I saw and heard my husband cry and did not understand the reason. For me, everything was going to pass and I was well. I said to him: 'Manuel, I'm well! It’s over!' He didn’t hear me. I insisted. He went to grab the device to measure the blood pressure, put it on my arm and when it got the result he moaned. He tried it several times in vain because the device didn’t give any signal.
I continued to look at him and telling him that I was well. He didn’t hear me. I saw that he went to get a small mirror, which he put in front of my nose and my mouth but there was no vapor in the mirror. He tried it once and again. I continued with my attempts to speak to him, telling him that I was all right and that I didn’t feel any pain. I couldn’t explain why the mirror didn’t fog up but I worried more about calming my husband. I was well. He babbled, 'Please, Gracinia! Don’t leave me! Come back to me! I need you!' I was telling him: 'Listen to me! I am well! It’s over already!'
Suddenly, I realized that I was looking at him from a more elevated point than would be possible if I were lying in bed. He used the mirror and the tensiometer so anxiously and I didn’t understand the reason. I was telling him that I didn’t feel pain, that everything was already over but he didn’t hear me. Finally, he stopped and bent over my body to cry: ‘Gracinia! (an affectionate version of my name) Don’t leave me, please! What is going to be of our son! Oh, my God!' (contrary to me, at that time my husband was a practicing Catholic in spite of some doubts, and he continued to be it for many years afterwards).
At that moment, I realized that something absurd was occurring. I was aware that I was watching the scene from close to the ceiling. I felt unsettled. It was strange. How could I see my husband crying and bent over my body? I watched attentively to have the certainty that it was me. It was me! How could that be? What was going on?
I was not scared. I was intrigued. I tried to find an explanation but I couldn’t. I looked around stunned.
I think that I stopped listening to my husband, although I saw him leaning over my body to cry.
I looked carefully around from the ceiling. I saw the ceiling lamp and the friezes of the closet doors. I was now positioned close to the ceiling and was intrigued by this situation. To my right was the closet with its three doors. I could see the surface of the top part of the door. It was full of dust and I remember thinking 'Oh, I forgot to clean the dust here!' It was then that I saw a sheet of blue paper with twenty-five lines, covered with dust. It was a document that I had searched for and couldn’t find. I thought, 'It’s here. I looked around for it so much and it is here and covered in dust. I’ll have to clean more carefully.'
I was aware that this was not a dream. Below, my husband shook my body and I felt sorry for him. I did not think that I was dead. I was not dead because I could watch the scene from a physically impossible point of view. I was unable to understand anything. I felt unsettled. I looked at the wall on my back and saw the clock. When I tried to see the time, I felt 'sucked' and left that space.
In the following instant, I was in a place and in total darkness. I felt a lot of fear and was disoriented. I extended my arms trying to reach a wall or a piece of furniture. I couldn’t reach anything. I remember I was going forward with my extended arms and rolling in all directions looking for a point of reference. There was Nothing and I was terrified. Where was I? What was I doing here?
I didn’t call God or the saints. To me, they did not exist. I didn’t call for anyone.
I decided to walk in one direction, at least to try walking. I extended my arms towards the front and I moved.
It was then that I heard a voice: 'Don’t be afraid! We are here to help you!' I extended my arms in the direction of the voice but all I found a void.
Another voice, and still another, said the same to me. I cannot tell how many of them there were. I felt their 'presence' but I couldn’t touch them.
At a certain point, I realized that I didn’t hear them with my ears but with my thoughts. How was that possible?
I realized that I didn’t have an option. I was in the darkness, not knowing where, and whatever it was that was there. I had no one to ask for help. These voices seemed like people to me because I could understand what they said to me.
I was intrigued to know where I was. If I didn’t see them, was I perhaps blind?
I heard the answer within me, 'No, you’re not blind!'
I stopped trying to touch them.
I mentally accepted their help. I was scared; I can even say that I was terrified. The total darkness disoriented me.
'Come! Follow us!'
'How? I cannot see you'
'Let it go!'
Whoever it was that communicated with me was situated to the right. I felt something like an energy, like static electricity or magnetism, which I couldn’t define. I felt also that there were other 'energies' around me.
I desisted from questioning and I let it go. I felt my body to take the position of lying face down on my belly. I felt agitated but the one who accompanied me said that I would not fall.
We move slowly in the darkness. Or so it seemed to me. Without any point of reference I was not able to know with which speed I was moving. I had the sensation of gliding.
I asked 'Where are we going?' and they answered that I should be calm and to continue.
The fear was going away.
At a certain place, a point of minuscule light appeared in that darkness. They said to me, 'Look! That is where we are going!'
I did not have any questions.
As we advanced in the direction of the light, the darkness faded.
