Near Death Experiences — Is There Life After Death?
When I spent a week with my grandmother in hospice a year ago, I was faced with death up close. It made me question what happens when we die.
Most of us have, at one point of another, wondered what happens when we die. In the hospice, there was a brochure talking about what to expect from a person’s last day when they were terminally ill. It also described death as a person leaving on a ship. Once they reach the horizon, they disappear out of a sight. It’s a journey we can’t take. Not now. So is there an afterlife? The truth is, no one can reply to that, because we’re all still alive. There are, however, some very interesting accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs).
What Is an NDE?
No one can say what a near-death experience is, beyond that someone died, or almost died, and had the experience of going to the “other side.” Nonetheless, those who have studied NDEs, have gathered some commonalities; things that most people experience, whether all of them, or some of them. According to Wikipedia:
Common traits that have been reported by NDErs are as follows:
• A sense/awareness of being dead.
• A sense of peace, well-being and painlessness. Positive emotions. A sense of removal from the world.
• An out-of-body experience. A perception of one's body from an outside position, sometimes observing medical professionals performing resuscitation efforts.
• A "tunnel experience" or entering a darkness. A sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase.
• A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light (or "Being of Light") which communicates with the person.
• An intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.
• Encountering "Beings of Light", "Beings dressed in white", or similar. Also, the possibility of being reunited with deceased loved ones.
• Receiving a life review, commonly referred to as "seeing one's life flash before one's eyes".
• Approaching a border or a decision by oneself or others to return to one's body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return.
• Suddenly finding oneself back inside one's body.
• Connection to the cultural beliefs held by the individual, which seem to dictate some of the phenomena experienced in the NDE and particularly the later interpretation thereof.
Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided the NDE on a five-stage continuum. The subdivisions were:
2) Body separation
3) Entering darkness
4) Seeing the light
5) Entering the light
Charlotte Martial, a neuropsychologist from the University of Liège and University Hospital of Liège who led a team that investigated 154 NDE cases, concluded that there is not a fixed sequence of events.
Are NDEs a New Thing?
No, NDEs are not a new thing! They’ve been reported across the globe since ancient times. Studies have been done to compare experiences as reported in different cultures at different times and the findings were similar. However, near-death experiences are often interpreted through the cultural and religious beliefs of the person, even if what they experienced was very different from what their religion may have led them to think they would experience.
One of the more knowledgeable experts in modern times is Dr Penny Sartori — a nurse in London who got a PhD thanks to her research into NDEs. Having worked as a nurse for 20 years, of which 17 have been spent in the intensive care unit, she has a lot of hands-on experience speaking with people who have had near-death experiences.
The Famous Case of Anita Moorjani
Anita Moorjani was dying of cancer — she was in a coma as her body was filling up with liquid and she was reaching organ failure — when she had a near death experience. Leaving her body she could “see” things happening in various locations at the hospital. She also traveled to a place where she became aware of other beings, among them her deceased father and, also, her best friend. She was made aware that she had a choice, whether to come with her father, or return to her body. She did not, at first, wish to return to her sick body, but she realized that she had a life purpose to fulfill. She also became aware that if she returned to her body, she’d heal and she’d heal fast. The cancer would go away immediately.
Anita Moorjani returned to her body and her cancer went away. Her story was so incredible it became a worldwide sensation and doctors in California reviewed her case, concluding that medicine could not explain for her recovery.
What About Past Lives?
As a general rule, those who experience NDEs don’t come back speaking about memories from past lives. However, many studies have been done into past lives, particularly with children experiencing “memories” that no one is able to account for. In some of those instances, these “memories” have been explained, in many others, they have not. In some cases, it’s even been possible to verify the events the child is speaking about.
Various studies are in full swing to try to document near-death experiences in hospitals around the world.