Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Hand on the Mirror: A True Story of Life Beyond Death by Janis Heaphy Durham

Grand Central Publishing sponsored this post. Here is where I'm supposed to say that all opinions are my own, but it doesn't fit since I'm not opining. I'm story-telling, FTC. Luckily, my stories are accurate and my own.

Two weeks ago we had the exterior of our house painted. It was a long time coming. Our painter and his crew was fabulous. They dug around the perimeter of the house and painted as far down as they could, so that if the soil ever shifted, no one would ever see the old paint. When it the paint dried, the put the soil back in place. 

It was after they pulled back the soil, but before they put it back into place, that I found what I thought was a baby cockroach on my pillow. (My husband was, of course, out of town.) I tried not to give it much thought. I removed it and went into the family room to read--The Hand on the Mirror, actually! I read until it was almost 11:00 pm. I shifted on the couch and stretched out my legs, debating whether I should go to bed. I saw two baby cockroaches on my right leg.

I stopped reading. I cleaned behind every piece of furniture, put away every last bit of cloth, and scoured every flat surface in the house because burning the house down would be arson and no real estate agent would answer the phone so late at night.

Janis Heaphy Durham had a powder-white handprint appear on her mirror on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd anniversaries of her husband's death. Lights flickered. Doors knocked. Rugs moved. She decided to take pictures and interview the most recognized names in the field of medicine, psychiatry, and psychic phenomenon. This is how Hand on the Mirror begins.

Janis Heaphy Durham and I are very, very different. At the first handprint, the first knock, the first flip-flapping flickering light I would have draped myself in every rosary I owned. I would have made a knight's armor suit out of torn Bible pages and made thigh sheaths for my crucifixes. I would have grabbed my holy water, and fled. 

I would not grab my camera. NOPE. 

And if 4 years after my husband's death, when I was newly married, a footprint that moved appeared on the arm of my chair around the anniversary of his death? 

God works in mysterious ways. I agreed to read and review this book last month thinking that, as a fan of stories of near death experience (NDEs), I would enjoy reading about a woman whose husband sent her messages from beyond. It's in a similar vein, I figured.

I started the book two weeks ago, around the time of the baby cockroaches (they turned out to be regular garden bugs dug up while painting the foundation). One week into reading Hand on the Mirror we heard about an alumni who died in a car accident shortly before his high school graduation. Two days later, we heard that the woman who inspired me to volunteer and commit myself to the school entered hospice. She is an amazing, powerful, faith-filled woman who volunteered twice as much as I did, all while fighting cancer. I do not want to contemplate a world without her presence.

God works in mysterious ways, or I picked up the wrong (right?) book at the wrong (right?) time.

Heaphy Durham spoke with anyone and everyone, and therefore her book leaves no paranormal stone unturned. Ghosts, hauntings, mediums, out of body experiences, the scientific community, religion, atheism...she covers it all. I completely skipped the chapter where she talks to parents who received messages from their dead children. 

Arguably, she became obsessed searching for answers. Her book is a memoir about spiritual revelation and scientific discovery. Kind of creepy, kind of not. (Depends on how you feel about hands on mirrors and spirits sleeping on your bed at night. Is there life after death? She believes she can answer that question. You can decide if you're brave enough to read what she discovered. 

I'm giving away a copy of the book! If you'd like a chance at winning, please leave a comment. I will pick a winner by next Friday using a random number generator. You must be over 18 years of age to enter.

In the meantime, you can download and excerpt here, or visit Janis Heaphy Durham's website or facebook page to read what other people had to say about their own "after death" experiences.


  1. Sounds kinda creepy/scary, kinda interesting. I'd like a chance to win. Thanks!

  2. Now I want to read this!...With the lights on.

  3. Sounds fascinating!

  4. I would love reading this! I'd also have that've to put my Bible on top of it in between readings. That's my personal way of keeping the scary baddies in the book. Ha!

  5. I saw her profiled on Sunday Morning News and rolled my eyes so far back I almost fell over. I'm a major skeptic, and while I'm glad she's finding comfort in these "visits," dead husbands do not leave baby powder hand prints.

    I guess this probably isn't an entry. :-)

    1. You know, I felt that way the first 75% of the book. I love reading NDE stories because I'm the type of person--despite being so involved in her church--who wants definitive proof. I felt sorry for her the first 3/4 of the book. Obviously her husband's death traumatized her. But something about that last 25%, maybe the part about the children, scared the crap out of me. I kept thinking about the boys and the woman I know who is just freaked me out and made me reconsider my skepticism.

  6. Oh man. Okay maybe I'll try it 😬

  7. Interesting - I don't know where this falls on the believability scale but I'd love to find out!

  8. Sounds creepy, but interesting. I'm in!

  9. Creeped out and intrigued at the same time.

  10. I'm intrigued as well.

  11. I'd sort of like to win! I'll throw my hat in.

  12. I think what I like the most about your description of the book is how it influenced your reaction to your own reality. Ghosts, bugs, near death, post death - it's all so real and present.

  13. I don't know if I can handle this with what is going on in my life now, but you have my curiosity piqued.

  14. Huh. Sounds like an interesting read. I'm in.

    New porch looks great btw!

  15. Count me in. (your porch is so PRETTY!)


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