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To Death and Back

We're all fascinated by stories of near-death experiences (NDEs) - the experiences of those who have clinically died, or nearly so, caught a glimpse of another world, and then returned to tell their stories. They capture our interest because if they are true, they offer proof of life after death. Despite the explanations from some scientists that these experiences are merely the result of chemical reactions in the brain at the onset of trauma (or something like that), dozens of books have been written in recent years detailing the journeys many NDErs have taken, and that they insist are quite real. Many of these stories have been posted on the Internet too, of course, at several sites dealing with the subject. Here are samplings of a few of the better stories, and links to the complete text.

From the Kitchen to the Afterlife

In January, 1971, on a Sunday, I was cooking a late breakfast for my two boys and my mother when I slipped on a spot of cooking oil and fell to my knees in the kitchen. The blow jarred my spine and I blacked out. When I awoke, I was on my back and paralyzed from the waist down. I was ambulanced to Mercy Hospital and, since my doctor was out of town until the next day, put to bed to wait. In the late afternoon, I felt well enough to eat a big meal. About two hours later, my stomach started to swell enormously and I began to black out. The nurses took me down to an empty emergency room and rounded up the only doctors they could find. Despite their efforts, I sank lower and lower, and finally respiration and heartbeat stopped. From their viewpoint, nothing was happening. From mine, however, it was very different. I went through a dark tunnel with flashing lights toward a bright light. I came out into a sort of cloud-like area. There were beings there, though I couldn't "see" anything. One entity, who I've always called "the greeter," spoke to me. We had quite a conversation about my life to date; it was not condemning or retaliatory - just a review. I knew if I chose to go on it was all right. It was like going around a series of light bends. If I went far enough, I couldn't go back - and that was okay. If I did that, however, I wouldn't get the opportunity to raise my children or to experience a type of love I hadn't really known so far. In the end, I decided to return.

Reviewed Life Like Pages in a Book

I suffered complete cardiac arrest about two years ago in our local hospital. I felt completely comfortable and was watching people all around me when I realized that I couldn't possibly see what I was seeing from the gurney. I heard the alarms and the guy keeping track of my blood pressure say some numbers and "we're losing her, we're losing her." I decided I was dead and lost all interest in my mortal remains. I zoomed straight up into a clear vast sky, dark but feeling as if dawn was imminent. I felt the most wonderful peace and love envelope me. "Welcome home," I heard in my mind. (At that point I did not have a body; I felt like a point of awareness.) My thinking was racing, "Will I be rejected as I have not led a blameless life?" "How could I have forgotten about this very familiar existence?" I heard, "Good job, you really tried hard and never gave up." Then I was shown my life. It felt like I was looking down into a very tall stack of pages, but the images moved and I could read them all at once. I saw the results of gestures of kindness and compassion. It was thrilling. I thought of my three grown daughters, saw into their futures, and knew they were strong women who would be just fine. Then I returned to the point where I had my life review and prepared to turn loose my hold on consciousness and unite with the All.
- G.E.M.

The Journey to Hell

Not all NDEs transport the experiencers to a pleasant afterlife. There have been cases, such as the next two, in which people are shown the "other place" - the dark side of death!

Not all NDEs are pleasant.A.F., a wife and mother haunted by abuse in childhood and overwhelmed by despair, was in a desperate state of mind. On January 8, 1991, she committed suicide, hoping to escape her sense of emptiness and suffering. But clinical death drew her not to the light so well documented by Betty Eadie and other near-death experience survivors, but instead into a realm of darkness. What follows are excerpts from her experience as described in her wonderful book Beyond the Darkness.

Where was I? I was immersed in darkness. My eyes seemed to adjust, and I could see clearly even though there was no light. The darkness continued in all directions and seemed to have no end, but it wasn't just blackness, it was an endless void, an absence of light. It was completely enveloping. I swung my head around to explore the thick blackness and saw, to my right, standing shoulder to shoulder, a handful of others. They were all teenagers. "Oh, we must be the suicides." I wasn't sure if these other people had heard me, until the guy next to me responded. He didn't say a word to me. He slowly looked down at me and turned forward again. There was absolutely no expression on his face, no warmth or intelligence in his eyes. Suspended in darkness, he and all the others stood fixed in a thoughtless stupor. They were dead, and so was I. Suddenly, as if we had been waiting for a kind of sorting process to take place, I was sucked further into the darkness by an unseen and undefined power, leaving the teenagers behind. I landed on the edge of a shadowy plane, suspended in the darkness, extending to the limits of my sight. I knew that I was in a state of hell, but this was not the typical "fire and brimstone" hell that I had learned about as a young child. The word Purgatory rose, whispered, into my mind. Men and women of all ages, but no children, were standing or squatting or wandering about on the plane. Some were mumbling to themselves. Sitting next to me was a man who appeared to be about sixty years old. This man's eyes were totally without comprehension. Pathetically squatting on the ground, draped in filthy white robes, he wasn't radiating anything, not even self-pity. I felt that he had absorbed everything there was to know here and had chosen to stop thinking. I knew that his soul had been rotting here forever. In this dark prison a day might as well be a thousand days or a thousand years.
- A.F.

