I was a physical therapist employed in an Alaskan hospital. I had suffered a ruptured disc in my lower back. For a number of weeks, I was treated conservatively with therapy and injections without improvement. During this treatment time, I spent a lot of my time in prayer and bible study. I had previously had back surgery for a ruptured disc in 1977 before moving to Alaska and the doctor I was seeing had advised me that surgery might be needed for this ruptured disc since it wasn’t responding to conservative treatment. He wasn’t certain whether another laminectomy would be all I would need or whether it might require a spinal fusion. The spinal fusion would mean a much longer recovery period and the likely possibility that I might no longer be able to work as a physical therapist. Once the decision was reached that surgery was needed and it was scheduled, I began reaching out to members of my church as well as family and friends back in New York State, asking for their prayers and telling them the date of my surgery. I asked that they pray that only a laminectomy would be needed.
The morning of my surgery, I remember the nurse who was prepping me for surgery. She commented that I was the most relaxed person she had seen getting ready to go into surgery. My husband and two young children, ages 9 and 6, were in my hospital room with me when they brought the stretcher to take me to surgery. They walked with me for a while and then they were given directions to the waiting room to stay while I was in surgery. They kissed me and left. Once in the operating room, I remember moving over onto the operating room table and having the IV in my arm through which they then administered my anesthesia.
The next thing I was aware of, I found myself very near the ceiling in the corner of the room. I was so high that I was within inches of the ceiling tiles. I became aware of the doctor swearing angrily and ordering nurses to get more bags of blood. I looked back toward the sound and saw my body being flipped from face down to face up on the table. There was quite a commotion of people rushing out and back in and I remember how pale my face looked. I knew it was my body I was looking at, but felt no alarm or concern. I remember moving effortlessly through the wall of the room and down a hallway out through the double doors of the operating suite. I couldn’t feel any resistance or sense of touch when passing through the wall or doors at all.
As I drifted down the hallway, I noticed an elevator door opening and a man that I didn’t know came rushing past the open elevator door. There was something about how he was rushing and his obvious high-anxiety drew my attention. So I watched him, noticing that he was wearing a brownish jacket of some kind and that he seemed to be carrying a bag of some sort. He was hurrying toward the doors to the operating suite and slowed near a man by the entry to the operating suite. I don’t recall the words of each of them, but I knew the man who had come past the elevator was a surgeon and he was irritated at having to take time to slow down while the other man didn’t think that this man in street clothes had any right to enter the operating room suite. I didn’t hear the sound of their voices, but I was telepathically aware of each man’s thoughts, unlike in the operating room where I heard the sound of the doctor swearing. Once the surgeon passed into the operating suite, I no longer watched him.
At this point, I began rising through the ceilings of each floor in the hospital as though I were being pulled by some force outside my own volition. I continued rising until I passed through the roof itself and found myself in the sky above the hospital. Once outside the hospital, I began to move much more quickly past the mountain range near the hospital and over the city. I was at the height of an airplane. It was at this point that I realized that if I was moving so quickly, I should feel wind rushing past me and should notice a difference in the temperature of the air. But I felt none of this.
I remember rushing into a dark, cave-like area where I continued at high speed for some time before I became aware of a small bright light in the distance in the direction that I was headed. I quickly emerged into this intense light and looked down at rocky ground below me where my feet should be and a rugged, rocky incline to my left. As I looked up the incline, I saw the back of a man proceeding up the incline and telepathically knew that I was to follow him. I examined his back and noticed long, dark hair tied back with a leather tie, a short toga like garment in rough, off white material and sandals on his feet with leather ties wrapping up around his calves. I remember thinking, ‘That’s not Jesus!’
We reached a ledge which opened onto a gorgeous pastoral scene of vivid, green grass studded with vibrantly colored flowers unlike any I have ever seen. There were enormous shade trees scattered around and beyond the field was a small river about 30 feet across. We came to the bank of the river and on the opposite bank I saw all my loved ones who had passed away. They were gathered in a large group. I saw my father and my brother first. They were as thrilled to see me as I was to see them. Then I noticed various Aunts, Uncles and cousins in the group. Finally, I realized that a few people that I didn’t immediately recognize were my grandparents who had all died before I was born, so I had never met them. Still, I knew who they were and could telepathically hear them saying how much they loved me. I don’t remember what any of them were wearing or even what they looked like, but it was definitely their spirits and there was no doubt in my mind who they all were.
