My mother, brother and I were staying in a guest house next to the hospital where they were treating me, and every day I'd go over there and would have my blood taken and my condition monitored. This particular day was my brother's 15th birthday, and I was lying in a hospital bed waiting for my results to come back so I could get out of there and hang out with my family.
After a time, I noticed, almost idly, that there were long stretches between breaths and I had to remind myself to take one. I could feel myself fading and I knew, without question, that I was about to die. I had a strong sense that this was both okay and necessary. I understood that death was not an enemy, that my death was one of many required to move the human spirit forward. I was glad it was me this time and not someone else. This pretty much answered the question I had been asking since I came down with aplastic anemia, which was 'Why me?'
My mother was by my bedside while I talked about giving away my pitifully few possessions, such as my stereo and my books. I asked her to please tell my older brother that I didn't mind. And, with that, I surrendered. I simply let go of life.
I immediately found myself wrapped in a velvety blackness, which held a feeling of being somewhere else. There was no pain, no fear; I was still around, aware of what was happening, but for the moment, nothing WAS happening. Then, in the next moment, I found myself reliving my life. I mean my WHOLE life, every bit of it, and it took no time at all. When I saw the film 'American Beauty', I thought that the person who wrote that final speech about when your life passes before your eyes must have had a near-death experience. It's exactly like that. It takes just a moment, but it stretches on forever, with some parts standing out more than others. You could call it a 'life review' but it was more in-depth than that. It was multi-faceted. These were the facets. First, I experienced incidents from my life from my own point of view, second, from the point of view of whoever was with me, and third, from the point of view of a witness, a watcher of sorts, all simultaneously. One occasion I relived affected me deeply. I was in the eighth grade and was with my friends at school leading them on in verbally abusing another one of our friends. It was cruel behavior and I was drenched in it. I got to be me and experience that secret little thrill you get when you are cleverly mean to someone. I got to experience the admiration, tinged with fear, of the girls who were going along with me, and lastly, I also experienced the humiliation and pain of the one we were tormenting. I got to not just see her but to BE her, including her being huddled next to the lockers, alone and crying, after the rest of us had left. I found myself full of remorse, first, over what I had done, and then over the fact that I was dead and couldn't make up for it. My mind and my heart were crying out, 'I'm sorry! I'm so, so sorry!', when I heard a chuckle and felt a presence with me in the blackness. The presence expressed amusement over my despair and answered, with heart and mind, something to the effect of, 'You were just a kid, how bad could you have been?' Along with this communication, I was embraced by love, a love that had layer upon layer of compassion. It felt like home, like coming inside from the snow to a warm fire, the smell of good things cooking and the laughter of family. And it was euphoric beyond anything I'd felt before or anything I've felt since.
Then I remember waking up. The nurse told me I had given them quite a scare, that when they tested my blood, the counts were too low to sustain life. They had been worried they wouldn't be able to give me a blood transfusion in time to keep me from slipping away. I, on the other hand, was disappointed I was still alive. I had been in cardiac arrest for eighteen minutes. I heard a doctor say, 'Five minutes until cerebral death.' Another one said: 'It's already too late.' As for me, I had no doubt that my brain was still functioning, that I wasn't dead. I said to myself that I would move one finger, as proof that I was still alive. When I tried to move it, I could not. I no longer felt or heard anything. Then I understood that my body was inert. Everything was profoundly dark, an intense darkness. But it was not the same dark as one sees in a hermetically sealed room. It was an infinite darkness. The next moment, a pack of hounds arrived. It was as if they came through the wall from the room next door. They were excited and seemed uneasy. They were short-legged and completely black. Yet I could clearly see these black dogs in the black darkness. They were baying and advancing towards me. I saw them while I was still lying down. Without moving and with my head facing straight up, I could see them with an all-encompassing field of vision, advancing from the side. I understood that my suicide attempt had brought me into their presence, and that I would stay in darkness without seeing the white light. I told myself this was perfectly normal. The hounds could have appeared frightening to me, yet I was not afraid. I was completely at peace, though disappointed at not being in the light. But I understood. The dogs circled me - still baying (but still without any sound). Then suddenly, my partner, who had died in 2008, was there, looking at me. He was like glass. I could clearly see each of his features in complete transparency. He looked wonderful. He had regained his rounded cheeks (hollowed out when he was ill). He wore glasses, but not his latest ones; I didn't know why he was not wearing his usual glasses. These must have been an old pair, I thought. He was smiling, and he was right next to me.
