Imagine this. You’re working in a hospice, and one person there that you’ve taken a liking to is a former Merchant Marine who is dying of stomach cancer.
Let’s call him Ron. One day you are sitting at his bedside reading to him and suddenly you feel a great force take hold of you. Before you know it, you are floating in the air, as if you are somehow out of your body. But guess what, there is another ghostly body floating in the air. It’s Ron, and he looks at you and smiles. He looks very content indeed as if trying to tell you that he’s A-OK with clocking out and getting a new room in the afterlife.
Suddenly you feel yourself drop as if your soul has joined your body again. On the bed next to you is Ron. He takes a few more breaths and dies. The End.
Today is about as far out as it gets, and when this is finished, you might well think very differently about life, and death.
Ron was real, well, according to William Peters, the man who was volunteering at a hospice when his soul left his body. As you can imagine, William was a bit freaked out by what happened, as anyone would be. He talked to his friends about it and was like, dude, I left my body today. His friends were like, dude, go easy on the ketamine. But William knew that he’d experienced something earth-shattering, and so he started to research the matter. It was no small deal of course. If that is true, then science needs to do some explaining and atheists might want to start revising their convictions.
Shared Death Experience
What William found out was that what he’d experienced was something that other people have experienced, and the term for it is a “shared-death experience.” Before we talk about people who’ve seen incredible, mind-blowing things after they died and came back, let’s first look into shared near-death experiences.
First, you need to know that the term was coined by a guy named Raymond Moody. He spent two decades researching what happens on the other side, and during his research, he realized that quite a few folks walk down tunnels towards a bright light, but some people meet other spiritual beings just before they kick the bucket.
Raymond said he never quite bought the idea of near-death experiences being the consequence of something called “anoxia”, a lack of oxygen in the brain that leads to tripping out for a few seconds. He said that this is unlikely, and how do you explain people who are perfectly healthy doing a jig with the dying? “We don’t have that option in shared-death experiences because the bystanders aren’t ill or injured, and yet they experience the same kind of things,” said Raymond in an interview. We should add here that most shared death experiences are different from Bill’s in that people dream of the person dying, and when they wake up that person in the dream is dead.
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This has happened a lot. It happened to the American artist, Caledonia Curry. This is what she said, “I opened the window, and the snow started to come through my body, transforming into points of light that bloomed into these intricate snow blossoms. I heard my mom’s voice talking to me, and I was filled with a very profound sense of wellbeing and love. I woke up weeping, my face covered in tears.” A few hours later, her sister called to tell her that her mom was dead. Do a bit of research, and you can find stories like this all over the web.
Ok, so now the skeptics take the floor and grab the mic. “Ladies and gentlemen,” they say, “There’s nothing to see here. Don’t rush back to church too fast and put a hold on that Paranormal club membership payment.” They say, “The reason this happens, and we agree it happens, is just because they are traumatized, not enough oxygen is getting to their brain, or they are affected by medicine, or they are simply dreaming. All these things can do strange things to the mind.” “Really,” quip the folks that have experienced this, “Your scientific explanation for Ron floating in the air and people dying in dreams with their loved ones is that grief did it?
Hmm, it sounds to me that because science can’t explain this phenomenon you are just blaming temporary madness or a brain that isn’t working right. That’s too easy. It’s a cop-out.” Back to Raymond Moody. He went on to obtain a PhD in psychology and became a forensic psychiatrist and philosopher. He was an academic and later he became a writer, a writer who wrote a lot about deathbed experiences. He wrote a book about this called “Life After Life” and in it he details scores of cases where folks were clinically dead but went on a bit of a jaunt.
Raymond also believes in past lives, having had nine of them himself. Have you ever had déjà vu? Well, that might be because you had a past life, according to Raymond. Anyway, he started writing the book after speaking to a psychiatrist named Dr. George Ritchie. George, now dead, explained that when he was 20 he died for nine and a bit minutes. He was pronounced dead twice by the doctor, but the stubborn man didn’t give up the ghost. He came back to life eventually, but only after he got a Pulp Fiction-esque stab in the heart with adrenaline.
So, what happened during those nine minutes?
Well, believe it or not, he claims to have met the guy that stars in the thriller book called the bible. Yep, he came face to face with Jesus Christ. Christ took him on a journey through space and time, which was a bit of a trip because there were all kinds of dimensions. He once said, “Death is nothing more than a doorway, something you walk through.” Some folks have questioned the validity of this guy’s experience. They’ve said, he was American and Christian, so isn’t it just perfects that JC rules the universe, why not Buddha, or Krishna, or Thor?
Imagine nine minutes hanging out with Thor, how cool would that be… Ok, back to being serious. Raymond – still alive and kicking – included over 150 cases of near-death experiences in his book. This book by the way has sold over 13 million copies and is kind of the bible of NDEs. This is the lowdown on them: Many folks feel peace when released. Being dead is like being on molly, people tend to feel ecstatic. Many of them come out of their bodies and go someplace. Many walk down a dark tunnel, and for some folks, there’s a bright light at the end of that tunnel. Some others meet another being, just like George met the son of God. Some go back to their past, and others visit a land of sheer beauty.
We should say that Raymond said he had his own NDE after he tried to take his own life. Empiricists don’t believe a word of it, or rather, they don’t deny those people had that wonderful experience, but they say it has nothing to do with an afterlife. Listen on, and then you can tell us what you think about this. Maybe some things just can’t be scientifically explained. Perhaps that’s what the Society for Psychical Research in London believed in the 1800s when they wrote about what they called “death-bed visions”. The main author of that paper was named William Barrett.
