It can be said that Laura Stinchfield represents a new type of death care worker.
Laura is an animal trainer and behavior specialist, animal communicator, veterinarian instructor, people medium, radio host, and author of two books and a meditation CD. She can communicate with the dead, talk to those inquiring about the afterlife, and help stressed-out, over-worked people focus on meditation and consciousness. Laura, according to her website, “uses telepathy to have two-way conversations with alive animals, deceased animals and people, and anyone who cannot speak for themselves,” including disabled children and family members in a coma. She is also an internationally renowned pet psychic.
On Laura’s website, a list of reasons to have “a Pet Psychic session” include: “Find out which pet sitter they like best,” “Explain situations to your animal like going on vacation or a new spouse,” and “Connect with your animal in the afterlife.” Her books are Voices of the Animals and Stormy’s Words of Wisdom. Her CD is Pet Communication, Loss, and the Afterlife.
A skeptical reader might think this is all a bit much. But Laura Stinchfield has been featured all over the media world, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the LA Times, ABC Atlanta, Good Morning Texas, Noozhawk, Animal Zone, and MTV. And she is part of a very real trend in death care.
Ever since Jessica Mittford’s famous book, The American Way of Death, which was published in 1963 and critically investigated the American death care industry, the industry has been fighting back to prove that they are sympathetic and can indeed comfort the soul of Americans in their greatest time of loss and grief. The hit HBO show from the early 2000s, Six Feet Under, showed a different side of the industry, conveying the human and personal part of death care by following the trials and tribulations of one Los Angeles family running a family funeral home business. The industry continues to change in ways that are both simple and complex, and we have covered that extensively here at Digital Dying.
Cremation has surged in popularity against traditional burial. Cremated remains can now be transformed into jewelry, bullets, musical instruments, or shot into space. People can now be buried in a simple wooden box or no box at all. Or they can put their bodies or cremated remains into a pod that will digest it into the soil, or a slot in a mortuary skyscraper. And there have been changes to the ceremonies surrounding death, too, whether it involves home funerals or the revival of ancient or exotic rituals involving fire and wild animals. One also has the option of being buried at sea or in underwater cities. But there have been changes in how people find comfort and support in death and loss. And this is where Laura Stinchfield and many others like her come into the picture.
If many Americans are uncomfortable talking to their funeral home directors about grieving and loss—or perhaps no longer even have a funeral home director—they will need someone else to fill this role. And besides, isn’t a funeral about marking the end, creating closure, and moving on. What if people don’t want to move on? What if they feel there is still a connection there. A thread to the other realm where their loved one may be existing, and that this line can be dialed and a connection made. This, too, is where this new type of death care worker comes into the picture. And given that the new American nuclear family is more likely to include a pair of Chihuahuas and a troupe of cats, then all the better that this new type of death care worker can communicate with animals too!
Laura Stinchfield’s bio says that she presently lives in North Salem, New York. Not too far away, in the mountains of Vermont, is the pet psychic sensation Bonnie Strange, who has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles.
“Her analyses range from interpretations of why pets experience separation anxiety to insights into their past lives,” reads an article on iBerkshire.com. Strange told the Berkshire Eagle, another local publication: “It’s not 100 percent accurate. Some pets don’t want to go home; some are so lost they can’t get back; some get taken in, sent to a shelter, or go to someone new. But the ones that I seem to be able to find are those who want to go home the most. They are legitimately lost and desperate to return to their owners.”
Even the famously conservative Big Apple tabloid newspaper, the New York Post, has run stories on pet psychics. Such as their article about 33-year-old Nikki Vasconez, who was working as a property lawyer and making $75,000 a year but says she was miserable. In September 2020, she decided to start researching how to communicate with animals and says she swiftly gained a steady following, and “it wasn’t long before requests started pouring in.” Just a year later, in September 2021, she launched her pet psychic business on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok and soon gained hundreds of thousands of followers. Vasconez was so inundated that she had to stop taking bookings.
“During a typical reading, Vasconez, who runs Nikki Vasconez Animal Communication, sits in a quiet room in her home and studies a photo of the animal,” reads the New York Post article. “She telepathically asks the animal a series of questions and records them as well as the animal’s ‘responses’ so owners can listen to the exchange.”
There are also sites like Psychic Source, where customers can choose from a whole host of communicators. Here, for example, one can find “Lost Object Readings,” “Love Tarot Readings,” “Past Life Readings,” “Psychic Video Readings,” and “Pet Psychics,” too.
“Have you ever wished you could speak cat, dog, or horse language?” the site asks. “Most people know that psychics can communicate with loved ones. Luckily, their gifts aren’t limited to humans. In fact, there are numerous pet psychics who can use their talents to connect with all types of animals who are walking among us as well as those who have passed on.”
For the task of speaking to a dead pet, this site offers the services of Coventina, Claudette, Analise, and Destiny. “Similar to psychic mediums, pet psychics possess the ability to communicate with those who have passed,” states Psychic Source. “If you’re curious as to what your cat thought of your tender love and care as a pet parent or just want to know how your dog is faring on the other side, speaking to a pet psychic can help.” Prices for pet psychics start at $1 a minute.
Of course, as much as dialing people on the phone or connecting with them online to learn the words and whereabouts of their dead relatives and pets is a new trend, like much in the death care business, it has roots in older trends. Digital Dying has also written a great deal about Ouija, seances, and The Great Houdini. For years, New Yorkers would meet on various rooftops or cemeteries and await his return from the dead, an attempt to learn some of the legendary magician’s secrets. As long as we are alive, we will feel the need to communicate with those who aren’t, and there will surely be a variety of interesting people who rise to the task.