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"Grandma, What Is A Soul?" Paperback – February 4, 2015
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About the Author
Rev. Karen E. Herrick, PhD, is the director of the Center for Children of Alcoholics Inc. in Red Bank, New Jersey. She holds an MSW from Rutgers University and a PhD from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Over the past thirty years, she has developed a successful private practice helping people with all types of psychological problems, including addictions, and has lectured throughout the United States on dysfunctional and addictive homes, dissociation, and grief and loss from a Jungian perspective.
Ordained at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Rev. Herrick is the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies’ first female president in thirty-seven years. A mother of three daughters, and grandmother of eight, she is passionate about helping people of all ages better understand their unique spiritual experiences and develop healthy ways to handle their grief over the loss of loved ones.
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Or I suppose they might think I have really taken a wrong turn in my thinking and need a course correction, but let's not go there.... ;-)
As interesting looking as most of these books are, I seldom have time to more than glance at them, even when I think they are about something I'd really like to know more about. That's sad, but that's reality...
Yesterday an envelope containing a little book came in the mail - and the instant I opened it, I was sold! “This looks good, I've got to get into this.”
Being a grandfather myself, the author, Reverend Karen Herrick, had plucked my heart strings.
What do you tell a little kid about death? And what do you tell the little kid still inside all of us about death, especially as we personally approach our own death?
I can do my scientist number and objectively discuss the evidence, probabilities for and against some kind of soul surviving, etc., but that's useless for really little kids and only a little useful for dying friends. I've had too many friends die in the last few years. Most of them know I've studied that kind of evidence and some talk about how it gives hope for some kind of survival is OK, even encouraging, but what I've found most people want is encouragement to face death and hope for a good outcome, not an attempt at "objectivity" about it. So I'm not at all sure, e.g., about the way Tibetan Buddhists have mapped out the dying and after death processes, or how accurate communications from Western mediums about the after death states are, but for my dying friends who are into that kind of thing I'll draw on them as useful road maps and try to help them prepare to use them.
Little kids, though? I'm lucky to not have experienced that directly, but even reading about it really touches me. Reverend Herrick has a Western spiritualist approach, but not that far off from what my scientific self thinks is a useful way to think about things, and what she's written in Grandma, What Is A Soul? is touching, helpful, and can reach young kids..
As an example, her grandson wonders about the soul having something to do with the unconscious. Grandma replies
"When your brother was nine years old, he told me that he had read about the unconscious in his Calvin and Hobbes book. He said it's scary down there; you need a flashlight to see, and all this old stuff is piled up. People don't like going down there."
The second section of her book is for grown-ups, giving a brief overview of spiritualist writings on the subject of survival and some suggestions for further reading. As to the evidence for postmortem survival and a reincarnation, I can also, blushing slightly at not being more modest, recommend the relevant chapters in my The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together book.
All in all, delightful and helpful!
If only my parents had explained it all to me as the author of this book explained it to her grandson, I believe I would have understood and would have avoided the haunting experience of that crematorium visit, one that remained with me for some time. Then again, I don't think I did any better in explaining my brother's death to my own children. It is such a difficult subject. You wouldn't know it, however, from this book. The author, a psychologist, found just the right words to satisfy her grandson and offer him peace of mind.
Unfortunately, our secular society isn't able to make the distinction between spirituality and formal religion. If it were able to do so, and if I had anything to say about it, this book would be required reading for every first grader.
In a conversation with her grandson, the author has woven hope, faith and fact in a way that can be easily understood by children of all ages. The adorable and enchanting illustrations engaged my own grandchildren (ages 4 and 8) into the story and my 4 year old likened the story’s characters to our own family members, even referring to the angel as his own great–grandma who recently passed. I would highly recommend this book to all moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles—anyone who spends time with children with curious and questioning minds.