The Afterlife: Real Or Imagined?

Detail: Eug Metropolitan Museum of Art

It's a question we all have pondered: When it's over, is it really over? Is there life, after death? And if there is, just what is it like?

Is death followed by heaven or hell as Michelangelo imagined? Do we become ghostly presences like those Shakespeare conjured? Was Plato right: the body dies, but the soul lives on forever, asks CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski

"I do believe in the afterlife. It's a wonderful afterlife," says psychic Barbara Reeder.

Asked if anything about the afterlife scared her, Reeder answers, "No. I think it's much easier. Waitressing scares me."

Reeder says she communicates with the dead all the time.

"Many times they want their loved ones to know that they're O.K. And they want their loved ones to know that there's something else, that they live on. They haven't died," Reeder says.

Through prayer and meditation, Reeder says she works with an angel who connects her with "the unseen world." Believe what you will, Reeder says her proof is a budding business.

Reeder explains her craft, telling Brzezinski, "Sometimes it's like, do you remember that show Laugh-In? Where you'd walk in and there'd be an Indian, a minister and, like, you know co-chiefs and all of these different people.

"So it's like that when I look at someone 'cause I see the aura and I see the guides and the spirits around them in the aura -- in that -- in that realm."

It all sounds pretty out there, but could her "claims" stand up in a reading for this correspondent, Brzezinski wonders?

While it may seem fringe today, at the turn of the last century seeing the dead was a popular pastime. Pierre Apraxine is curator of "The Perfect Medium," an exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Referring to photographs some believe depict ghosts, Apraxine says, "They're called - what else -- spirit photographs. They date back to the Civil War when grieving Americans believed new technology could capture one last glimpse of them with their 'departed' loved one."

Apraxine adds, "You know if you think about the microscope lens, that you can see all, or with the telescope that you can see much farther or infinitely small. So why not the invisible?"
  • Sean Alfano

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