grief recovery

About a month ago, I received a courteous email by one Sandra Champlain asking me if I would be available for an interview with her radio show. I say “one” Sandra Champlain because at that stage she was an unknown quantity to me. I was later to discover that she is a well-known quantity to a lot of people – a very well-known one indeed. I am always surprised to see that even in the rarefied world of psychical research (and in the even more rarefied world of applied psychical research) there are still people I don’t know about.

To begin with, Sandra is a successful entrepreneur is the catering business. However, she happened to have trodden the same path many of us have – a path of study and discovery that led her to radically change the positions she had held for a lifetime. She writes:

I’ve been a skeptic all my life. But a persistent fear of death and dying led me to research what I don’t know that might alleviate my pain. What I discovered, studied, tested and confirmed through those years has brought me so much purpose, understanding and peace that I now want to share it with everyone else affected by death and dying.

Sounds familiar? I bet it does, because – except from the initial fear of death – this has been pretty much the same path I myself have gone down: discovery, leading to study and reflection, and ultimately the desire to use the newly acquired knowledge for the benefit of others. Sandra’s bestselling book We Don’t Die – A skeptic’s discovery of life after death and her audio tape How To Survive Grief follow an approach very similar to mine, consistent with the broader continuing bonds approach which is bringing a much needed breath of fresh air to the world of grief counselling.

However, Sandra is also – and perhaps best – known for her popular radio show, distributed through a variety of channels. With 125 episodes, and counting, the show features lively, in-depth interviews with a broad range of guests, from worldwide celebrities like Drs Raymond Moody and Eben Alexander to perhaps lesser known but equally interesting researchers, mediums, psychics and experiencers.

I very much enjoyed talking to Sandra. She is an extraordinarily enabling interviewer, and I could clearly sense her genuine caring and desire to help. For anybody interested in hearing what we discussed, click on the image below to hear my interview on the We Don’t Die Radio Show:

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Dr. Piero Calvi-Parisetti, near-death experience science counters grief |319|

I discovered the Skeptiko podcast several years ago, shortly after Greek-American entrepreneur-turned-podcaster Alex Tsakiris had launched what has become a major reference point for anybody interested in consciousness studies, survival of personality of bodily death and nonmaterialist science in general. For all these years – and listening in from several different countries – I have been a keen follower of the show, hearing about recent research developments and ground-breaking thinking directly from the horse’s mouth – where by “horse” I mean a long list of intellectual giants, a pretty exhaustive “who’s who” of anybody who’s anybody in Near-Death science, psychical research, science and philosophy of consciousness as well as a few staunch skeptics and/or materialists who have had the guts to stand up to Alex’s laser-narrow focus and challenging questioning.

I make no mystery of the fact that the Skeptiko podcast has had a considerable influence on the development of my own thinking about such subjects. Obviously, then, when Alex approached me in view of a possible interview, I was highly excited. Perhaps a tad too excited. So much so that, when the time of the actual interview came, my performance was ghastly.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe the substance of what I wanted to say “passed” decently well. It’s my delivery which I found disappointing. To begin with, I hate the recorded sound of my speaking voice in the best of circumstances. This, I understand, is not an uncommon problem. But, then, here is the university lecturer and public speaker of 15 years, the one who actually enjoys addressing large crowds, the “natural” public performer, the one who’s generally understood to be a native English speaker with a West-of-Scotland accent, stammering and stuttering with a ridiculous “declamatory” style, sometimes lost for words, with a bastardised, acrid accent mixing the four languages I’m fluent in. “That is not me! That can’t be me!” my inner, over-critical- self screams. How could this happen? A case of temporary spirit possession, perhaps?

I know, I know, I shouldn’t care in the least about such things. Discussing very important subjects with a highly intelligent person whom I most admire and respect and sharing my thoughts with a competent and passionate audience should a reward and a satisfaction in itself. And it certainly was. But, strangely enough (for I am absolutely not a perfectionist in most areas of my life and work) listening back to the actual interview was somewhat depressing and infuriating.

So, with this “public apology” for poor performance out of the way, let me share with my readers the link to the interview (click on the image above, and then look for the “listen now” button, a little lower in the page).

What is really important, however, is that those readers of my blog who are not aware of the Skeptiko podcast take the time to explore the nearly 300 episodes of this extraordinary show available on the website. There is more food for thought and nurture for the soul there than in your average bookstore.

Thank you, Alex, for having me on the show. And, especially, thank you for the incredible job you’ve been doing for years.

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Love Knows No Death

It is with great pleasure that I announce that a major project I have been working on with the Forever Family Foundation has come to completion and is now available to the public.

The Forever Family Foundation is a nonreligious, not for profit, volunteer-based organisation strong of over 10,000 members worldwide which received the prestigious Top-Rated Nonprofit award in 2015. Its aim is to provide a forum where individuals and families who have suffered the loss of a loved one can turn for support, information, and hope through state-of-the-art information and services provided by ongoing research into the survival of consciousness and Afterlife Science.

I have been serving on the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory board for a number of years now, and participated in some of the events they regularly organise in the US. I am delighted to see how the organisation embraces the contemporary and very effective “continuing bonds” approach to grief recovery, and combines it with the promotion of a rational, evidence-based belief in life after life.

It is now through the Foundation that a major resource I had originally developed in 2011 is coming out in revised, updated and expanded version. The following 9-minute video explains the background and rationale for this initiative.

