Review - Love on the Other Side

by David Feinstein, Ph.D.

Love on the Other Side is a brief, elegant e-book that will bring tears to your eyes and new texture to your understanding of love.  Shakespeare called death “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” This book shows that love can provide a bridge from that undiscovered country back to this side.   

Each chapter opens with a thought-provoking quote, such as this from a headstone in Ireland:  “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”  The book explores perplexing questions about love and death, and it provides real-life examples that shed a bright light on these quandaries:  “Are our hearts big enough to have more than one profound love during a single lifetime?” “How do we invite one we love who has died to communicate with us?” “Do we reunite with loved ones after we die?” 

Earlier this year, the book’s author, Arielle Ford, was kind enough to read the manuscript for Donna Eden’s and my The Energies of Love. She objected to some of our statements and offered suggestions that resulted in changes in the final version.  We are grateful to her for this.

We were loving Arielle’s book and having no objections of our own until we reached Chapter 4, which begins by talking about soulmates.  After acknowledging that the word has different meanings for different people, she states, “I believe that a soulmate is first and foremost someone you can completely be yourself with, someone with whom you share unconditional love, and when you look into their eyes you have the experience of being ‘home.’” 

While we know that this fits for Arielle’s fabled partnership with her own soulmate Brian, the problem we have with such portrayals is that they imply that you will know very early if is this is the “right” person for you. 

As discussed in The Energies of Love, the issues involved raise “two questions that have puzzled humanity throughout history: afterlife and fate. Are there soulmates who have traveled together in previous lifetimes and are somehow fated to continue their shared journey in this lifetime? Popular literature about soulmates suggests that ‘your soulmate makes you feel entirely whole, healed and intact, like no piece is missing from the puzzle,’ punctuated with flashbacks to past lives together, a profound wordless understanding of one another, easy acceptance of one another’s flaws, and a reliable sense of security in one another’s presence.”

That’s not, we must confess, how it happened for us. We in fact marvel at our early years together and how it seemed we had to fight for every last shred of compatibility. While we have mercifully attained a relationship that fits Arielle’s definition, we would have tossed it in the trash heap many times if we were holding our experiences with one another to that standard in the opening phases of our 38-year relationship.

We were happy to read on and realize that Arielle has a much more complex and nuanced view of soulmates than is found in the popular literature.  She expands the definition, in fact, beyond a romanticized fairytale partnership by even noting that “we all have many soulmates in our lives – not just our romantic partner but also, possibly, our children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers .  . .” She quotes Edgar Cayce: “We are attracted to another person at a soul level not because that person is our unique complement, but because by being with that individual, we are somehow provided with an impetus to become whole ourselves.”  That nails it for us.  It was a deeper bond than we could name or even fully sense that kept us in the ring. 

Not only does Arielle explore this more deeply in her definitions and references, she gets to the nitty-gritty with questions such as: If your soulmate dies, can you find another one?  If you do, are you dishonoring the one who died?  And if you indeed go ahead with a new “soulmate,” do you all get to hang out together in the afterlife?  Again, to each of these questions, she finds answers and inspiration in the lives of people she has known, and often loved. The book is, in fact, dedicated to and shares inspiring stories about her remarkable sister, Debbie Ford (1955 – 2013).

Back to Donna’s and my wrestling with these questions. What is a soulmate, a partner on a shared spiritual journey? We believe that three factors – choice, chance, and destiny – play a hand in all people’s lives. Whatever combination of choice, chance, and destiny brought you together, your relationship is a journey of your souls, a meeting of the deepest sources of your being. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but rather spiritual beings having a human experience.” In this sense, the term “soulmates” is useful as a constant reminder that more is going on between you than what is obvious and at the surface. The term is not so useful, however, if you take soulmate to mean that in order for your relationship to be spiritually valid it somehow has to embody the qualities of ease and sense of destiny mentioned earlier. That concept does not provide a realistic set of standards against which your relationship should be measured at every point in time. When you come together, your souls are mutually creating a new story, never before lived on the planet or even imagined, though it is influenced by the older stories that propel each of you forward. The choice is not whether your relationship is a journey of your souls but how much you let that dimension of your partnership into your consciousness and mindfully foster it.

Arielle’s Love on the Other Side brings a unique and beautiful perspective to these questions.  She is launching it by generously making it available as a free download until December 31.  Visit http://www.loveontheotherside.com