GriefSpeak: “Life Before Life”

By: Dr. Mari Dias

“It is not surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection” (Voltaire)

Angela, a 60-something year-old grandma whose husband died recently shared a story with me that piqued my curiosity. I believe it will do the same for you.

Angela’s granddaughter, Patricia, a bright, precocious 8-year-old spends her weekends keeping Nana Angela company. One evening, as they cuddled in bed and Patricia snuggled into the crook of Nana’s arms, she said:

“Nana, I miss Juliette.”

Angela was a bit surprised because she thought she knew all of Patricia’s friends.

“Well, Patricia, I don’t know your friend, Juliette, but if you miss her, let’s plan to call her in the morning. Maybe you can set up a play date.”

“Oh Nana”, Patricia sighed. “We can’t call or visit Juliette. I knew her before I knew you!”

Angela quizzically responded: “What does that mean, Patricia?”

Confidently and adroitly Patricia explained:

“I knew her when I was with God.”

We often discuss life after death, but this is one of the first times I’ve heard such a poignant story about life before life. The common idiom “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back” flashed through my mind. My curiosity needed satisfaction. The result of my investigation led me to researching life before life. Sure enough, there are a plethora of stories about children recalling a former life, but I have been unable to find any who talk about a life before life in heaven or with God.

Dr. Jim Tucker published two ground-breaking books. One entitled “Life Before Life: Children’s Memories of Previous Lives” and “Return to Life: Extraordinary Cases of Children Who Remember Past Lives.”  One of the chapters, entitled “Divine Intermission”, includes a story where one young boy recalled his experience in the womb. “Bobby” recalls experiences that his mother had while he was in the womb. Bobby can recall specifics of his labor and birth – he spoke of being stuck and fighting to get out. He also recalls the cesarean section, the final decision once delivery was not an option because of his awkward positioning.

Another case is one of twins who have specific memories of not just their existence in utero, but of a life before this one – in another country, another century, a different gender. We often refer to children who appear more mature than their chronological age as “old souls.” According to Dr. Tucker, the majority of us may fall into that category!

There are dozens of case studies in Tucker’s books, studies that are qualitative and claim to be empirical research on the existence of life before life. Dr. Tucker goes on to discuss “Emotional Consequences”, stating that it’s not just memories that may be able to survive from one life to another.” Emotions, attachments, fears, addictions, likes and dislikes, and over-identification with a particular country or gender may carry over from one life to the next.”

Why does one newborn sleep easily while another appears anxious and has difficulty self- soothing?

Why does your 18-month-old hate sweets?

Why does your toddler struggle with crippling anxiety when going to daycare?

Why is one child resilient and another not so much?

Some may refer to these studies as unquantifiable and thus unbelievable. Those children who experience these memories would argue that they know what they know. This field is fraught with both hundreds of examples, and rife with criticism. It is up to us to decide.

I encourage you to be open to what your children say and do. Ask them questions, allow them to explore these memories they claim to have. We don’t have any explanations, but a plethora of stories that, at the minimum, cause us pause.

Patricia is still the only case that I know of who remembers God and a friend in heaven, as well as a “knowing” of the different worlds. “Nana, I knew Juliette before I knew you.” What else do our children know? What are their experiences? Is there life before life?

If you believe that there is life after death (reincarnation), then you need to entertain life before life.

Where are we going? Where have we been?

P.S. If any of my readers have had, or know someone who has had a pre-life experience, please email me.

All names and identifying factors have been changed to protect the innocent or guilty in this story.


Dr. Mari Dias is a nationally board-certified counselor, holds a Fellow in Thanatology and is certified in both grief counseling and complicated grief.

She is Professor of Clinical Mental Health, Master of Science program, Johnson & Wales University. Dias is the director of GracePointe Grief Center, in North Kingstown, RI.  For more information, go to:

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