love arena, the less time you want to spend in the grief arena. I would say yes. I’m not a poster child for that because I certainly made every mistake when I’m starting out but they can coexist. As you know, my son will do anything to get a laugh. He tried that again between us but he will still give me signs or send me messages to try and get me to laugh. He did that early on too. Some of the things he would say were pretty outrageous. They were all designed to make me burst out laughing, which in fact I did.
I can honestly say, all of a sudden, I looked at my cell phone and your number all popped up. When I went to find it, it was gone. I also know it was Chas because he knew what was going on.
He knew how to get to me.
Mary, it’s such a pleasure to know you and how you assist people in their efforts to connect with their loved ones in spirit and their team in the spiritual realm. Thank you from my heart for all you do to help people overcome their obstacles so that they can experience the joy of connection with their loved ones in spirit, for your valuable contributions to Helping Parents Heal, and for the enlightening insights-filled, and loving conversation we had.
Thank you so much, Irene. While we’re here, I want to put one last plug. I have many friends in Helping Parents Heal who tune in to shows and Irene’s show is number one on their list. I’m going to encourage even more of my friends within the organization to reach out because that’s helpful for people to hear.
That is such a blessing and a validation for me. Thank you so much. It’s true. Here’s a loving reminder, everyone. Make sure to follow us and like us on social at @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re watching on YouTube, be sure to hit subscribe so that you’ll never miss an episode with lovely people like Mary Bertun.
Many blessings, to be continued, and bye for now.
- Helping Parents Heal
- Mary Bertun’s Book: The 21 Day Doorway Across the Veil
- Mary Bertun’s Book: Never Miss A Chance To Shut Up: Listening for Our Loved Ones in Spirit
- Mary Bertun’s Website: Connecting with Our Loved Ones
- Julia Cameron’s Book: The Artist’s Way
- Julia Cameron’s Book: The Listening Path
- Send Mary an email