The dogs fell back and stayed back. I no longer was aware of their (still silent) baying. I looked at my partner. He smiled at me. With his right index finger, he tapped his cheek. Asking for a kiss. I told him (without opening my mouth) that I couldn't move. I told him that although he could move about, I could not because I was imprisoned in my body. Then he asked me to put my head on his shoulder. In a flash, I found myself with my head on his shoulder. I didn't know how this happened, but I had achieved it with great facility. We were just fine, together. The dogs had completely vanished, not a single one was left. Then I saw a parade of photos of him and of me, on a boat. Yet I had forgotten these detailed memories, of these moments captured in these photos. As the photos passed before us, I remembered each of those moments. I felt as though I had become a bit drowsy, with my head still on his shoulder. Then, we separated. We were not on the ground; we were floating. He placed his hands on my shoulders, smiling at me gently, and a serene smile. Then, delicately, he pushed me away. I remained in a very deep coma (in which the doctors did not know whether I would survive) for six days. I have no idea how long those moments lasted. Time does not exist there. Or anyway, it is a measurement which is of no account.
Date NDE Occurred: 4 mars 2011
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Suicide attempt Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
My heart had stopped beating for eighteen minutes.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
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? Normal consciousness and alertness Throughout, from beginning to end.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? Throughout, from beginning to end.
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
Space was infinite, time did not exist. We shared many emotions, but I am quite incapable of knowing whether this lasted five minutes or much more. My death lasted eighteen minutes. Afterwards, there were four cardiac arrests during a profound coma lasting six days.
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. The blackness was intense, yet I could see the black dogs perfectly in all that blackness. I saw in an exact way my friend's face, glasses, individual characteristics, though he was transparent. It was as though he were made of glass. The room could be seen (through him) in all its contours, all the textures - and with all this, he was exactly as I knew him. My field of vision was total. I could see all around me without turning around.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. It was total silence. I saw the dogs barking, but no sound came from their mouths. As for my friend, he spoke through my eyes and I replied in the same way. He did not open his mouth; he just smiled. As for me, I spoke to him with my mind and he 'understood' and grasped what I meant. We spoke in a natural way but with our minds. Now, I cannot understand how I did it! But during the experience, everything seemed normal.
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? Uncertain I don't know how to describe it. Everything was incredibly dark, and when the dogs came on the scene, they seemed to come out of the darkness. They appeared directly and 'entire' in their form, as though they had passed through a screen or a canvas backdrop (invisible because of the same degree of darkness).
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
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 The black dogs. They were imposing, but short-legged. Then my partner. The dogs communicated voicelessly that they had come to get me. My partner and I communicated through our minds. We spoke without moving our lips. He asked me to put my head on his shoulder, but I told him I did not know how to move, that I was 'nailed to the floor.' Yet I then found myself with my head on his shoulder. He said his farewell, and with his own hands sent me back where I had come from. There was never any sound.
The experience included: Darkness
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 Je me trouvais dans une autre dimension. J'ignore laquelle mais une dimensions totalement immatériel.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? At first, when I saw the dogs, I told myself they were going to carry me off and it wasn't good. That I would be excluded from the light. Yet I felt at peace. I knew that suicide is not allowed. I had to bear the consequences of my acts. Also, I was not surprised to see the dogs appear. When my partner arrived, I had a feeling of fulfillment, protection, tenderness, love, serenity, and peace. It was as if time did not exist.
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
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 We shared moments and memories from our life together. Very clear images, very precise memories, with details that I had actually forgotten. It was a bit like looking at photos you have never seen before, when you have forgotten about the moments they represent. And when you see them, the memories come back to you and make you smile. We shared these memories with an immense serenity, with respect and in a silence which was calming but intense. I had my head on his shoulder throughout.
