Editor’s Note:
 
 
The following post was originally published in my personal online blog in 2013. The reason that I am presenting it today to Tide Change readers of the Comox Valley and beyond is not to simply add to the trend on the internet of recounting one’s NDE story,  but because I would like to begin a community conversation about hospice and palliative care from a very different perspective.
 
My father is  eighty years old and after quadruple bypass surgery, a pacemaker, a heart attack, a stroke, diabetes and four years of dialysis, the one thing that keeps him here, no matter the diminished quality of life, is his belief that everything turns to black at the time of death. My ultimate purpose in writing a series of articles about how we need to change the way we prepare for our final chapter is to remove fear from the experience prior to our crossing, something we are all guaranteed to do.
 
This new perspective begins by changing the language and mindset we use to describe our transition from one form of existence to another. If I wish to encourage others to share their experiences as caregivers, medical staff, volunteers and administrators in the field related to this very important time of life, I must have the courage to tell my story. Read on with an open mind and remember that non-existence is an impossibility. By its own definition, this state of being cannot exist.
 
 
 

Although my NDE (Near Death Experience) took place more than 30 years ago, this is the first time that I am writing about the experience that literally came out of nowhere in my mid-teens.

Until Dr. Eben Alexander recounted his own NDE in the book, “Proof of Heaven”, I had always thought that mine did not quite match the typical recounting of light at the end of a tunnel and the meeting of family members who had passed. So let me begin by setting the stage for a most extraordinary event that occurred during a most ordinary morning.

It was about five AM and I was sitting at the kitchen table cramming for a final exam for school. Yes, I had, as usual, waited until the last minute, unlike my younger sister who studied weeks in advance. Anyways, I realized that I could not keep my eyes open, so I made a bowl of hot chocolate. Of course, the milk had the opposite effect on my system and I soon fell asleep while holding the bowl in both hands. The next thing I knew, the bowl had crashed against the edge of the table and a piece of the pottery had sliced the palm of my left hand.

I was still groggy when I realized that my hand was bleeding quite profusely. I made my way to the bathroom where I did the most illogical thing possible. I placed my wound under running water. If I had been more awake, I would have realized that this would simply facilitate the blood flow which led to the next event, I fainted. Up to this point in my young life of fifteen or so years, I had fainted on occasion due to high fever and loss of blood, but I would simply black out and then come to a minute later.

This time, I was unaware that my tongue was blocking my airway and effectively interfering with the intake of oxygen. In other words, I stopped breathing. My journey began as the usual black out, but then something amazing happened, I found myself riding a beautiful white horse in a field of golden light. Everything around me, the colors of the flowers, the smells and the feel of the warm breeze were amplified in a way that cannot be described in words. I felt incredible joy at being there and then I sensed a presence. Suddenly, I felt wrapped in complete and absolute unconditional love and for the first time in this life, I was at peace. It was magnificent… but then, I felt myself being pulled backwards into the darkness again and I could hear someone screaming. I came to with the surprising realization that I was the one screaming. My sister had just saved my life by unblocking my airway.

Needless to say, I never made it to my class and the exam that day. While the members of my family went to work or to school, I stayed in bed, trying to make sense of what had just happened to me, except I couldn’t. I had no points of reference to work with. My family had no ancient teachings, religious texts or past experience with which to piece this event into my life puzzle. All I knew, through every cell of my being, was that I had experienced perfect heavenly joy one minute and then crashed back into this body and the heaviness of being human. I could not handle the contrast. I had difficulty returning to my normal routine and ended up spending more than two weeks in bed thinking suicidal thoughts. Ironically, apart from my undisciplined study habits, I was a good student and my teachers did not question my absence thinking that I was probably visiting family in Europe. Only my mother was aware that I was not attending class and she was at a complete loss as to what to do about it. Somehow, I now think that I was guided through this difficult experience, at least enough to allow me to function again.

It would be years, until my early thirties, before I would experience more events of this nature. Until then, during the few occasions I shared my story verbally with an open individual, I was told that I had brought some of that light back with me. In other words, something had shifted within me that day and more would be revealed in the future.

 

For further research, please check out the following websites:

Dr. Eben Alexander 

Jeff Olsen and his book, “I Knew Their Hearts”

 

 
Catherine Hedrich

Editor in Chief, Tidechange.ca