I didn't feel like I was 'travelling' through a tunnel. I had the sensation of 'travelling' in the projected cone of light, like when you use a lantern in the dark you project a cone of light. That is how I can describe that moment.
I started to feel anxious. I wanted to be there, close to the light. To me, it was a star that would illuminate the landscape when we were closer to it.
When there was clarity around me, I tried to look at my companions. I couldn’t see them but I continued to feel them close to me.
I was calm, as if everything that happened was natural. I understood.
We came to a point where the clarity illuminated everything and I saw a landscape. But I didn’t have time to look at its details because it seemed as if we were travelling at an unthinkable speed. I saw the Earth and the Moon in the distance. I saw the Sun moving away. I was amazed.
There were colors that I cannot define because they don’t fit in the palette of colors that we have on earth. There were tones that created layers like transparent, superimposed plaques. They were beautiful and I was ecstatic. I let myself be carried through, without fear. I was amazed. We traversed tons of 'dust.' Then more and more stars appeared that moved away as we advanced. I could see the light of the stars without any difficulty. That space landscape was also very beautiful. I was like a curious traveler, observing everything despite the movement being too fast to observe details.
I remember understanding. It seemed to me that I saw the stars in parallel, infinite planes. I understood everything, so I no longer asked questions. I looked and marveled at the 'scenery'.
The 'landscape' was formed by colors and the stars that we passed. I was so fascinated that I did not look at the initial light.
My 'invisible' companions continued to be with me but I had the sensation that they were slowly being left behind. That, to me, was a 'normal' fact. The initial companion who was situated to my right continued to be present. I could feel it.
I looked at the light towards which we were heading. It was so powerful as the sun but its light did not hurt. I looked at it directly but did not feel discomfort. The same happened when we passed by any star. None of these lights hurt. The colors were so beautiful and different from the ones I know. I moved but I don’t recall seeing my body. In those moments, it was not important. As strange as it may seem, the more away I was from the planet Earth the more the existence of my family ceased to matter to me. I didn’t think of my son and that was very strange.
I recall that I had a sentiment similar to one that we have when after a long absence and we come back home. I felt I was 'going back home'. I was at peace and as happy as I never had been before.
At a certain moment, the first light issued sounds which I cannot define. Sound came out in 'a wave', which I call so because it moved like the waves of the sea. It was a wave of light and energy that I don’t know how to define. I had fear but my invisible companion told me to remain calm and that nothing bad would happen to me.
I stayed watching the wave as it came nearer, waiting for what would occur. When the wave touched me, I felt it gave out love. It was a love so great that even if I added the love of my parents, my husband, my son, all the family and that which I felt for them, it could not be compared to this love more than a grain of sand to the desert.
I had never felt anything like it. A new wave formed and when it came to me I felt loved in an unexplainable way.
I wished to go to the source that emanated so much love. I changed focused from whatever surrounded me to center only on that strange star.
I wanted to reach it soon and with each wave that touched me, I felt ever happier as if I always was part of that love.
I was close, so I thought, when the light said mentally to me:
I stopped even without wanting to.
'You have to go back!'
'You have to go back. Your husband needs you and your son too!'
'No! Please! I want to stay'
'You can’t! You have to go back!'
'My husband gets another woman and my son has his father and grandparents! They don’t need me! Let me stay!'
'You have to go back! You have duties to fulfill!'
'But I want to stay! Please! I have never felt so much love in my life! Don’t send me back!'
'You have to go back! You have duties to fulfill! Your mission has not yet ended!'
'Mission? What mission? I’ve already suffered so much and I’ve never been bad. Please! Please! I want to stay here!'
'You can’t! Go back!'
In the following instant, everything vanished.
The pain came back, I breathed and was on the bed with my husband crying with joy. I was crying with sadness.
At that time, the nearest hospital was about 13 kilometers away and serviced the community so badly that anyone who had to go there was scared.
I was so tired that I only wanted to rest. My husband phoned a doctor who didn’t answer. I narrated for my husband the experience I had had and we cried of the emotion. He was so moved for having me safe, and I was moved by the experience and the frustration of my return.
My husband affirmed that after I put my hand on my breast and tried to breathe, I didn't open my eyes. Then, how could I see everything that happened?
I told my husband, ' Excuse me! But I didn’t want to come back! Everyting was so pretty and there was so much love!'
When our 4 year-old son arrived from a tour with his maternal grandparents and came to embrace us, I had a sentiment of guilt for wanting to leave him an orphan of his mother. But the pain of the departure from that ambiance of love was still with me.
My husband went to see the document which I said was on top of the closet. He set up a chair to stand on and retrieved it, full of dust, just as I had seen it.
We’d never heard of anything like that.
