Skeptic’s journey: an interview with Elisa Medhus, MD

October 1, 2012
Erik Medhus, Elisa’s son & Riley’s buddy

It’s no secret that I’ve been on a spiritual quest for/ years, one that began with the death of my mother in December, 1999. I’ve done a huge amount of reading on the afterlife and have had several readings with excellent mediums, including three with the well-known John Edward.

I can’t tell you how I found Elisa Medhus’ blog, Channeling Erik, but I CAN tell you that it moved my spiritual beliefs along exponentially. Plus, she and I hold some of the same viewpoints about the role of open minds in scientific progress.

Erik took his own life several years ago, setting Elisa out on a life-changing journey. I connected with her healthy skepticism, the fact that she was an M.D. (like my late father) and the incredible content on her blog, information about life and death communicated by her son, Erik (through mediums) and channeled also by someone I respect who goes by the psuedonym Substitute Teacher, because he covers for Elisa on days she doesn’t blog.

A few of my friends know a little about this, because I’ve shared the blog and also the two amazing readings I’ve had with the very gifted Jamie Butler, who also channels Erik. Yes, I know that this kind of thing makes many people raise their eyebrows or question my sanity. So be it. Many people believe in a virgin birth and resurrection, so how would this be any crazier?

 I think Elisa is interesting and amazing, and I’m grateful that she took time to answer some of my questions. That interview appears below.

In November, I’ll meet Elisa and Jamie in San Diego for a weekend meetup. It’s going to be…well, I don’t know what it’s going to be like but I do know it’ll be interesting.

How do I explain the Channeling Erik blog other than to say it’s compelling? I won’t even try: visit the blog yourself after you read the interview with Elisa. Then, come back to the interview.  

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Can you tell us a little about your medical training–what kind of doctor are you, do you practice now, and did any of your experiences in training or practice give you an impression of what happens after the body dies? 

 I am a board certified internist. I graduated with high honors from University of Texas Medical Branch in 1980 and went on to complete three years of internal medicine residency training at UTMB as well. I had my own busy practice for twenty years, then sold that practice when I opted to practice charity based medicine. 

Indigent patients seem to be cared for through the government healthcare system. Those patients employed by others are covered by insurance provided by their employers, but the self-employed, especially those who are really struggling financially, fall through the cracks and have little or no healthcare options. Those are the people I sought to help, and I did so using the proceeds from the sale of my medical practice. Of course I could only afford to do that so long, raising a family of five children, so I began to work part time at various clinics and as a locum tenens (Diva’s note: a “temp” doctor)  to continue providing charity care. 

After Erik died, I took off for two weeks. When I returned, my first patient was a gentleman with a severe head injury. Given the fact that my son’s suicide was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, I had no recourse but to have another physician take over his care. Then I walked away and never returned. I seldom practice now and mostly devote my time to the blog and my family. 

As a physician, I’ve seen many people die. Raised by two atheists, I really didn’t think about whether an afterlife existed or not. I didn’t disbelieve, but I didn’t categorically believe. All I knew was that something changes when a patient loses his or her life. In one way, I feel sad, because I feel like a flame is snuffed out when a patient passes away. The eyes seem to lose spark of something I can’t describe. They become empty, hollow. On the other hand, I feel that something sacred happens. When I watch, I feel as though I’m witnessing a miracle. I feel honored and awed. 

2. As I recall, soon after his death, your family had vivid dreams about Erik. How did you jump from that to get with your first channeler? Did others come to you about his visits before you began? what’s the timeline? 

Many years before Erik’s death, I explored psychic abilities only because my personal friend, Kim O’Neill, was and is a psychic medium. I was amazed by her accuracy in predicting the future, but of course, being a physician with a heavy background in science, I thought this must have something to do with physics. Maybe she could peer through wormholes? Of course that would all change after Erik’s death. 

My atheist father was one of the first to get a visit from Erik. He called me, voice trembling, saying he was so startled because Erik had stood before him plain as day. Next, he turned into a boy around the age of 4 or 5, crawled into his lap and said, “Things come in threes.” My father said he didn’t know what to make of it. I asked if he was awake and he said yes. Of course now his logical brain and atheistic beliefs dismiss the experience, but having had this occur to a staunch atheist made me wonder. 

