This month’s book club pick was a bit different than the other “self help” or business type books we’ve read in the past. After This by Claire Bidwell Smith focuses on death vs. living your best life, but the themes end up being very similar to other books we’ve read on how to make the most of the present and what matters in the end.
Overall Pop Rating (1 to 5 stars, more stars the better we thought it popped!)
B: 5. I was hesitant to read this book as it is a question that has plagued me since I lost my Grandpa Poppy when I was just 6 years old. Claire’s story is written in a way as if we are actually on the journey with her, exploring and discovering as she does, which I feel is a relationship that is so challenging for an author to create with their reader. It has also left me with many questions that I am still contemplating. A book’s ability to continue to make me curious even after I’ve read it is why I gave this a 5!
T: 4.5. This was a stunning book. It was so compelling in the way Claire wrote it as a normal person who is searching for some kind of clarity in what happens when people die. I was in tears several times at poignant moments – particularly reading the letters she’s written to her two young daughters (umm…I may have been able to relate!). While it was from a different angle than the other books we’ve been reading, this one actually had a similar underlying message about what is most important in life. It is important to be present in the now since that’s all we have and to love and allow yourself to feel love.
Why were you drawn to read this book?
B: Tiffany highly recommended After This, and given how much I’ve loved her suggestions in the past, I knew I had to read it. I also have always been interested…well, more like afraid to think about what happens when we die… so I thought I was ready to open myself up to thinking about this topic given the recent work I’ve been doing with meditation, yoga and overall spirituality.
T: I heard the author interviewed on the One Part Podcast and Jessica Murnane (host of One Part Podcast) reached out to her listeners about if they wanted to do a sort of “book club” when this book came out. I immediately pre-ordered it as I found Claire Bidwell Smith to be fascinating in the podcast. This is where I get weird about this. I unknowingly read this book at the exact same time as one of my very best friend’s father in law was passing away. So, let’s call that the unconscious reason I was drawn to read this book!
What is one thing that you will take away from this book?
B: That I am not alone (and not entirely crazy) for thinking there is something beyond this current human experience. I have experienced a lot of loss in my life in a variety of ways – some with death, some with divorce, some with distance. And there are various tendencies that I have adopted to help cope with those losses, such as to talk to my loved ones who have died when I am alone and in need of guidance. Claire’s ability to let us into her journey in such a loving way filled me with a sense of peace and acceptance, even though I wasn’t the one on the journey!
T: Give me an F, but it’s really two things. First, it confirms everything I’ve been reading about being present in your life. This is the only life you have and focusing too much on the past or future means you may miss out on what is the most important part of life – like making sure you leave this world a better place than you entered it. Second, since I haven’t had clarity on my beliefs about what happens after you die but secretly hoped there was more to it than that things just end, I loved reading her journey and conclusion that things are bigger than what can be seen. It’s comforting to think about love never dying and your loved ones still being with you forever.
Who would you recommend this book to?
B: Anyone with an open mind and curiosity about what happens after this current life, or anyone that has experienced the death of someone close to them.
T: Someone with an open mind who is curious about exploring what happens when you or others die and what life is really all about. I also think someone who has had a loss close to them would feel comforted by this book.