I was in my first year at Washington University. During the fall, I had experienced several bouts of stomach pain, which the University Health Service couldn't diagnose. I think they finally wrote it off as 'all in my head.' I lost my appetite, and al though I was naturally quite thin, I started losing weight.
One evening, I began vomiting what looked like coffee grounds. It was a Saturday night, and I live in a freshman women's dormitory. There weren't many people around since most of the girls had gone out for the evening.
A girl who lived on my floor, found me unconscious on the floor of the bathroom. I somewhat awoke as I was being loaded into an ambulance. I don't recall what was done to or for me. I remember that the siren seemed unnecessary since I was aware that there was no crisis.
I recall being on the stretcher in the emergency room. I was looking down, as if from the ceiling, at the frantic scene going on around my body. I felt very calm and peaceful. I wanted to tell everyone that all was OK, there was no need to panic, and that I was just fine. I felt quite blissful.
My parents were called. They lived about 8 hours away. I was admitted to the hospital and received multiple transfusions. I think the diagnosis was bleeding from an ulcer. I felt more like myself in the hospital room, but amazingly was not upset by my parents 'thinking the worst of me.' I found it fairly amusing. I returned to school a few days later.
Date NDE Occurred: October 1965
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness. Life threatening event, but not clinical death.
I had unexplained abdominal bleeding, which explains why I vomited copious amounts of blood
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 recall being on the stretcher in the emergency room. I was looking down, as if from the ceiling, at the frantic scene going on around my body. I don't have exact verification of all this, except that I seemed to be simultaneously aware of things via my 'normal' perception. It's just that my out-of-body perception felt much truer and engaging.
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 was much more aware of everyone's emotional and mental state, and how these states related to the actual events.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I was lying on the stretcher in the emergency room and watching things from above.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
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. I seemed able to take in an entire scene rather than focusing on one person, thing, or action.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Things sounded very far away. I'm sure the ambulance siren was probably quite loud, but it sounded distant. Also the noises in emergency room where people were shouting commands and moving equipment seemed muffled and far away.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere, as if by ESP? No
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? No
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
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? Uncertain. I can't be certain how much of the light I was aware of was from my unusual perception and how much was from the bright emergency room lighting. The quality of the light seemed quite soft, diffused, and a bit shimmery.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm. It seemed mystical and unearthly to me that I was above my body looking down on it. I'm not sure if that counts as 'clearly mystical and unearthly.'
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Joy, bliss, calm
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 no longer in conflict with nature
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? No
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? Unaffiliated- Nothing in particular- Secular unaffiliated
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I became a fairly relentless 'seeker.' I read a lot of spiritual books, and think a lot about what I've experienced and what others have experienced. I am especially drawn to the Emmanuel books. I read a passage from one of those books every day before I meditate. However, I am pretty discerning about what I read and practice. If I feel something does not resonate intuitively or feel right for me, I don't follow it.
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: Non-practicing Quaker. I read a lot about Asian spirituality and meditate daily.
Did your experience include features consistent with your earthly beliefs? Content that was entirely not consistent with the beliefs you had at the time of your experience. Most of my spiritual/religious beliefs at that time were derived from a conventional, mainline-Protestant upbringing. This experience was not at all consistent with what I assumed happened at death. I expected just blackness, although, being age 19, I actually hadn't given this a lot of thought.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I realized that there is much more to 'life' than the body that I am walking around in. I only had a tiny taste of the alternative, though. It was just enough to build a life-long interest.
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? No
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? I was uncertain if God exists
During your experience, did you gain information about the existence of God? No
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 It was clear to me that my life that was not ending, only the life of the body on the table. I knew that I would continue to 'be.' Even though the experience was completely novel, I was not afraid. I was confident about the future.
Did you believe that our earthly lives Are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Unknown
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes I had a sense that what the medical workers were doing was fairly pointless and unnecessary. I knew that I was completely OK, and that it would be OK for everyone to just relax and be at peace.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? I was uncertain if an afterlife exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists. Yes, I think I was aware that I could be dying, but I felt completely OK about that. I was aware that I would continue to 'be' in this new form that was watching my old form.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I greatly 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? Unknown
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? Yes I believe that I knew I could be dying. Although I was very young, I was not afraid or struggling. This did not seem to be a challenge or hardship at all.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Slightly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes I haven't thought of it in those terms before, but reflecting on this now, I feel that I genuinely loved those who were trying to help me, even though I thought their actions unnecessary. I also felt love for my parents in the days to follow, even though they were making unwarranted and untrue accusations about me. I was able to brush those off and let them be.
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. More than 50 years has elapsed since my experience. But during that time, I have engaged in spiritual seeking; sometimes intense, sometimes more relaxed. I have not, by and large, aligned myself with any specific approach, organization, or guru. I read, I talk with others, and I experiment.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I think I'm a kinder person, and much more open to spiritual events and practices.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It is so outside of what had been my usual way of perceiving the world, that I don't have quite the right words or tone for that set of perceptions except that it was blissful and peaceful
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 recall very few momentary events from that year, or the years around it, but I recall this event with complete clarity.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I have experienced some extraordinary moments. They could be called coincidences, but I doubt that they are.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? My mother died just a few weeks after my daughter was born. She was my mother's first grandchild. My mother never got to see Tessa, but we spoke frequently by phone, and she said many times, 'I wish I could hold that baby. I wish I could hold her just for a little while.' About a week after my mother died, I was taking a walk and carrying the baby in my arms. As I was headed back to our house, I had the eerie sense that my arms were empty of weight. I looked down to be sure that Tess was still in my arms, and I saw that my hands were the hands of an old woman with wrinkled, bony, prominent veins. My hands and the baby were bathed in a soft, shimmery light. I told myself, 'Don't think. Just be,' and I kept walking slowly. This kept up for about a minute, and then, very gradually, Tessa's weight settled back into my arms. The light gradually faded, and my hands returned to looking like my hands. I have always believed that this was my mother, holding her grandchild, as she had wished to do before she died.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Not sure which 'experience' you mean, the out-of-body experience, or the experience of my mother holding the baby. In any event, I have VERY CAUTIOUSLY shared both of them, but only where I felt it would be completely safe. Others were accepting, and often shared their own stories. I have no idea how or if they were influenced by my stories.
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 so completely real and present and certain. I never questioned whether or not it was real. I knew it was completely real.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real. The same. I knew it was and is completely real. There is no room for doubt.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes At times, I believe I have seen, fleetingly out of the corner of my eye, a creature, spirit, or energy that is not part of my world of usual perceptions.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I think I've covered it!
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? This is excellent as it is!
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