Conditions around the time of the experience: Brief interludes of asphyxiation/apnea due to violent episodes of heavy coughing probably caused by allergic reactions to pollen that spring, reactions which were much stronger than at any other time.
I have always been interested in philosophy and religion but mostly from a rationalistic and intellectual vantage point. As far as my religious habits go, I am a Roman Catholic but I try to avoid the rituals associated with church going, and tend to prefer theological reasoning, even from the Protestants (K. Barth, Bultmann, Bonhoefer, etc.). Nevertheless, at the beginning of 2003, I came across a detailed report of the so-called Marian Apparitions of Medugorje. I wanted to find out more and was about to plan a visit for the upcoming anniversary on 25 June. I would like to explain what was going on in my life during that period. I had been a widower for about seven years and had two daughters, ages eighteen and fifteen. My wife had committed suicide in December of 1996. She had been suffering from depression. In accordance with my religious beliefs I questioned whether my wife had had the time to reconsider her action in those moments when she was throwing herself from the fourth floor, during her transport in the ambulance and then at the moment of her death.
I often wondered whether she'd had the means and the time to feel remorse and regret as far as our children went. It was during this time of questioning that I was finding out about Medugorje and I came across a message in the 'Gospa' that refers coincidentally to the moment of death, and to how one dies. That day, after dinner with my daughters, they and I were watching a popular Italian comedic television show: Striscialanotizia. There was a point where they were spoofing on a prominent television personality and I exploded in a vigorous bout of laughter. It was so hearty that I began coughing more and more heavily until I had an NDE. (By the way, I had never heard speak of or read about NDE before. I knew absolutely nothing about it.)
I remember that as I was losing my breath I said, 'Here it is. I am dying. This is what it's like to die.' It seems that the words came from my mouth, but my daughters later told me they heard nothing of the sort. As I said those words, I felt that someone else next to me finished my thought aloud. I was outside of my body, like a body double, but I couldn't see, yet I was still fully conscious. In fact, at the same time that I was talking I found myself in a black void. It wasn't a room or a tunnel. It was just the Void. I didn't have time to be concerned about that because I immediately felt that I was flying faster and faster upwards into the most beautiful of beatitudes, and I saw an immense landscape made of light. I want to explain myself as best I can. What I saw was not 'objects' illuminated by light but the things themselves in an immense atmosphere, lofty, these things were themselves Light, or rather made of light. They weren't sources of light. They were light. I can't explain it any better than that and I must repeat that the whole experience leaves me rather speechless, without adequate words.
As I proceeded forwards, going fast and without interruption, I was still able to think. But my thinking was different from the usual. My thoughts were not disparate, or disjointed, but were a continuous acquisition of knowledge and it was as though my life existed now in this supreme high-level of consciousness. I have always had a love of literature and even had written a novel, I had worked on it for a long time, but it was destined to remain hidden away in a drawer. At the moment of my experience I saw how all the problems in my book resolved themselves. The more I saw my book as a completed work of art the deeper I fell into an indescribable state of happiness and joy, and I didn't even regret that it would never be published. Finally, I realized that I was dying and that I was already dead. It was at this point that I felt a terrible regret that I would be leaving my two daughters forever. It was only then, with this thought, that I encountered a barrier, a final limit.
It was at this point that I was thrown backwards. I was back in the world as we know it, with my two daughters next to me. They were laughing and didn't realize anything was amiss. I went on to hint to my daughters that I had just fainted. They told me that they didn't see anything of the sort happen. The entire experience seemed to have lasted almost an hour, but my daughters assured me that I had just had a coughing attack that lasted only seconds during which I kept laughing, and my eyes had remained open the whole time.
Date NDE Occurred: maggio 2003
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Allergic reaction Other Brevi situazioni di stordimento-apnea per violenti accessi di tosse dovuti [credo] all'allergia da polline che in quella primavera mi colse in maniera più forte che in altre precedenti.
I don't know whether during this episode of apnea or asphyxiation if my life was in danger.
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 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 When I was in the Light.
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
For me it lasted a long time, for those present it was just one or two seconds.
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. Everything was amplified to such an extent that it's difficult to say.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I didn't hear sounds or voices, except for when my own voice seemed to come from the stranger beside me.
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
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: 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 As I said before, I didn't meet any people or beings of light; I was just in an immense place literally made of light.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm Come ho già detto mi sono trovato in un luogo immenso fatto di luce.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Immense joy, infinity, the entrance to paradise.
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 When I thought of leaving my daughters I was suddenly faced with a spiritual barrier that threw me back into this world. I believe that if I had crossed the barrier I would have died.
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? Liberal
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes They became stronger.
What is your religion now? Liberal
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes They became stronger.
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 Supreme fulfillment and gratification leading to ever deepening fulfillment and gratification.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes It is easier for me to remain detached as I go through and observe life events.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes The Light, the type of consciousness, the speed of thought: no amount of explanation could even begin to give you an idea of the profundity of it all.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes Since childhood I have been prescient but my adult mind always chalked it up to coincidence. Now my abilities seem to be stronger and come more often and I don't attribute them to sheer coincidence.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The thought process, the level of consciousness. Nothing similar is possible in this world.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes A few months ago I told a friend and even though she never had the experience herself she was able to find research on the subject and help me clarify my thoughts. I also spoke with family members, and since they know me they do not doubt what I have told them.
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 Real. I am convinced that life does not end. It had a beginning but will never end.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No