While on a driving vacation in the Colorado Mountains near Durango our family's van was forced to the side of the gravel mountain road by other traffic. The van came to a stop but then the edge of the road gave way, causing our vehicle to fly end over end over a mountain cliff. I hate to describe the incredible trauma inside that van during this seemingly endless ordeal. Worst of all, my two young children were in the van with my husband and me and all the while things were crashing around in the van I did not know if they would survive. A huge granite boulder eventually stopped the van's descent, at which point I apparently immediately lost consciousness due to physical trauma. My spine had been crushed. When I returned to consciousness (I don't know how many minutes later) I was still strapped in my seat at a severe downward angle due to the steepness of the cliff side. I was literally hanging there, with two paramedics holding me in place. I did not know how long they had been there, trying to figure out a way of extricating me from the crushed vehicle. All the debris inside the van had landed on my legs, obscuring them nearly completely, but I felt broken glass digging into my bare feet underneath it all as well as a large amount of ice from the contents of our cooler. The pain from my back injury was severe, so much so that I had to continue to brace myself with my arms against the cracked dashboard and further press my feet into the shards of glass in order to support my back in a somewhat better position. My greater concern than the pain, however, was the fact that I could not turn my body to see if my children had survived the accident. I immediately thought that my five-month-old baby was dead because he wasn't crying and I had no idea what had happened to my three-year-old son. When I asked about them, however, I was told by the red haired paramedic who was positioned in front of me that both children had already been removed from the van and that they were safe and unharmed, being cared for on the road above the cliff. I could only hope that I was being told the truth. I could see that my husband was running around outside the vehicle, taking photographs of the damage to the van. If our children were okay, why wasn't he with them?
Due to the severity of my injury and the position of the van against the side of the cliff, the emergency personnel that had arrived at the site were having a difficult time figuring out how to get me out of the vehicle without causing further harm, including possible spinal cord severance and paralysis. After nearly an hour of struggling to keep my body at an angle that would decrease the pain, I suddenly felt myself become completely weak and stopped pressing my feet into the glass as well as stopped pushing against the dashboard with my hands. The red-haired paramedic who had been helping to hold me up suddenly had my entire weight. I remember looking at his crooked teeth as he asked if I was all right, but I had absolutely no strength to answer him. The paramedic behind me, who had apparently been taking my blood pressure all along without my awareness of it, said 'BP's 60 over 20.'
Suddenly ALL of my pain was instantly gone and I was no longer in the van even though my body apparently was. Instead, I was floating above it, watching with great clarity my husband continue to snap photos of the vehicle and occasionally speak with other people on the scene. I could see several places on the cliff side where other vehicles had apparently hit trees and rocks in similar accidents. I could smell the pine of the forest. I did not care about any of this at the time, but rose higher still and saw, to my great relief that my two young children were, indeed, at the road above the cliff. An older woman, seeming to act like a mother herself, held my five month old on her hip with one hand while shielding her eyes from the morning sun with the other as she looked at the van far below. My three-year-old son was squatting on his haunches next to her, drawing a small stick through a ridge of gravel on the road. My concern now was that he was too close to the edge of the road for my comfort, but he at least appeared to be mostly unharmed, with just a few scratches on his face. The baby seemed to be completely unharmed, and, indeed, the woman holding him did not appear to be concerned about his welfare; it was almost as if she was just a designated sitter and her concern was completely focused on the van that had crashed against the huge boulder far below her.
I was enveloped in love, complete and unconditional love and compassion, with a gentleness I had never felt before in my life. I felt cushioned and cradled as if I was the most precious of children. After observing the scene below I realized there was a Presence with me, a very powerful but totally loving Being. I did not see anyone, but knew He was there even though I did not know for sure who it was. It was at this time I was given a choice, not through words, but telepathically, just KNOWING. I could continue in this bliss and come back Home, across some sort of barrier I could sense was very close by, or I could return to my body, with all its pain and uncertain future. Oh, how I wanted to stay in that bliss! Although the choice was the epitome of compassion and loving, I nearly scoffed at its cruelty. 'Thanks a lot,' I said sarcastically to myself. Just before driving up that mountain road my husband had refused to take his turn strapping our children into their car seats, saying 'Nothing's going to happen, anyway.' I had taken on the task, strapping them in extra securely just to make my point of how important it was. My husband had been physically abusive to me and verbally abusive to our little ones. Looking down upon these innocent little boys, what kind of choice was it to leave him to raise them? If I had had no children, there's no doubt in my mind that I would have chosen to stay with the Presence and the Bliss. As it was, even knowing I would have to return to the pain and whatever I had to go through to recover from the injuries, there really was no choice for me. All I could think was 'I have children to raise.' With that simple thought, I was sent back, back into the van into my broken body. All the crushing pain immediately returned and I began several months of recovery.
