It was either February or March of 1993. I had finished my clinical work and would be graduating from dental school in May. My graduating class was in Cancun Mexico for a celebratory vacation. I was there with my (then) fiancé who was working toward his PhD in Pharmacology. It was a relaxing experience, after a very difficult fourth year of school. I remember that it was another beautiful sunny afternoon on the beach. There was no real wind and the colored flags, which were used to indicate dangerous water conditions, and the need to exercise caution, were removed.
My fiancé was with some of my classmates at the hotel's pool by the beach. I could see them and make out their laughter, but not distinct voices or conversations. I decided to walk into the warm water by myself. I was in water that was barely up to my hips, and I don't remember feeling anything other than relaxation and enjoyment of the moment. When I decided to try to return to the beach, I noticed the flow of water at my feet. It was moving swiftly outward, and I tried to pull my legs forward to slowly inch my way back. Instead, the water was moving upward on my body toward my waist.
I remember feeling foolish. The water wasn't very deep. What would my friends think if they had to come and 'save' me from shallow water? I also knew that I could not get back to shore on my own. I remember calling for help repeatedly but no one heard me. I could see my friends at the pool, and further down the beach, but there was no one anywhere close to me on the beach or in the water. I remember wondering where everyone had gone and how had I managed to get myself into this situation.
I formed the thought in my mind that 'I am going to die' and experienced fear for the first time. Then I remember thinking 'It is not my time.' My next thought was 'Perhaps this is the way that everyone feels before they die.'
I think I remember feeling a feeling of resignation, of surrender. I don't remember thinking about anything else or about anyone else at that point.
My next memory is of the presence of two 'men' (I know they were male beings) on my left side, and of a hand on my left hand guiding me back to the shore. I remember looking down at my hand, and at my engagement ring, and knowing that I would never marry my fiancé.
I must have said thank-you to these 'men'. I would have said it many times, but I have no memory of doing so. There were no words spoken at any point. Although I know these were a male presence, I remember not being able to see their faces. I distinctly remember feeling a hand, a physical hand, on my own hand, and feeling that my life was now spared, that I was now safe.
Once on the shore, I remember looking back into the water and along the shoreline. There was no one there, except for people visible off in the distance and back at the hotel. Walking or running on sand is not easy. It was impossible for anyone to have moved with such haste away from that spot on the beach. I know that I was 'alone' prior to my experience. There was no other human presence near to me. To me, the only possible explanation was that my life was saved by two 'male' angels.
Date NDE Occurred: Early spring 1993
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Physically healthy Other Physically healthy
I was in the sea. There was a strong under-current. I was not a strong swimmer, and if someone had not come to my aid, I am certain that I would have drowned.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND unpleasant and/or frightening
Did you feel separated from your body? No
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Normal consciousness and alertness
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was alert and my 'normal self' until I had the feeling that I was going to die, and that there was nothing I could do about it. Then, I felt a feeling of resignation and I think sadness. I never thought of this before, but I think things became hazier, more dream-like at that point. I don't know if this makes any sense.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
Time seemed to slow down, if anything. Perhaps a better way is to say that I think it slowed down around me, outside of my experience. It felt somehow like my experience of reality and 'life' was completely separate at that moment in time.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My memory is of things having a haziness and ethereal quality immediately after I accepted that I was going to die.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I remember sound lessening when I accepted that I was going to die. I remember that when I was returned to the beach and 'his' hand was released from mine, the sounds returned to their normal intensity.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Fear, sadness, resignation, gratitude, profound relief
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Other faith My mother belongs to the Jehovah's Witness faith, and as a child, I had to accompany her to weekly meetings, and door-to-door service work. We lived in a rural setting, and I remember walking along a dirt road to catch the school bus. I was eleven years old at the time, and the thought came to me - 'this is not the 'truth'. I knew that God's love was more encompassing, and more forgiving than I had been led to believe. At the age of fifteen, I refused to go to the meetings any longer.