In the early 20th century he was a professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. His wife was an obstetrician, and she saw a lot of women die in childbirth. Barrett spent decades listening to her stories and trying to understand strange things that happened when people died, or just before they died. He wrote a book about it, but he died a year before the book came out.
So, what’s in the book, you’re wondering?
Here is one story. One woman who was on her deathbed said she saw her sister, Vera. She held out her hand and said hello, but what the dying woman didn’t know is that her sister had passed away some three weeks earlier. Anyhow, she got reacquainted and then expired herself. According to that book, that kind of thing happened to lots of people. Later in the 1970s, a researcher named Karlis Osis decided to do a deep dive into deathbed visions, but Karlis wondered how they went down in non-Christian societies as well as Christian societies – mainly Christian, we should say. Karlis wrote that in the U.S. a woman was on her deathbed, pretty much comatose, but suddenly she just sat up and had a huge grin on her face. She said, “Oh, Katie, Katie” as if looking at someone. She then flopped down and died.
It turned out she had a friend and an aunt both named Katie. But in India, things were a bit different for the most part. Dying folks did have visions, but they weren’t often of mere people. Much of the time they met Gods, especially Hindu Gods. Karlis wrote that a lot of folks claimed to meet Lord Yama, aka, The God of Death. They said hello and then they died. Perhaps the weirdest thing that Karlis wrote about was some guy in a Muslim hospital in India. He was actually Christian, which isn’t uncommon in India. So, this man, in his fifties, was about to be released from the hospital after being treated for a broken hip. The doctor said the man was in good health but then complained of a pain in his chest. The doctor said don’t worry, you’ll be fine, after which the man said, “I am going to die.” “How do you know that,” asked the doctor. The guy told him that he’d just seen Jesus and Jesus waved him over. After JC left the room, the guy told the doctor he was going to die. He said he had just a few minutes left, and get this, he was right. His last words were, “I am going.”
As for the Hindu experience, one guy in an Indian hospital was in because of a high fever caused by an infectious disease. One day he just sat up in bed and said, “Somebody is standing there! He has a cart with him so he must be a Yamdoot! He must be taking someone with him. He is teasing me that he is going to take me!” What’s a Yamdoot, you are thinking. The answer is a messenger of death in the Hindu religion. Anyway, the guy then said that someone was pulling him out of bed, and he asked a nurse to help him. It was too late, Yamadoot had him. He croaked there and then. Ok, you’re thinking, these people are just hallucinating. It happens, people lose the plot sometimes. They see things.
Hold your horses you dogged skeptic, haven’t you heard of something called terminal lucidity?
We guess you haven’t. It’s quite a strange phenomenon. What happens is a person is very ill, physically or mentally, but they suddenly become better… and then they die. They might be suffering from a severe psychiatric or neurological disorder, unable to do anything, never mind communicate, but just before they pop their clogs they get up and seem totally normal, like completely fixed, talkative, happy, not sick at all. It’s as if they are allowed one last goodbye before they conk. Some folks have even come out of comas and said “Hey, whassup everybody,” and then they die. It’s weird, and science has never really been able to explain why it happens. People have been writing about this going back to ancient times, with some scholars saying the re-emerged seemed “spiritualized and elated.” It’s as if they know they are going to die, but with the help of something they get to bid farewell and not dribble phlegm down their chin while doing it.
According to the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, these reawakened people bite the dust in a few days after their terminal lucidity and some of them go within hours or minutes. In one case a guy had been catatonic for 20 years. One day he stood up, looked normal, and then he checked out. In the UK a 92-year-old woman living in a nursing home had suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease for many years. During the later years she didn’t know where she was, who she was, who her family was…she didn’t know anything. She was pretty much not in this world. But guess what, one day she just turned back to normal. She recalled her past, could have long conversations, knew all her family, and reminisced with them. She was happy, talkative, perfectly normal, and then she just passed away.
The researchers who wrote about this said it happened a lot. The last case, the strangest of all, was in Germany. It sounds unbelievable, and there are those that doubt it happened, but it is a fact that respected physicians witnessed it and wrote about it. It’s about a 26-year-old woman named Anna Katharina Ehmer. She was committed to an asylum and was looked after by two well-known physicians. This woman had been severely retarded from birth, never able to talk, never able to properly feed herself, and she pooed and peed herself every day. Doctors said she was like a wild animal, never really aware of what was happening around her.
Ok, this is going to blow you away.
So, one day she was in a hospital bed after having her leg amputated because of osseous tuberculosis. Her family were there because the doctors said she wasn’t going to make it. This woman, this woman that had never said a single word or recognized a family member, suddenly started chatting with everyone there. She was overjoyed, intelligent, and happily talked about life. Doctors said she looked like she was enjoying spiritual ecstasy. For half an hour she talked and laughed and smiled so wide. She then started singing a song that went like this, “Where does the soul find its home, its peace? Peace, peace, heavenly peace!’” Half an hour later,
she was dead. This is a true story, has been talked about in journals, and no one, we mean no one, has ever been able to explain what happened. In fact, The Scientific American wrote that it was speculated that most scientists have shied away from that case and similar cases just because they don’t meld well with scientific materialism. Can you explain it?