Learning Bad News

The sun beamed brightly as my 34-year-old brother David and I laughed and reminisced while walking along the sandy shores of Coast Guard National Seashore in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Our family had just gathered for our annual camping vacation, and it was great being together again.

David came out that he was gay when he was 22 years old. Twelve years later, thousands of people were dying of AIDS weekly. There was no cure.

“Hey David, have you been tested for AIDS?” I ask casually.

David turned away. The sun went behind the clouds and a chill air swept around me. My heart began to scream with anxiety. It was the longest ten seconds of my life until David slowly turned towards me and said softly, “I’m HIV Positive.”

Keeping a Secret

I feel ridiculous saying this now, but I had no idea what these words implied at that time. “What does that mean?” I ask with a sinking heart.

“HIV forms into AIDS,” he said, looking me straight into my horrified eyes.

My brother David was going to die! This impending catastrophe makes no sense. “DAVID! Are you getting good medical care?”

David slowly replied, “Yes, I am getting the best medical service possible. I see a doctor affiliated with Harvard.”

My heart beat a crescendo of fear and disbelief. My mind whirled with the implications of David’s impending death. “What can I do to help?”

David quickly replied, “Please don’t tell anyone. I am taking all the precautions. I don’t want to be treated any differently.”

No Support for a Sibling

Of course, I agreed immediately. I would do anything to assist my brother.

When I consented not to share this horrific news, it left me with no support system. One day I found myself in the New Age section of our local bookstore. Now I realize I was guided because I didn’t even know the term New Age. I’m a science-based Occupational Therapist with no spiritual or psychic awareness at the time.

I found books that described the afterlife, a scenario I had never contemplated before. I shared some of these books with David, so we were both aware there may be a possibility that he could remain alive after death. Yet, neither of us knew anyone who recognized the reality of an afterlife. My mind needed to BELIEVE that the afterlife was real before I could learn that after-death communication was possible.

David lived for three more years after our initial oceanside conversation.

Six weeks after David passed, my heart overflowed with grief. I feel everything in life is positive, but I could find nothing positive about my 37-year-old brother’s passage.

‘Best Present of my Life’

I was riding my horse through a Christmas tree farm, crestfallen and confused. That day I received the best present of my life.

We had just experienced our first frost. Icicles were sparkling, and rainbows shimmered amongst the trees. I opened my heart just a tiny bit to nature’s wonder. When our heart is closed with grief, it is hard to feel anything except sorrow. Yet today, I said, “Thank you universe for a beautiful day.” I shut my eyes, and there was my brother!

David was in human form, wearing a black and red plaid flannel shirt, dungarees, and sandals. I had never heard of or experienced anything like this before. The scene was luminescent, filled with LOVE. I started to talk with David and realized in a split second that I could send and receive his thoughts. David was healthy, and I was ecstatic. I was with my brother again!

I looked to the right, and there were my grandparents, who had passed about ten years before. Edward, one of David’s best friends who passed about six months ago, was standing beside a friend of mine, Holly, who transitioned about 20 years ago.

Realizing that Life Continues

The story continues, but it was the first time I realized life was eternal. I asked the universe to send me a teacher so that I could learn how to continue communicating with my brother. When we are looking for assistance from the afterlife, it is very helpful to ASK.

Dr. Amy Carroll mentioned she knew a shaman that talked with people who had died. Amy was a friend of mine and an Occupational Therapist. Our professional similarity allowed my mind to consider contacting this shaman, even though I knew no one that believed that the afterlife was real.

I immediately apprenticed with Nancy Arael for 3-6 hours a week the first year after David transitioned.

My life became a magical series of transformational events. Nancy Arael used Reiki to assist my connections with the afterlife. I became a Reiki practitioner and eventually a Reiki Master after learning Reiki initially from an Occupational Therapist.

It’s important for our minds to relax when learning after-death communication. With my background in Occupational Therapy, having mentors in the OT realm helped my mind accept what my heart already knew. My brother David was alive and just living in another reality. I continue to share messages with my beloved brother.

