Review: Bridging The Gap - Kelvin Cruickshank
When I was told by an acclaimed medium that a friend who had died only a few months before had come through him with a message for me I was understandably sceptical.
Kiwi psychic Kelvin Cruickshank from Sensing Murder fame delves further into the afterlife in his third book Bridging the Gap - Channelling Spirit To Heal Hearts.
I was interviewing him by phone two years ago (we had not met at that stage), to back up some advertising he was doing in the community newspaper I was editing at the time.
After the interview, he said, "I have someone here who wants to get something across to you".
He described my friend's former appearance perfectly, including her manner, he spelt her name the correct way which was different to the usual way her name is spelt, he told me details, including what I had said in my eulogy of her at her funeral and other things no one else but both of us knew as we grew up together closely - almost like sisters.
I was particularly sceptical initially because being a journalist, I always need proof of these things and I had also grown up in a rather puritanical Christian background and taught that the afterlife was a mystery and should remain so until it is all revealed when we get there ourselves.
However the reading, which had not been solicited, totally disarmed me and I ended up in tears, having to gather myself together before leaving the interview room and facing the world again.
But although Cruickshank seems genuine, not every so-called medium has "the gift" and not swallowing everything about this stuff hook, line and sinker can only be a healthy way to approach it.
In the book Cruickshank recounts stories about helping people to move on with their lives following the death of someone close.
If nothing else, he does to point out good, everyday values in a hopeful way.
He sees himself as a go-between the living and the dead, giving comfort to both and especially those just hanging on to life, in the last stages of illness.
He seems genuinely heartfelt towards those who have been victims and their living families in the Sensing Murder programme of which he is one of three psychic mediums that use their "gifts" to try to give some hope towards the possible solving of cold cases across New Zealand and Australia.
He takes the opportunity to communicate the values of validating those we love and unconditional love, not taking anyone or anything for granted, always being open, honest and true, and teaching children to respect themselves and others.
He describes the connection between the living and the dead being like a rope or umbilical cord and that when the living need the dead they are always there.
As I was reading this book, I happened to be talking to a funeral director and I asked him whether he ever had any psychic experiences while working with the dead.
He said he didn't but he did think there were credible mediums like Cruickshank and he believed that anything genuine that helped people to move on, could only be a good thing.
At the end of the book, Sensing Murder associate producer Cinna Smith says as a journalist, she had approached the idea of the programme with a certain amount of cynicism and scepticism but has had to concede that what she had seen during the five years of running the show had been unusual to say the least, with no clear explanation.
My own personal view is that if you want to have a reading with a medium, go by your gut feeling and if that person is genuinely wanting to help your sense of loss, then go with it, if not then get the hell out of there!
I say this because having lost people myself, the effects of loss and grief can make those left behind very vulnerable and I believe it is totally unfair to play with people's emotions who are in this fragile condition.
Personally, I believe Kelvin Cruickshank is a genuine medium and someone creating a career out of this kind of gift is no different to anyone else who provides a helpful community service.
Bridging The Gap by Kelvin Cruickshank with Margie Thomson (Penguin Books) is available now.