Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Book Review: 'Love From Both Sides' by Stephanie Riseley

Stephanie Riseley has produced a book that will be a solace to many who have 'lost' their loved one - because, as she so clearly and wisely puts it, that loved one is not at all 'lost', but just 'beyond'. Riseley is a 'hypnotherapist specializing in past-life regression and future progression, who helps people change their self-sabotaging behaviors.' And though some may look at the full title of this book - LOVE FROM BOTH SIDES: A TRUE STORY OF SOUL SURVIVAL AND SACRED SEXUALITY - and expect to see a mention of M. Night Shyamalan, this is not a book waiting for that director of films 'from beyond' to embrace. Instead what is here is a book with one of the most appropriately descriptive covers (the writer and her husband as deck of card placed characters, the upside with Stephanie in focus, the bottom image with departed husband Dan in focus), a book that invites us to get close to this fine writer and share her year of intimacy, communicating both in word and in physical sensitivity after her husband Dan's heart stopped beating under her hand and she felt a rush of presence that her own sensitivity interpreted as death not having won. In her words ' My own journey to awareness began the night Dan died and continued for more than a year. I discovered what agreements we made with each other, what we were meant to achieve together, what we managed to accomplish, what we didn't and why. Yes, my husband died that night, but truth be told, he died so that our love would live. For in the months before his dying, we'd almost lost each other and we'd almost lost our love. We simply weren't "paying attention".'

What follows is a book that is unlike most others that deal with communicating with the 'dead'. Riseley has elected to share her time with Dan by describing how she communicated him at the computer (his thoughts driving her fingers to place a message of conversation on the screen), and by moments of solitude when his presence became palpable. Now if the reader is expecting a story like the film 'Ghost', then this book is not for them. Instead this is a very personal telling of what happens when two people who have shared a profound love continue that support despite the one's physical absence. There are many very amusing passages, paragraphs of light writing that bring warm smiles of recognition of conversations with our own loved ones, and some very firm lessons about how to deal with unfinished business once one partner has entered the 'In Between'. Stephanie Riseley uses her professional training to write a book that leads us to understand phenomena perhaps not considered by us before. And like every fine teacher she makes her book accessible and entertaining and full of the joy of being truly alive. Grady Harp, January 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.