Other visits occurred to every family member except me. My grief seemed so much deeper than everyone else’s. Perhaps that’s why. Other strange things happened: Unplugged appliances began working. Faucets turned on by themselves. I could go on and on. I knew that Kim did mediumship work as well, so despite my prior belief that channeling belonged to the realm of gypsies hunched over crystal balls, I decided to take the plunge and see if Erik was there in the ethers somewhere. Unfortunately, Kim was out for a long time due to open heart surgery, so I tried various mediums in the meantime. 

However, none of them were as filter-free and accurate as Jamie Butler. I’ve been using her regularly ever since our first contact two and a half years ago. 

3. When you first talked to Erik through a channeler, did your skeptic’s mind consider that you were making it up out of grief? How did you conclude that it was real? How long was it after his death? 

 I think being an open-minded skeptic is healthy. It’s the closed minded skeptic that keeps humanity at a standstill. Were it not for them, we’d still think the Earth was flat and that at the center of our solar system. 

My skepticism prodded me to explore so many avenues to find my son. Where was Erik? Even before my first session with a medium I began to read books about the quantum physics behind the survival of consciousness after death, about near death experiences, about reincarnation, and about double blind, controlled studies that suggest that we are, indeed, immortal beings, that energy is neither created nor destroyed. 

I cannot pinpoint that moment when I decided, “this was all real.” My grief comes in tsunami-like waves, and when one of those waves washes over me, my belief falters. Why? Because if I were to find out there was no life after death, it would be like losing Erik all over again. But between those waves. I feel so confident about it. There’s just been too much indisputable evidence to deny it, particularly from my own experience. 

One of the most irrefutable after death communications was a phone call from Erik himself in which he said, “Hi Mom. It’s me, Erik. It’s me.” A mother knows her own son’s voice. But again, I can’t pinpoint an aha moment when I had an epiphany of truth. Every time I had a channeling session, especially early on, the skeptic in me looked long and hard for flaws, because I didn’t want to slowly set myself up for a fall. So, I was a very challenging sitter. 

But Erik’s very unique personality came through every medium with whom I had a session: his irreverent humor, his foul language, his mischievousness. It’s hard to sugarcoat that with grief. As Dr. Thomas Campbell, Theoretical Physicist and author of My Big TOE (Theory of Everything), explains, we are like our intestinal bacteria. For all we know, the bread that comes down to us is manna from Heaven. We know nothing of the sowing of the seeds, the irrigation, the crop rotation, the fertilization and pest control, the harvesting, the production of bread and the transportation to market it involves. Furthermore, we have no concept of the global economics of wheat, the rise and fall of its price in the commodities market, etc. But it still affects us, the bacteria. 

That said, there is much out there that we cannot hear, see, touch, smell and taste that exists and affects us all. Other dimensions, including the one Erik is in, may be one such thing. 

4. What made you decide to channel him yourself? and how did you proceed? 

 I believe that death should not be a reason to end a relationship. As a mother, for me, the umbilical cord cannot be severed, and I’ve learned that the veil that separates Erik and me is so very thin. Eventually, I decided to try channeling Erik myself. 

It all began one night. Around four in the morning, I woke up to see my deceased younger sister sitting on the foot of my bed, smiling at Erik who, ever the silly mischief-maker, was jumping from one end of the bed to the other. I watched as he hopped like a rabbit back and forth and grinned widely. I knew that I was very much awake. This was clearly my boy. Eventually he felt my gaze, turned his head, and gasped with surprise. He was amazed that I could see him. Then he collapsed into my arms, and I felt his face against mine, his shoulders, his thin body. It was just as though he were alive. Ah. It was nice. Then he slowly faded away. It was then that I decided to learn to channel him. 

Now, every night before I fall asleep, I simply envision his face in my mind and start a conversation. Then we talk. We just talk. We also use the “hand game,” where I ask him yes and no questions. I place my hands on my knees, palms up and tell him to use my left palm to indicate no and my right palm to indicate yes. When the answer is yes, I feel a sensation in my right palm. It’s usually an intense tingling. However, some spirits communicate with cold, some with heat, and some with other sensations. 

