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Near Death Experiences

Updated: Jul 10

The first post in a series about unconventional ways to dispel conventional fear at the end of life (and any time of life, really!)



There are countless "unconventional" but totally legitimate and natural (and cost-free!) ways to access greater comfort and peace at the end of life. Our culture just doesn't readily promote them (much less accept and respect them), which is a disservice to humanity.


In my client work in this liminal space, I witness how these methodologies help and heal — sometimes instantaneously, dramatically, and miraculously — which is why I actively share them with my clients and want to share them with you, too.


This blog post is the first in a series that describes them in greater detail. And in these posts, you’ll find links to ample resources that will help you explore and integrate them for yourself. Please know I’m always available for sessions about this very content, should you seek additional support and guidance. 


 


"Where do we go? And is it scary?"


Recently I was contacted by woman we'll call Anne. Her mother, who we will call Betty, was actively dying, and Anne was in search of ways she could infuse her mother’s dying process with greater peace in comfort. 


There was a specific window of time during Betty's dying process that she expressed rather intense anxiety and fear about dying. She pondered questions like these: What does dying feel like? Where do we "go?" Is it painful? Scary? Will I be punished? Will I be sad or otherwise suffer?


To help Anne answer these questions and be in conversation with her mother about these topics, I told her the following:


Talk about Near Death Experiences.

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I am not crazy. Here’s why:


1) Near Death Experiences are real. 


The University of Virginia School of Medicine's Division of Perceptual Studies sets forth this definition of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and a list of their typical features:


"NDEs are intensely vivid and often life-transforming experiences, many of which occur under extreme physiological conditions such as trauma, ceasing of brain activity, deep general anesthesia or cardiac arrest in which no awareness or sensory experiences should be possible according to the prevailing views in neuroscience."


Essentially, those of us who have had an NDE almost die (or fully die and are actually declared dead!) but then return fully to life and recount their experiences.


While each NDE is of course unique to the individual, NDEs typically include these common features:

  • sensation of leaving the body

  • mind functioning more clearly and rapidly than usual

  • sensation of being drawn into a tunnel or darkness

  • brilliant light, sometimes at the end of the tunnel

  • sense of peace, well-being, and/or unconditional love

  • sense of having access to unlimited knowledge

  • “life review” or recall of important events in the past

  • preview of future events yet to come

  • encounters with deceased loved ones, or other beings generally identified as religious figures


NDEs have been recorded in human history since humans began recording their history — in the Hindu Upanishads to medieval Christian texts and everything in between. Mystics, poets, and religious alike describe them in beautifully transcendent detail. And the work of respected contemporary scientists, including Elisabeth Kubler-Ross MD, Raymond Moody MD, Bruce Greyson MD, and Eben Alexander MD is abundant and affirming — and greatly informs my current practice as well. (Here’s a comprehensive piece that surveys current understandings.) 


2) Knowledge reduces fear — including and especially during the end of life. 


Knowing “what happens next” can greatly reduce anxiety, despair, and other fear-based emotions at the end of life — your own and/or your loved one's. So consider expanding your and your dying loved one’s understandings about what the dying process and death actually feel like by exploring others' NDEs.


3) The wisdom that NDEs hold can be intensely healing. 


In addition to the foundational work of the MDs listed above, there are seemingly countless stories from everyday humans about NDEs that make their wisdom so easily accessible — just a smartphone browser tab away! 


Here are some of my favorite current voices in the NDE space who storytell about NDEs in fascinating ways that are easy to understand and share: 


  • Anita Moorjani (this link takes you to her description of her NDE). She does beautiful, love-based work about the spiritual experience of dying and death. Her YouTube channel is full of goodies. Here is a video that is the first in a series of videos about death and what happens.

  • Anthony Chene produces fantastic storytelling about NDEs. All of his videos are super powerful first-person accounts of what happens when we die. His YouTube channel is full of them. 


And now, if I may turn to a personal story… 


 


“I know where I am going, and it’s Pure Love.”


Recently, one of my husband’s closest friends from engineering school, Michael, died a gradual death from cancer. When my husband and I visited him during his final days, he explained to us that he had already died once — weeks prior to our visit.


We had been engaged in mundane chit-chat when he flat-out declared to us, “You guys, a few weeks ago, I died.”


Instantaneously, I got tunnel vision and tunnel hearing… He could not explain himself fast enough for me!


After a few thumping heartbeats of time elapsed, he elaborated… 


He had been in the active dying phase for some time, on hospice within a hospital setting. He had had nothing to eat or drink for weeks and had received Catholic last rites by a priest while surrounded by family. And then, he died.


He distinctly remembers experiencing his death, the conversation he had with God while dead, and then his return to life. 


All of it he experienced with ease. It was pain free. It was effortless. It was inviting, warm, comforting. He described being enveloped in what he could only describe as Pure Love. 


In this space of Pure Love, he was told by God (he called her “She,” female!) the reasons he had to return to life and the messages he had to share upon his return. 


And so, he returned to life. 


Within hours, Michael found himself fully awake again. He was drinking again and eating full, enormous meals again. He had energy like he hadn’t experienced in months and months. He felt zero pain, despite the advanced progression of his disease. And he felt Love. Pure Love. 


Soon, he got to writing, penning a Facebook post that he knew would be his “last words.” He claimed it was 100% channeled by him on behalf of the female God presence he met with while dead, and I 100% believe him. Read it for yourself via this link: it is divine.


At this point in his story, I was weeping. Through tears I asked him, “What now?”


He said, “Now… Now I know I’m at the end. These are now my final conversations. For real this time.”


I asked, “Are you scared?”


He grabbed at his heartspace and exclaimed, “No! Not at all! No way! How could I be?”


“I know where I am going, and it’s Pure Love. I wish everyone could know and experience what I did because nobody would be scared to die ever again. If people only knew — it’s all Love. It’s the best feeling in the world, one I can’t even put into words. So no, I am not scared now, and I never will be again. That would be impossible.”

I exhaled. A huge exhale. Out of relief for him, that he could now die “this time for real” knowing only comfort and peace. And also out of relief for all of us who share in the powerful medicine of his story. If this is what was in store for Michael, it’s in store for all of us; this is good news indeed.


Michael passed to Pure Love about 36 hours later.


 

While Michael’s story was powerful beyond measure for my husband and I to witness, it is not unique. NDE experiencer after NDE experiencer recounts much the same — sometimes, their stories match each other almost word for word, and yet at all moments remain fully unique and personal to the individual. 


There is greater comfort and peace to be had in dying and death, there really is! And NDE stories are just one of many unconventional — but very real, very legitimate — ways to access this healing.


Stay tuned… More methodologies on the way!



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