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future I became aware that my life was going to change profoundly, in a good way. That I had just turned around 180 degrees but was still going forward, anyway. This knowledge changed my state of mind profoundly; however it has only been two months since I had this experience. So far, I have no concrete examples to cite to back up my sense of profound change. Watch this space.
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? Moderate
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I have become a firm believer. I pray to God and the Virgin each morning. I thank them for this gift and ask for their protection. I intend also to go to confession with a priest to obtain forgiveness for my sins and for the act of suicide, which is so forbidden by the Bible.
What is your religion now? Moderate
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I have become a firm believer. I pray to God and the Virgin each morning. I thank them for this gift and ask for their protection. I intend also to go to confession with a priest to obtain forgiveness for my sins and for the act of suicide, which is so forbidden by the Bible.
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 I felt that I had to come back and continue my path. As for knowledge, I know now that there is a life after life. I have seen love, serenity, peace. I saw no suffering.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Though it's still a bit early, I can say yes. I know it, I feel it.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Uncertain Yes, and no. What makes it difficult to express is the nature of the details for which no word seems appropriate. Also, it was difficult to depict truly the real vision of the situation. What words can be used for the description of non-material moments?
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I feel that I am 'seeing' future things. It is odd but I feel things profoundly. Two examples:
1) In the hospital, I came across a man, and we talked. As we were speaking and I was looking into his eyes, I suddenly saw an image. It was him, dead. He saw on my face that I seemed in shock, but I said nothing about it to him. He was there for a medicated rehab program. The day he was discharged, he confided to me that he had hepatitis C, with his liver in a critical condition.
2) I dined last evening with a girlfriend. She has been in remission from cancer since February 2011. She was there in front of me, and I saw the sickness in her. It seemed to me that the cancer was back. I asked her if she still had tests to be done. She replied that her latest results were not good: 'It's sprouting up again,' she said to me.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? My partner died three years ago. The doctors told me my mourning was of a pathological nature, that I was not making any progress with it. When I came around, my mourning was over with.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I stayed in hospital five weeks. During this time, I spoke about it to a nurse, in compete confidence, asking her not to talk to the doctors about it. I also told my mother and a girlfriend. They reacted very calmly. I told these people because I felt I could trust them. I don't know whether they believed me, because I had spoken to them while I was still in recovery, and I think they would not have wanted to upset me at that time by making any negative comments.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Uncertain I had vaguely heard tell of it, without really believing it. No one in my circle had had one.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was probably real Right away, I saw the experience as probably real. A little later, when I went over this experience in my mind, I knew it was really true. No resemblance to a dream. And then in the next weeks, I was completely at sea. Was it a dream? A reaction to medication? Morphine? I had a lot of questions which were to remain unanswered. For five weeks I sought eagerly to know if it was a dream, or reality. And then all of a sudden, all questioning ceased, I knew it was not a dream, that it had all really happened.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Now I see the experience as definitely real. I see it as the greatest opportunity that life has afforded me. It is hard to believe, very profound, and it has answered all my questions. I look on this experience as the last meeting I have had with my partner. And also it is strong proof that love is carried through the veil - this love that has given me such rare and precious moments.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No But there again, I repeat that it is only eight weeks since this happened.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? Now one thing is certain - I will never be afraid of my death again. Of course, I'm scared of suffering, but I await the life beyond with serenity. And now this makes me appreciate, all the more, each moment and each day which passes. It is also surprising how some people see me. Now they find me 'luminous and radiant.' They are absolutely disconcerted by what comes from me. Yet they are not aware of what I have been through. This makes me smile inwardly, as I know what I have experienced, and I tell myself that maybe I have brought back a part of the non-material spark into this physical world. This leads me to believe that the two parallel worlds join together at times.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Filling out the questionnaire, I realized that sometimes several of the proposed replies were applicable. But only one box can be ticked. I think, too, that to explain oneself properly, there should be a space for amplification in one's own words on ALL the questions. It has been the case here that I needed/wanted to expand on a 'yes,' or a 'no.'