Finding a New Mission

It took me 20 years to find the courage to disclose these events. I sold my large rehabilitation private practice with hundreds of staff serving thousands of people each year specifically to share my transformational journey of LOVE.

My book, Change Maker, How My Brother’s Death Woke Up My Life, was published by She Writes Press and won 5 national book awards. I became the first person to teach Reiki at each in-person American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference since 2015 and at multiple International Association for Near-Death Studies Annual Conferences. I teach online and in-person international after-death communication weekend workshops with excellent success.

After-death communication is possible. If I can learn to communicate with my deceased brother, so can you.

TRUST yourself to follow your heart. BELIEVE the afterlife is real. Mindfully ASK for assistance. Know that your LOVE is always received. Express GRATITUDE. Understand that your deceased loved ones remain alive, living in the afterlife.


Rebecca is teaching her online After-Death Communication Weekend Workshop on November 5-6, 2022. Registration is at: https://afterdeathweekendworkshop.com 

Rebecca’s one-day weekend certificate-provided Reiki Immersion Online training will be held in late March/early April 2023: RebeccaAustillClausen.com/reiki-immersion

Read more about sibling suicide on Open to Hope: When a Sibling Dies by Suicide – Open to Hope


Rebecca Austill-Clausen

I am a science-based Occupational Therapist who learned to communicate with my deceased loved ones even though I had no initial psychic or spiritual awareness. I'm a Reiki Master, international speaker, award-winning author, and Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association. My education includes having an Advanced Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy, graduating summa cum laude from Boston University. Utica University was the site of my undergraduate training in Occupational Therapy. I've owned five private practices, including one that grew from a one-person business (myself) to a staff of over 350 therapists serving over 100,000 clients. I've been President of the Delaware Occupational Therapy Association, Vice President of all the State Occupational Therapy Association Presidents, and Secretary of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure Board. I served as the Joint Commission medical accreditation and certification Home Health representative for six rehabilitation organizations, including the American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Speech and Hearing Association, and three national Therapeutic Recreation Associations. It's been exciting to be the first person to teach one-day, certificate-provided Reiki training courses at every American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference since 2015. I'm also thrilled to be the first to conduct Reiki certificate-provided training at the International Association for Near-Death Studies Annual Conference in person in 2022 and online in 2021. Reiki reduces pain, creates a feeling of self-worth, and enhances after-death communication. I teach one day Reiki Immersion Online certificate-provided weekend courses in the spring, and in-person Reiki training at medical universities and national and state conferences. My Reiki trainings average 96% Excellent/Very Good effectiveness. My After-Death Communication Weekend Workshops are taught online in the fall. I'm thrilled that 100% of all respondents to my 2021 and 2020 After-Death Communication post-course survey realize they can receive and share communication with their deceased loved ones. I've taught in-person After-Death Communication workshops at Lily Dale Assembly, the largest community of psychics and mediums in the United States. Additional after-death communication presentations include workshops with Helping Parents Heal, The Compassionate Friends, the International Association for Near-Death Studies, dozens of holistic expos, metaphysical chapels, bookstores, and book clubs. Multiple keynotes and guest speaker presentations occur regularly throughout the year, both online and in-person. Reiki, After-Death Communication, Forest Bathing, Spirituality, Integrative Health, Guided Meditations, Sound Healing, and Overcoming the Chaos of COVID are common topics. I'm also trained in automatic writing, shamanism, communicating with nature spirits, crystal energy, and healing using a wide range of complementary modalities. I was delighted to be highlighted in the film Life to Afterlife: The Healers. It's an honor to be a hospice volunteer, providing Reiki to those actively dying. Empowering LOVE and support, combined with dynamic interactions, are woven throughout all my presentations. My husband and I have almost finished visiting all the U.S. National Parks. We thoroughly enjoy our two wonderful sons and their extended families. I love to camp, scuba dive, travel, read, enjoy music, sharing joy, and living life to its fullest.

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