On the morning of the next day my husband took me to a doctor of good reputation. After a long examination, he took an electrocardiogram, radiographed my whole body, made reflexive and reasoning tests. I don’t remember what else he did. Then he informed us that I had had a cardiac and respiratory arrest due to an allergic reaction to the chemical composition of aspirin, and I was very lucky to have survived. My husband asked him if we should have gone to the hospital. He said that I would have never arrived alive. He thought that I seemed to have slight injuries to the heart and lungs but that I could live many years with them. I attempted to speak about what had happened but he let me not and instead told me something like this:
'Why, Grace! You were unconscious and one step away from death! I am absolutely certain that you saw noting and heard nothing. I will give you an EEG to make sure that everything is all right.'
Going back home my husband and I decided to keep secret what had occurred, for fear someone would consider us crazy. The EEG was done and was deemed to be 'normal for your age'.
Date NDE Occurred: 1982
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Allergic Reaction Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
. I had taken aspirins since I was a child whenever I had fever or strong pain. That day was a Sunday in summer. I was having a horrible headache from Saturday. Since I sometimes have low blood pressure my husband uses to measure it, and that day it was normal: 70 of minimum and 110 of maximum. I was not sick, only a headache. At that time, we lived in the home of my parents and had our first son, four years old. My parents went out on the afternoon and took our son with them because I was in pain. My husband gave me an aspirin to alleviate the headache. Seconds later I was short of breath. An invisible claw seemed to pluck out my heart. I opened my mouth as much as I could but I couldn’t get enough air to the lungs. The pain in the chest was excessive, horrible. Then everything stopped.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes. I have already recounted that I saw my husband attempting to help me and the fact that during my experience I found a document, a certificate of qualifications that I needed to present in my School Board.
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 During the experience, I saw much more, I heard unknown sounds that I could perhaps 'translate' as clicks. I cannot define how they were. I was gliding, flying. I understood and had a wisdom which I don’t possess.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? There were different moments. When I was close to the ceiling and saw the scene, I felt I had a vision of 360 degrees but I know that was impossible. It was a phase in which I felt more 'alert'. The phase of highest 'consciousness' was during the 'space' travel, when I saw and understood the laws of the Universe. In truth, I don’t understand.
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 there was no time. Everything happened, but without a measure. I don’t know how to explain. I think that lacking a watch I didn’t have a notion of the passing of time.
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 have a mild myopia since adolescence. I clearly saw 'plans' of stars to an indescribable distance.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I have a good hearing as human being. I had never heard with the thought, let alone heard a 'star' speak in my mind.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain I didn’t pass through a tunnel but I felt that I was moving through the beam of light projected by the 'star'.
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: Darkness
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes. Initially it seemed to me just a point of light, like a star at the distance. As I approached, it continued to look like a star but with the peculiarity that I could look directly at her without my eyes being hurt, which does not happen when we look at the sun.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? Some unfamiliar and strange place Since I entered total darkness until I left planet Earth it was all incomprehensible. It was all strange. I didn’t have, don’t have, terms of comparison.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Fear, anguish, anxiety, peace, and much love which generated a happiness without measure.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
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 seemed familiar and I knew it. I could never make clear for myself what I knew of the Universe because I don’t remember that wisdom. The truth is that at a certain part of the travel I began to have the sensation that I was returning 'home'. I knew it, but when I returned I lost all that knowledge. I don’t know. It is confusing to explain.
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? 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? Not important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Other or several faiths I was raised as a Catholic. I stopped being a believer at 16 years of age. At the time of the present experience I did not believe at all in a life after death. I believe that that there was NOTHING after death. Although I had contact with - besides Catholics - groups of Adventists, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Spiritualists and some Angolan cults, I did not believe in ANYTHING.
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am very spiritual without being a member of any religious group.
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 not in agreement with any religion in particular. I am not a practitioner of any religion. I believe in the communication with the afterlife. I have experience of perceptions which other persons don’t have. I have attempted to follow the teachings of Allan Kardec but it was not possible because they have rules and appointed times for the communication with the spirits. I don’t believe in these appointed times. I don’t identify myself with any religious confession that I know.
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 I didn’t believe in anything mystical. This experience shook my certainty that nothing existed after death.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes As an agnostic, to put forward the hypothesis of an afterlife was a big toil. The experience existed but I didn’t have anyone who could help me to interpret it. To believe in what I had ceased to believe when I was 16 years old was a desperate effort. But the experience was in me and I couldn’t negate it. I was there near Love and I felt loved. I began to see my moments of illness as learning, without revolt, with acceptance. I am scared of pain not of death because I know that I will find Love again. In moments of despair, sometimes, the will to go back to that place was so intense that I wanted to die and I thought about suicide. The lack of comprehension, or rather, what I kept in me, was suffocating me. I wanted to know more about this issue. I was certainly not the only one in having one of those experiences but I didn’t find anyone else who had been at the gates of death.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I heard a voice I could not identify I heard the voices of my traveling companions. I affirm that the 'initial light' spoke to me mentally when it made me stop and sent me back.