Erik and I also communicate during hikes. I can see him in my mind’s eye very clearly. Sometimes he moons me. Sigh. But usually he’s very sweet. He often holds my hand, and I can feel tingling in that hand along with intense, almost uncomfortable goosebumps on the thigh on that same side. I don’t use my own channeled information for the Channeling Erik blog. For that, I rely strictly on Jamie Butler, because she is a professional with amazing gifts that I don’t possess. My channeling is only a means to continue communicating with my son on a personal level. Sometimes I think we communicate more now than we ever did when he was alive. 

Again, this is a testament to how death is no match for love. Perhaps nothing is. Relationships can continue. 

5. How did you come to the decision to blog about it and share? Has it taken you in directions you didn’t expect and can you say a bit about that? 

At first, I created the blog mostly as a means to share my grief. At that time, a few of my family members had had visits from Erik, and I had one or two, but largely I wanted to help other grieving parents by showing them they are not alone. This was not entirely selfless. I heal best when I heal others, and I desperately needed to heal. 

In future sessions, Erik began to describe his death experience, death in general, the afterlife, how thought creates reality, details about the human experience, and so much more. I chronicle this and the many pranks he plays on our family, friends and blog members. At first, Erik acted like a rookie. He had to defer to a more experience guide for many of the questions, almost like a trainee waiter at the Olive Garden shadowed by a seasoned waiter. Then over time, he matured and his wisdom grew by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, his foul language never subsided. 

 In the last two and a half years, the Channeling Erik blog has become somewhat of an international phenomenon with a huge readership growing exponentially. We’ve been approached by both television producers and film makers, and on a Google search for channeling, the site comes up anywhere from first to fifth out of 14,000,000. During all of this, I feel like a broken little woman, dragged along, jaw agape in disbelief, in this surreal experience. I see myself as Erik’s transcriptionist caought in a whirlwind, completely poleaxed. 

The response, the outcome has been so unanticipated. After all, I just wanted to share my grief and Erik’s visits. Now it’s like, “What the hell is happening here?” But I’m so, so proud of him. 

6. Were you hesitant to make your experiences known, that colleagues and patients and others would think you were crazy? What has been the response overall? 

 I’ve never concerned myself with the scorn or ridicule from others. After all, that’s their own journey. I can only be responsible for mine. Plus, after raising five children, there is little room for ego, and those who are still teenagers already think I’m crazy. Not only that, once you find a cause, an ideal, a passion you really believe in, nothing should stand in its way. Even just modeling that belief might better lives, even just one life. To turn one’s head away from one’s beliefs is self-deceit, and self-deceit, being a disconnect between the mind and the heart, is the first step in denying oneself pure joy. 

 7. Erik had his challenges in this life, Tourette’s and depression. Is it a comfort that he no longer faces those things in the afterlife and that you can communicate with him— and how does that interact with a mother’s grief and wish for her son’s presence in the flesh?

Ah, a mother’s confliction. Of course all I want is Erik’s happiness, even if he must find it in death and I must be denied his hugs. But in a perfect world I would have liked to have helped him find happiness here. God knows I tried. He knew he was loved. So loved. But his illness created too many inner dragons, and no amount of love or medicine or psychiatric help could slay them. 

 Of course it does help me to know that he has found his calling and that he helps so many people. He has changed lives. In many cases, he has saved lives. Some of the blog members admit that had it not been for their stumbling onto the Channeling Erik blog, they were planning to take their own life. 

That said, I suppose I would be selfish to want him back in the physical both at his expense and theirs. Still, all of this doesn’t stop those tsunamis of grief. 

 8. Do you feel that there is sufficient scientific proof of an afterlife and if so, why do you think it isn’t accepted more broadly? Do you see that changing? 

There was a time when all things spiritual, including the existence of an afterlife, were embraced as truths. This was the time of the ancient mystics. But with the advent of material science, these beliefs were eventually dismissed as antiquated and barbaric. Now, a bridge is being formed between quantum physics and spirituality. However, the course of a big ship changes very slowly. We must be patient. And as Schopenhauer said, “Truth goes through three phases: First it is ridiculed. Next it is scorned. Then it is taken as self-evident.” 