The Heart Attack

There was a sudden whoosh, and I saw a large glowing red ball approaching me, almost like the light on the front of a train. In that instant, I knew terror like never before. As it approached, I realized that it was really a large, eerie red eye. It stopped when it got close to me, and then began traveling alongside me through the tunnel. It felt like it was looking right into my mind, into my very soul. I glanced at the walls of the tunnel, walls of deep black whirring past me like video footage on fast forward. Yes, I was still there, still falling millions of miles into some terrible pit. And yet, there I was, lying deathlike on a hospital bed. I could see myself there, and it panicked me all the more. The eye - suddenly I realized that I was seeing the hospital room through the red eye. Panic started building in my mind as it began to dawn on me where I was, suspended in this dank tube. As the red eye glowered at me, the thoughts began to arrange themselves, coalescing slowly. Suddenly, the idea was undeniable. I was in hell. The realization swept over me like an ocean wave, unstoppable though I tried desperately to dismiss it. Hell! I didn't even believe in hell! I had only the briefest moment to react to the thought when a deep, comfortable voice echoed through the tunnel. "Have no fear, my son," the voice said with a certain resounding nobility, "for I am with you. I have chosen you to write about the experiences you will go through." It was too unreal. I had never been given to believe in "missions from God" and the like anyway. And yet here was a voice that I knew was God's telling me I had been selected for this nightmare! The voice responded to my unspoken doubts. "You'll first experience hell," He said evenly, with a tone of complete control, "to prove to you the reality of evil. You've only believed that there was goodness. You must see for yourself that hell is real. And then you can tell others about the awful reality of hell, and about the beautiful glory of heaven." There was a low murmuring all around me, as if I were in the midst of a huge group of grumbling people. Before me, suddenly, stood a huge black door. The air began to glow and shimmer with oppressive heat. I watched as the door opened upon a vast, flaming oven. I felt myself drawn like a magnet into the center of the flames - although I was terrified to go in.

  • D.B. does go in, as he tells us in the complete story, and describes a horrifying place. But then, a familiar figure appears and gives him another important choice to make.
An NDE During Childbirth

With record breaking cold temperatures, my daughter was born into the world on a Saturday afternoon on the second day of January 1982. Seeing how this was my second childbirth, I had past experience to go by, and that gave me no clue of what was to come. My doctor had been out of town for the first birth, and I felt confident since he would be present for the second one. I had a very long labor for 3 days. This was due to what was described as an atrophic uterus. I had the same length of time with the birth of my first child. I had been very exhausted and looking forward to getting on with the arrival of my baby. The doctor misjudged how much time was needed to access the anesthesiologist which became an issue, and even though I was ready to deliver, I was told, now, to wait for his arrival. This caused more stress on the baby, and I started to convulse. I lost any control of my body and became incoherent to the commands of the nurse to breathe. Finally, I remember a doctor rushing in and turning me on my side to administer the anesthetic. Before the drugs could work, I had delivered the baby. The sweetest sound to my ear was the gentle cry of her voice. Just knowing that she was breathing made me feel relieved. But, I felt myself slipping and unable to breathe. The last words I heard from the doctor were, "Come on, stop bleeding!" I looked in the overhead mirror and saw that my skin color was very bluish gray. I felt my heart pumping faster and faster, trying to keep up with the loss of blood. The nurse slapped an oxygen mask over me and yelled at me to breathe. I just looked at her and thought, "I can't. I'm too tired." Then everything inside just stopped.
- anon.

  • Find out what happens to this young mother in her complete story, and how it affected her life.
Hypnotically Induced NDE

My NDE experience is unconventional - a hypnosis-induced memory that dramatically changed my life. I was 41 years old in 1986 and was not at peace with my childhood experiences. The previous two years had been extremely stressful and I was headed for a serious burn-out. My friend and I attended a self-hypnosis seminar at the local junior college. I was certain that my mind was too strong to be hypnotized, but I sensed that the instructor was trustworthy. To my surprise, I went into an immediate and very deep hypnotic trance that produced the following: I saw the exterior of the hospital where I was born. It was snowing. Then, from above, I saw a baby with dark blue eyes lying on a cold, hard, black and white tile floor. I was viewing myself from above and experienced no feelings except to observe that the baby was moving its eyes back and forth with curiosity. I had stopped breathing directly after birth and went back into my body as Sister Lelia (delivery nurse) picked me up and cradled me to her breast. I felt very content and safe. She carried me to my mother's recovery bed in a ward with north windows where I sensed the presence of my grandmother who I could not see, but who was standing behind me. Sister Lelia told me that the woman in the bed was my mother. I looked at the woman with curiosity. Her black hair was stiff and askew. I sensed her unhappiness, physical pain, and her dislike for her mother. My father was not present, and I had no sense of him except that of my mother's strong desire for him. My mother did not want me; she wanted my father. I felt overwhelming fear of her. This first intense feeling resulted in my decision to return home... again.
- L.

  • L. then meets a very unusual type of guardian angel - and a familiar figure with a white beard. Here's her complete story.

Have You Had
A Near-Death Experience?

If you've had an experience - good or bad - that you'd like to share with other readers, please send your stories to me.

You have a standing invitation to tell me your experiences with the paranormal and unexplained.

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