Rosanne Norris’ book, beLEEve: A Journey of Loss, Healing and Hope, is a touching personal narrative about Rosanne’s spiritual journey after the transition of her 30–year-old son Lee and his dog Buddy. Rosanne, who has a Bachelors in English from Binghamton University, spent her career working at the University’s performing arts center and she is now a Reiki healer, an Affiliate Leader for the organization Helping Parents Heal, and a caring listener for HPH.
beLEEve has been ranked #1 in the United States and also internationally in several categories.
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT THINGS LIKE:
- Why Rosanne wrote her book in the form of a journal.
- How her dog Fritz is connected to and a gift from Lee.
- Signs Rosanne has received from Lee, especially hawks and the number 34.
- The picture Rosanne identified of Lee and his dog Buddy in Spirit, taken by Brazilian researcher Sonia Rinaldi.
SOME QUESTIONS IRENE ASKS ROSANNE:
- What is the premonition you had before Lee was born?
- What modalities have you used to heal?
- How is gratitude the best remedy for grief?
Listen to the podcast here
Rosanne Norris: Helping Parents Heal Affiliate Leader, Caring Listener, Reiki Healer, Author
I’m speaking to you from my studio in West Orange, New Jersey, eager to have assured to open your heart conversation with author Rosanne Norris, who will be speaking to us from Binghamton New York, about her book titled, beLEEve: A Journey of Loss, Healing and Hope, the touching personal narrative that shares Rosanne’s spiritual journey after the transition of her 30-year old son, Lee, and his dog, Buddy. BeLEEve has been ranked number one in the United States and also internationally in several categories.
Rosanne lovingly calls her 5 children and 6 grandchildren her best accomplishments in life. She has a Bachelor’s in English from Binghamton University where she spent her career working at the University’s Performing Arts Center, and is now a reiki healer, an affiliate leader for the organization, Helping Parents Heal, and a caring listener for Helping Parents Heal. I’m looking forward to talking with Rosanne about her book, BeLEEve, and so much more. Rosanne, a warm, heartfelt welcome to the show.
Irene, it’s so good to be with you.
Thank you. We’re going to have a lot of fun. Your book is wonderful, and I’m looking forward to talking with you about it. Let’s begin our interview with this question. Lee was your inspiration for writing your book, BeLEEve. Please tell us about Lee and his passing, as well as the passing of his dog, Buddy.
Lee was my middle child, middle of five. He was different than my other children. He’s very caring and sensitive. He had a normal upbringing. He was the largest of my children, weighing in at 113 when he was born. He was different in many ways. Talking about his passing on January 9th, we got a message that he hadn’t been to work for a couple of days. My husband and I rushed there and found him on his couch. It was accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Oddly enough, his little, neurotic dog, was still alive barely, but he was still alive. We know that Lee was probably there for a couple of days. We believed that Buddy watched over Lee until we found him, then he, too, succumbed to carbon monoxide.
Didn’t you have a premonition before Lee was born?
I did. I was in the shower. It was about a week before he was born, and I started crying. I thought, “I don’t want to do this.” It wasn’t like I had birth babies before him. All my kids were 9 to 10-pounders. I don’t know where it was coming from. When he was born and he was 113, I thought, “That was it.” I knew he was going to be big. I put it out of my mind. It wasn’t until he passed that it circled back around in my mind, and I went, “Oh.”
Wasn’t he this amazingly kind person? Tell us about the story from high school.
I wrote about it in the book. I remember he was working at an arena at a concession stand. He learned that his coworker had been working all day in the restaurant business. He then left his full-time job to come to make even more money. They were collecting tips. He heard about his family and that they were struggling. Here’s this kid in high school and he would give him his tips. He came home and said, “Mom, I can’t believe somebody is working 12, 15, 18-hour days to take care of his family.” It made an impression on him.
Did he give his tips to this guy?
How generous and how kind. Were you open to the concept of mediums before Lee passed? How did, through a medium, you start on your journey to write your book?
I had been to a few house parties. I looked at it, as the medium says, entertainment. Things were said that you were like, “Interesting.” I left it mostly as entertainment.
Nothing specifically ever came through for you in those? You were watching?
