After This: When Life is Over, Where Do We Go?

After This: When Life is Over, Where Do We Go?

After This: When Life is Over, Where Do We Go?

Claire Bidwell Smith





In After This, acclaimed author, and therapist Claire Bidwell Smith confronts the question she encounters every day in private practice—what happens after we die?

In an exploration of the afterlife that is part personal, part prescriptive—Smith invites us on her journey into the unknown. She wonders: How do we grieve our loved ones without proof that they live on? Will we ever see them again? Can they see us now, even though they are gone?
Chronicling our steps along the path that bridges this world and the next, Smith undergoes past-life regressions and sessions with mediums and psychics and immerses herself in the ceremonies of organized religion and the rigor of scientific experiments to try and find the answers.

Drawing on both her personal losses, recounted in her memoir The Rules of Inheritance, as well as her background working in hospice as a bereavement counselor, Smith attempts to show how exploring the afterlife can have a positive impact on the grief process.


“With wisdom and grace, Claire Bidwell Smith navigates the mysteries of grief to show us that there is great meaning and even magic to be found in exploring the unknown.”
–Maria Shriver, bestselling author of What’s Heaven?

“This is the book I wish I had when my husband died. Claire took me on a quest attempting to answer all the crazy questions I had after his death. Engrossing from page one all the way to the very end.” –Christina Rasmussen, author of Second Firsts: Live, Laugh and Love Again

“Claire Bidwell Smith, with her writer’s heart and therapist’s mind, has written a stunningly generous book alive with curiosity, humility, skepticism, and bravery. In After This you will teeter on the edge of the Spirit world; and whether you believe, or wish to, or simply can’t, Bidwell Smith has written one of the most inspiring books about death you will ever read.” –Christa Parravani, author of Her: A Memoir

“A transfixing ode to the enigmatic cycle of life and death, After This will resonate with seekers and skeptics alike. Grief therapist Claire Bidwell Smith explores in lyrical prose tricky existential terrain with compelling philosophical persistence, humility, and poise. You will not forget this book.” –Aidan Donnelley Rowley,author of Life After Yes

“With deep compassion, profound vulnerability, and transcendent lyricism, Claire Bidwell Smith embraces that which we so often run from in this culture: loss. This is a transformative book that will change the way you think about death, and by extension, life.”  –Jillian Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls

“In this eloquent, smart, funny and deeply thoughtful book, Claire Bidwell Smith takes us on a powerful journey of discovery.  She asks the most important questions about life, love, death, and what it means to be human, and does so with equal measures of skepticism and a broken-open heart.  By doing so, she becomes an utterly trustworthy guide.  Reader, follow her.  You’ll be so glad you did.” –Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Still Writing

“Claire Bidwell Smith’s tender journey of love and loss will leave you feeling connected and hopeful.” –David Kessler, co-author of On Grief and Grieving with Elisabeth Kübler Ross.

Library Journal

Smith (Rules of Inheritance) lost both her parents and her best friend before she was 25 years old, and she eventually became a hospice grief counselor. The birth of her daughters reawakened the deep, unresolved grief of her losses and anxiety regarding her own mortality. Rather than succumb to fear and dread she began to explore possible avenues to reconnect to her departed loved ones and to better understand what happens after we die. Smith began by discussing death and the potential of an afterlife with religious leaders. Not content, the author engaged trance mediums including the famous John Edwards, participated in past-life regressions, and attended soul-retrieval workshops. Although not all of her experiences were positive, each activity led her closer to understanding the eternal nature of the human soul and the permanence of our connection to others through love. Poignant letters to her daughters encapsulate the learnings from each of these experiences. VERDICT Readers seeking solace to their grieving or those who simply wish to explore life’s greatest mystery will find this a thoughtful, compassionate, and well-written work.

Janet Tapper, Univ. of Western States Lib., Portland, OR