More on Near Death Experiences
Out of the millions of things our parents tell us during our childhood, it is curious what sticks and what does not. I first learned about near-death experiences (NDEs) from my mother, a nurse who had earned a Bronze Star while serving in the US Army in World War II. During a conversation that occurred when I was less than 12 years old, she volunteered that she believed those people who claim to have died, left the body and then returned to the body as it revived during surgeries or heart attacks.
She proceeded to tell me about an experience she had when she was 26 years old. She had married my father while overseas, got pregnant and returned home to Shelbyville, Kentucky, to give birth. There were complications in the delivery. At one point she found herself out of her body in an upper corner of her hospital room. She could see her body on the bed being prepared to receive a transfusion of blood. She felt no particular attachment to it. She saw her doctor standing in the doorway watching her body as the blood was being administered
Less was known about blood compatibility in 1945 than today. The doctor had seen his father pass away due to a transfusion with incompatible blood. As he watched my mother's body, he noticed something he had seen with his father. My mother's free arm started to claw at the needle inserted to deliver the blood. The doctor immediately stopped the transfusion. Thanks to the doctor, mother and baby survived the delivery, which was very good news for the ten other children who were to follow during the next fifteen years.
To this day, I do not recall how the topic came up in my childhood discussion with my mother. I did not hear her share the story more than once. This amazing experience would have been completely lost to me - as if it had never happened - if she had not shared it with me on that one occasion. I later learned that this is not atypical of people who have had a NDE. They are often afraid that everyone will think they are crazy. They become disheartened when their doctors and loved ones dismiss their stories as delusions. They quickly learn to keep their experience to themselves.
Dr. Raymond Moody's 1975 groundbreaking book, Life After Life: Investigation of a Phenomenon - Life after Bodily Death, gave public recognition to NDEs. As the years passed, the body of published NDE accounts and scholarly research steadily increased, not because there has been an increase in the phenomena, but because we are at last willing to listen to and learn from the people who have these experiences. There is now a wealth of information about NDEs for those who wish to investigate.
The classic NDE occurs when someone who is clinically dead for some period of time, such as in a heart attack or drowning, becomes conscious of leaving the body for some period of time and returning to the body as it revives. Sometimes the revival occurs while doctors are attempting to resuscitate the body and sometimes it occurs after the doctors have given up hope.
Based on interviews of hundreds of NDEers, Dr. Moody identified ten traits of an NDE. Not all traits are experienced in every NDE. In fact, any particular NDEer may only experience one or two. They are:
A sense of being dead
Peace and painlessness
The tunnel experience
People of light
The being of light
The life review
Rising rapidly into the heavens
Reluctance to return
Different time and space
Dr. Moody also identified eight ways in which an NDE tends to transform the life of the NDEer:
No fear of dying
Sensing the importance of love
A sense of connection to all things
An appreciation of learning
A new feeling of control
A sense of urgency
Better developed spiritual side
Some difficulty reentering the "real world"
People from every age category and every walk of life have had NDEs. There are so many NDEs that the lessons to be learned are not dependent on the credibility of any one person. Nor are they captive to anyone's theology. Every attempt to "debunk" NDEs has in turn been debunked, for example by situations in which there is a third party verification of an NDEer's description of events going on during the NDE, but outside the room in which the NDEer's body was located.
Love Life 101 particularly draws on insights learned from NDEers who experienced life reviews because a life review is the prototype of a bigger-picture review of the NDEer's life. In a typical life review, the NDEer re-experiences every experience in their lives in the presence of a being of light. This "20/20 hindsight" perspective on choices typically made in everyday life gives us a unique perspective on what is important in the choices we face.
Notable NDE Organizations and Web-Based Research Centers
International Association for Near-Death Studies ("IANDS"). http://iands.org/home.html. Founded in 1977, this organization has done more than any other to establish a safe space for NDEs to be reported and discussed, provide information on NDEs to the public and promote the study of NDEs. It is now headquartered in Durham, NC.
Near Death Experience Research Foundation ("NDERF"). http://www.nderf.org/. An NDE centered website available in 23 different languages. Provides a forum for reporting NDEs and obtaining information on NDE accounts and resources.
Http://www.near-death.com. An extensive resource of NDE-related information maintained by Kevin Williams. Kevin's a self-proclaimed mission is to "help connect people with information and resources concerning NDEs and NDE research for the purpose of understanding death and thereby understanding life in a way that brings tremendous joy and love."
Notable NDE Researchers
Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D, - Generally considered the pioneer in NDE research. His book, Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death (1975) is an excellent starting point for investigating NDEs. http://www.lifeafterlife.com/
Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. -- Researched and lectured on NDEs during his tenure as a professor at the University of Connecticut. His book co-authored with Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons from the Light, focused on what NDEs teach us about the reality in which we live.
Melvin Morse, M.D. -- Dr. Morse is a pediatrician whose NDE research was prompted by an encounter with a patient who had an NDE. One of his research projects focused on more than 20 children that experienced NDEs in a Seattle hospital. He tracked their progress into adulthood, comparing them to a control group of pediatric patients that had been treated at the same hospital during the same time period to assess how the NDEs may have affected their lives. His books, Closer to the Light and Transformed by the Light, are highly recommended.
