This is a story of a mother’s love for her son, and how time and distance will never separate them. It also is the story of a medical doctor with a strong belief in science and a skepticism of spiritual matters — and how her perception of reality turns inside out.
Elisa Medhus, M.D., opens her blog, Channeling Erik, in this way:
“Erik Rune Medhus, my 20-year old son, took his own life on October 6, 2009. Since that sad and tragic day, an overwhelming sense of grief and despair propelled me into a search for answers. Answers that would provide me and others with comfort and hope. Some of those answers came from the many books I bought, but many came from an unexpected source…Erik, himself. Through dreams, visitations and channeling, he describes what happens during the death process, what the afterlife is like, what he does with his time there, what it feels like to be a free soul, the nature of thought and reality, the meaning of life and the human experience, as well as other matters.”
Elisa Medhus — mother of five, wife, and physician — began a journey to understand life from a spiritual perspective once her son began communicating with family, friends and visitors to the Channeling Erik blog, and she culled her experiences into the new book, My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side (Beyond Words/Atria). She spoke with The Edge about her experience with her son, who was a happy boy until the age of 12 or 13, and then struggled with learning disabilities, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and deep depression — and yet, was a very kind soul who was as loving as he was mischievous.
“I will say this to mothers,” Dr. Medhus said, “the umbilical cord stretches and stretches and stretches, but it never breaks. Even death can’t break it — and your loved one, your son, your daughter are there. They just don’t have bodies — and they don’t want to be forgotten. They want the relationship to continue, and there’s no reason why you can’t. From my standpoint, it has gotten better over time. The more I learn about the afterlife and how relationships continue after death, it has really given me a lot of solace. I feel like Erik and I have an even better relationship than we ever had before.”
You did not believe in the afterlife until your re-connection with Erik?
Elisa Medhus: Well, it was really an experience with my father that sort of made me wonder. Two things were against me. First, I am a physician, so my educational background, of course, is science, which says, “If you don’t perceive it with your senses, it does not exist.” And, of course, it didn’t help to be raised by two atheists. But, one day, three days after Erik’s death, I get a call from my atheist father. He sounded really startled — and my dad does not startle. He is this unflappable plastic surgeon. He has done trauma surgery. Anyway, he says that he was sitting down in his chair, reading the paper or something and, all of a sudden, he looks up and there is Erik standing in front of him.
EM: I know! And then he said that Erik appeared as his little boy self, like 3 or 4 years old, and he crawled up into his lap. So, my dad is like, “Oh, my God! I don’t know what to believe. I’m so startled.” Yeah, that opened up my mind just this little crack, enough to let a tiny sliver of light in. Over the course of time, that crack grew. I had to have some sort of open-mindedness. I could not wallow in hopelessness forever. I had to force myself, and that was the catalyst that did that.
Was there a moment when you finally did believe that it was, indeed, Erik communicating with you, or did that realization emerge over time?
EM: It did happen over time, but I went from 0 percent sure to 90 percent sure of a spirit life over the course of, I don’t know, three years. He died four years ago. And, I think the reason I just got hung up on that 90 percent place is for two reasons.
First, I was really afraid. I mean, what if I did believe hook, line and sinker, and then I woke up and found out it was not true, that it was some cruel joke. That would be like losing him all over again. I just couldn’t go there.
Another reason is that skeptics always want more proof. That prank isn’t good enough. That visit isn’t good enough. That sign isn’t good enough. Please, give me one more sign, just one more sign, then I’ll believe you. Please. So I went through that whole process — and then I got the sign I wanted, just six or seven months ago.
I was contacted by a blog member and she said she had listened to one of the tapes we did like a year and a half before that. She heard three voices on it. I thought, “Mmmm, I don’t know.” I went to the end of the last session. Didn’t hear anything. Didn’t see anybody, but, of course, I listened to it. And, sure enough, three voices were there, and one of them was Erik’s. It’s like a mother knows the sound of their own kid’s voice, right? I’m sure fathers do, too. Anyway, Erik had a way of saying “breakfast” like a child. He didn’t pronounce the “t” at the end and he had this verbal tic that he did all the time like he was clearing his throat, but he really wasn’t, and those were there.
