My mother was out of the house, at a meeting. My father (who was an alcoholic and fairly non-involved parent) was supposed to be 'watching' my sister and I while mother was out. He took us into the TV room and laid me on the bed in there and turned on the television. I remember feeling really sick and was very tired. I could not watch the TV. I remember feeling very light, weightless, and 'disconnected' from my father and sister.
Suddenly I saw a keyhole. There was light coming through it, but all around it was darkness. I thought I should look through the keyhole. I moved toward it, although I don't think my body actually moved. I looked into the keyhole and saw light beyond it. Then I moved through the keyhole and was surrounded by bright light. I found myself on the most beautiful beach with gently lapping waves and beautiful blue water. This was ironic since we lived in the desert and I had never seen a beach in real life before. The sun was shining, but rather muted since it wasn't brilliant or blinding. I looked around and felt very calm. Then there was a tall 'person' next to me. I could not see a face or any distinguishing characteristics. I didn't know who this was or whether it was a man or a woman. I felt such a loving and welcoming feeling from this person.
This experience was very different from my life as a child. My mother was very narcissistic and self-involved; she punished me every time I was ill, which was all the time during the first grade. She would only take me to the doctor when I seemed to be so ill that I was 'out of it'.
I walked along the beach with this person. Another person joined us. These were not beings of light. They seemed to be regular Beings although they were not solid and defined. We did not talk aloud, but I could hear them in my head and I talked to them with my mind. They told me how glad they were to see me and told me that this place would always be special to me. I felt so loved for the first time in my life, and wanted desperately to stay with them. They told me I had to leave for now, but could come back 'later.' I felt very sad about having to leave. They kept telling me that later I could stay for as long as I wanted to. But for now, I had to go back to my parents and my sister. Boy, I didn't want to do that! But they lovingly convinced me that the best thing was to go back for now and return later. Suddenly, I was rushing back through the keyhole at a great speed.
I don't remember waking up, but my mother was there. She was yelling at my father and telling him I was really sick and why wasn't he watching me? I felt dizzy and tried to talk, but was too tired to speak. They took my temperature. Years later, when mother told me about this illness, she said my temperature was 104 degrees F. She called the doctor, who told her to put me in a cold bath. I remember being lifted into the bathtub with ice cubes in it. That is all I remember of that night.
The next day, though, I asked my mother about the people on the beach. She told me to stop making things up. Over the years, I would suddenly remember this happening. But every time I tried to talk to mother about it, she told me to quit lying. She just didn't want to hear about it, and would stop me cold if I ever tried to bring it up. Eventually, when I was 10 or 11, she told me if I didn't stop lying about that story, I'd go to hell. She also told me if I told anyone about this, they'd think I was crazy, and I'd be put into the 'crazy house.' I'm pretty sure she said this to scare me, because my father had to go to the 'crazy house' a lot of times when we were kids. That was what mother called the hospital she took my father to when his alcoholism became totally out of control.
That was about when I stopped even trying to talk about what had happened to me. All through my life, though, I had a kind of subconscious feeling that something very special had happened to me. Maybe I was special...who knows? But because my mother refused to even discuss it, I had the feeling that what had happened had to be kept a secret or that if anyone found out about it I'd be in bad trouble. I never could reconcile the loving acceptance I had felt on that beach with the idea of badness or being in trouble. That dichotomy nagged at me all my life.
I never told anyone about this occurrence until I was in nursing school, in the 1990s. I wrote a paper on using hypnosis as a pain-relieving intervention. I asked to be hypnotized several times by the university psychological services in order to find out for myself how hypnosis worked. During one of the sessions I began talking about this event. The therapist and I never really discussed it; she acknowledged that I had talked about it, but I think (now) that NDEs had not really been part of her training, so she didn't know what to make of it.
Then, around 2007 my husband and I attended a seminar sponsored by the Association for Research and Enlightenment, which included a guided group past-life regression. During the regression, I found myself in a wonderful place of light, with loving beings surrounding me. It was the same loving and accepting place I had seen as a child. I was on the beautiful beach again, with the beautiful blue water. The only difference was that I was now surrounded by loving Beings, whereas before there were only two of them. The Beings acknowledged that I had come 'home' but once again they told me I had to go back to life; they ensured me that I could return 'home' in the future and could stay as long as I liked. I sobbed uncontrollably during the regression, first because I felt so much love and then because I had to leave that beautiful place that was like my home - again! After the seminar ended, the facilitator came up to me and said 'You went home, didn't you?!' Amazing. It was the first time anyone had validated what had happened to me. I ended up telling the facilitator that I had had a childhood occurrence that I thought might have been an NDE and that what I had seen during his guided regression evoked the same feelings I had so many years previously.
