Near Death Experiences, Part 4
After this I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1
Last week, I began reviewing some of the common elements in reports of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs), which I continue this week.
Alternate communication. Communication between beings is different in the afterlife. A common recollection is that although no earthly words are exchanged, there is no difficulty or ambiguity in understanding exactly what someone else is communicating. It is as if thoughts can be read, so once one thinks a message, it is delivered and received instantaneously and accurately. This is a frightening thought for most of us on earth, but the culture of mutual love and respect in the afterlife makes thought-reading an effective means of communication.
Messages for the living. It was not uncommon for the person having the NDE to receive a message for a loved one, a message for humanity in general, or a task or tasks to work on when they returned. One man’s late uncle told him to tell his father (the dead man’s brother) to lighten up and not take life so seriously. Another person met (in the afterlife) the daughter of a living woman she didn’t know, but serendipitously met soon after returning from her NDE. Many people felt guided to spread the message that love underlies everything on earth and that we need not worry so much. Others, during their life review, committed to apologizing to and reconciling with those they had hurt from their past action. Jeremy Kagan, a filmmaker, returned to earthly life with three lessons to share:
- Consciousness does not end with death.
- We are not just our bodies.
- We are all one being.
An emotional experience. Many of the NDEs remained deeply emotional and vivid for those experiencing them, even decades after the event. Some were reluctant to share their experience widely because it was so intensely personal. Many felt vulnerable in telling of their experience, fearing others might think less of them, consider them deranged, or otherwise belittle the deeply intimate event.
Influence of earthly beliefs. It appears to me that how one describes their NDE, and perhaps what they experience, is influenced by their earthly beliefs. It is common, though not exclusive, for Christians to describe the beings they encountered as God or Jesus or angels, sometimes following the contemporary descriptions of heaven. One person described experiencing what he imagined to be hell, although once he realized his image of hell was just his idea, his hellish experience transformed into something more consistent with other, more pleasant NDE accounts. My grandmother’s experience, though not technically an NDE, was one of angels singing on clouds and reunions with long-dead loved ones, which was very consistent with her religious beliefs.
Distressing NDEs. Not all NDEs are a pleasant experience for the folks having them, although the reports of distressing NDEs are rare by comparison. One person had a sense of annihilation and being thrown into a deep, dark void. The most distressing part of the majority of reported NDEs was in the returning to life on earth, however.
In last week’s Life Note, I mentioned the apparent warping of time and space in NDEs. After my dad’s sudden death I was plagued by a series of dreams where I would be aware that my dad was present, but out of my view. I would rush to where I knew him to be and find that he had just left. No one else in the dream was upset, as if my dad’s disappearance was a normal occurrence for them. For me, I desperately wanted to see my dad again, even if only in a dream. Several years later, I had another dream where my sister and I were sitting on the couch looking out the window when dad drove up and got out of the car with two bags of groceries. As I watched him approach, I woke up. I believe the message from this strange series of dreams is that from the time-perspective of one on the other side of this life, dying is no more significant than a trip to the grocery store in this life. In the scheme of eternity, the days, weeks, and decades we spend missing and grieving a deceased loved one are but the briefest of moments when experienced from the other side. This thought brings me comfort, as I hope it does for you.
This is the 24th in the series of Life Notes titled, If I Should Die Before I Wake. I invite your thoughts, insights, and feedback via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through my website, www.ContemplatingGrace.com. At the website, you can also sign up to have these reflections delivered to your Inbox every Thursday morning, if you are not receiving them in another manner.
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