Do you believe in life after death? Do you believe in death? The first isn’t such an uncommon question, but the second is a bit strange. Everyone knows that everyone dies. Don’t they? Do they?
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the end of corporeal life. Many people believe that once the body dies, that’s it. The brain is dead, therefore the mind is dead. Others aren’t so sure. Reincarnation is the belief that the spirit lives on in another body, perhaps not immediately after death, although some think the spirit does find a new home instantly.
In The Fun of Dying, Roberta Grimes tells us that the mind continues after the body is merely a husk. She has spent decades researching the afterlife, death, reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, and other esoteric pursuits. She has looked at accounts of deathbed visitation and other phenomena that span 150 years. She bases her conclusions on the testimony of the living and the dead, quantum physics, and numerous resources. She also quotes Jesus Christ, although she refers to him by his name in Aramaic, Yeshua, to lessen the religious connotation. She believes that many of the things Jesus is quoted as saying are more in line with current thinking about the afterlife than anything organized religion has promoted. She asks that those who do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God consider his words as the words of a wise, kind man.
Grimes’ description of what happens upon death will be familiar to some who have read or heard of near-death experiences (the tunnel, the light, the loved ones, etc.). Heaven, or the Summerland, is a place where almost everyone goes, and it sounds a bit like a combination of a Disney animated film (the ones with the singing flowers and friendly wildlife), Beetlejuice, and the best university you could imagine.
The Fun of Dying is not in the actual dying — we’re aware of too many people who have had excruciating deaths — but in the transition from the corporeal to the purely mental. While telling us how great and glorious our afterlives will be, Grimes also tells us a few things that are pretty damn scary. Additionally, the afterlife is depicted as a lot of effort (at least in the lower levels of Summerland/Heaven, which one must work through). There is a great deal of learning to do, as well as work (sort of metaphysical labor, one supposes).
Although not sold on Grimes’ theories, I was surprised that one aspect of her version of the afterlife coincides with what I believe. I do not subscribe to the multi-level view, the work, the complexity, or the long flowing gowns; on the other hand, I don’t think everyone ends up with their own personal cloud and harp.
The problem with this theory is one of the problems with conspiracy theories. If something is repeated often enough over a period of time (e.g., nine years, 150 years) by enough people, then some folks assume it must be true. What more proof is needed? However, if the theory or events are a product of imagination (by one or many people) and people propagate it because it fulfills a desire they have, which results in the theory or information being reprinted and circulated over the course of time, that doesn’t mean that, because there are many resources supporting the theory, it is true.
I like my version of the afterlife, and I won’t be disappointed if I’m wrong, because chances are if I’m wrong, I won’t know it. I don’t dispute Grimes’ version; but I’m not expecting the afterlife she predicts. It’s another case of “anything’s possible.”
If you are looking for a comforting view of what life after death is like, by all means read The Fun of Dying. It does have a major flaw, though, and it isn’t the theory put forth. Grimes mentions that she has read many books on the subject, and offers titles of a number of them for those interested in further research, but she does not provide foot- or endnotes. Because so much of what she is reporting has appeared in a large number of resources, she does not offer citations; however, there were several dozen occasions when I’d read something in The Fun of Dying and felt that source citation was desirable. Additionally, many of the titles offered in the appendix are out of print.
Bottom Line: Would I buy The Fun of Dying? No. Roberta Grimes may be on target with her theories, but there is just too much we must accept on faith — not in God, in Roberta Grimes.