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Beyond The Grave

For many people, this time of year brings with it the desire to connect with distant family members, even if they've passed on.

The Early Show's Tracy Smith said she is skeptical of séances and mediums – people who claim to talk to the dead. She said it's easy to scoff at people who go to mediums, until you become one of them.

Some say there are options for those who believe and who want to reach out to loved ones beyond the grave.

One of the more famous mediums is John Edward, host of "Crossing Over," a nationally syndicated "séance."

Before each taping, or gallery, Edward sounds a note of caution about what the audience is about to hear.

"Many times the information that comes through here, today, I get wrong," said Edward. "Yes, I get it wrong."

In a crowd of several hundred, Edward said he goes, literally, as the spirit moves him.

Only a few members of the audience are chosen to participate with the medium. They hope Edward will enable them to talk to love ones beyond the grave.

Smith was chosen by Edward to communicate with the dead. "None of my dead relatives spoke up," says Smith. "Others seemed to make a connection."

Edward explained he hears things in his head — not conversational voices, but words and thoughts.

"It's strange, because it's never totally clear," said Edward.

Critics have dismissed his readings as little more than a cruel stunt.

"My two options from the critics are either: One, I'm this heinous individual who's preying on vulnerability of the grieving masses," said Edward. "Or my other option is, I'm delusional because I believe I can do this."

Edward says if he had to choose one of the two options, it would be that he is delusional.

Those delusions are frequently on target. In 1999, University of Arizona Professor Dr. Gary Schwartz asked five mediums to read strangers they couldn't see. Keeping score of how many personal details the mediums got right, John Edward was accurate more than 80 percent of the time. So was his friend Suzane Northrop.

Northrop says she's been communicating with the other side since she was a child. For her, talking to the dead is a full-time job.

Northrop has written two books about talking with the dead, including ways to do it yourself.

"If you work at it like anything else, it'll happen," said Northrop. "Most people just don't want to work on it. They want the mediums to do it for them."

Tracy Smith decided to give the medium a try. She wanted to communicate with her father.

"My guessing is that you're not his only daughter, are you?" says Northrop. "I was double checking because he said, 'This is my little girl, and this is daddy's girl.'"

Smith wanted to know more and asked Northrop to continue.

"I don't know who's connected to him, but somebody must have been connected to him in the Air Force," said Northrop.

"My father wasn't in the Air Force," said Smith.

"I keep hearing Air Force," said Northrop.

Smith admitted that her father was a defense contractor.

"But you're not an only child, so you must have a brother," said Northrop.

"No, I am an only child," responded Smith.

"You are?" asked Northrop. "Because, I'm getting brother vibration."

Smith said she did have a dog that her father joked all her life that it was her brother.

"Now this dog, you didn't bury in the backyard?" asked Northrop.

Tracy said her family didn't bury the dog in the backyard. But, she says, somebody was buried in the backyard. Her father's ashes were scattered in the yard.

It seems that Northrop honed the guessing game.

"I have to say I'm pretty good at it, because those are pretty specific things," said Northrop.