Before I could go to them and embrace them, my guide who had led me up the incline communicated to me telepathically that I had to go somewhere else first and that I must follow him. I followed him around a bend in the river until I could see in the distance a beautiful Greek-style building that was vibrantly white with many steps leading up to it and huge columns in front. Lots of spiritual Beings were dressed in vibrant, white robes. They were milling around outside, going in and coming out. My guide took me inside where it opened into an enormous library full of tables and lined with books. Many spirits were studying different books and my guide communicated that this hall held the Book of Life described in the Bible. We continued to a back room where some spiritual Beings were sitting in chairs that circled around a screen in the floor that was like a glass bottomed boat. They communicated that I was to watch my life and then scenes like a 3D hologram appeared. I was able to re-experience myself in all these events in my life, but just as importantly, I was able to experience the impact of my actions and words on those other people with whom I had interacted. Not one of the spirits condemned me for those painful things I had done or not done, but I felt so very sorry and sad about them within my own heart. It all seemed to happen very quickly, but had a tremendous impact on me. I got the impression that these spirit beings had been with me and had helped me plan my life before I was born. They let me know that I would be able to return to my life, if I chose to do so. Then they showed me through the same screen some future events in my life if I chose to return to it. Some events would definitely occur and some events were possible but not definite.
At this point, there is a gap in my memory of what took place next. The next thing I was aware of was being shown by my guide the back doctor who had operated on me standing in the waiting room in all his green surgical garb except his mask and talking to my husband while the kids sat behind my husband on a couch. I wasn’t able to hear any words said, only saw the scene. And then I was shown the image of all the prayers being said by my family and friends. Each prayer appearing like a musical note and linking one to another and reaching up toward where I was. Lastly, I saw my daughter’s prayer forming the last link to reach us. Suddenly, all the emotional ties to my husband and children rushed back into me and I remembered being a little girl myself, when at the age of 7, I had prayed so urgently that my father wouldn’t die. It seemed that my prayer wasn’t answered and my father died. I knew I couldn’t let my children grow up without their mother, like I had grown up without my father. Hard as it was to leave this place of overwhelming unconditional love and indescribable peace, I knew I had to return to my life.
I was told that the future things in my life that I had been shown would be removed from my memory as well as some other things I had been shown during my experience because the choices I would make in my future life would be tainted and not truly legitimate choices, if I were allowed to retain those memories. I would be granted enough memories to convince my logical mind of the reality of my experience and I would be given an unmistakable sign that would be proof of where I truly had been.
With that, the next awareness I had was waking in the recovery room with my husband and children standing around me. Everything that I have written here was fully in my mind and heart immediately as I greeted my loved ones and my sign was there, too. My sign was not an object, it was the fact that I was completely enveloped in the ‘peace that passeth all understanding’ and the amazing unconditional love of God, like an invisible bubble of protection! This amazing sensation, this sign, stayed with me at a tremendous intensity for about 3 weeks to come before gradually fading away. After it was gone, I knew, more than I have ever known anything in my life, that my experience was completely real. The gift of God’s love and peace that was with me for all those weeks was the perfect proof and confirmation to my heart that I truly had been in the spiritual realm with God because it was exactly how I had felt during the entire experience. I know the absolute truth of it to this day. I remained in the hospital for 12 days following my surgery, first in intensive care and later in a regular hospital room. It was touch and go for a while, but I had complete confidence that I would recover because I knew that I had come back to my life for a reason and was here to stay.
At first, I didn’t tell my family about my experience. I remember how surprised I was the first time that the surgeon who had saved my life came to my bedside for a visit. We had never met before that time, but he was the same man that I had seen rushing into the operating suite. He had been called to operate on me. Unlike the surgeon who had done my back surgery who barely came in my room and, even then, wouldn’t look me in the eye, THIS surgeon was warm and kind. He clearly cared about me and was pleased that I was recovering well. About a week after I was home, I had to go to this surgeon’s office to have staples removed. My incision ran from by breast bone to my pubic bone and it had been stapled together.
