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In this astonishing debut, Claire Bidwell Smith, an only child, is just fourteen years old when both of her charismatic parents are diagnosed with cancer. By the time she is twenty-five years old they are both gone and Claire is very much alone in the world.

The Rules of Inheritance is a remarkable lesson on how to overcome some of life’s greatest hardships. Written with suspense and style, and bursting with love and adventure, The Rules of Inheritance vividly captures the deep grief and surprising light of a young woman forging ahead on a journey of loss that humbled, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

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In After This, acclaimed author, and therapist Claire Bidwell Smith confronts the question she encounters every day in private practice—what happens after we die?   

In an exploration of the afterlife that is part personal, part prescriptive—Smith invites us on her journey into the unknown. She wonders: How do we grieve our loved ones without proof that they live on? Will we ever see them again? Can they see us now, even though they are gone? Chronicling our steps along the path that bridges this world and the next, Smith undergoes past-life regressions and sessions with mediums and psychics and immerses herself in the ceremonies of organized religion and the rigor of scientific experiments to try and find the answers.

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“With wisdom and grace, Claire Bidwell Smith navigates the mysteries of grief to show us that there is great meaning and even magic to be found in exploring the unknown.”
— Maria Shriver, bestselling author of WHAT’S HEAVEN?

“A brave and intelligent book about big loss and even bigger love. The gritty truth and hard won grace in this beautiful memoir astonishes me.”

– Cheryl Strayed

I cannot imagine a better grief therapist than Claire Bidwell Smith. She has the ability to wrap her deep psychology background and understanding of frameworks for dealing with grief in an intimate and soft discussion that makes the client feel incredibly well supported. Perhaps as a result of her own losses, she becomes a partner in going through the process of grief with the person experiencing deep loss, and not just a medical professional. As a result, she has significantly advanced my ability to brave the storms of grief and even to see some of the beauty that it yields as well. I am forever indebted.”

– Jaime, Los Angeles