I was struggling to breathe. I could feel myself fading away: the room faded out and everything was focused on just trying to breathe. I realized I couldn't see anything. My thoughts were getting fuzzy: everything in me was just focused on trying to breathe. I could hear my husband's voice and just kept struggling to breathe. Then I realized I couldn't feel my arms or my legs or any part of my body, just this horrible chest pressure and struggling to breathe.Then all of a sudden, I felt a ‘Whoosh’ and suddenly everything was perfectly clear. My mind felt sharp and alive and I felt wonderful. Then I realized I wasn't breathing, and I didn't need to breathe. I had no body. For some reason I felt like I was floating above the bookcase in my room, but I couldn't see anything. It was all dark. I felt wonderful, sharp, and alive, completely at peace. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that everything was just fine; everything was exactly how it was meant to be. It was an incredibly peaceful and yet energizing feeling. I was still completely. Then I realized that I had no body, and I felt like ‘No, I am not leaving my daughter.’ I have three kids but for some reason it was really important that I not leave the 2 year old. I thought I started to see a little light in the distance, and it is hard to describe how I felt, but it was almost like I felt stubborn, like ‘I will not go into that light. I am not leaving. I am not ready.’ Then it was like SLAM, I was suddenly back in my body and I could hear the medics saying, ‘It is okay, we are putting in the tube,’ and I realized I was intubated.
Date NDE Occurred: 'January 22, 1992'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Illness
I had a severe asthma attack and a respiratory arrest. My husband called the medics, but there was a snowstorm, and it took 40 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. They intubated and resuscitated me.
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? No
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 felt so certain that everything was exactly as it was meant to be. I can't fully explain it, but it was a feeling of knowing and certainty.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? When I realized I was not breathing.
Were your thoughts speeded up? No
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? No
Were your senses more vivid than usual? No
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I did not have any vision during the experience. Everything was dark, then I began to see a little light, but then it ended. I didn't really have any vision to speak of.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. I could not hear anything during the experience. Before I stopped breathing, I was able to hear my husband's voice, and then I just heard a loud ‘WHOOSH.’ Then I left my body.
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? No
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? No
Did you see an unearthly light? Uncertain I started to see a light, but consciously willed it to stop and decided I needed to go back to my body.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? A clearly mystical or unearthly realm I am not sure where I was, but I was not in my body. For some reason, I felt like I was still in my room, but floating over my bookcase. However, I could not see anything.
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Very calm and peaceful at first. Then, although I remained peaceful, I had a feeling of determination that I needed to get back to my body.
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
The experience included: Special knowledge or purpose
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe Yes, I could not explain it now, but at the time, everything made perfect sense and I knew everything was happening exactly as it was supposed to be occurring. It was almost a feeling of perfect faith and understanding that all was well.
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? No I realized that I was not in my body, and although I felt so peaceful, I KNEW that I needed to get back there for my 2 year old. It was so important that she did not forget me. I knew that I was very important for her life, and if she forgot me, her life would be terribly impacted.
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? Other or several faiths Ex-Catholic, not practicing
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes I am a Unitarian-Universalist, very involved in my church. My congregation is a mix of people of many different beliefs, and I love the fact that we are all seekers, all open to knowing, no one is stuck on dogma.
What importance do you place on your religious/spiritual life after your experience? Greatly important to me
What is your religion now? Other faiths- Unitarian and other liberal faiths I was an ex-Catholic at the time of the NDE. I have been a Unitarian Universalist now for 20 years.
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 was very unsure of my beliefs before this occurred. However, I was raised Catholic. After the experience, I learned that what is "me" transcends my body.
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes A gradual change as I found that material things matter less. I don't need to believe in God, because the word ‘God’ feels so limiting to me. I feel like there is a unity of energy that is all of us. Somehow the word ‘God’ implies some outside being, and I feel like it is all within US, not something outside of us.
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? Uncertain I felt at one with everything. I had no boundaries. I was not in a body.
Did you believe in the existence of God prior to your experience? God probably 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? I am uncertain if God exists
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I was fully conscious, alert, formulating thoughts and felt completely myself, but I was not breathing, could not feel my body. I was out of my body. I felt at one with everything. I had no boundaries. I was not in a body. I knew that I had to return for my daughter. My life was very important for hers.
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? Uncertain It didn't matter. I knew that everything was as it should be. I just KNEW that.
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 was fully conscious, alert, formulating thoughts and felt completely myself, but I was not breathing, could not feel my body. I was out of my body.
Did you fear death prior to your experience? I moderately feared death
Do you fear death after your experience? I moderately 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? No
During your experience, did you gain information about life's difficulties, challenges and hardships? No
Were you compassionate prior to your experience? Moderately 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? Moderate changes in my life I am still a little afraid of dying, because the dying part was horrible. Struggling to breathe for 40 minutes was incredibly horrible, suffocating; I just don't want to go through that again. Hopefully, I will go quickly. But I am not afraid of death itself, at all, anymore. I feel very accepting of death and very certain that there is some meaning behind our lives. I will not understand it in this lifetime, but I feel certain that everything happens for a reason. I don't worry much about money or anything, and try to stay away from people that are only focused on material things. It is most important to try to be kind to each other. Moderate changes in my life.
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes Yes I did not have a good relationship with my husband and eventually divorced. I don't want to fake anything anymore. It is very important to me to be genuine in relationships. Somehow, I feel that my life is very important, and what I say or do is important. There is a reason for things. I surround myself with people that I care about, and try to avoid those who are selfish or angry.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? Yes
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 This was a very important event to me. I felt so alive, so sharp and clear in the midst of this event (struggling to breathe, lack of oxygen for 40 minutes), and I could not understand what happened to me. I remember that night vividly, but could not tell you too much more about my subsequent hospitalization.
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain This will sound ridiculous, but it is true. Electric doors hardly ever open for me and computers act up. Electronic devices act a little crazy around me pretty often, and I am a running joke about how windows will open and close on a PC for no reason. This is inconvenient. I have always been an intuitive person, but have no special gifts or psychic abilities.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? It is meaningful to me that I existed outside of my body. My daughter was two years old at the time of the event. She was recently diagnosed with syringomyelia, a congenital spinal defect. [Editor’s note: Syringomyelia is disorder in which a cyst or cavity forms within the spinal cord.] No one would believe her symptoms and I was instrumental in getting her to a specialist and through surgery. I feel like maybe if I was not here, she would be paralyzed in a wheelchair through most of her adulthood.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes I told a few people right away (my mother, my husband, my best friend), because I was so excited and amazed at this experience. They all pretty much blew me off. They thought I was hallucinating or had a rush of endorphins from hypoxia or something. My mother seemed frightened and asked me not to talk about it. No one seemed to realize how important this was to me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I believe I had seen something on Oprah or read about Moody's work. I remember that when I left my body, my mind was very sharp. I started to see a light, and I thought, ‘I will not go in that light.’ So I must have read about going into the light.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I did not pass out at any time: I went from fuzzy thoughts (struggling to breathe) to full consciousness (when I stopped breathing), then back to fuzzy thoughts (being intubated), so it felt completely real. I was there.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real I can only base this on the fact that I was there and I lived through it. There was nothing dream-like about the experience. I was fully conscious.
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? I am not sure if it was ‘real’ or not. I can only say how it felt. I feel that death is not the end: maybe it is the end of my body but my energy will go somewhere else. Not sure where, but hopefully I will have that same wonderful feeling of peace and certainty.
© 2014 NDERF, Jody Long & Jeffrey Long, MD. All Rights Reserved.