I grew up under very challenging circumstances in an alcoholic home where I felt emotionally neglected. My brother, who was 10 years older than I, was instrumental in my upbringing. He was a kind, generous, funny and nurturing person. I was very close to him throughout my life. He was my whole sense of identity, love and family. During my teen years, I was awkward and he always told me that I was smart and beautiful and we had so many good times together. Unfortunately, in 1992, when he was just 40 years old, he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. I was devastated. But of course, I stood by him and supported him throughout his illness. My mother and grandmother also stood by him, but the extended family (my aunt, uncle and cousins who were like parents and siblings to us) cut him out of their lives. My mother, brother, and I were no longer invited to family functions and it hurt my brother deeply. I was angry to my core and swore that I would never speak to or forgive my relatives again for how they behaved. They were dead to me and I was going to take that anger to my grave.
On June 16, 1997, after a 5-year struggle with HIV/AIDS, my brother passed away at the age of 44. In the days following his death, I was so traumatized that I couldn't even taste food. Yet, I managed to function and handle his funeral arrangements. I felt completely numb, but I went back to work the day after his funeral thinking that it would be better to be working than sitting home alone.
I don't remember the exact date of my experience, but it was several weeks after my brother passed away. The experience happened shortly before what would have been my brother's 45th birthday. I know that it was a Saturday night and I went to bed like any other night. I began dreaming. All of a sudden, the dream began to fade and something began nudging me to turn. Everything began to feel very different from a dream.
I turned halfway around and saw my brother standing before me. He looked wonderful; he had a glow about him and his face was very relaxed, calm and peaceful. He was perfectly healthy and he was wearing an outfit that he had worn only once about a year or so before he died. It was a black turtleneck shirt, white jeans and black and white sneakers. His hair was short and he had a nicely-trimmed goatee. What amazed me is that I had liked his outfit the day that he wore it and I thought that he looked very handsome; but I never said anything to him. Of course, I never thought about that outfit again. It really struck me that he was standing before me wearing it.
My brother began speaking to me, but it was telepathic. He was speaking directly to my mind. It struck me as a much more efficient way to communicate and it seemed very natural.
'They asked me who I wanted to communicate through,' he said, 'And I told them that I wanted to communicate through my sister. I'm sorry that my illness affected you, but it was something that I had to do for myself.'
I didn't really understand what he meant by either statement, but I responded by asking if I could come with him. It was almost an assumption on my part that I would be journeying on with him, but my brother said that I had 'a lot of living left to do' and that I had a responsibility to myself to go back and continue with my life. Apparently, I had a purpose to fulfill.
'Even though we were very much linked in life,' he said, 'we have very different paths to follow. You need to follow your path. There was nothing that you could have done to change what happened to me and nothing that you could have done differently. Nothing would have changed the outcome.'
I was suddenly aware that I was in a 'room' of sorts, everything was awash in gray tones. I had the sense of a walls, but I didn't actually see any. I knew, however, that I wasn't going beyond those walls. My brother began motioning to a white marble bust on a pedestal that had no head or arms, just the torso.
'One thing that you have to understand about our cousins is that they just didn't have it in them to be any different than they were when I was sick. Look at this bust, it has no arms. You wouldn't expect a person without arms to play the piano or to catch a ball. It's the same concept with our cousins and how they behaved. They didn't have it in them to be any different.'
I nodded and looked at the statue. His words seemed to make sense to me.
'If you carry bitterness and hatred towards them in your heart, you will only end up poisoning your own life,' he continued, 'You must consider them as souls who are spiritually handicapped.'
Then in the blink of an eye, I wasn't in the 'room' with my brother anymore. I was suspended in the cosmos amidst a vast and beautiful field of stars. It was absolutely breathtaking. I could see the planets glowing and orbiting silently and I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that the universe wasn't chaotic at all, in fact it was a highly synchronous realm that had been painstakingly created by a loving and intelligent creator. That realization touched me to the core of my soul.
Suddenly, I began getting hit with a vast amount of knowledge. It was coming at me very rapidly and my mind began absorbing everything that there was to know about science, music, art history, physics and math. It was a huge burst of knowledge and I understood everything despite the rapid speed at which it was flowing. I was never very good at math, especially throughout grade school, but I found that I was able to comprehend some very complex mathematical calculations in this other realm. I knew that those calculations had some kind of universal significance. I remember thinking that everything about life and the universe made complete sense and that I finally had the answers to everything that I ever wondered about. It was an amazing feeling of infinite knowledge and it was wondrous and breathtaking beyond description.
