Most helpful critical review
117 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2014
First let me say, in November 2007 my 26 year old Son lost his life at the hands of a 17 year old killer. So, I am always interested in books that give a look at what is called the "Afterlife". My wife saw this book on the Goodreads web site and bought for me thinking it might provide hope and comfort.
One problem with reading a book on this topic, and then reviewing it, is the baggage we bring with us when we decide to read it. Most people have a set of beliefs that they hold or a religious bias that they bring with them when they read a book such as this. In general they are looking to validate the beliefs they already hold. In honesty I am no different in this respect. In that same vein a person who writes a book such as this they bring their beliefs and bias to the written page.
It appears to me that Dr. Medhus has brought her own beliefs into the writing of this book. Dr. Medhus openly admits that she and her siblings were raised in an Atheist household and I think it shows in the writing of this book.
What I find in this book is an aggrieved mother that is trying come to grips with the loss of her 20 year Son Erik, to suicide. With the loss of her Son she now has to come to grips with her Atheistic belief which is that there is no "Afterlife". In her desperation to overcome a lifetime of Atheistic beliefs she has sought out a way to create a "Heaven" based on science or secularism rather than the spiritualism taught be most religions. In fact the author seems to do everything she can in order to avoid mentioning the "God" that many religions teach. She talks of a source of energy or light, a scientific power. And yet, in order to reach her Son she reaches out to mediums and psychics, although she chooses to call these people Spiritual Guides or Interpreters. She deludes herself into believing these title give more scientific credence to the channeling of Erik.
We do learn that as Erik got older he developed Bi-polar disorder and also suffered with Tourette's Syndrome. As he got older Erik withdrew from family and friends and eventually took his own life.
We learn that through these guides Dr. Medhus is able to talk with her Son who has now become a higher evolved being. The author does warn us that Erik, who had a propensity to swear before his death continues to swear in the afterlife in part due to his Tourette's. In Tourette's syndrome the sufferer has emotional outbursts often of a profane nature, using profanity to express this emotion. Two points. One: In portraying her Son swearing she does not express the words in a way that a Tourette's sufferer would express them. Two: Her Son was now a higher evolved being. I have to ask why a higher evolved being would constantly have to resort to vulgar language. What I find here is a foul mouthed 20 year old that wasn't very evolved at all, and I might add that his Mother, the Author was not above some vulgarity of her own. She sure knows how to take God's name in vein.
She talks of learn about the light that most people with "Near Death Experiences" see. I find it interesting that the author reduces it to a scientific phenomenon. Her explanation is that it is the lack of oxygen that causes the light and not some spiritual manifestation. Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't a Dr. know that a lack of oxygen would destroy the optic nerve and cause blackness and not light?
Dr. Medhus talks quite often to her Son over the period of this book, asking many questions about what the "Afterlife" is like. We learn that spirits can create homes and pizza and big screen TVs, although I have to wonder why a higher spiritual being without a flesh and blood body would need these things. We learn that Erik has lived many lives and will live many more lives. That as we live progressive lives we overcome the problems we have had in the past. What horrible problems did Erik have in the past that led to suicide in this life?
She asks about human consciousness and states, "Erik dove into some of the into the science behind the nature of consciousness , which went a long way to smoothing the ruffled feathers of the scientist in me". Question: Why does the afterlife have to be based on ANY science? Just because the as a Dr. the author has a scientific background? Excuse me but "Heaven" doesn't need to have a scientific bases in order to exist.
One of the other problems that disturbs me is that as Dr. Medhus talks to her Son she constantly feeds him the answers or Jamie, one of the Spiritual Guides, states that Erik is quite often searching for answers. Does a self proclaimed higher spiritual being need to be fed answers or even need to struggle to find answers?
Also we learn that Erik the spirit can become absorbed into the "Spirit God". That we came literally become God if we choose.
A little side note. As I stood with my cousin, my clergy and a funeral home representative the man from the funeral home asked if we had a religious affiliation and a belief in an afterlife. When asking why he wanted to know he stated that in all the years he had been in the business the single group that had the greatest difficulty facing the finality of death were self proclaimed Atheists. When faced with a lifetime of belief many could not handle the fact that a loved one was now lost to them forever. Now they were hoping that this long held belief in no life after death was false.
What I find in this book is a Mother filled with guilt and a desperation that her long held beliefs or not true. So she turns to the only source that can help her and that is "Spiritual Guides" because "Mediums" are not "Scientific" enough. When her Son, or the guide? can't give her the answer she wants, she creates a scientific answer to her problem and even finds a way to keep "God" out of the equation.
As for the two "Spiritual Guides", I found them very disturbing. Especially Jamie. I found them both lacking in any credibility. And all the giggling was very troubling.
This book gave me no comfort at all, and I had to stop reading it for awhile. But I felt that I needed to finish it in order to give my honest opinion. Should everyone choose to not read this book? I will not suggest that to be the case as it has received many more positive reviews so far than 3,2 or 1 star reviews. I cannot tell a grieving parent what they should read in order to bring them comfort. If this book helps anyone then that is wonderful, it just didn't help me. I would only caution that a potential reader check out the book first, before spending $16 at a book store.
And to those of you that have attacked lower starred reviews, we have the right to our opinions and it doesn't stop you from reading and getting enjoyment out of this book, but it might help someone else from undo pain of reading a book that disturbs more than it helps.
Addendum: One thing I've now experienced with this review is the whole helpful, not helpful issue here on Amazon reviews. I've made an honest effort to review this book objectively based on my own experiences. I've been very open about that. My own son was murdered seven years ago and me and my wife struggle every day. This book brought me no comfort or feelings of hope. That is my experience. But I have found that some readers of this book are giving my review a not helpful rating, not because my review is or isn't helpful, but because they liked the book and want to express their negative feelings towards someone who didn't like the book. I've been very specific as to why this review earned a two star rating from me. This review will either make a person want to read the book or not read the book, that is called being helpful. Giving any review a "Not Helpful" vote simple because you liked the book and disagree with someone who doesn't like the book is an inappropriate use of this forum.