 Is there sufficient proof for existence of the afterlife? No, not 100%. And for me, there will never be until I’m there. I’ll always hover around 99.9%, and that’s okay. I’m an open-minded skeptic. I’m an intestinal bacterium that’s learning about the global economics of wheat—the remedial class. In the end, it’s all about a mix of science and faith. How much of each is up to you. 

 9. What would you say to other grieving parents? 

You can find joy again. Just remember this: Your child is Home. It is you who are in the foxholes at war in this, the human experience. But you must continue your relationship with your child. That’s what he or she wants! When you go on vacation, do you want to be forgotten? Of course not. Love knows no boundaries, even death. So don’t let anyone tell you to, “Get over it” or “Move on” or “You have other children.” As Erik would say, “That’s bullshit.”

 Also remember that when you grieve the most, that may be when your child is near. As a mother or father, on a soul level, you sense his or her energy and this recognition might make you cry. If so, raise your vibration. Think of fond memories. Say, “Hello.” Say, “I love you.” 

If all else fails, remember this: We are eternal beings. What’s the worst that can happen to us? In the end, we’ll always be fine: You, your family, your child, you will all see each other again. And again, and again, and again. Forever.  

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Thank you, Elisa, for these thought-provoking responses. Readers, I’m interested in your thoughts and comments. Religious traditions usually conflict with these kinds of activities and beliefs. You may not think any of this is real. Or you may have had your own experiences with the afterlife. Either way, I hope you’ll share your thoughts, comments and experiences.  And definitely, follow Elisa’s blog, Channeling Erik twitter and Facebook page.

11 comments on “Skeptic’s journey: an interview with Elisa Medhus, MD
  1. Kelly says:

    amaaaazing! I too, Carol, went on a quest to understand the afterlife. It was also in 1999 after my then husband’s grandmother and I delved into near death experiences…not sure why. But after I read all the major literature on near death experiences, it completely changed my view of life, death, life after death, who we are as spirits, how we make choices that extend far beyond our physical bodies. This was a fascinating interview. how cool for you!!
    I will never forget the psychic that told me about Paul’s smell. (Paul was one of the many suicides that touched my life, but his was the deepest) his smell…there is no way anyone would have known that.

    life in the foxhole…what an apt description huh?

    thanks for this one. good reading for a monday blah morning.

  2. Oriah says:

    Wow! An incredible story Carol- thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Andy says:

    Wow! An incredible story Carol- thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Four says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Thanks, Kelly and Oriah. I am so happy to have introduced you to Elisa and her blog. She is such an interesting person and she, Jamie and Erik have brought grieving parents so much comfort. I would be honored if either or both of you linked to this post in your blogs or FB. Elisa is trying to build her following, of course. Thank you both and blessings!

  6. Anonymous says:

    My son, MIchael, went missing just a few weeks before Erik took his life. Somehow, I don’t know how, I came across Elisa’s blog and it has had such an impact on me! Her sharing of her experience has expanded my thinking and I am grateful beyond words!

  7. Barbara says:

    This is so rich.

  8. KRYSTYNA Barakan says:

    Like many I was not interested in death or after death subject until my husband died. What I have seen sitting in the next room when he took his last breath and what happened after his death changed me a lot. But when I lately read dr Elisa and Eric “story”I started understanding so much. All is much clear,my mind totally open.I am calm,secure and do my best to talk with my 94 mother,gently sending my messages to my frail sister and above all calling my dear friend Barbara-very sick and scared of death. I have contacts by smell.Only once horrible. Other very nice if not beautiful.I try to refer my friends to people like Elisa, Jamie.If it”eased” me very down to earth person,should work for them.Thank you friends.

  9. margie says:

    I enjoy reading all the blogs and watching the youtube videos of Jamie butler channeling erik

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  1. Elisa Medhus new book is worth a look says:

    […] known Elisa for a while and interviewed her HERE. If you’d like to know more about her story, you might start there. Elisa is very candid […]

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