Suddenly, I was back with my brother and he spoke to me again. We had a long talk about my life purpose but unfortunately, I don't remember any of what my brother told me about my purpose. I think that I was still trying to convince him to let me stay, but whatever he told me was acceptable to me. I had a sense of acceptance about going back to my life.
I noticed that my brother was fading and his tone became urgent.
'When you go back, you must remember that there are no mistakes in life. There are no mistakes. Money, material possessions and job titles don't matter. The only things that matter in life are love and knowledge. There is nothing else. You must remember that.'
The last thing that he told me was to take care of our mother.
My eyes flew open and I was back in my bed. It was a bright and beautiful Sunday morning and I had overslept. It was about 11 o'clock in the morning. I lived in a tiny city-row house and the streets outside were teeming with life. I sat up in bed and realized that my senses were greatly heightened. I could hear everything outside, from traffic noises to birds chirping to caterpillars chewing on leaves. It was almost a sensory overload. I also had an amazing energy coursing through me that I couldn't describe. It was just pure energy, like an electric current but not painful. It felt amazing and very, very healing. I knew that my brother was fine and that everything was as it should be.
Later that day, I went out into my backyard garden and was struck by how vivid all of the flowers were; the colors were extremely vivid. It was as if I was seeing the world through brand new eyes. When I took a walk through my neighborhood, I was struck by the people that passed by and I felt their souls. I realized then that we are all connected and that was very touching.
I wanted to write down everything that I had learned in the other realm - especially all of the knowledge that I had been given when I was suspended in the universe. Unfortunately I couldn't remember any specifics, only that I had once known everything. Sadly, the wonderful, healing energy that I had began to fade with each passing hour until it was gone. To this day, I yearn for that feeling again.
Date NDE Occurred: 6/1997
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Other: Unknown,
I was sleeping when the experience occurred.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Neither pleasant NOR distressing
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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? Normal consciousness and alertness It was only different in the sense that I was able to understand complex information.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was suspended in the cosmos.
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
I did not have any sense of time.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? More vivid than usual
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Normal vision during the experience; the heightened vision and vivid colors came after I awakened.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Normal hearing during the experience; the heightened sense of hearing happened after I awakened.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes In the beginning, I was calm and very accepting of what I was experiencing. When I saw the universe and had infinite knowledge, I was awestruck and very touched.
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? In the beginning, I was calm and very accepting of what I was experiencing. When I saw the universe and had infinite knowledge, I was awestruck and very touched.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
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 When I was suspended in the universe, I had infinite knowledge.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
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? Moderately important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Protestant
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I don't go to church any longer; I don't find it necessary. I do believe very strongly in God and Jesus, but I'm not a big fan of the Bible.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Religious unaffiliated
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
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I know that there is more to life than this physical realm.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? No
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 After I woke up from my experience, I saw everyone as connected and 'one.'
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes When I saw the universe, I was awestruck by its beauty and I knew that a loving and intelligent being had created it. God definitely exists.
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? Yes I knew everything about the universe and discussed my life purpose.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes When I was suspended in the cosmos, I knew everything and my brother also spoke to me about my life purpose (although I don't remember any specifics).
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife probably exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes It was obvious that my brother had continued to exist beyond death.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I slightly 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? Slightly fearful in living my earthly life
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably 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? Yes That we are to consider people who act selfishly or hurt us as 'spiritually challenged' at their given point in time and not respond with bitterness or hate.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Yes My brother told me that his illness was something that he had to go through for his own spiritual growth.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes My brother told me that the most important things in life are 'love and knowledge.'
Were you compassionate after your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life I lost a restaurant business in the recession and all of my life savings. I went bankrupt and got divorced and then discovered that I couldn't go back to my prior career as a bank officer. I had to take a low-paying position just to make ends meet. What my brother said about job title and money not being important came back to me, and it got me through some very tough times. I now view those tough times as a learning experience. My brother told me that there are no mistakes and that was very comforting to me throughout my 'life meltdown.'
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
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? Yes I do have some psychic ability now and I'm able to 'read' people and situations.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The fact that 'love and knowledge' are the only important things in life and that there are no mistakes.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared some of it from the beginning. Most people are polite and listen, but I don't think they get it. It's very frustrating.
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 It was not a dream, I could tell the difference between a dream and what happened to me that night.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It was too logical to be a dream. It felt very different from a dream and the fact that communication was telepathic was proof to me that the experience was real.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No