Love Knows No Death is now offered as the combination of a self-help workbook (based on proven and effective cognitive psychology techniques) AND of 30 video modules available for viewing online. The strength and effectiveness of this innovative approach come from the combination and mutual reinforcing of the written material and exercises contained in the book and of the information provided through the video modules. By purchasing the workbook, readers gain unlimited access to the online videos: after reading each chapter and completing the exercises, readers are then instructed to go online and watch the relevant video.

I think that it is particularly noteworthy that this whole initiative is entirely not-for-profit. I myself have invested well over two thousand hours of work in the development of the video course and in the writing of the workbook, and receive no remuneration whatsoever from the sales of the workbook. Dozens of the Foundation’s volunteers have contributed personal accounts, stories and comments on various drafts of the workbook. A smaller group of volunteer editors has worked tirelessly to transform my drafts into publishable material. The Foundation has invested considerable resources, including hiring a professional book designer and upgrading the IT infrastructure in order to host high-definition videos. The course is now offered at a mere 19.95 Dollars – the sole price of the workbook, available through Amazon – and all revenues from the sales go to the Forever Family Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation.

The experience of a couple of hundred people who had gone through the previous version of the course tells me that this approach can be very effective in healing some of the pain of bereavement. I believe that this updated, improved and expanded version can only do better, and I strongly encourage my readers to check it out.

Love Knows No Death: A Guided Workbook for Grief Transformation is available here.

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rossIt is not often that, in my articles, I review other authors’ books. In about one hundred blog posts I have written so far, that has happened literally a few times. As I come back to my core subject of survival and – in particular – the use of afterlife science for the benefit of the bereaved and the dying, however, it is my pleasure to point my readers to a little book which I discovered only recently and turned out to be a wee gem.

The author is celebrity Swiss psychiatrist Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004), primarily known by the general public for having introduced the “five stages of grief”. Or maybe not? The problem of the “stages” is that Kubler-Ross spent a lifetime working with the dying, and not the bereaved. Her five stages provide a general framework for understanding how a person reacts when he or she is told of imminent and premature death, not how a person reacts to the loss of a loved one. The process through which the five stages morphed from a general framework for the dying to a fixed, almost religious dogma artificially applied to anything and anybody, from the bereaved to those who have lost their jobs, is one of the extraordinary tales of the our modern era. Look up “Kubler-Ross” on Google, and see for yourself…

The little book (it’s only 85 pages) I want to briefly talk about is On Life After Death. It looks like a collection of essays, but in fact three of the four main chapters are the transcription of as many lectures that the author gave to various audiences, and the fourth one (perhaps the less strong, in my opinion) is the text of an audio lecture she recorded initially as an audiobook.

What I particularly liked about the book is that Kubler-Ross, speaking from the authoritative standpoint of somebody who has received 14 honorary degrees from Universities around the world, makes a clear, compelling and passionate case for the afterlife. She does so without “beating around the bush”, if my readers will excuse the expression. She has spent thirty years accompanying the dying – particularly dying children – and she has investigated in excess of 20,000 cases of near-death experiences, and she tells it as it is. She doesn’t need – as many of us do – to bring tons of supporting evidence in support of her case. For her, survival of personality has been a direct experience, as a physician, as a scientist and as a human being, for her entire life. She mentions bits and pieces of the research, but her message is extremely focused, aimed directly at those in fear and in pain. Death as we understand it does not exist. And, this is the outline of what happens when we shed our physical body and move into a nonphysical realm of existence.

This book will not say anything much, or anything new, to most of my readers, who, I understand, have been reading about these subjects for years. There are tons of books on afterlife science – including the ones I have written myself – and there are even a few good ones going into details on what we know about the dying process and the way the afterlife is perceived by the discarnate personalities. No – this book is one that you may want to give as a gift to somebody who doesn’t have the time or the energy to dig into the evidence. This person will find a warm, unequivocal, comforting message, delivered by a person of the utmost scientific and moral authority. A wise, caring, extremely learned grandmother who tells it as it is.

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oceanAfter many articles dealing with various technical aspects of psychical research, this week I would like to come back to that “core” which I consider the main motivator of my involvement in this area of work – supporting bereaved people in their grief recovery process.

I have come across an interesting book, one on which I will come back in one of my next articles, as it triggered a lot of reflections on our supposed capacity to influence physical reality – including our life circumstances – through our thoughts and intention. As I was reading this book – details and references in the next article – I came across a passage which I found very beautiful and profoundly inspiring.

In that particular passage, the author, a PhD and practising clinical psychologist, reflects on his mourning the premature death (by suicide) of his brother Pete. I hope you will find his gentle attack onto the myth of a “broken heart” as moving as I did:

“One of the biggest challenges for me with Pete’s death was that I could feel my heart closing off to avoid further hurt from the loss of anyone in the future. This protective closing off is often experienced by people after a great loss, and can be felt as a dullness, or deadening, or lack of engagement with life. I still had plenty of people who counted on me being present including my wife, daughter and patients. I decided that for me this closing off was not an option. I finally came up with an image that guided me out of this deadening.

Myths are a powerful influence on our perception and experience. Our cultural myth of a broken heart, while speaking accurately of our pain, does a great disservice to our true nature, and underestimates the resilience of human spirit. My model is that at the deepest level of reality there exists completeness and perfection. From this model, an image emerged to save me from bitterness and fear. The image came in that second winter after Pete’s death, while I was struggling with my own hardness and broken heart. The image was of water. That liquid was my answer to my dilemma about openness and protection.

If I viewed my heart, my feeling center, as a container filled with water, a great ocean – always complete in itself, yielding easily, full alone, full when embracing some person, full again when the person was removed – if I could do this then I would indeed open and non-resisting, yet unable to be devastated by the leaving of a love.”

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