Date NDE Occurred: 'July 9, 1979'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
Severe physical trauma caused by car accident. Was very close to death.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
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 As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Absolutely when I was with the Presence, outside of my body. No doubt about it. I've never been so alert and conscious before or since!
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Only that my time with the Presence, in that incredible cradling of intense love and compassion, seemed to be way too brief. I wanted it to last forever.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
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? Yes Just the Presence that I described in the main narrative. Don't really know if it should be described as 'religious,' as in #20, though.
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? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I could feel the barrier described in #3 but could not see much but a "grayness" beyond it. I knew, however, that if I had crossed the barrier there would be wonderful things on the other side.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Amazing joy, incredible bliss, loving, lightness, freedom! Totally cared about and cared for.
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
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
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? Scenes from the world's future
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes As in the main narrative. I did not cross, but knew if I chose to do so there would be no going back, so I didn't dare even though I really, really wanted to!
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 was your religion prior to your experience? Conservative/fundamentalist 'Raised conservative, but rejected at an early age, long before the NDE.'
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes For years after my NDE I searched for a religion or group that shared my spiritual focus and beliefs. I have, to date, not found one that fits perfectly and doubt the existence of one that might. In a way, I feel 'homeless' when it comes to religion. So I turn to books, the Internet, DVD's and other venues to help me to feel less isolated.
What is your religion now? Liberal No denomination.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes For years after my NDE I searched for a religion or group that shared my spiritual focus and beliefs. I have, to date, not found one that fits perfectly and doubt the existence of one that might. In a way, I feel 'homeless' when it comes to religion. So I turn to books, the Internet, DVD's and other venues to help me to feel less isolated.
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
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes That we're all connected; we're all from the same Source. Thus, we should all have compassion for one another. And this does not just mean people, but also animals, plants, all of nature. The most important aspects of this realm of existence are relationships and experiences and we'd best conduct them in the most loving and compassionate way possible.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I have become much more spiritually focused. Unfortunately, my husband has not been able to identify with this change in my nature and still does not accept it fully. At best, he begrudgingly tolerates my tendencies to volunteer, treat people (even people he thinks should be 'enemies') well, behave ethically, and be intolerant of bigotry or prejudice, and so much more. Now that the job I came back for seems to be done (having raised our children,) I stay with him only because of financial necessity to do so. But it's very, very difficult, especially because we live in an isolated rural area with no friends or family nearby. My only communication with others is by phone and e-mail.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes There is NO way to fully express the feelings of unconditional love, peace and caring that occurred at the time. When I think on the incident even now, more than thirty years later, the feelings are vivid to the point of causing a swelling of incredible joy within me, bringing tears of joy to my eyes! I wish that EVERYONE could have such an experience so they would understand what this means!
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Healing, although I do this only rarely and as secretly as possible because I think most people would think it crazy/impossible. I have also been contacted on occasion by deceased family members, although I have not sought this and don't really know what to 'do' with the experience. It's interesting, though.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The most meaningful, if you could call it that, part of the experience was feeling flooded and caressed so fully in utter love and compassion. No doubt about it. I will always have that inside to comfort me.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Only a very few people. I did not share any of it for a couple of years and then with my husband, who immediately said he'd had an NDE as a child. His account made no sense to me, however, and I still cannot believe that he actually did. His story seemed more an attempt to 'compete' in some way. The only person who has reacted what you might call favorably has been my ninety-one year old mother, and this has only been in the past year when I thought that telling her about my NDE might help assuage her fears about dying. I do think that telling her comforted her at the time of the conversations but due to her increasing dementia, I'm not sure how much she has retained. I wish I did have other NDErs with whom to share this hidden joy, because at least I wouldn't have to worry about their skepticism.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real The experience was real - Period. No doubt about it EVER in my mind. I can recall every detail so vividly even now, many years later.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real An NDE stays with you for a lifetime, most of the time 'hidden' deep within. On the very rare occasions when I have shared what happened, my emotional response is exactly the same. It is as strong as it was on that July day in 1979. The phrase 'light hidden under a bushel basket' always springs to mind because that's what it feels like when I describe my experience, as if I'm allowing that brightness to spring forth from where I've kept it hidden. While I did not 'see' a light in my NDE, the intensity of the experience feels very bright and thrilling. It is almost overwhelming, in fact, emotionally. I'm sorry I can't express it any better than that, but there's just no way to do so. Suffice it to say it was the most fulfilling experience of my life.
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? I am still in complete awe of what lies beyond, what supports us all without our knowledge, at all times, of how loved we are. If all people knew what NDErs know, there would be no wars, no bigotry or prejudices, no greed, no crime, no fears. Then again, that would be Heaven, wouldn't it?
I wish there was a way for NDErs to regularly get together to share the joy. I also sometimes wonder if sharing an NDE with those who find themselves in a hospice setting would be helpful.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I cannot think of any right now. I hope there is a way to do so should I think of something later. Thank you so much for asking about this!!!! I hate to see that the survey has come to an end!