Death of my Partner

I expected my fiancé to meet me at the airport that day in 1998. Instead, a friend was there, and he delivered the fateful words: “Kim, he died.”

Phillip’s death from a sudden heart attack shattered my world. We’d met later in life, in our 40s, and knew instantly we were soulmates. We looked forward to a future together.

A future that was not to be.

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the shock and pain that come next. I likened the loss to physical pain – except there seemed to be no limit to the depths of this emotional pain.

Considering a Medium

In the course of processing my grief, I turned to a trusted therapist friend. She and I could go deep, and it was she who suggested I might want to talk to a medium. She described a recent encounter with a woman whose skills impressed her.

At that point in my life, the idea of engaging a medium to contact someone who has passed was far outside my comfort and experience zone. But like so many people who lose loved ones, I yearned to know if it was possible. What follows is not intended to convince you one way or the other, but rather to tell you what my experience was like and offer suggestions on how to find a legitimate medium, if you so choose.

What’s an ‘Evidentiary” Medium?

At that time, I sought what is now commonly called an “evidentiary” or “evidential” medium. Evidentiary mediums seek evidence from the other side that the sitter (the person requesting the reading) can verify. They prod spirits for specifics as opposed to offering general, feel-good statements. There may be some of those general proclamations, like “He’s telling me how much he loves you,” but they are interspersed with facts only the sitter and spirit would know.

In my case, the reading took place over the phone — me in Texas, the medium in Oregon. I had gotten her number through a chain of connections — a friend of a friend of a friend of my therapist. Right off the bat, the medium spoke of two brothers who were there for me on the other side. One had committed suicide young.

As the reading progressed, it became clear this was Phillip’s brother, who had killed himself some 25 years earlier. A skeptic might suggest that the medium just googled me and found the connection. But in 1998, the internet was in its infancy; regular folks weren’t using it to find information the way we all do today. Moreover, there was nothing to link me to this brother. It was one of several aha! moments in the reading that convinced me a real connection had been made.

Discerning Legitimate from Charlatan

Today the landscape is different. There are many legitimate mediums out there – but plenty of charlatans and profiteers, too. It takes a little more discernment to find the legit ones.

A good first step is researching how a legitimate medium operates so that you can be an effective sitter. John Edward’s book One Last Time gives a good account of this. So does Suzanne Giesemann’s book Messages of Hope. In particular, an evidentiary medium does ask for feedback from the sitter, but only to verify whether a statement from spirit means something. They don’t want you to volunteer information beyond “Yes, that makes sense” or “No, I’m not sure what that means.” If you want to learn more about this, Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona has made the study of mediums an academic focus. He has even designed a method to score a reading for accuracy vs. chance.

Where to Find a Medium

One of the best ways to find a medium is through word of mouth. But that’s a little circular to beginners — like trying to get hired for your first job, but experience is required.

A good place to start is the Helping Parents Heal website ( This organization brings together parents who have lost children. Their list of providers includes evidentiary mediums with at least a minimal track record.

How to choose just one? Here’s what mediums themselves suggest: Start by meditating or praying, asking for guidance to the right medium for you. Trust your intuition.

Once you’ve narrowed the field, dig a little deeper into the testimonials and websites and continue to evaluate your feelings about each medium. The final step is contacting them either to set up a reading or to learn more about what they do. There are no hard and fast rules here. It’s a process, driven by the heart. It may take several tries to find the one that feels right to you.

Red Flags About Mediums

There are a few red flags. Price is one. Broadly speaking (there are exceptions), something around $200 an hour is a fair price. The other red flag is what the medium asks or observes about you. A medium who is focused on what spirits are trying to communicate does not say things like, “You must be in your forties” or “You went to college, didn’t you?” If you have a sense the medium is fishing for answers, they are probably not right for you.

It’s not unusual for there to be extraneous information in a reading because the process of connecting to spirit is not easy, even for an experienced medium. But what makes these connections so powerful and reassuring can be the smallest verifiable clue. About a year ago, I had another reading on Zoom with a different medium. In the course of describing a female entity, the medium said: “She had false teeth or a bridge, the way she just made this motion here.” The medium put her thumb up to pull on her two front teeth.

What I knew that the medium did not: My mother was always embarrassed by her front teeth. They were so wonky that she refused to smile in photos. The tiny idiosyncratic gesture let me know without a doubt that I was in the presence of my mother.

My skepticism was no match for that kind of evidence.

Excerpted from My Dead True Love, by Kim Pierce

Learn more about the author at her website, My Dead True Love | Based on a True Story


Kim Pierce

Kim Pierce is a former Dallas Morning News writer and editor who lost her fiancé to a heart attack in 1998. In her struggle to come to grips with his sudden death at 50, she began writing a grief journal that she eventually turned into her novel, "My Dead True Love," with the help of the Southern Methodist University Writer’s Path program. For much of her career with The News, she was a restaurant critic. She also was viewed as an expert in farmers markets and locavore trends at a time when people were seeking out more local, sustainable ways of eating. Her own experiences with the paranormal after her fiancé died became a driving force behind writing her novel – that, and a desire to help others explore what may exist beyond death. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with her partner and three cats and volunteers with the Feral Cat Group at SMU to care for the campus cats.

More Articles Written by Kim