Tales of afterlife fill Hampton woman's book
By Deborah Deasy
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Pay attention to your dreams of the dead.
A lost loved one might be reaching out to offer divine comfort.
“I truly think that God gives us some lights to help us along our way, and to help us not be afraid,” said Billie Harlan, 55, of Hampton.
As a hospice chaplain, Harlan collects uplifting tales to read aloud to the dying.
In turn, patients and clients regularly relate their dream encounters with the deceased loved ones, their premonitions and their near-death experiences.
Harlan, also a licensed psychotherapist, shares a number of those other-worldly tales in “Through the Eye of the Soul” (Balboa Press, $8.99), a 68-page soft back released in September.
“Because of my hospice experience, I started looking for good stories to read to people facing a terminal illness,” Harlan said. “I started to realize I had a collection of stories.”
Harlan recently introduced “Through the Eye of the Soul” during a book signing at Hampton Community Library.
The book compiles brief tales of supernatural experiences shared by more than 20 of Harlan's family members, former students, patients and co-workers.
There's the hummingbird who lingers at a bird lover's funeral.
There's the man who remembers leaving his body during open heart surgery, and then hearing his surgeons talk about golf as he lay on the operating table.
There's the lifelong worry wart — a dying mother of 18 — whose anxieties vanish after she sees a tall, winged and radiant angel standing in the doorway of her room in a nursing home.
“I don't interpret the stories,” said Harlan, who changed everybody's name in the book to protect their identities.
Harlan also avoids references to denominational religions.
“I definitely have a strong belief in afterlife and the passage to eternity,” Harlan said. “I don't believe God's love is limited to Christianity.”
“The stories are more about the mysteries and beings that inspire people and that look into the next life,” Harlan said.
Harlan expects to schedule other book signings at libraries in Shaler, Fox Çhapel and other areas to acquaint people with the book and to collect more stories.
“I know that these stories exist and are so powerful,” said Betsy Mazzoni, assistant executive director of Bethany Hospice in Green Tree.
Harlan coordinates spiritual care for clients of the hospice.
“We're really proud of her,” Mazzoni said. “She is an excellent hospice chaplain.”
Before she became a hospice chaplain, Harlan taught religion and English classes at Vincentian High School in McCandless, Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg and Seton La Salle High School in Mt. Lebanon.
Harlan also has a master's degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and works as a psychotherapist — primarily with trauma victims — for Cranberry Psychological Center in Seven Fields.
“Through the Eye of the Soul” is available online through Borders, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Amazon.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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