P.M.H Atwater - Atwater's life of NDE research started in 1977 when she had three NDEs of her own and began her search to learn more about what happened. She has published at least 10 books, including The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die, which is akin to an encyclopedia of NDE related material. http://www.cinemind.com/atwater/
Although it was rare for an NDEer to go public with an account of their experience prior to the publication of Life After Life in 1975, it is not uncommon today. Internet sites such as the IANDS site have created a safe and easy place for NDEers to share. There are also a seemingly infinite amount of video presentations of NDE accounts available on the web through YouTube. Here are some NDE accounts that are notable due to the amount of information made available and their role in making other NDEers comfortable in talking about their experiences.
Dr. George Ritchie - Hearing Dr. Ritchie's account of his NDE, which occurred decades earlier in World War II, inspired Dr. Raymond Moody to pay closer attention to people claiming to have similar experiences. This ultimately led to the publication of Life after Live in 1975. Dr. Ritchie published his story in 1978 in Return from Tomorrow.
Betty J. Eadie -- She shares her 1973 NDE in Embraced by The Light published in 1992.
Howard Storm -- An atheist prior to his NDE in 1985, Storm is now a Christian minister. His account, which includes an up-close and personal view of what some researchers have called the realm of bewildered spirits, was published in 2000 under the title, My Descent into Death and the Message of Love which Brought Me Back.
Dannion Brinkley - A survivor of two NDEs, the first occurring in 1975, Dannion's accounts are published in Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received.
Eben Alexander - A neurosurgeon educated at Duke University Medical School and who has taught at Duke, Harvard and University of Virginia. His NDE occurred in 2008 and is reported in his book entitled Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. He was a self-confessed close-minded skeptic before his NDE. Ironically, as a new, out-of-the-closet NDEer, he has to deal with ridicule from some in the medical profession who start with the premise that conscious independent of the body is impossible and reject any scenario that conflicts with that premise as unscientific.
Alexander, Eben, M.D., Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (Simon & Schuster 2012).
Atwater, P.M.H., Beyond the Light: The Mysteries and Revelations of Near-Death Experiences (Avon 1994).
Atwater, P.M.H., Lh.D., Beyond the Light: What Isn't Being Said About Near-Death Experience (Birch Lane Press 1994).
Atwater, P.M.H., The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die (Hampton Roads 2007).
Berman, Phillip L., The Journey Home: What Near-Death Experiences and Mysticism Teach Us About the Gift of Life (Pocket Books 1996).
Brinkley, Dannion and Paul Perry, Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received (Villard Books 1994).
Brinkley, Dannion and Kathryn Brinkley, Secrets of the Light: Lessons from Heaven (HarperOne 2008).
Eadie, Betty J., Embraced by the Light (Gold Leaf 1992).
Lundahl, Craig R., Ph.D. and Harold A. Widdison, Ph.D., The Eternal Journey: How Near-Death Experiences Illuminate Our Earthly Lives (Warner 1997).
Moody, Raymond, Jr., M.D., Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death (Harper San Francisco 2001).
Moody, Raymond, Jr., M.D., The Light Beyond (Bantam 1989).
Morse, Melvin, M.D. and Paul Perry, Closer to the Light: Learning from Children's Near-Death Experiences (Villard Books 1990).
Morse, Melvin, M.D. and Paul Perry, Transformed by the Light: The Powerful Effect of Near-Death Experiences on People's Lives (Villard Books 1992).
Ring, Kenneth, Ph.D. and Eveln Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons From The Light: What We Can Learn From the Near-Death Experience (Llewellyn Publications 2000).
Ring, Kenneth, Ph.D., Heading Toward Omega: In Search of the Meaning of the Near-Death Experience (Quill 1985).
Rommer, Barbara R., M.D., Blessing in Disguise: Another Side of the Near-Death Experience (Llewellyn 2000).
 Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D., Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon - Survival of Bodily Death (Harper San Francisco 2001).
 Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D., The Light Beyond (Bantam 1989), 7-20.
 Moody, The Light Beyond, 33 - 56.
 Kenneth Ring, Ph.D. and Eveln Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons From The Light: What We Can Learn From the Near-Death Experience (Llewellyn Publications 2000).
 Melvin Morse, M.D. and Paul Perry, Closer to the Light: Learning from Children's Near-Death Experiences (Villard Books 1990).
 Melvin Morse, M.D. and Paul Perry, Transformed by the Light: The Powerful Effect of Near-Death Experiences on People's Lives (Villard Books 1992)
 P.M.H. Atwater, The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences: The Ultimate Guide to What Happens When We Die (Hampton Roads 2007).
 George Ritchie, M.D. and Elizabeth Sherrill, Return From Tomorrow (Chosen Books 1978)
 Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light (Gold Leaf 1992)
 Howard Storm, My Descent into Death and the Message of Love which Brought Me Back (Clairview 2000).
 Dannion Brinkley and Paul Perry, Saved by the Light: The True Story of a Man Who Died Twice and the Profound Revelations He Received (Villard Books 1994)
 Eben Alexander, M.D., Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (Simon & Schuster 2012).