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Death-Related Experiences
Record Type: Review   ID: 36

After-Death Communication: Final Farewells

LaGrand, Louis E.

 The author, who is a grief counselor, defines After-Death Communications (ADC) as "a variety of extraordinary experiences in which a person believes he or she has been spontaneously contacted by a deceased loved one" (p. xiii). Not included are deliberate attempts to contact the deceased or to ask a medium to do so on their behalf. Rather, "it is the deceased (or the unconscious or perhaps a Supreme Being)" who reaches out and comforts the grieving person and helps them to go on with his/her life. LaGrand includes a number of exceptional experiences in his ADC category: "sensing the presence of the deceased, feeling a touch, smelling a fragrance, hearing the voice or seeing the deceased, and meeting the loved one in a vision or dream. Messages are also received in symbolic ways, such as finding an object associated with the deceased, unusual appearances or behavior of birds and animals, or other unexplainable happenings which occur at or shortly after the moment of death. Several combinations of the above phenomena may occur within weeks of the death or over a period of years" (p. xiii). Many people have shared their ADCs with LaGrand, including clients, students, and colleagues, and for him, "the magnitude of behavioral changes that took place in the bereaved were immediate and difficult to ignore" (p. 3). Scientists tend to belittle the role of ADC and explain them away as an inability to let the deceased go. LaGrand attributes this to the fact that many people do not share their experiences out of fear of ridicule or censure. Moreover, as he observes (and as I have observed as regards EHEs in general) the act of sharing itself is beneficial. He proposes that if ADCs were taken seriously at all levels of society, we would gain "greater insight [into]...who we are, how we fit into the vast and wondrous universe in which we live, and whether consciousness survives bodily death" (p. 8). He sets out, then, to normalize the extraordinary, as he puts it. Each of nine chapters is devoted to a different type of ADC. The book concludes with a chapter on the skeptical tendency and on "Helping a Person Who Experiences a Deceased Loved One." There is a very useful directory of self-help groups.
Publisher Information:St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997. xiv + 219p. Chapnotes: 193-200; Glos: 209-212; Ind: 213-216; 34 refs; Resource Guide: 203-207; Sugg. Rdg: 201-202
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