Date NDE Occurred: February 1957
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Illness, trauma or other condition not considered life threatening.
I had been sick with various childhood diseases the entire year I was in first grade. 1956-57. I had measles at the time of the NDE and was very sick, but not considered to be threatened. I was sick in bed when this NDE occurred.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
Did you feel separated from your body? Uncertain During the occurrence I was not aware of any early happenings. I felt so intensely focused on the beings on the beach, and on all the beauty around us, that earthly things didn't intrude. The first thing I do remember, was rushing back through the keyhole at enormous speed and hearing my mother rather hysterically yelling at my father for failing to notice that I had become much more ill than when she had left for her meeting.
I lost awareness of my body
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal. I was a young child of 7 years old and pretty much just going along trying to stay out of trouble so I wouldn't get yelled at. But I felt like I knew everything that had gone on before, and everything that was going on around me, in a way that was new, different, and very exciting. I had never felt that way before.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I felt like I was a 'real person' when I was on the beach with the two people. Even though I think my body must have been asleep (or maybe unconscious) my mind felt energized and I felt like I was really alive. This is hard to explain, since I was so young, but this is how my adult self explains it.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning.
We walked on the beach for what seemed like a long time. The Beings talked to me for a long time. They had to keep reassuring me that going back to life would be OK. That seemed to take a long time. I felt like hours were passing.
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. Immediately prior to the occurrence I felt very tired. I felt disconnected from my body and from what was happening around me. I knew I was very sick. I had been sick many times during the previous year, so being sick was not unusual. But feeling the way I felt was VERY unusual. I can't remember ever feeling that disconnected before.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I remember hearing the TV, but feeling like it was blurring into the background. But during the occurrence, I could hear very plainly, though not with my ears. I thought I was hearing with my mind.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
The experience included: Tunnel
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain. It was NOT a tunnel, as is described by many who have had NDEs. It was definitely a keyhole, through which I first saw a light, then I approached it by floated to it. I passed through the keyhole; floating as easily as one would go through a door. Upon returning, I merely turned toward the keyhole again, but this time the passage through the keyhole was very fast, not painful at all, but like a huge whoosh.
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Unearthly light
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? Yes The light was not blinding or brilliant, but was warm and 'accepting,' if light can be accepting. It was leading me to the keyhole, through the keyhole, then it opened up to be a warm light surrounding me on the beach.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm. This absolutely beautiful, calm and peaceful beach with warm sand and gentle breezes. The light was so delicate and beautiful words don't do it justice.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Oh, such intense love and acceptance. I had never felt love like that. I felt calm and peaceful. I did not feel like a bad girl. I felt welcomed. I felt like, finally, I belonged where I was. And when the Beings told me I had to leave for awhile, I felt intense loneliness come over me. I had to be reassured again and again, that I would see them again and that I would be back 'home' again. Then I felt resigned to return to life. I wasn't scared, just resigned. I knew I had to do it, and that I could do it. But I felt so happy to have seen this beautiful and loving place.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
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
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe. I was a precocious child. That annoyed my mother. She spoke to me derogatorily most of the time. My defense was to 'shut down' when the yelling started. But on the beach, I felt truly alive for the first time in my young life.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Uncertain I don't remember a boundary as such. I just remember feeling so wonderful and then, all of a sudden, the Beings told me I had to leave.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Unknown
What was your religion prior to your experience? Do not know. Parents were Lutheran, but did not attend church regularly until I was about 6 years of age. I did not attend Sunday School or church until I was about 8 years of age.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes As I've matured and meditated on my experience, I've come to see that, for me, organized religion is just too judgmental and sin-guilt-and-punishment-based; it just doesn't match the loving acceptance I felt on the beach. Consequently, I have kind of morphed into a non-church-going but very spiritually-oriented person. I believe in the goodness of the human spirit. I believe in the loving kindness of a Universal Maker. And I believe there is life after death.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Protestant Currently do not attend church. Feel a deep spirituality not found in Lutheran congregations. Husband was Lutheran minister for 5 years before quitting to be a systems analyst. Never really found a 'home' in organized religion.