Not long after I was home but before the return visit to this doctor, I had shared with my husband about my Near Death Experience and wondered aloud about the message I had been given about memories that would ‘convince my logical mind’ of the truth of my experience. I remembered that my experience had included seeing the surgeon arriving the day of my surgery and that if he could confirm what I had seen when he arrived that day, then it would, indeed, convince my logical mind of the validity of the experience. Although I already knew it was ‘real’ because of my sign, I also wanted my husband to have no doubt about it either. So, after the surgeon had completed my examination and expressed how pleased he was with my healing so far, I said that I wanted to ask him something about the day of my surgery. I told him that during my surgery on my back, after my artery had been cut and I was bleeding out, that my spirit had left my body and traveled out of the operating room. I told him that I had seen him arriving that day, although I hadn’t known who he was or why he was coming there at the time. I told him about how he was rushing toward the operating room suite and was wearing street clothes of a brown jacket of some kind and carrying a bag. I saw his being annoyed to be slowed down near the doors to the operating room suite, when he was clearly anxious to get into the operating suite. Then, I asked him if what I saw is what had happened that day. His response was, 'How did you know that? I had been at my office when I was paged to come to the operating room stat. I was needed to do emergency exploratory surgery to locate and stop the bleeding from a vessel that had been cut during a back surgery.' I can’t remember for certain, but I think he may have asked me what else I had seen and experienced. I believe that I shared a bit about seeing my deceased loved ones and a little about my experience, but I don’t remember any details I told him. He never clearly said that he was actually wearing what I described, he only said, 'How did you know that?' He was clearly blown away, though, and I think he would have said he wasn’t wearing that or that he didn’t remember it happening that way, if in fact, it hadn’t happened the way I described. I came away convinced that he had confirmed to me the validity of what I had seen. Just the fact that he had come to the hospital in street clothes, rather than having been a surgeon on call already at the hospital in scrubs was an unusual circumstance, I knew, and he did confirm that much. It was enough to convince my logical mind and my husband’s as well.
During the surgery, it had been discovered that I had endometriosis. So I also visited a gynecologist for follow up. During that visit, he asked about my recent abdominal scar. When I explained what had happened, he exclaimed, 'That was YOU! I was in the adjacent operating room that day and heard all hell breaking loose in there. The air was blue for a while, I can tell you !' I didn’t share my NDE with him that day, but it confirmed to me what I had seen in the operating room and the swearing I heard taking place there. That was unusual behavior for an operating room, for sure. After all these years, I have joined IANDS and shared my story in public for the first time. I was inspired to find the surgeon who had done my emergency surgery and he is still practicing in Alaska. I wrote to thank him and ask if he remembered my case and my telling him about my NDE back then. He replied that he did remember me and remembered me sharing my NDE with him.
Thinking deeply about what I had seen during my near death experience and what might be confirmed by someone besides me, I spoke to my daughter who was 9 then and is 43 now and asked what she remembered of that day. She said that they had waited long past when the doctor had told them he would be out to talk to them and that she was getting very worried. She said that she heard some noise and saw a man come rushing past the waiting room acting like something bad had happened. The man rushed toward the elevators. She said that it was the same man later introduced to her as the doctor who had saved my life. She was more worried later when no one had come to talk to them yet. Then, the surgeon who had done my back surgery finally came to the door of the waiting room and her father went over to speak to him. They were so serious that she was convinced that I must be dying. She prayed for me, she said. Before I talked to my daughter, I had asked my husband if he remembered seeing a man coming past the door to the waiting room that day. He then remembered someone rushing past, but said he wasn’t directly facing the doorway at the time. My husband had told me shortly after my surgery that the back doctor had come to talk to him in the waiting room that day, but I had never asked him what that doctor had been wearing. I knew from what my husband had told me at the time that the back doctor had asked my husband for permission to allow the additional surgery to save my life.
Until recently, I had never discussed with my husband what I saw the back doctor wearing that day and that I saw him standing in the doorway of the waiting room. I just recently asked him if he was all dressed in green surgical garb including a hair net type hat on his head, but no mask and he confirmed that yes, he had stood in the doorway and was dressed just like that. The surgeon who saved my life recently emailed me confirming that he had come to the hospital the day of my surgery from his office and was dressed in street clothes, though he couldn’t remember all these years later what he had been wearing that day or whether he was carrying anything. He did say that he came out of the staircase as he had rushed down the stairs and that he had to slow to press a button to open automatic doors to the operating room suite. He didn’t recall another man being present near the entry to the operating room suite. I have since concluded that they most likely did not speak to each other at all and I was ‘hearing’ both their thoughts at once via telepathy and thought they were speaking to each other. I was ‘hearing’ the surgeon’s anxious thoughts to get into the operating room quickly and the other man’s thoughts worried that a person in street clothes shouldn’t be allowed into the operating room.
Date NDE Occurred: July 7, 1982
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Surgery-related. Life threatening event, but not clinical death.
During surgery on my spine, the surgeon cut the major artery coming off the aorta and feeding my leg. This caused me to hemorrhage into my abdomen and lose blood pressure. I bled out on the operating room table.
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 saw the surgeon and nurses in the operating room and later verified that the swearing I heard had occurred, I saw the surgeon who saved me arriving at the operating room doors and later confirmed with him that he had arrived from his office in street clothes. I saw my husband, daughter and son in the waiting room and confirmed that they had seen the back doctor dressed in green scrubs standing in the doorway.
