Amy Weiss, daughter of past-life regression expert Dr. Brian Weiss and co-author of Miracles Happen, shares why the people you love most have always been by your side.
People choose their parents and many of the circumstances of their lives before they are born. At least this is what my father, Dr. Brian L. Weiss, and I have found time and time again as we lead people through their past lives. Using past-life regression therapy and hypnosis, our clients are able to access not only past lives but also the mystical states when they are in between bodies—after they have died and before they are born into a new body—and even into in utero states, when they are inside their mother and waiting for birth. The chosen parents are no accident, no quirk of fate. And so sometimes when I reflect on being the daughter of Dr. Weiss, who is known as an authority in the field of reincarnation and past lives, a distinction that has made for a most interesting upbringing for his children, I must remind myself that this is all my doing.

In all seriousness, I couldn't have chosen any better. In his first book, Many Lives, Many Masters, my father wrote of a time when I was 3 years old, when he was just beginning his work with the eternal nature of the soul. I had come running up to him, embracing him around his legs, and looked up at his face and said, "Daddy, I've loved you for 40,000 years." To him, this validated everything that he was starting to discover. I love that the 3-year-old me was so wise—much more so than I am now. In our work, we find that with each incarnation, the roles are often switched: Parent becomes child, child turns sibling, best friend to spouse, man will be woman, and so on. In this lifetime alone, my father has been a mentor, a friend, a co-worker, a spiritual guide and a goofy dad willing to crawl on his hands and knees and pretend to be a gorilla in order to amuse me (he doesn't do this last one any longer, which is fine because I am now in my 30s, but I know he would do it for me if I asked him to). I have no doubt that I have loved him over the centuries. I'm sure that I have been his child before—I certainly have been his student—just as I continue to be in this life.

Although he started his career and life as a very skeptical, left-brained academic and scientist, he began delving into the truth that we are immortal, eternal souls right when I was an infant. As a result, I was raised with this understanding. I never had to overcome barriers, whether intellectual, religious, personal or otherwise, to the knowledge that we are souls, that we never really die, that we never lose our loved ones and that we will come into human life again and again to perfect ourselves, to learn our lessons of love, kindness and compassion. I questioned these concepts and examined them, particularly in my teenage years simply because if they came from my parents, I had to do so, but I always came back to them because for me they feel true and right. Having these beliefs since I was born has been incredibly liberating. I have never feared my own death. I grieve just as everyone else does, but without fear, for I know that our loved ones will reincarnate with us again, that our separations are painful but not eternal, that death is an ellipsis and not a period. Perhaps because of this, I have found myself easily able to work in hospice care, being present with others at the time of their passing, feeling so grateful and humbled to be with them as they cross the next threshold into what lies beyond, which I know to be beautiful and loving beyond words. I have grown up with the awareness that life is more than the mundane, that it is a grand spiritual adventure but only part of the adventure. That there is a reason for everything, a higher consciousness, a loving universe, a greater perspective and context in which to place my life, this lifetime that is but one of many. Yet growing up Weiss has also been a unique and occasionally strange experience.

When I was young, a friend would tell me about how his or her grandparent or some other loved one had died right before they were born. "Oh, cool," I would say. "They probably reincarnated as you," and she would fall silent and stare at me blankly. My father would take my family to New Age expos, and I would meet people who covered their bodies in tin foil and claimed to be from the Pleiades, or who wore giant pyramids on their heads. My friends and I would volunteer to be the microphone runners at his presentations, selecting people from the audience to ask questions. The questions could be thoughtful, intelligent and provocative, or they could border on the insane. We loved being a part of all of it, of being exposed to these worlds that seemed so far beyond our everyday ones, populated with both mystics and aliens, doubts and truths. There was one Friday night when I was a young girl, and my parents had some friends over to our house. We were all sitting in the living room. The lights were dimmed, and one by one each of us would stand in front of a blank wall as the others would narrow their eyes and attempt to see the colors of the aura surrounding him or her. I was having a great time spending the evening this way, but at one point I stopped for a moment, turned to my parents and said, "You do realize that we're not like other families, right?"