Some messages from my parents or things like that. I thought, “That is interesting. That does seem to fit.” I let it go. When Lee passed, I have seen a lot of mediums. I was told by one in particular that I was going to write the book. It was not even a year. It was about 9 to 10 months after he passed. She said the book will be called Believe or Belief or Beyond Belief or something like that. He wants it by his first anniversary.
He gave you a deadline.
Only a couple of months away. I thought, “No, that’s not going to happen.” I was too deep in grief at that time to start it.
How did you and why did you write your book in the form of a journal? That must have started at the time you got the message to write the book.
I did write twelve journals in the first two years after he passed. I didn’t start writing the book as a journal, but then it suddenly came to me. I got the message to write it as I wrote it. I went back. I discarded what I wrote with the intention that people that are early in grief can see the day-to-day, moment-to-moment emotions.
You give people permission to have their feelings and grieve. I loved the way you process and how authentic and honest you are with what you’re going through with each of those grieving days and how you were also reaching for healing during that time. It comes out very clearly. It was wonderful. You’ve got a heartwarming, inspiring story about your dog, and the ways he’s connected to and a gift from Lee.
It was interesting because my husband was off one day in. I was in my room meditating and saw a little tiny schnauzer pop into my awareness. I never had one, a new one, nothing. I went out to him, my husband. We’re having coffee and I said, “The oddest thing happened.” When I told him about the schnauzer, he goes the day before, he admitted that he was looking at dogs because he was thinking about surprising me for my birthday, which wasn’t until a few months later. I was curious. We weren’t serious about getting a dog, but I started researching local places to get dogs and found this breeder. I was drawn repeatedly to one little face. After about the third time of looking at this little face, I realized he was available on the very day Lee passed. I know that Lee brought him to us, and he’s been a delight in our lives.
That’s adorable. Now, you have an amazing story about a Brazilian researcher named Sonia Rinaldi that I know is going to raise every eyebrow reading this. Please tell us about your connection to Sonia and the documentary you participated in about Sonia’s life’s work.
It was in February 2019. I went to my very first conference, We Don’t Die Conference in Boston. They had Sonia Rinaldi, a Brazilian researcher who has been working for many years and bringing through images. Now she’s working with voice or vice versa.
Is it her thing about getting proof of survival and she does it in a scientific way?
Yes. I couldn’t begin to tell you her process because she uses different smoke, this, and that. You’d have to research it yourself. I sat in her presentation and thought, “It felt too sci-fi-ish or too out there for me.” I then thought, “You’re at this conference to learn, so sit here and have an open mind,” which I did. I met her briefly. I never told her about Lee. We had a little conversation because my sister-in-law’s from Brazil, and I mentioned that. Although Lee had been to Brazil a number of times for work, I never even told her about that. It was probably a month later, a friend of mine said that her son was in the eMagazine, to which she sent me a link. I looked at it. I knew a couple of people whose kids were in this.
What is the magazine to pick?
She publishes the images that she gets.
She gets images of deceased people and she publishes them?
She publishes them. I was looking at that, not knowing that Lee was in there at that time. She publishes all these unknowns that come through. They said to look at these unknowns. I went back to this link and I scrolled through the very first unknown. It took my breath away. It was like a punch in the gut. I knew it was Lee. He looked about 11 or 12 years old. I thought, “I know this is Lee.” I posted on Sonia’s website. I said, “I believe this is my son.” I sent a picture of him at 11 or 12 years old.
At that point, her assistant, Lisa Lanouski, reached out to me. She said, “Sonia, will take a look at the photo,” which she did. She said, “Yes, I believe this is your son,” but who is the dog? I went back and looked. There was Buddy also in the image, which I hadn’t seen before, but he clearly was there. What is even more interesting is Lisa and I became good friends and we have since met, but her daughter Amber and Lee share a birthday on September 7th.
It’s all connected. That’s amazing. The fact that Buddy was in that picture with him is amazing. You could say you were wishing for something, but that is such a validation that this is real.
You asked about the documentary. There is a documentary being made of her life’s work, and I was fortunate enough. This past January 2020, I was interviewed for that documentary, which is on hold because of COVID. The filmmaker can’t make it to Brazil to interview Sonia. There are probably 5 or 6 parents that have been interviewed.