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 able to hear and speak telepathically and able to participate within my life review, not just observe it going on. I was able to see prayers as though they were musical notes and 'see' my husband, kids and doctor in the waiting room.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the time I left the tunnel until I returned to my body.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Faster than usual
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning.
It seemed like a lot was happening, but time was not moving.
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 am normally very near-sighted and my glasses had been removed before surgery. But I was able to see things within the hospital as clearly as if I had my glasses on. When on the 'other side', I was able to see with an intensity of color and range of vision that I had never before been able to do.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. My hearing while in the operating room was the same as my normal hearing, but I could distinguish what each person was saying although they were speaking at the same time over one another. Once I was outside the operating room and in the hallway, my hearing became telepathic only and remained that way through the rest of the experience.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
The experience included: Tunnel
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes It seemed like a dark cave, but very long, like a tunnel.
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 Family members
The experience included: Unearthly light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? An unusually bright light
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Brilliant, living light emanated from everyone and everything I saw, they were lit from within. There was a very bright sky, but no sun.
The experience included: A landscape or city
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm The plants lit from within, the Beings and guide, and the Greek temple.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? I felt calm and unemotional about seeing my body on the operating room table. I felt so joyful and loved when seeing my loved ones. I felt happy and peaceful and full of love throughout my experience until my daughter's prayer suddenly reconnected me to my life back on Earth and my desire to be with my family there. All the fear for them, sadness and love for them rushed back to me.
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? No
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about myself or others. This was especially evident during my life review.
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? I remembered many past events I saw many events that I knew had happened.
The experience included: Awareness of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from my personal future Both definite and possible were shown, but removed after I decided to return to my life.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a definite conscious decision to return to life. My daughter's prayer combined with what I had been shown regarding my future and knowing what my life had been like without my father all led me to choose to return to my life.
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Moderately important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Protestant Was a fundamentalist believer
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I was away from the church for quite some time, but have returned to a very different type of church. I very much enjoy the worship, music and community of people who love and seek a closer walk with God without judgment of anyone and with charity to all.
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 Although I have returned to a liberal Christian church, my faith is God and love centered and I no longer believe the restrictions of being 'saved' by Jesus or punishment for sins.
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 expected to meet Jesus and I expected to face judgment of my sins. There was no element of judgment, nor were some people qualifying for life after death because of belief in Jesus and others not being allowed to have eternal life. This was very much NOT what I had believed before my NDE.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes I no longer believed that Jesus was the only one who could save me and allow me to have eternal life. I now see Jesus as God's expression in human form of how God would ideally have us live our earthly lives. I now believe in reincarnation and the innate value of every human life. I believe that our Earthly lifetimes give us experiences that can lead to our spiritual growth.
The experience included: Presence of unearthly beings
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 I had a guide who communicated with me.
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
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 I was aware that I was with beings who had helped me plan my current life.
During your experience, did you gain information about universal connection or oneness? Yes I simply KNEW it.
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? Yes I have only awareness that God was the creator of all that I was encountering.
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? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are probably meaningful and significant
During your experience, did you gain information about the meaning of life? Yes We live lives on Earth in order to learn to love more deeply and grown spiritually closer to God.
Did you believe in an afterlife prior to your experience? An afterlife definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists Yes I encountered my deceased relatives.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I slightly 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 after your experience? Are meaningful and significant
Did you gain information about how to live our lives? Yes Fear leads to hateful actions. God does not judge and punish any of us. Neither should we judge others or let fear overcome our ability to express love.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? Yes We actively choose them in order to challenge ourselves for greater spiritual growth.
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? Yes God is the source of all love and love expressed to others on Earth is our greatest Earthly accomplishment.
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. My life has changed from one of fear of judgment to one where I know with certainty that God loves me beyond measure. I have no fear of death and seek a closer connection to God every day. I try to live a life of expressing God's love to all I encounter.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Although my husband and I went through a time of being apart, we are now closer than ever.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes It was so difficult to express being able to see the light within flowers and inanimate objects. It was difficult to describe the 3d hologram life review.
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 don't recall the layout of the hospital, although I had worked in that hospital. But I remember every detail of what happened during my experience.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I have an ability to simply know some things. I have psychic urges to do things which then open doors to further growth. I sometimes know what will happen and it does.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Many parts. Seeing my relatives and feeling that love and reunion joy, feeling the emotions of my life review and seeing the prayers being offered up for me.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I shared my experience with family early after. Not long after, I tried to share with friends and lost friendships. It was a very long time until I shared my experience with the public in general just the last few years since I discovered IANDS.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I only knew that books existed about it, but hadn't read any.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I knew it was real.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? No
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? No, it is excellent.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.