Review: Return From Heaven, Beloved Relatives Reincarnation Within Your Family

Carol Bowman RETURN FROM HEAVEN: Beloved Relatives Reincarnated Within Your Family, Thorsons 2001 paperback, 263 pages.

In recent generations, publications on reincarnation have become increasingly specialized. The groundbreaking work of researchers such as Dr Ian Stevenson and Dr Helen Wambach combined with the traditional guides to death and dying have enabled a more pragmatic approach to the whole area of past life research. Past life regression therapy has, thankfully, taken communication with the departed out of the séance rooms and into real life – with real people.

Firstly, a warning to the skeptical is in order. To read and enjoy this book you will need to have an open-minded attitude toward reincarnation.

In his comprehensive guide to reincarnation, Exploring Reincarnation, Hans TenDam briefly covered the work of Carol Bowman with children and their past lives. For some years now she has been collecting cases of young children who spontaneously express what can only be past life memories. The research grew out of her need to understand what was happening with her own two children. This work is her follow-up to Children’s Past Lives.
It deals with families who believe that their young child may be the reincarnation of a previous family member. These often incredible familiarities are generally experienced in children from birth to about seven years of age.

The material in this very easy to read volume comprises explanations with actual case transcripts. It covers a variety of areas. There is the actual return of a family member well known to the whole family complete with the utterances and behavior from the antecedent. There are cases of ‘unfinished business’ or atonement by souls who return as children to their former children, cousins or grandchildren. To ordinary families who do not have a strong tie to religion or spiritual practices, the return of a family member into a young child can be shocking and confusing. Ms Bowman has clearly shown compassion and understanding toward her research families. This shines through her writing as warmth and acceptance.

The chapters on the biological indicators of reincarnation are fascinating. These follow Dr Ian Stevenson’s work. Factors such as unexplained scars, physical limitations and impairments can all be correlated with the life experiences of a deceased family member and even their cause of death. In several cases the acknowledgement of the past life by the family has resolved unexplained physical problems. ‘Getting over it’, as it were.

Another important thrust of this book is what happens between lives. If you accept reincarnation and can get past the rather silly need to have been someone important in a past life, you have some significant questions to consider. Firstly, what happens after you die? Secondly, if you are reincarnating, how are your parents chosen? These questions go far beyond the light at the end of the tunnel of the Moody and Ring research. The information gleaned from past life regression therapies and direct from children who are young enough to remember that past life will surprise you. The surprise is in the similarity of the memories. This crosses both cultures and times.

Some of the comforting information in this book involves miscarriages and why they happen apart from physical reasons. There is also an eye-opening section on the point in a pregnancy at which a soul engages with the foetus.
Worth the price of the book alone is the section on abortion. This will provide comfort for women who have, for many different reasons, had an abortion. It considers the metaphysical factors involved and what reincarnated children and past life regressees have to say. The life-long anguish of many aborting mothers may actually be ameliorated by this section.

Although this is a very warm-hearted book, Ms Bowman does not retreat from the initial distress and shock at finding a deceased relative returning to the family. In our Western society, reincarnation is not generally accepted on a day-to-day practical level. Family members are often reluctant to speak of their experiences, lest others think they are crazy. The advent of the internet and e-mail has made Ms Bowman’s initial contact with these people much easier and she believes that wider communication will increase the number of cases reported. The cases that she has collected range over all levels of society and belief systems. Because you don’t believe in reincarnation does not mean it isn’t going to happen or that it doesn’t happen. Many family members in her cases under study have taken years to actually resolve the issues raised by same family reincarnation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well-paced book. The cases were fascinating, as were Ms Bowman’s descriptions and explanations of those cases. I have not had a family member reincarnating in my family – as far as I know. But by reading this book, I will certainly be better prepared for the eventuality, should it ever occur.

I recommend this book for those who think they might have a reincarnated family member and need information and support. Ms Bowman is also eager to collect more experiences for her continued research. You may visit her website at:

I also recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how they chose their parents and what happens after death and pre-birth.

Jennifer Hoskins

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