I was intrigued, so I had the recording analyzed by a sound professional, and he agreed there were some odd things about this EVP (electronic voice phenomenon), I guess you’d call it. For example, there were tiny distortions, especially in Erik’s voice, that were atypical, and one of the voices sounded like it was whispering. But, I think the coolest thing of all is that those voices left no voice print at all. Erik later described how they (disembodied souls) do that. I can’t remember exactly, but he says they don’t have to go through the recording device itself. They can manipulate energy so that it goes from them directly to you.
I like the part in the book in which Erik was saying why he left the way he did, that in some respects suicide was just a different way to end life. Has he said anything about why he had to experience so much pain in this lifetime?
EM: Yes, it was a predestined exit point, which is really unusual for suicides. Before his life, he planned to come here and suffer mercifully so that he could develop more compassion and better listening skills, which he did, so he could become a better guide or teacher.
I was so sad, and I asked him, “Why, why couldn’t you have just waited until you were 80 or 90 years old?” He told me that he just couldn’t stand being here that long, you know? He couldn’t bear the suffering. So he got what he needed and went back to spirit.
He did attempt suicide one time a long time ago. He took an overdose of a medication — and it was really strange. He came into our bedroom and had a metal clipboard and he was talking about my sister who died around 2001. He said, “Denise can hear and she is talking to you.” Meanwhile, he was scribbling stuff down on the clipboard. “And my friend Allie (who was shot in the head) is here.” Then he sat on the couch and held their hands, their invisible hands, and said, “Oh, you’re my favorite aunt. Oh, I love you Allie.” But, I thought he was just going through hallucinations at that time — but now I know differently.
Has he talked about coming back in body?
EM: He says that time is happening all at once, and that he is already here in other multiple selves. He says to think of a wagon wheel. The hub in the middle is your soul, and each spoke is a life. He says you send part of your soul down that spike, and you live a life, and then it retracts back to who you are. The wagon wheel rolls and leaves this track, and that track is a time frame. It’s really hard for us to wrap our heads around that because time is linear here, but he says everything is happening all at once there. He sometimes has a lot of difficulty over there talking to us in linear language, because of that.
Why did you choose to make Erik’s story and his communication with you public in a book and a blog?
EM: Well, I created the blog because I just wanted to heal. I need to encourage myself. Writing is my way. Some people write poems, some people sing, some people just cry, and I did a lot of that. I woke up the next morning after he died and I was convinced that the Earth could dare revolve around the sun. I couldn’t believe it. But, anyway, I wanted to create. I seem to heal better when I help others, and so I wanted to create some sort of safe community where other people can express their pain and feel supported by the other members.
It just took off and exploded and this whole global Erik phenomenon was born. So really it wasn’t me making it public. I feel like I’m being swept away by this rip tide. This hit me by surprise and sometimes I get a little bit too overwhelmed, because I’m still a broken little woman, you know.
Was the blog and the channeling Erik’s doing?
EM: No, there was a long time when it was just about grief, and then I did my research. I read books on quantum physics, I looked at papers on alternate dimensions, I looked at I don’t know how many accounts of near death experiences. Then I looked at some control studies on mediums, and I read that a lot of parents, mostly out of desperation, do seek the help of a medium, which I like to call spirit translators.
So I thought, well, I’ll try it out. Mine was partly out of desperation, but a lot of it was I had so many doubts. I wanted validation. I tried out a number of them, and some of them were just not very good, but a couple of them were excellent — Kim O’Neill and Jamie Butler, particularly. For example, Jamie was able to capture his personality to a T because Erik has this horribly irreverent sense of humor. It’s just awful, and he has this mischievousness that drives Jamie nuts. But, she was able to validate things that there was no way she could possibly know.
What I like about the book and the blog is the honesty and the realness that comes through him. He does not sugar coat his language and worry about whether people are comfortable hearing what he has to say.
EM: Yeah, I know. He doesn’t want to baby people. He’s like raw and unplugged, that guy. I don’t edit anything of what he says, and sometimes I just wince. It’s like, “Oh, no. Do I have to say this?”
That’s what I was wondering in the book and particularly watching the channelings, what mom thinks about all that.