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. This is hard to explain because I was so young and had little life experience at the time. I 'knew' for example that adults could be really mean and hateful, selfish, uncaring and both physically and verbally abusive. Therefore, I was astounded to find two Beings who expressed happiness with me, whose presence felt like love. I had no real concept of Heaven or Hell or anything of the kind. As I stated, my parents were not religious people and we did not go to church until much later in my life.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain Not immediately. I don't think anything much changed when I was young. Well...maybe one thing. I started having the feeling that I was 'special' somehow. I couldn't verbalize it, but sometimes I acted like I thought I was different or maybe better than other kids. My mother knocked that out of me pretty quickly, so I stopped thinking about myself in that way. But when I was out of her influence, I realized that I could be better than those around me and not in a selfish way. I could be kinder, more compassionate, and more understanding. I think, in my adult mind, that I equated those qualities with what I felt on the beach.
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. I heard the voices of the two beings on the beach. Although, I didn't hear with my ears. Their lips didn't move. Mine didn't, either. We talked with our minds. But I heard their voices clearly. They were well-modulated and beautiful to hear. Their voices were the 'way' I knew they loved me.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? No
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 I understood in my child's mind that this was an amazing, marvelous place where everyone loved one another and I was safe there. That, to me, was mystical, although I could not have described it that way.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain I did not correlate the love, acceptance, and warmth of the experience with a God-like entity. I think I was too young to understand God as a concept. Only as I've matured have I come to the understanding that The Great Center was present on that beach, not as one of the Beings with me, but all around us; caring for and wanting the best for all of us.
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? Uncertain As a child, I would say 'No.' But there have been times in my life, from about the time I was age 12 or so, that I thought I had some kind of 'special' knowledge. I seem to have a sixth sense, if you want to call it that, about people. There have been many times when I met someone, or just saw them, and felt very uneasy for no apparent good reason. And, as things turned out, I was right to be discomfited. Several of these people were revealed to be untruthful, law-breakers, physically abusive, and in other ways people with whom I was glad I did not have close personal dealings. It was unnerving to find out exactly why my first impression of a person turned out to be spot-on.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Uncertain I just knew that I could not stay on the beach forever. I HAD to return to earthly life. I did not know why. That is why I needed to be convinced that it had to be that way. Specific information? Not that I remember.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? Unknown
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists. Yes The fact that there were Beings there, and that they told me I would return to this 'home' has been my promise that there is life after death. I cling to this promise. It has kept me going during rough times in my life.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I slightly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Greatly fearful in living my earthly life
Were you fearful living your life after your experience? Not fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
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? Uncertain Not that I know of. The most important information I 'received' is that there is life after death, that we will return 'home' after we live this lifetime. That has been enough to sustain me.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Uncertain Not that I understood then. It is only with hindsight that I realize my presence on earth was required, or as least I think it was, to help people I know and family members get through some really terrible life events.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Not compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Uncertain No information per se; No definitions or explanations. Just a thorough and reassuring feeling that I was loved, had been loved and would be loved in that place forever.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Large changes in my life. I believe this experience helped me forgive my parents for their abusive behaviors. This was not easy and it did not happen overnight. It did not happen, really, until after I was married and living far away from my birth family. Verbal abuse from a young age imprinted me with the idea that I was a worthless person and deserved every bad thing that happened to me. Then a series of tragic events occurred in our family. My father 'disinherited' my sister and I, my parents got divorced, my mother was shot and nearly died, my father committed suicide, I had 5 miscarriages, my sister was strangled to death, my mother distanced herself from my marriage family, saying she never wanted to see or hear from us again, my brother and I became estranged, and my mother had a stroke and ended up having to be cared for by me. Each new event brought the opportunity to either grow or deteriorate. Somehow I seemed to know that it was important to use the challenge to grow. I keep thinking about my childhood experience with the beyond. Thinking about how I could go 'home' again someday made it easier to deal with the life events that seemed determined to knock me out for good. People have told me they don't know how I managed to go through all those bad things and remain cheerful and optimistic. Let me tell you, it's because I know there is a 'home' for me on the other side.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Uncertain I think I've tried to be more loving and compassionate than one would expect from someone who experienced abuse as a child. I attribute this to my experience on the beach. But I can't be certain that it's not just a desire to be as unlike my abusive parents as I can be.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I don't think I had the vocabulary to express what happened until I was an adult. Also I probably didn't understand the concepts experienced.
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 more accurately than other life events that occurred around the time of the experience. I remember this experience as though it happened today. It has been this way even 60 years later. I still remember it with great clarity. I don't really remember the illness I had at the time, what exactly took place, or how the illness abated. But I surely remember this experience!
