Western near-death experiences are the most studied. Many of these stories relate the sensation of floating up and viewing the scene around one’s unconscious body; spending time in a beautiful, otherworldly realm; meeting spiritual beings (some call them angels) and a loving presence that some call God;
NEAR DEATH TESTIMONIES
1. BROCK OF VIRGINIA TESTIMONY
Next is a case of a haunting, and of an experiencer assaulted by entities awaiting her arrival in the tunnel. But there is more to the story of Sandra H. Brock of Staunton, Virginia, than first glance reveals – proof that one cannot judge a near-death scenario solely by its description. You must investigate before and after conditions in the person’s life to reach any kind of meaningful context within which to consider the experience (pages 36-39, paperback version, “BEYOND THE LIGHT”):
“I had a stomach stapling in 1980 and, in the process, had to have a deformed spleen removed. I hemorrhaged on the operating table, and the doctor said that at three times he thought he was going to lose me. The first day after surgery I had to have transfusions. During one of the transfusions I started feeling really weird. I felt like if I shut my eyes I would never open them again. I called a nurse. Of course, she said it was all in my head, and left the room. I remember she just walked out the door and I started being pulled through a tunnel. It was a terrible experience because all I could see were people from my past, people who were already dead, who had done or said something to me that had hurt me in one way or another. They were laughing and screaming, until I thought I could not stand it. I begged and begged that I be allowed to go back. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel but I never really got close to it. All of a sudden I was back in my bed, just thankful I had not died.”
Brock, as it turns out, has had several near-death-type experiences, scattered over a long life.
“My mother told me that when she found she was pregnant with me, she prayed that I would die. They were just coming out of the depression and they already had a baby and could not afford another. When I was born, I was born with a harelip. Mother thought that was her punishment for wanting me dead. Within several days, and without any surgery, my harelip healed itself, and to this day I do not carry a scar. She also told me that when I was only a few weeks old, she came to my bassinet and found me not breathing. I had already turned purple. She grabbed me, shook me, and blew in my face until I started breathing again. I don’t remember this experience, but I do remember being in a bassinet that had no liner. I remember studying my hands and what my hands looked like as an infant. My mother said I couldn’t possibly remember this, but I did, and I was right.”
2. Gloria Hipple of Blakeslee near death testimony
Gloria Hipple of Blakeslee, Pennsylvania, was brought to my attention by Gracia Fay Ellwood (an individual who is investigating hell-like near-death scenarios – refer to pages 32-36, paperback version, “BEYOND THE LIGHT”):
“My incident took place in August of 1955. I had been taken to Middlesex Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, due to a miscarriage. Placed in a ward because I was a military dependent, the doctor who was to care for me never came. I was placed at a forty-five-degree angle due to bleeding and was left that way for almost eight days. No one heard my pleas. By the eighth day, I could not hear anyone, my eyes could not see, and I was later told that my body temperature registered 87.6 degrees. I should have been dead.
“I recall being pulled down into a spinning vortex. At first, I did not know what was happening. Then I realized my body was being drawn downward, head first. I panicked and fought, trying to grab at the sides of the vortex. All I could think of was my two children. No one would care for them. I pleaded, Please, not now, but I kept moving downward.
“I tried to see something, but all there was to see was this cyclonic void that tapered into a funnel. I kept grabbing at the sides but my fingers had nothing to grasp. Terror set in, true terror. I saw a black spot, darker than the funnel and like a black curtain, falling in front of me. Then there was a white dot, like a bright light at the end of the funnel. But as I grew closer, it was a small white skull. It became larger, grinning at me with bare sockets and gaping mouth, and traveling straight toward me like a baseball. Not only was I terrified, I was really livid, too. I struggled to grab hold of anything to keep me from falling, but the skull loomed larger. ‘My kids, my baby is so little. My little boy, he’s only two years old. No!’ My words rang in my head and ears. With a bellowing yell, I screamed: ‘No! damn it, no! Let me go. My babies need me! No! No! No! No!’
“The skull shattered into fragments and I slowed in movement. A white light, the brightest light I have ever known or will ever see again was in place of the skull. It was so bright yet it did not blind me. It was a welcome, calming light. The black spot or curtain was gone. I felt absolute peace of mind and sensed myself floating upward, and I was back. I heard my husband calling me, off in the distance. I opened my eyes but could not see him. Two doctors were at the foot of my bed – both were angry and compassionate at the same time. I was taken to the operating room, given several pints of blood, and was released one week later.
