Wanna catch the spirit? A Bethlehem woman can help.
The first anniversary of her husband John's death would have been much harder for Barbara Mattos were it not for the visit he paid her months after his passing.
He told her he loved her, then he gave her a spiritual hug.
"It was the most fabulous experience you can have," Mattos, 55, says of the paranormal occurrence. "It's like someone wraps you in an electric blanket and just holds you. It's wonderful."
In the dizzying span of 14 months, Mattos lost her husband to diabetes and both her mother and father to heart failure. She says she'd still be having panic attacks associated with the burden of grief if Marianne Michaels, a spiritual medium, hadn't shown her that there's life after death.
"Marianne is my salvation," says Mattos. "She's opened me up to be able to receive messages and communicate with my husband. You don't realize unless you've been there how much communication with your loved ones helps. You feel closer to them every time."
For 10 years Marianne Michaels has been teaching people plagued by sadness and grief that their loved ones live on and that they can be contacted after death.
She came to town last month to teach Philadelphians how to get in touch with dead friends and family members, and she'll return again in January.
"Their spirit is still around," she says. "Your relationship doesn't end because their physical body is gone. You just have to believe."
Ever since she was a girl, Michaels says spirits have visited her. She says it's a gift she possibly inherited from her mother, who's often visited by spirits in her dreams.
Michaels would describe her guests to her mother, who recognized them as family members who'd passed on.
Michaels says she was born into a deeply religious Italian Catholic family where everyone treats such supernatural encounters like everyday occurrences.
As an adult, Michaels didn't want to be a medium. Instead, she wanted to talk to people's angels (she says everyone has a guardian angel that follows them around), but when she started her formal studies, she heard only from the dead--both people and animals.
Michaels says she sees things inside her head, through her "third eye."
"When you love someone very deeply, it's just hard to remove them from your life once they go," she says. "I want people to know that there really isn't death. Death is just of the physical body. The relationship and the spirit and the person they know are still alive."
Last month Marianne Michaels brought her third eye from Bethlehem to Philadelphia to teach people how to create a new relationship with their deceased loved ones.
Five women sat in a semicircle waiting to hear from their parents, children, spouses or friends. Michaels sat in the front, her legs crossed, playing with the gold half moon around her neck.
For $100, Michaels teaches them what life is like on the other side and how they too can reach out to their deceased loved ones.