I was holding vigil over my mother's deathbed. She had checked into the hospital and they found a large non-HodgkinΓÇÖs lymphoma cancer tumor just below her ribcage. The good news was that it was curable. The bad news was that the CHOPS therapy she needed couldn't be fully used because she had heart problems. She was in a very fragile condition at age 79, so we were all amazed that she even consented to receive therapy. Unfortunately, the morphine that they began to give her for the pain quickly swept her under. She couldn't wake up from it and her organs began to fail. I stayed with her in the room every night for 3 nights holding her hand when she couldn't speak or move anymore. I knew she could still hear and feel me, though. Finally, I couldn't bear that my mother was suffering like this because she had truly lived a saintly life. I know many Catholic Irish people will say that about their mothers, but this time it couldn't be truer. I never have nor will I probably ever meet a person as completely unselfish as she was. Everyone who knew her knew she was a saint. So I was really struggling with why my mother had to suffer. I had reached the point where I was feeling really desperate, begging my father (who had passed before her) to come and take her out of her body. I was so worried that she would be in pain and not be able to tell us.
I finally told my mother that I was going to let go of her hand, because I wanted her to begin to let go of her earthly body. This was a very hard thing to do. I didn't want to let go of her hand! I didn't want her to leave me! But I knew that she needed to go home to God. I felt that it was the right thing to do. When I let go of her hand, I felt like her spirit was very sad. This was just the worst moment of my life. I was crying on the little cot next to her hospital bed and just asking repeatedly, to my father, 'Where are you? Why don't you come for her? Why is God letting her suffer?' I was beside myself with grief. Then, all of a sudden, I felt that someone was in the room with us. I turned around and 'saw' something hanging in the corner of the ceiling. It was a huge being, which had wings but was more like a birdΓÇÖs wings than angel wings. They were down and pinned to its sides. It was just sitting on nothing in the corner. I was terrified. I was completely frozen, the way you freeze when something is so scary you just try not to move or to be noticed. I had no idea what it was, but it didn't feel good. Then, suddenly, my mind was flooded with rapid-fire good memories of my mom and our life together. I can't even remember all the memories, but the quality of the memories is what I will never forget. It was like lightning speed but somehow my mind could comprehend it. I went from the darkest moment in my life to being flooded with every good feeling, joy, and peace all at once. At the time, I didn't connect what happened to me with the presence in the ceiling corner. That thing was bad and this was good. It wasn't until later that I wondered if that could have been an angel or even someone, I didn't recognize. I don't think I will ever know who that was, until I die myself. I've wondered if it was a guardian angel, hers or mine, my dad, or even my mom's unrecognizable spirit. I will never know. I do know that it had the quality of a life review, but it was all the good memories. It filled my heart with peace. I've never felt that need to have anyone 'believe' my story. It happened, and I know it. I already believed in God, so this didn't change my life that much except that I do feel like the veil of death creates a thinness in the barrier between this world and the next. I was there at this moment in time when a light shined through from the other side. It was still hard to lose my mother, but because I held her hand for so long, I have a lasting gift from those days. Whenever I am sad, I put my hand on my face. My mother's hand is comforting me. That was her gift to me for staying by her side. She told me to do this.
Date NDE Occurred: 03/16/2004
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Other: bedside vigil
My mother was dying of complications from cancer.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Both pleasant AND distressing
Did you feel separated from your body? No
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 There is no way to explain the rapid succession of images that flashed across my brain. There is nothing like that. It was nothing like a dream.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I was awake the whole time but the video of memories was otherworldly.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
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. Imagine playing a movie on the fastest fast forward speed but being able to comprehend everything. Imagine seeing something, a being that makes you freeze with complete panic and fear. I've never had an experience like this before to compare this incident. I have prayed and felt God's presence in my heart, but this was something else.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I didn't hear anything unusual.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? 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? Uncertain I don't know who the being was.
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? No
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Complete and utter panic and then complete and utter joy, peace, and relief from heartache.
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? No
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control Many past events flashed through my mind at lightning speed.
Did scenes from the future come to you? No
Did you come to a border or point of no return? No
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What importance did you place on your religious/spiritual life prior to your experience? Greatly important to me
What was your religion prior to your experience? Christian- Catholic
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? No
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Christian- Catholic I am Catholic, but I do believe in my heart that there are many paths to God. God loves us all unconditionally. So when I say, 'I believe in one true Catholic and apostolic faith,' I mean I believe in it for me. I don't think that my path is the only path to God.
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 I didn't really think that this could happen to me, maybe to the person who was dying, but not to me. I have since come to think that maybe being in the presence of an angel could be terrifying, but before this, I would have thought it would be a pleasant experience.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? No
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 A being was in the hospital room hovering in the top corner of the ceiling.
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? Yes I felt the veil between this world and the next was lifted for a brief moment.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God definitely 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? No
Did you believe that our earthly lives are meaningful and significant prior to your experience? Are 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 definitely exists
Do you believe in an afterlife after your experience? An afterlife definitely exists No
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I did not fear death
Do you fear death after your experience? I do not fear death
Were you fearful living your life prior to your experience? Not 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 I felt the peace of God in my heart.
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
During your experience, did you gain information about love? No
Were you compassionate after your experience? Greatly compassionate toward others
What life changes occurred in your life after your experience? No changes in my life I knew about God and the other side before, but there is nothing quite like a visitation to really confirm what you took on faith to be true.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes I could completely see the being but it was seeing with my mind, not with my eyes. There is no doubt in my mind that it was there and it was real.
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 as accurately as other life events that occurred around the time of the experience. Again, I don't really care to try to convince anyone of what happened to me, but I read the books by Jeffrey Long and realized that I wanted to include what happened to me in the body of research for NDEs, because I think my experience was a direct result of a soul leaving its body in my presence.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? No
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? The fear of the angel made me realize how other people in the bible must have felt, truly 'sore afraid'. It's actually terrifying. [Editor's notation: 'sore afraid' Luke 2:9]
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I didn't share for a while. I had no doubts but also, no need to share. It was my little gift, my blessing, for staying by my mom's side.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I have always been interested in this topic and believed in life after death.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I really don't feel one ounce of needing anyone to believe my experience was real. People who know God will know, and people who don't know God will not believe. I don't really care. I do care to share that this experience is different from those here because I did not have an NDE, but the visitation and the flash of memories are so similar to those two features of an NDE that I wanted to share. Maybe, others have experienced what I did.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real Well, you know when something is real or not. You know when you wake up from a dream that you have been dreaming. Just because something cannot be explained by current science, does not mean it is not real. Consider just about everything in history. If you could bring someone forward in time from the past, we would all be considered witches. It's just perspective.
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? It was a gift.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Because I already believed, I had to answer no to many questions about the life changing nature of this experience. But even though I already believed, this was a profound gift in my life.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.