3. Ernest Hemingway near death experience
What happened to the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway is an example of the typical brief or initial near-death experience. During World War I, Hemingway was wounded by shrapnel while fighting on the banks of the river Piave, near Fossalta, Italy. He convalesced in Milan. In a letter from there to his family, he made this cryptic statement: “Dying is a very simple thing. I’ve looked at death and really I know.” Years later, Hemingway explained to a friend what had occurred on that fateful night in 1918 (pages 23-24, paperback version, “BEYOND THE LIGHT”):
“A big Austrian trench mortar bomb, of the type that used to be called ash cans, exploded in the darkness. I died then. I felt my soul or something coming right out of my body, like you’d pull a silk handkerchief out of a pocket by one corner. It flew around and then came back and went in again and I wasn’t dead anymore.”
Hemingway remained deeply affected by this out-of-body/initial near-death experience throughout his life, and was never again as “hard-boiled” as he once had been. “A FAREWELL TO ARMS” contains a passage where the character Frederic Henry undergoes the same confrontation with death that Hemingway did:
“I ate the end of my piece of cheese and took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh – then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind. I tried to breathe but my breath would not come and I felt myself rush bodily out of myself and out and out and out and all the time bodily in the wind. I went out swiftly, all of myself, and I knew I was dead and that it had all been a mistake to think you just died. Then I floated, and instead of going on I felt myself slide back. I breathed and I was back.”
4. Bryce Bond testimony of near death experience
I found that both adults and children occasionally report being greeted on The Other Side by animals, especially if favored pets have previously died. But it is the children who describe an animal heaven, some even insisting that they must go through it before they can reach the heaven where people are. Adult cases can be equally compelling.
Several years before his death, Bryce Bond, a famous New York City media personality turned parapsychologist, shared with me the story of what happened to him when he once collapsed after a violent allergic reaction to pine nuts and was rushed to a hospital. He remembered suddenly passing through a long tunnel toward a brilliant light, and then (pages 13-14, paperback version, “BEYOND THE LIGHT”):
“I hear a bark, and racing toward me is a dog I once had, a black poodle named Pepe. When I see him, I feel an emotional floodgate open. Tears fill my eyes. He jumps into my arms, licking my face. As I hold him, he is real, more real than I had ever experienced him. I can smell him, feel him, hear his breathing, and sense his great joy at being with me again.
“I put my dog on the ground, and step forward to embrace my stepfather, when a very strong voice is heard in my consciousness. Not yet, it says. I scream out, Why? Then this inner voice says, What have you learned, and whom have you helped? I am dumb-founded. The voice seems to be from without as well as within. Everything stops for a moment. I have to think of what was asked of me. I cannot answer what I have learned, but I can answer whom I have helped.
“I feel the presence of my dog around me as I ponder those two questions. Then I hear barking, and other dogs appear, dogs I once had. As I stand there for what seems to be an eternity. I want to embrace and be absorbed and merge. I want to stay. The sensation of not wanting to come back is overwhelming.”
Bryce was also greeted by all of his relatives who had passed on before him. He experienced these loved ones as somewhat younger in form and face than when he had last seen them, healthier and happier. He remembered racing backward through the same tunnel he had entered when it was time to leave and reviving in time to witness a hypodermic needle being plunged into his arm. “I heard a voice say, ‘Welcome back.’ I never asked who said that nor did I care. I was told by the doctor that I had been dead for over ten minutes.”
5. Robin Michelle Halberdier Testimony
The case of Robin Michelle Halberdier of Texas City, Texas, illustrates the overwhelming sense of love experiencers often encounter in the light. Her near-death episode took place in a hospital when she was between one and two months of age. Born prematurely, and with Hyaline Membrane disease, she was not expected to live (pages 12-13, paperback version, “BEYOND THE LIGHT”):
“My first visual memory was looking forward and seeing a brilliant bright light, almost like looking directly at the sun. The strange thing was that I could see my feet in front of me, as if I were floating upward in a vertical position. I do not remember passing through a tunnel or anything like that, just floating in the beautiful light. A tremendous amount of warmth and love came from the light.
“There was a standing figure in the light, shaped like a normal human being, but with no distinct facial features. It had a masculine presence. The light I have described seemed like it emanated from that figure. Light rays shone all around him. I felt very protected and safe and loved.
“The figure in the light told me through what I now know to be mental telepathy that I must go back, that it was not time for me to come here. I wanted to stay because I felt so full of joy and so peaceful. The voice repeated that it wasn’t my time; I had a purpose to fulfill and I could come back after I completed it.