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Record Type: Review   ID: 50

Heather’s Return: The Amazing Story of a Child’s Communications From Beyond the Grave

Wiitala, Geri Colozzi

This is an EHE autobiography about the events leading up to and after the death of one of the author’s two daughters. Wiitala had been a crusading member of a very fundamentalist Protestant sect for 20 years—believing that religion came from outside mediation by the intellect. Her daughter’s cancer was in remission when she died at age 18—of an infection unrecognized and untreated by the attending physician. Most of the book is devoted to the signs the family and others received following her daughter Heather’s death, which indicated that she was still in touch. This continued for several years after her death, though less frequently. When Wiitala and her husband began to share their unusual experiences with selected relatives and friends, they were amazed that they too had had similar experiences, some even involving Heather. Eventually, she and her husband were convinced that after her death, Heather was "a teaching instrument" (p. 117) not only for them but for several family members and friends. As she strove to come to terms with Heather’s death and her apparent continued existence, Wiitala left her conservative religious group and at book’s end was able to write: "When Heather died in the flesh, I died with her; my body remained here, but the person I once was had ceased to exist....I would never have believed then that years later I would emerge in to the person I am today, writing a book with this viewpoint" (p. 155). In her new lifeview, she says she has "grown to believe and accept that a power far greater than we can comprehend does exist. It is through accepting this fact that I have become tremendously healed" (p. 154). "Before Heather died, I never would have believed that I would think like I do today. Yet I do, and I am a lot more peaceful in this belief" (p. 160). She now meditates each day and takes an hour’s walk in which she experiences nature. She now views humans as "energy in constant motion (in spirit) even while we reside...on earth....We must try to seize every moment for positive growth as we move along with this kaleidoscopic effect" (p. 178). An example of changed behavior as a result of this new view, she formerly did not even attempt to do anything about global problems, defeated by the thought that she could not fix the world. She says "the person I am now accepts that while fixing the whole world is beyond my abilities, I can choose to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem" (p. 178. Thus the many experiences she had that have convinced her of her daughter’s continued existence are exceptional human experiences, not simply anomalies or personally relevant inexplicable events. They changed her view of herself, human beings, her lifeway, and her worldview. She is no longer a concrete fixed person but a living process that in essence is immortal.

Although some of the coincidences recounted would not be convincing to parapsychologists or other scientists, who would say the will to believe influenced her interpretation of them, one could equally say their will to disbelieve influenced their interpretations. As for Wiitala, she says they made her aware that she "was connected to something greater than I could comprehend. I felt I was being drawn or moved along by something I could not explain" (p. 74). This is a strong indication that she was caught up in what I have called the EHE process. She herself gave it the felicitous name of "the enlightenment process" (p. 81). She also became aware that she was filling in the dots on the canvas of her own life, and that a meaningful interconnected picture was beginning to form (i.e., the experiential paradigm).

Paying attention to the coincidences, as she then called them, led her to open up to others to share some of her experiences, her doubts, her feelings. She found that rather than proselytizing in conversation as she had done for 20 years, she was "beginning to really listen more to other people’s experiences." To her wonderment this resulted in "people suddenly [beginning] to share their intimate accounts with me. They seemed to tell me things sometimes without me even asking them" (p. 101). This is another strong indication that the EHE process had been engaged. Several of the experiences involved the inexplicable movement of objects strongly associated with her daughter that are less easily dismissed. If one reads this book in search of hard evidence, it is not strikingly evidential. Yet the experiences were convincing enough to change the attitudes of several people, moving them in the direction of becoming "part of the solution." "Evidence" in such cases is like a Rorschach. What is important is to realize that the aim is not to convince others that these provide "incontrovertible evidence that survival exists." Rather—they are clues that can lead to meaning—to a sense of unity with humans, with life, with the universe, with God. The meaning cannot be found without these enigmatic clues. If as a result a person is at last able to consciously participate in the stream of being and become actively involved in being "a part of the solution," he or she has found the answer to the puzzle and has successfully penetrated to the center of the maze. Those who remain unmoved and unchanged must wait for their own time of transformation to come. It might shorten the time if they were to at least be open to the possibility that their own rejection of the evidence as unconvincing may be a sign that it is they who missed the boat. They remain the same as they always were. Geri Wiitala is a new and growing person, and so I would hypothesize, are some of the people with whom she has shared her story.

Publisher Information:Virginia Beach, VA: A.R.E. Press, 1996. 186p. 61 refs
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