Look at a Book: The Hand On the Mirror

In 2004, Janis Heaphy Durham’s husband, Max Besler, died of esophageal cancer at age fifty-six. While coping with her grief, Heaphy Durham began encountering phenomena unlike anything she had ever experienced: lights flickering, doors opening and closing, clocks stopping at 12:44—the exact time Max died. But then something startling happened that changed Heaphy Durham’s life forever: a powdery handprint spontaneously appeared on her bathroom mirror on the first anniversary of Max’s death. Incredibly, a similar image appeared on the second and third anniversaries as well. Clearly, something otherworldly was occurring.

This launched Heaphy Durham on a journey that transformed her spiritually and altered her view of reality forever when she wrote The Hand on the Mirror. She interviewed scientists and spiritual practitioners along the way, discovering the fragility of the veil between this world and the next and the way the two are bridged by love.


I was recenlt given the opportunity to ask Durham a few questions about her upcoming book and here’s what I found out:

How did you come to believe your husband was trying to communicate with you after his death?

I wasn’t at all sure what was happening, but I saw a connection to Max and came to believe that he was sending messages to me because of the specific nature of those connections. Just a week after his death, the clocks stopping at 12:44 p.m., the exact time of his death, were the first signs. The most blatant were the handprints and other images on the mirror because they appeared on the anniversary of his death in the bathroom adjacent to the guest room where he spent his final months of life. So many other things, especially related to time and dates, pointed to a connection to Max– the Father’s Day card to Max that fell out of a randomly chosen book on Father’s Day after his death, or the receipt from a restaurant we loved from the same date exactly two years earlier falling out of another randomly chosen book. I had to consider as soon as these happened that they were messages from Max, but I didn’t know what the message was, except that they all tended to comfort me in my grief, to make me feel that he was letting me know he was okay and that there was more out there beyond death.

Had you been a believer in the afterlife prior to this time?

Yes, as a Christian and the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, I grew up believing that God had a place for us where we would go after we died. Before my experiences following Max’s death, I had not tried to dissect that idea, although I always remained open to new ideas and read many books suggested by my father that explored spirituality, faith and philosophy. But I had not experienced the kind of otherworldly events that happened after Max died.

What is your hope with this book and who do you hope to inspire?

My hope is that this book will bring comfort and understanding to those who have had experiences similar to mine and to those who have hesitated to share them for fear of stigma. I also hope that the book will bring attention to the researchers and scientists who are trying to investigate the survival of consciousness after death, so that they will be able to continue to bring a legitimate, valid foundation for a cultural and scientific discussion of an important human question: What happens when we die?

Disclosure: I was not compensated for writing this post. It is not sponsored.

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