Archive for March, 2010

Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond by Chris Mulligan

Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond by Chris Mulligan, ISBN 978-0-595-42864-9 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-595-87202-2 (e-book). Published by iUniverse, 2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512. The book is available from Amazon, as well as other online and large book stores. Most smaller booksellers can order the book for you, or you can purchase the book yourself through Chris’s website http://www.afterlifebooks.com or from the publisher at http://www.iuniverse.com .

I chose this book because it deals with topics of interest to me: death, grief and the afterlife. I’m not a masochist, I, like most people have dear ones who have died. Anything which can help me cope with their deaths, deal with the grieving process and know they are happy in an afterlife is welcome to me. It is a search for peace and not morbid curiosity which motivates me. I found this book very helpful and informative.

Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond is by Chris Mulligan, a mother whose twenty-one-year-old son, Zac, was killed in an accident on Sunday, October 1, 2000. In Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond Chris takes a frank and often painful look at her grieving process as she and her other son, Tyler, adjust to life after the death of her son, Zac.

I feel this book is of critical importance for those who are grieving themselves. It doesn’t picture grief as a series of “clear-cut” stages, but rather as stages you continue to cycle through even years later. It is honest in the portrayal of recovery as “one step forward and two steps back”. It is very frank in representing that while the pain may lessen and life will go on, there is no such thing as a total recovery from the death of a loved one.

A good overview of Chris’s pain and her steps in her recovery comes in the following passages:

“Having Tyler was a Godsend throughout this whole process. Of course he was! There was no doubt that we all arranged it this way! He was quite incredible! We talked about our growth, our changes, and our conversations with Zac. Talking with him I realized that one year ago I could have never, ever imagined being where I was now. This unknown is all part of the grief process. There was no way I could have prepared  myself for the magnitude of unbearable pain during the first few months and the recycling I had to endure to move through this grief. I do not think my mind would have been able to comprehend it. This is why, while grief classes can be helpful, they cannot prepare every person for their individual experience of grief.

I had to live through those dreadful steps along the way to reach my current state. Moreover, I certainly would not have believed I could reach my present status after experiencing such an intense process. It was difficult to describe now, since sometimes the pain was so excruciating and the depression was so heavy and the other symptoms were so “ever-present” that it was hard to imagine I could ever be anywhere other than where I was at the time that I was there!

The changes in my life have been incredible. I was so grateful for where I was and for the help I received along the way to reach this position. In contemplating future conversations with others about my grief process it would be impossible to describe where I was now without explaining what happened, why, and the support I received. I was not sure whether other people were ready to accept my explanation or understand it, or perhaps I was still caretaking of others! Perhaps I was not ready to disclose this yet.”

I asked Chris what she most wanted people to take away from Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond. Chris said it would be “That we have choices in our lives and we have to take responsibility for them. We can choose to live after a death. They (the mourners) have a choice to go on and choose life and to choose it because their loved one is still here if they’re open and aware.”

I also asked Chris what resources she would recommend for those just going through the mourning process. She was able to narrow it down to two books, depending on the reader. For those looking to renew or find faith she recommended Getting Through the Night: Finding Your Way After the Loss of a Loved One by Eugenia Price. For those who already had a strong belief in an afterlife she recommended Life on the Other Side: A Psychic’s Tour of the Afterlife by Sylvia Browne.

My last question for Chris was about ways mourners can open themselves up to communications from their loved ones(s), her response was simple. First, decide you CAN communicate with your dead loved one(s). Next, trust yourself, believe what you see and/or hear. Take the time to notice the signs or signals you may be getting from the other side and then cycle back through deciding you can communicate, believing what you see or hear and noticing the signs or signals. If you do this over and over eventually your loved one will get his, her or their message through.

Chris Mulligan has a Master’s Degree and has 25 years of experience in adoption/social work. She retired in February 2010. This was her début book, but she plans to write another in the future dealing with more of her healing experience and her ongoing relationship with Zac on the other side. Throughout the nearly ten years since his death Zac has continued to communicate with Chris and other friends and family members through signs and conversations. Chris’s website is http://www.afterlifebooks.com

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A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman is available from Atria Books, a Division of Simon and Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. It”s ISBN is 9781439101957. It’s list price is US$25.00. It can be purchased from Amazon as well as local booksellers.

I selected A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman for three reasons: 1) A friends recommendation; 2) The title and cover art and 3) A brief description of the book at http://www.rufreeman.com which is Ms. Freeman’s website. Based on all these things I thought the book sounded interesting and I was not disappointed.

Ms. Freeman’s writing style is simple and direct. She develops her plot and characters with understated ease drawing you deeper into the story, which by its end, will span nearly thirty years. Her writing is such that you enter the world of the story, set in Sri Lanka, with almost no effort and are deeply engrossed in the tale before you know it.

Ms. Freeman’s characters are well-developed and realistic. They are as filled with flaws as they are with virtues. It is easy to identify with them, hope for them, grieve with them and celebrate for them. There are three main characters, Biso, a higher born caste member married to an abusive, drunken fisherman, whom she and her children are fleeing; Latha, a servant girl who is the companion, from earliest childhood to the third character, the high caste Thara, a pampered, upper crust girl who nonetheless forms a true bond with Latha that will extend throughout time and circumstance.

As a native of Sri Lanka, Ms. Freeman brings the settings and details in A Disobedient Girl to vivid life. From the seaside village to the mountain tea plantations and everywhere in between Ms. Freeman artistically paints a picture of words that allows you to vividly imagine the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the exotic settings. While some terms or concepts may remain foreign Ms. Freeman’s writing is such that one can allow imagination to fill in the gaps in a satisfactory way.

The difference in the lives of we Americans and the life of one of the characters, Latha, can best be shown in the following passage:

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Seventeen I think.”

“You don’t look seventeen. You look younger; fifteen maybe.”

“No, I’m definitely seventeen,” Latha said, using her pursed mouth as added evidence of her maturity

“How would you know?” Leela asked, swirling the tea in her cup, round and round and round like she was agitated.

“I counted,” Latha said majestically.

“From when?”

“I counted my birthdays.”

“Birthdays?” Leela asked, real awe in her voice, “Did your family celebrate your birthdays?”

This book is intended for mature audiences of any social class, though perhaps those of the higher classes might find it somewhat offensive, depending on their attitude toward their servants. Politically, the book manages to portray class struggle without becoming “preachy” and should be of widespread appeal regardless of one’s political leaning.

A Disobedient Girl is Ru Freeman’s début novel. She has done a remarkable job with plot, setting and characterization in this novel and I find myself eagerly awaiting her next novel. I would highly recommend reading A Disobedient Girl.

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Things to notice

These pages of posts currently contain nothing except my book reviews, as time allows I’ll add personal stories, advice about writing, and, perhaps, some samples of my writing. For now I urge you to enjoy the book reviews, they are the same whether you read them on my posts or my pages, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss them because they’re important to the authors of the books. Please feel free to leave your comments, even if you’ve read one of the books and have a different opinion of the book than I do, feel free to say so. You don’t have to agree with me, just be polite about your disagreements, this site is open to anyone.

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