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain There are a few instances where I felt like 'WOW, that was weird' and I attribute those to having a 'gift.' First was when I was introduced to a man who was going to go into practice with our dentist. I was 12 years old and immediately took a dislike to him. I even refused to open my mouth so he could examine me. My mother was livid and slapped me in the car, but I knew he was a bad man. A year later he had embezzled a ton of money from our dentist and left the practice in bankruptcy. I knew all this happened because I went to school with our dentist's son and heard all about it from him.
Then, the next year, when I was 13, I first saw the man whom I would marry. I saw him at church and thought 'I know him, and I'm going to marry him.' He was 19 at the time, in college in another state. I was in 7th grade. We were married 6 years later and have been married for nearly 48 years.
When I was 33 I had to have an emergency C-section. The baby was in acute distress and the anesthesiologist totally knocked me out. I was told later that it was difficult to waken me. When I was finally awake, I had the most real vision: I could see geometric shapes, each one a different color. I could smell the shapes, but the smells did not match what one would expect from the colors. I also heard the colors speaking to the shapes. I had a 'revelation' about the relationship of shape, color and smell, of how all the senses combine to make life worth living. I always thought this was a kind of hallucination, but it totally changed the way I looked at objects in everyday life.
The next time was when I was 40 years old. I was going to take music lessons from an older gentleman. When I saw him the first time, I thought 'well, for goodness' sake, I know him.' Two years later, during the hypnosis sessions at nursing school, I apparently 'regressed' myself and saw a life in France during the French Revolution when I was betrothed to a man (who was my music teacher); he was going off to war and I was hysterical because I was pregnant at the time and we weren't married yet.
In 2008 my husband and I went to a public reading by psychic Lisa Williams. During a cold reading, she said she 'felt' someone was there who had a broken necklace that belonged to a soul contacting her. About 2 months earlier we had buried my husband's mother and on the way to the cemetery the necklace I was wearing suddenly broke for no good reason. It was the necklace given to me by my mother-in-law.
Most recently, over the past 2 years or so, I've been 'playing' with what I call 'the ghost' in our house. I know, it sounds goofy. I have an anniversary clock, the kind with the base that has little balls on it that twirl back and forth. For years that clock has worked just fine. Then about 2 years ago the bottom part stopped twirling. We checked it out and could find nothing wrong. A few months later, I was in the room with the clock when I could swear I smelled cigarette smoke. Weird. Neither of us smoke. That night I noticed the clock was working again. It twirled for a couple of weeks and then stopped again. Over the months, I have smelled cigarette smoke several times and each time the clock starts working again. Then the clock stopped for days, weeks or months later, with no warning. It's been stopped since Thanksgiving 2016, but last week I smelled smoke again and the clock has been twirling just fine ever since. The person who gave me that clock was a chain smoker whose habit drove me crazy whenever I was around her. But she was a lovely person and I was sorry when she died in 2005.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Wow, I guess the most meaningful part of my experience was the absolute certainty I have that there is a loving 'home' to which we return after we die. Knowing that is like knowing an eternal truth: no matter what happens to you in this life, there is love, joy and peace waiting for you in the future. There are Beings who love you and are waiting for your return. You will not be alone after you pass from this life.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I was 40 years old before I shared this experience with anyone. I shared with the nursing school psychologist during the hypnotherapy sessions. She did not seem interested. Last year, at age 66, I shared it with my physician, as we were discussing why I would reject certain therapies if I were diagnosed with certain diseases. She asked how I thought about death and I told her about my experience. She listened calmly but I'm not sure she 'got it.'
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain I knew absolutely nothing about this. I was too young.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real. It was so different from how I experienced daily life. I couldn't believe things couldn't be as nice as they were during my time on the beach. I just kept hoping it was real, and that life would change to be as nice as the beach. Unfortunately, it didn't. But I kept hoping.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. I believe this really happened. I do not think I died, in the clinical sense of dying, but I was quite ill at the time and probably about as near dying as I've ever been. And I've never, for 60 years, been able to forget this experience. It is always 'right there' in my mind, fresh, and exactly the same every time I think about it. AND the fact that I returned there during a hypnotic regression, and it was almost exactly the same, is amazing to me.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Ummm...no.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? You've asked great questions. I wish you well as you continue this valuable research. I know there are people who don't believe NDEs are real. I do. I hope my experience is helpful to your research, but if it isn't the feedback you're hoping for, it's been valuable to me to share what happened with someone who won't roll their eyes.