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? Yes In a certain way, yes, because I had the feeling that I was coming 'back home'.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Uncertain I don’t know. I know on the one hand the fact of travelling and seeing landscapes that seemed to me to be of the Universe made me feel that it all was natural and explainable, but when I came back all the knowledge of that wisdom was lost.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God does not exist
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? Uncertain I didn’t have certainty of anything. I have experienced something to which I am unable to give names. Something impossible to be true, according to the physicians. What if the doctors were mistaken? And I myself was finally mistaken? And if God was not what the religions described but something that nobody would know how to define? I stayed with the certainty that my experience was real. But the experience that I have had doesn’t match the knowledge that I had of the Bible. It was not the Catholic God! How could I affirm that it was God? On the other hand, it was 'something' wonderful, magnificent which I can only call 'Love'.
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 The one who sent me back told me mentally that I had something to do but didn’t specify it. I know that I began to see life in another way and to feel in a different way.
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are not meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? No
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife does not exist
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes I did not believe in God nor in the continuity of life. With this experience, I would not know how to define, nor know, with whom I talked by means of thoughts. I don’t know what it was nor who it was. After coming back to the body, I couldn’t find any explanation anywhere. I wanted to know if someone had experienced something similar but I couldn’t talk for fear to be looked at as a 'lunatic'. I wanted to explain it all with the scientific knowledge that I have but couldn’t do so. Something very strange happened that my husband in some way has witnessed. The questions were many but without an answer: what happened in that 'travel'? The light was God? The love I received was imaginary? But how could I imagine and feel something that I didn’t know it was possible to feel? I don’t affirm that the 'light/star' was God, but I can affirm that it was LOVE.
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? Moderately 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 not 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? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Uncertain I felt love of an unexplainable intensity. That I remember well, the love that the 'wave' brought to me and that made me feel happy because of being so loved.
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? Moderate changes in my life To me, who at that time didn’t believe in anything spiritual, it was very complicated to have to reformulate my ideas of life and death. This experience opened a new perspective in life where I had the certainty that life continues without for that sake perceiving well what had happened. I continued without answers to so many questions. I started to search for literature and found nothing. In Portugal did not exist publications besides the Catholic ones. I read and reread the Bible searching for an explanation but the Biblical narrative didn’t give me what I wanted to know. Sometimes I believed that I had a deviation of my personality but on the other hand I had the certainty that I had not lived a dream or an hallucination. I started to be more attentive to the needs of people, animals and plants. I started to feel an extra-terrestrial being because I didn’t find anyone who saw the world in the same way. I felt like a boat adrift but in a certain way bound for a destiny. I wanted to make good, forgive people, love them.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I attempt to forgive and harmonize my life with that of others. I have friends, the majority of whom believe in a life after death. My husband has left Catholicism. We like to read about spirituality. To be frank, this a long questionnaire and I am already tired.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes There are things for which I cannot find expression, especially during the travel after leaving the Earth until the light sent me back.
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. It was a too strong and special experience. It was very emotional and awakened many questions.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes If until then I had some unexplained 'sensations' that led me to seek help from a psychiatrist, after this experience and others that I have added, I came to the conclusion that I am a normal person, who at times manages to establish contact with 'beings' of the hereafter. It was not easy to accept this situation.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? I came to know that when death arrives the pain ceases to exist. I came to know that the Love I so much desire to reach is not from this world. The most grateful moment of my experience was the instant when the first 'wave' touched me. Unforgettable.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes The experience was in 1982. I think that the first time that I talked to someone about it, besides my husband, was ten years ago, that is in 2007, to a psychologist. During the last years, I have also told a few people. Some reacted with gratitude for my sharing, others dismissed it and said that it was a dream. The ones who were grateful say that they now have less fear of death.
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 To me there was no doubt, the experience was definitively real. I had lived through something without explanation.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I am certain that I have lived everything that I have recounted. Life has become a school and I want to get good qualifications and go back to the point at which they sent me back.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Uncertain After a surgery in 2002, already in the ward, I saw an intense light that enveloped me and I let it caress me. When I came to my senses again, I was full of aches. The following day I suffered a sudden fall of my blood pressure that almost led to cardiac arrest. I was tied to a monitor until I recovered. Nothing more. As for the interior voices, these are already more frequent.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I thank the Universe for that experience.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? I think that the questionnaire is well prepared. I am grateful for being able to share my experience. Thank you!