In 1974, I had a near-death experience. For a short period of time, my heart stopped beating and my brain ceased to function. After my physical body died, I entered a world made of white light. My story begins in the operating room of a hospital in the Midwest.
I was given general anesthesia for a common but invasive medical procedure, and near the end of the operation, the doctor made a terrible mistake. He cut an artery and I lost massive amounts of blood, too much blood to sustain life. As my body lay dying on the operating table, I rose up and surveyed the situation.
The doctors and nurses were in a frenzy yelling at each other, grabbing white towels, passing metal instruments, and sweating as if their lives were on the line instead of mine. I felt their fear as they tried desperately to save me, but I couldn't understand why they were so upset. Surely, they could see I was perfectly fine. 'Calm down,' I said, laughing a little to ease the tension. But they kept at it, as if they didn't hear me. Maybe I needed to speak a little louder. 'Relax,' I shouted, 'Take it easy!' They continued to ignore me, so I flew into their faces and went nose-to-nose with each one of them. 'Look at me! I'm all right. There's nothing to worry about.' They acted as if they didn't see me, and I was standing right in front of them! Why wouldn't they acknowledge me? It was frustrating.
I watched them for a few minutes and then grew bored. If they weren’t going to talk to me, there was no reason to stay put. So, I took off like a bird, as if flying was a natural thing to do. For a while, I just flew around in circles over my lifeless form and the bent heads of the steadfast surgical team.
Slowly, I went higher and higher until I was caught up in a brilliant white light. It was whiter and brighter than the rays of the sun, but not at all glaring or hard on the eyes. I could have stayed there forever, basking in the warmth and comfort of its mysterious glow.
The sound of a masculine and utterly magnificent voice captured my attention. Veiled from sight, he addressed me as if I had just awakened from a coma. He told me who I was, where I had been and where I was from. He answered every question that had ever crossed my mind, as if my smallest concern was of utmost importance. I felt respected and loved. It was a solemn moment. But when he told me why Aunt Bettie married Uncle Fred, which had always baffled me, I broke into laughter. 'Okay,' I said, smiling at the man in the light, 'I remember now. You don’t have to say anything else.'
It was blissful in the spiritual realm, floating in an ocean of white light. I was content, until one of the nurses screamed, 'We’re losing her' and the sound of distress hit my spirit like a cannonball shot to the belly. Emotional energy feels stronger to a free spirit than to a spirit wearing a bodysuit made of flesh and bones. It threw me into the air and I came to a halt about three inches away from the ceiling.
I looked down at my spiritual body to make sure it was still intact, and what I saw surprised me. There were two cherubs, stark naked except for tiny loincloths, and every bit as cute as the putti in Raph'l’s paintings.
'We are Escort Angels,' said one of the twins, with the noble pride of a royal servant. 'We have come to take you home.'
Suddenly the white light was much brighter. The cherubs positioned themselves on either side of me, near my waist, and we drifted to the corner of the ceiling. I was fully prepared for take-off, but my head hit the wall. I repeated the motion again and again, each time expecting the wall to give way, but it didn’t budge.
The cherub on the left flew close to my face. 'You have forgotten,' he said. 'There is something you must do before you can leave.'
I struggled with my memories, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. Finally, it came to me. 'Oh, that’s right. I forgot to look at the body.'
My eyes zoomed in on the woman lying on the bed below us. She was twenty-five years old and in perfect health, except for the loss of blood and spirit. Like a seasoned mechanic inspecting a car, I knew I could fix her.
'This isn’t serious enough,' I said, more to myself than the cherubs. In a split second I was back in my body.
I plunged headfirst into the navel, and it was like diving into wet concrete. My body had become stiff, and I had to twist and turn to make my spirit fit. After settling in, I looked up at the ceiling. The cherubs were waiting for proof that I was all right. I made eye contact with one of them, and then they flew through the same wall that had prevented my escape.
Tears brushed my cheeks. What have I done? I could have left with them. Right now I could be on my way home, but once again I’m trapped in a world of limitations.
Date NDE Occurred: 1974
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
I lost too much blood to sustain life.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Entirely pleasant
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes I heard the doctors and nurses talking to each other.
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 I felt more alive and free.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was in the light.
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
I was outside of time. Imagine doing something that you enjoy and losing all track of time. That's sort of what it's like.
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. I could see more clearly during the experience. Everything was more vivid.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could hear the Escort Angels talking to me in my mind.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, but the facts have not 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
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 I was in an extremely bright white light. It was like an ocean of light.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I knew I was in the spiritual realm.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt extraordinary happiness and joy. I felt excited about being out of the body and able to fly.
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 The man in the light gave me answers to life's Big Questions.
Did scenes from your past come back to you? No
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes I couldn't pass through the wall. I wasn't permitted to leave until after I looked at my body. But once I saw the body, I determined that the situation wasn't serious enough. So I reentered the body.
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? Greatly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am more spiritual and less religious. For a while, I went to lots of different churches, temples, synagogues, ashrams, workshops and meetings. Now I am content to practice my own spiritual rituals in private.
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 I am spiritual, rather than religious.
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 became more involved in the business of living.
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 A masculine voice in the light spoke to me, and I communicated with the Escort Angels.
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 The Escort Angels told me they were going to take me home. They implied that I had been on a trip and they were going to escort me to my real home.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Yes The man in the light who spoke to me was either God or God-like. He was definitely a Supreme Being.
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 When I was in the light, I was allowed to know and remember everything. When I returned to the body, I was like an actor or a baseball player. I was back in the game called Life on Earth and I had to play by the rules, which meant that I couldn't remember the answers to life's Big Questions.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes Yes, I was given answers to life's Big Questions, but I wasn't allowed to remember the answers.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes Once I left the body, I was more alive than ever before. The body was like a coat for me to wear and to discard when it was no longer necessary.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not 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? Are 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 Regarding answers to life's Big Questions, I remember thinking: It's not that complicated!
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes I felt completely loved and respected.
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
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes The NDE led to a divorce.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I couldn't talk about the experience because I couldn't find the right words. My NDE happened in 1974, before Moody coined the term 'near-death experience.'
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 everything that happened during my NDE as if it was happening now, in this moment. The experience hasn't faded with time.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I became more sensitive than before, more clairvoyant, more clairaudient, more clairsentient. I just know that certain things are going to happen. At times, I can see the future. I can get answers from angels and spirit beings.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I lost my fear of death. Before the NDE, I was obsessed with thoughts about death. I wonder if I was given the NDE so that I could stop wasting time worrying about death and move on to conquering other fears.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? No Soon after the NDE, I told a priest and he acted as if he didn't hear a word I said. Over the years, I told a couple of people. They looked at me like I was crazy. So I kept quiet about my experience until 1997, when I wrote and published a book entitled WHEN ANGELS SPEAK.
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
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real The experience was more real than anything that happens here on Earth. The spiritual realm is real reality. Life on Earth is material reality.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes I have had many mystical experiences, both before and after my NDE.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Death does not exist. Life goes on. Earth is a boarding school for the children of the Creator. When the semester is over, we get to go home again.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? It's a very good questionnaire.