EM: Well, I know Jamie has a hard time with it. We’ve done a lot of other sessions and she is getting more comfortable, so there is a lot more cursing, but here’s what he says about that. He says that as far as the cursing is concerned, words are just a string of letters. They get their power from the emotional intent behind them, right? And the blog members love it because Erik seems like he is more approachable. It’s not like he is Archangel Michael or one of these Ascended Masters who start out with, “Welcome, my dear one.” That is not his style. Plus, you know he does not want to just preach to the choir and help those who are already knowledgeable. He wants to reach the teacher, the business woman, the accountant, the college student — and I think he is doing that.
What is Erik’s goal in answering the questions? Does he want to continue providing this information?
EM: You know, I just don’t know the answer to that question. I think he’s just having fun and it’s just his passion and it is what he is meant to do. But, again, I just wish he could have waited. I don’t mind showing my vulnerability. I have always been like that. I’m a strong woman, and I do not have a problem opening up my heart, I just don’t. But I tell you, if you told me that I could have him back right now, of course I’d be happy. Even though I knew he wouldn’t be helping people like he is now, I would want him back. I really would.
There would be no question about that.
EM: I know it’s very selfish thinking, but I miss him. How I miss fussing at him when he doesn’t do his homework. I miss calling him down to do his chores. I miss telling him to just wash those horrible socks, the things that just stink so bad. But, anyway, that’s how it is.
What effect has his conversations had on young people who have engaged on the blog?
EM: Well, I think it’s given them consolation. Some of them are just young enough that they are exploring this whole spirituality thing. Some of them, or all of them, have death anxiety, and most of them are just paralyzed with fear over death, and so they struggle to live and be functional — and this has helped them. I think the younger ones are just more open to this. They have not been influenced as much by organized religion, for example.
Tell me about the pranks. When did that begin?
EM: Right away, to all the family members. I didn’t get any for a long time. I was the last to receive any. But all these family members and friends were just coming out of the woodwork saying, “Erik did this prank on me” and “Erik visited me this time” and “Erik showed me this sign.” I thought they were nuts, I really did. But they’re not. They were very sane people.
Finally I got my turn. Erik turned on water faucets full blast, made appliances work that were unplugged. He likes to drop BBs softly from the ceiling. He does it all the time, and he also does it a lot to blog members. I don’t know what it is, but once you start reading the blog, all bets are off. Everybody is so jealous when they don’t get a prank or a visit from Erik. “What about me? Erik should love me.”
I think one of the most amazing pranks I received was when I was on the laptop sitting on the couch. It was the time of mid-term elections and you get all these campaign calls. I was doing something that required a lot of concentration and the phone started ringing and ringing. Dang, I was not going to pick that thing up, but it kept ringing and ringing. It just didn’t seem like the machine was going to pick up, but finally it did, and there was Erik.
“Mom, it’s me. It’s Erik.”
So, I flew over to the phone, but I just couldn’t get there fast enough. Here’s the cool thing. I called the number back and it wasn’t a working number — and it was like 13 digits long. And even though the answering machine picked up the call, the message count was 0 and it did not leave a recorded message at all.
Is there an overall theme in what Erik would like everybody to know about life and death and what it’s all about?
EM: Although there are really several of them, I think his main one is that we are emotional beings and that we need to be honest emotionally with ourselves.
We think the way things are is that we first have the thought and then that creates an emotion and then that creates a physical response, but it’s almost the opposite. First, you have an emotional reaction and that creates the thought and then that creates a physical response — but most people are just not emotionally honest. You will sit there and talk to a friend you cannot stand, and say, “Oh, how are you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” instead of saying, “You know what? I’m not ready for this relationship. I need to back away.”
It’s hard to be emotionally honest with yourself, and he says that really can stop your progress a lot. It’s hard to progress when you are not honest about what you are feeling. You have to be honest with your imperfections so you can deal with them, and honest about what you really want.
Has he talked about the change going on at this time on the planet?
EM: Yes. He says that great change is happening and it will take five years, but then again, in reality it’s already happened because of how time works. It’s already happened.
A lot of people say the veil is thinning, but he says, no, our perception of it is back. He’s says it’s always been the same, but our perception of it is changing. Perception and belief are really big with him. He says that reality is based on perception. That’s it. For example, he said that maybe you haven’t tried beans and then one day you try beans and then all of a sudden that’s all you see — beans, beans, beans, everywhere. It’s like when I was pregnant. All of a sudden, everybody seemed to be pregnant, but, of course, there were just as many people before I was pregnant that were pregnant. It’s all perception.