When that comes out, will you let us know? We will let our audience know all about it. That would be wonderful. I know you’ve also gotten some special signs from Lee, including hawks and the number 34. What is all that about, Rosanne?
Thirty-four was his football number when he was a young boy. It was my other son that first noticed. He started getting the 34s and popped up. Now, the whole family does. I’ll look at the clock off and on during the day, and it’s on 7:34 or 11:34. Over and over, you turn and you see a mailbox and there’s a 34. We got the dimes and the butterflies and different things. All of a sudden, I started noticing hawks and I thought, “Is this something?” including one that chased a bird underneath my patio right where I was sitting. It was a feet away from me. It happened very often. I’ve also been told now by probably 3 or 4 different mediums that he sends unusual birds. One did say he sends hawks or large birds.
He’s getting your attention, isn’t he? He’s not understated at all. You chose to honor Lee by choosing to heal. What led to this choice, Rosanne? What modalities have you used to heal? Please share the many riches that have opened up in your life as a result of your choice to heal, and I commend you for that.
Early on, I knew somehow that I was going to do something. You’re in the dark pit of grief and I knew that I had to go through that. I knew that I had two choices. I could stay there and be miserable the rest of my life, or I could do whatever I needed to do to heal the best I could to honor him.
What modalities did you use? Is there anything special you’d like to tell our audience about that worked for you?
For me, it’s with journaling, getting all that ugly pain out on the page. Meditation worked for me. At first, I didn’t think I was meditating. I would sit and stare outside for a long time. I then realized, “That is meditation. That’s what it is.” I was quiet. I wasn’t thinking, but it has evolved. I try to meditate every day. Those are the two biggest ones for me.
I know a lot of riches have opened up in your life as a result of your choice to heal. Would you like to share? I know you’ve had tremendous benefits as your life has changed because you’ve healed so much. You’ve learned a lot of important lessons.
I have learned a lot of lessons. I’ve learned so much about the afterlife or the hereafter. Helping others led me to become part of Helping Parents Heal. It is the blessings I’ve had from the people I’ve gotten to know and the teachers like yourself and others that have brought me into this new awareness and provided so much hope.
For me personally, I can say that becoming more involved in this world and community, like with you, enriches your life. You’re meeting these most wonderful people who have been through so much. They’re courageous, fabulous people. It’s a wonderful world. Talking about wonderful, you had an amazing quilt made in honor of Lee. Our audience would love to hear this story. Tell us about that quilt.
Somebody I didn’t even know, a mutual friend, wanted to make this quilt. Lee had over 100 t-shirts, and I thought, “Who has that many?” He had a lot of clothes that we did donate, but the t-shirts seemed too personal. It took me a while. I couldn’t let go of them at first. We had a queen-size quilt made out of his t-shirt.
You brought them to this person and this person quilted all together?
Yes. I have a new appreciation for quilters because I had to do some work too. It’s quite a process. It’s amazing. The quilt’s right over near me on the bed right here.
I could imagine it gives you a lot of comfort. It’s like you go to sleep and Lee’s right there.
The fabric on the backside is quite amazing too. I had gone with the quilter into a quilt shop to pick out backing. I immediately knew to turn left. When I did, I looked down and there was a fabric of the stars. Lee and I used to lay out in the backyard and look at the stars when he was little. None of my other kids were patient enough. He was all about that. He had a telescope and he loved space. Anytime there were any space things going on, we would text each other. I said in the book that I promised, “Every night, I’ll sleep under the stars.”
I thought that was such a touching story. It was wonderful. At what stage in your grieving process did you find your way to Helping Parents Heal? Could you tell everyone about the organization and what you do for them as an affiliate leader? What is a shining light parent?
I had a grief counselor, and he was wonderful.
Like a traditional grief counselor?
Yes. Although, he was very open to spirituality. He was a former minister. He gave me one of George Anderson’s books to read early on, but he passed at my four-month mark. I knew in my heart that I wasn’t going to have him for long. Something told me. It was at a pretty critical time in my journey. I tried his grief groups. He did have a grief group, which was not for me. Let’s leave it at that. I started searching on Facebook. I said, “There has to be something on Facebook.” I tried a couple of groups that I kept going, “No.” Something led me to Helping Parents Heal, but I know it was Lee. I became an affiliate leader in 2019. In my home at first, I had about 6 or 7 of us that would meet. I was taking baby steps, and I was looking for a place to have meetings. It was November 2019 when I announced it publicly and 23 people walked through the door.