Now, as an adult, I would consider myself to be very spiritual, but I do not adhere to a specific religious faith. My husband is a very observant Catholic. We both believe that God has a very important role in our family.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain I am much more spiritual but I do not belong to a specific faith.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Other or several faiths Please see above
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was both consistent and not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience I 'wanted' to believe in a divine purpose, in a force greater than ourselves - but I had given up. I had spent many years coming to terms with the 'knowledge' that if it isn't scientifically defensible, it doesn't exist. There were rational people, and then there were those who wore crystals, and fell into the 'wackadoo' territory. This experience told me ' not so fast, there is much more to this life, to this existence than you think'.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know God exists, and that he hears our prayers.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin See narrative above. I encountered two male beings to my left in the water with me. I remember the presence of two 'men'. I remember a haziness surrounding them, and everything in my field of vision at that point. I am sure they had heads, but I do not remember them having discernible faces or features. I would have remembered the faces of the 'men ' who saved my life. I would have looked them square in the eyes and thanked them. I would have hugged them in thanks but I didn't. I didn't do any of these things.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any beings who previously lived on earth who are described by name in religions (for example: Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, etc.)? No
During your experience, did you gain information about premortal existence? No
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes My unspoken voice, my prayer, was heard - by someone. I prefer to label that someone as God.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes My thoughts were not vocalized. My thoughts of death could only have been heard by God. There is no other explanation. There were no other people anywhere near to me who could have witnessed my distress and come to my aid - it was physically impossible.
Do you believe in the existence of God after your experience? God definitely exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No I wish that I had.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes The 'physical' presence of beings who could not be there. The awareness that there is a life outside of this earthly realm.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I moderately fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Moderately fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes Yes, but perhaps not in the way I think you mean. I knew at that moment that I would not marry my fiance, that I did not love him.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain I would like to think that they have, but as mentioned, I am a work in progress, and each day I aspire to be a better mom, wife, and person.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
How accurately do you remember the experience in comparison to other life events that occurred around the time of the experience? I remember the experience as accurately as other life events that occurred around the time of the experience
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I 'wanted' to believe in a divine purpose, in a force greater than ourselves but I had given up. I had spent many years coming to terms with the 'knowledge' that if it isn't scientifically defensible, it doesn't exist. There were rational people, and then there were those who wore crystals and fell into the 'wackadoo' territory. This experience told me 'not so fast, there is much more to this life, to this existence than you think.'
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes With my mother last year. My father is terminally ill with metastatic prostate cancer. I flew home to visit them both, and told my mother the story with the hope that it might bring her some comfort. She didn't believe me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had read stories of people's experiences. To be honest I had always chalked it up to the effects of anesthesia and altered consciousness.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably real I knew it had happened but I didn't want to believe that it had. Everything else in my life was exactly as it had always been and nobody else had witnessed the experience. It was easier to discount it as an altered perception on my part.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I know this experience was real. There have been other experiences in my life which have could not have occurred without divine intervention. I know this is real.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes When I was ten or eleven years old I remember diving off a dock in our lake. I remember looking up through the water and seeing the rays of sunshine, and the outlines of my friends on the dock. I remember trying to get back to the surface of the water, and not being able to. I remember thinking, 'why don't they see me, and why don't they help me?' I remember it seemed to take an eternity, and yet it could only have taken a few seconds to occur; how else could I breathe? Somehow, I was 'released' and I broke the surface. I was not aware of the presence of anyone else, or anything else with me under the water. As I type this, it occurs to me that this experience felt exactly like the one in Cancun.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I am truly thankful for it, and I don't fear it, or telling anyone about it anymore.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I am concerned that the possibility of 'publishing' people's stories, and media attention, might serve as an incentive for people to fabricate them. There is a comfort in knowing that there is no compensation provided for these submissions, and that most of the stories are based in truth.