How has your personal relationship with Erik changed?
EM: I have a great relationship with all my five kids. I tend to be really nurturing, overly affectionate, so I still ask them to sit in my lap. I don’t know why they don’t want to! When Erik got into his dark period, he built up these walls that I couldn’t get through. It didn’t make any difference how much love I surrounded him with, I couldn’t penetrate it. Then after he died, the wall broke down, and that’s how we were able to renew our relationship. Now we talk more than we ever did before. Of course, that’s because he’s not a teenager anymore, that might be part of it.
What is your overall goal now with regard to your work with Erik?
EM: Well, I’m going to continue being his secretary. That’s really all I am. Jamie (Butler) is his voice, and I write it all down. My goal is to continue this as long as Erik wants to do it. My real goal is to have Jamie create a non-profit organization. I get criticism like, “Oh, you just want to exploit your kid’s death monetarily.” That’s so untrue. I have never accepted one dime. I refuse ad revenue. I will not take donations, even though my blog members have begged me to do it. I can’t. I find that all nauseating.
So I want all the money to go to a non-profit foundation to help people who suffer with grief like I have. Some people just can’t afford to get the healing that I have gotten. There should be no boundaries to relieve suffering — socioeconomic, racial, religious — no boundaries at all.
For me, I do get something out of it, I really do. As a mother, I’ve always thought that my job is to raise my children to be productive, fulfilled, and happy, and I think I’m doing that for Erik. Plus…I don’t know…this gives Erik’s death meaning, you know? I need that.
What do you say now to parents grieving after losing a son or a daughter?
EM: It’s a difficult path, but you’ll get through it. At times I felt like I was hacking through a dense jungle with one machete; it was very difficult. But you can continue the relationship with your child. You can and should renew that relationship. They don’t want to be forgotten. It’s not like they’re spirited away to some gated community with some winged security guard on watch. That’s not the case. They are there.
Everything is energy, and each type of energy vibrates at a certain point on this long electromagnetic spectrum. We are just in the little sector called the visible range. That’s where matter is. That’s where we see things. Outside of that we have X-rays, radio waves, and UV waves, which we don’t see. Spirits — our loved ones without their bodies — vibrate at a higher frequency.
Think about the hummingbird. When a hummingbird is on a branch you can see their wings pretty well, but once it is in flight their little wings are vibrating at such a high frequency they are all but invisible. It’s really interesting that people do not believe in spirits because they can’t see them. We don’t see radio waves, but we know they exist, right?
You have colleagues who are still in science and medicine, how have they reacted to what you have been working on with Erik?
EM: They are pretty open, really. I think a lot of physicians are closeted open-minded skeptics, because a lot of them have seen things that nobody else has seen. Some of them have actually seen deathbed visions and have been told stories by loved ones. But they’re afraid they will be ostracized by their other peers. I think there are a lot of people like that in general. A lot of people have this inkling that it’s true, but they are really embarrassed.
There’s a huge difference between open-minded skeptics and closed-minded skeptics. Personally, I think open-minded skeptics have courage. It takes a lot of guts to explore the unknown, because you never know what you’re going to get. A lot of closed-minded skeptics operate out of fear because they have these rigid belief systems that they feel like they have to defend at all cost. When someone challenges them, they go into panic mode. They act like cornered dogs; they lash out, they snarl, and oh, gosh, it can be so painful. I have been on the other end of that. Now I do have a thicker skin, so that helps.
Is there anything else we haven’t talked about that you would like to share?
EM: I was thinking about this while we were talking, about what my colleagues think. I have to admit I get a little embarrassed because I don’t know what people’s reactions will be like. I was in line to check out at Walgreens and I was telling my friends that my book just came out. A lady behind me asks, “Oh, what’s your book about?”It’s so hard to say, because you never know how they are going to react. I’ve been attacked so much from people, so you become afraid.
What would Erik do?
EM: (laughs) I like that! I know he’s probably telling them to piss off.
He wouldn’t worry whether they don’t believe or not.
EM: See, there’s emotional honesty. I have to work on that one. I really still have a lot of work to do.
Visit the blog by Dr. Elisa Medhus at www.channelingerik.com, and watch channeling videos with Erik by searching “channeling Erik” on YouTube.