Twenty-three people who had lost? That’s amazing.
Yes. I was a little stunned. We only had a few meetings before COVID locked us down. Now, no face-to-face. I probably have 70 to 75 parents in my Facebook group.
The difference between Helping Parents Heal and other organizations is they encourage the parents to communicate with their children on the other side.
Yes. They’re very open to it. We become shining light parents by healing ourselves. Our kids are shining through us. They’re the shining lights and they help us to heal.
You knew that they were all still around, they were all still with you, and they were witnessing your journeys. What a comfort that is. Since you’re a reiki healer and a caring listener for Helping Parents Heal, tell us what those two roles are about. Some people in our audience are like, “A reiki healer, what is that?”
I’m a little newbie on the reiki. I had taken a couple. I hadn’t gotten to the master before COVID put a lockdown on that. I had some energy healing work done on me, so I decided that, “Let me try this.” Now, I do distance. I have a list, and every day I send out energy healing to people. I do it on myself sometimes.
That’s wonderful. As a caring listener for Helping Parents Heal, I can’t imagine people calling you that have lost children or all these things and you’re listening to them crying.
I just took on that role. I’ve only had a couple of calls. I had one from a woman in New York City. She found my name on the internet and found Helping Parents Heal. The woman did call me. We’ve been talking. There are twenty-some caring listeners involved in Helping Parents Heal. They speak all kinds of languages.
They can come back and talk with you many times if they want to?
Sure. They can find someone if you’re not the right person for them. Let’s say if they’ve taken their own lives, I might not be the right listener for them. Somebody who can understand or somebody with illness, you can find if I’m not the right person.
Do you direct them to other resources or other people and all that?
How wonderful. You say in your book that becoming soul-centered helps a person to heal. Could you explain that to us? You also believe that Lee made the ultimate sacrifice for your soul to progress. Could you speak to that?
To become soul-centered, I knew that I had to go within. That’s where I found God, connection, and oneness that I knew loosely as I was taught in my Catholic upbringing that that was there, but I didn’t understand it, but I got it once I did this. I feel he took an exit point. Maybe this wasn’t an exactly planned thing, but sometimes I have been grateful that he took an easy exit if something worse is coming down the pipe for him. I try to put this positive spin on it.
I feel the same way about my husband. I feel that that was an exit point also. Once you’ve grown and you’ve healed, it changes the way you’re looking at it and the way you’re processing it. How is gratitude the best remedy for grief? What are some of the things you’ve been so grateful for?
Gratitude brings you joy. I’m grateful now for everything, the smallest things. I am grateful that I’m sitting here talking to you. I try to make it a practice. When I’m going to bed or wake up, I try to think of a few things that I could be grateful for.
It changes the way you process everything. I feel very grateful too. A lot of people prefer to stay unhappy. When you turn into gratitude, it changes it. All of our audience want to read your book now. How do they connect with you and find the book BeLEEve?
My book is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. They certainly can connect with me on Facebook.
That’s wonderful. Do you want to give them your Facebook?
I have a Facebook page for Beleeve.
That’s great. What’s your tip for finding joy in life, Rosanne?
Be grateful. Look around and see the beauty. I’ve never experienced so much beauty in my life. I look at the trees. I just notice everything.
It’s amazing. You probably feel more joy now than before Lee passed. It changes your priorities and changes the way you see everything. That’s wonderful. Rosanne’s book, BeLeeve: A Journey of Lost, Healing and Hope, is going to bring you comfort and also be a guide for others who are grieving and on their own healing journeys. It is a true blessing. Thank you, Rosanne, for writing such an honest, heartfelt, and helpful book. Thank you from my heart for this very moving interview. Make sure to follow us and like us, we know you do, on social @IreneSWeinberg on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. As I like to say, to be continued, many blessings, and bye for now.
- Rosanne Norris’s book: beLEEve: A Journey of Loss, Healing and Hope
- Helping Parents Heal
- Connect with Rosanne on Facebook