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After the Light
by Kimberly Clark Sharp
Book Review by  Karin Schumacher Dyke

Sharp, Kimberly Clark (1995).  After the Light  What I Discovered on the Other Side of Life That Can Change Your World.  New York, NY:  William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Sample

This sample encompasses one woman from Kansas that had a near-death experience that changed her life.

Methodology

Ms. Sharp uses self-report to describe her near-death experience and the way if affected her life.

Abstract

Ms. Clark had a near-death experience during her adult life that changed everything.  She was walking down a sidewalk and suddenly her heart stopped.  Luckily for her, a nurse just happened to be near-by.  The nurse resuscitated her and got medical help for Ms. Clark.  During the time that she was clinically death, Ms. Clark had an extraordinary near-death experience that lead her whole life in another direction.  She realized that her life before had no purpose and that she needed to do for others in order to live a fulfilling existence.  As a direct result of what happened to her, she became a social worker and a counselor.  She counsels people who have had near-death experiences.  She also has psychic abilities that she credits directly with the properties of the near-death experience.

In addition to all of the personal effects of the near-death experience, Ms. Clark has also had professional triumphs.  She has developed educational materials for medical professionals who deal with people who have near-death experiences.  She describes in detail some of the patients she personally has encountered and how they have dealt with the after math of their near-death experience.

Important Concepts and Definitions

Near Death Experience � an experience where the person has a clinical death and is resuscitated.  The experience happens between the time that the body shuts down and the person is resuscitated.

Operationalizations

This account of a near death experience is qualitative in nature.  It is a self-report of a near-death experience encountered by the author.

Major Findings

Near-death experiences involve the family in multiple ways, but it seems that near-death survivors encounter family members who are deceased during the near-death experience and then of course, there�s the family members living that must be dealt with after the near-death experience.  As part of the near-death experience, when deceased family members are encountered and then the experiencer has to leave them behind when resuscitation occurs, there is an effect on the experiencer.  Some people reported that they were angry that they had to leave these family members behind.  They felt that the reason for their resuscitation and having to leave the after-life behind was a result of the deceased family member�s vindictiveness. They often carry these feelings with them for many years.  These feelings alone can make the person talking with a trained professional obligatory.  Another person that had seen deceased family members during their near-death experience reported a reaction to leaving the deceased family member as depression.  The near-death experiencer would have preferred to stay in the after-life.  When they were resuscitated, not only did they miss the environment of the after-life, but they missed the companionship of the deceased relative.  If the depression persists, then treatment should be sought.

Families dealing with people who have experienced near-death need to be prepared for the initial changes that are commonly associated with this phenomena.  Ms. Clark feels that educating families is the key for adjusting to the changed near-death experiencer.  Ms. Clark described one woman who, when she came out of her experience wanted to give all of her possessions away to the poor.  Her family and she had to encourage the lady to wait until everything had stabilized in her life before making decisions of such magnitude.  After adjusting to her situation, the woman did change her mind about giving all of her possessions away.  In this way, the family and the woman were educated about the best way to deal with the adjustment period that happens immediately following a near-death experience.  Ms. Clark also describes the anger that patients sometimes feel directly after a near-death experience.  They are angry because they feel that they were �kicked out� of a place that they wanted to stay.  The family members have to let the person be angry, vent, and then, as in one case she presents, read everything they can on near-death experiences so that they can support and understand the experiencer when they are ready to talk.

Near-death experiences are not always pleasant.  Some people have experiences that they describe as �hellish�.  These people often respond to the experience by making drastic changes in their lives.  Ms. Clark describes two people who had these experiences.  Both of them changed their lives totally around and became ministers.  Sometimes family members are able to adapt to the life changes that these experiences necessitate and sometimes they are not.  Near-death experiences can break up families.

Overall, it is to be expected that the drama associated with a near-death experience will not just touch the life of the experiencer.  Family members must be prepared for the changes that happen when a family member goes through such a traumatic experience as near-death.  They must be prepared to seek help for themselves and the experiencer and look for signs that this is necessary.