Monday, November 30, 2020

NDEs are not hallucinations

Psychologist Kenneth Ring notes that in every NDE he have considered, “the individual encounters some kind of a presence within the Light, someone or something that gives the impression of having an omniscient knowledge of the person and an infinite solicitude for his or her welfare and future well-being.

“When we nearly die, then, we find that we are not alone and presumably have never been alone. We have someone or something that appears to guide us benevolently, albeit invisibly, in our life on this earth, but that can intervene at critical moments and, as in the near-death state, manifest clearly into our awareness. This in itself is profoundly reassuring.

Ring counters the critics who claim these experiences are hallucinations by citing examples of detailed perceptions by NDE survivors that were verified. An audiologist, whose myopic vision meant he couldn’t see much without his glasses, had during military service the following OBE experience—without his glasses on.

I had had a spinal injury and was undergoing what was supposed to have been an uncomplicated cleansing and scraping procedure [when complications developed]. I sensed something turning sour in my system and literally yelled in my mind, ‘Hey, guys, you’re losing me!’ [Then] I just floated upward to the top of the canvas tent and looked down at the scene. I saw the dust on the supposedly clean and sterile OR lights, someone just outside smoking a cigarette, the near-panic of the medical staff, and the expression of the big, black Air Force corpsman who was called to come in to forklift me in his arms while others beat me on my back. He had a clearly discernible scar on the top of his closely cropped head, in the form of a small cross. He was the only one not wearing a facemask, having been summoned on the spur of the moment.

A South African man with double pneumonia was in hospital and became friendly with a nurse. Later, he told Ring:

While I was in a coma (and I believe clinically dead), my friend, the nurse, was killed in an automobile accident. I met her on the Other Side. She asked me to return, promised I would meet a loving wife, and asked that I tell her parents she still loved them and was sorry she wrecked her twenty-first birthday present (a red MGB). Needless to say, when I told the nursing staff upon my return that I knew Nurse van Wyk had been killed and the car she had been killed in was a red MGB (something only her parents knew) while I was “dead,” people started to sit up and take notice.

Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience (Insight Books, 1998; Moment Point Press, 2006), 64-68.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Steve's near-death experience transformed his life

Steve also shared his experience with Kenneth Ring’s class on NDEs. Ring explains: “In 1975, when Steve was twenty-four, he underwent oral surgery in which some impacted wisdom teeth were to be removed. Before the procedure, Steve was injected with a sedative in his left arm and was later given sodium pentothal. That did not seem to take, and the surgeon, with some exasperation, then injected a total of four cartridges. After the surgery was completed—some two hours later!—Steve was taken to a windowless, postoperative recovery room and, while there, had his experience.

I awakened from the surgery, blinded by a river of white light. I thought it was an aftereffect of the general anesthesia. I thought it was odd that it pushed beyond my optic nerve and went through my entire body. I immediately rose to my feet and looked at the nurse who had helped me up.

She wasn’t a nurse. She was clothed in light, extraordinarily beautiful and loving. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, and I almost cry when I think about it. The light that shone from the center of her was gloriously beautiful. I looked back and down at my body, still lying on the recovery couch under a blanket. Here I was, standing beside a being of light, looking at my body.

Before I reasoned it through, she intercepted my thoughts. ‘Don’t worry, you’re not dead. You’re quite alive. Your heart is still beating. Look!’ I looked. I could see the chambers emptying and filling with blood. I could see the vascular system and the life-sustaining materials working their way through the entire body.

She had a veil of energy at her back, which separated her world from mine. She said, ‘It’s a one-way path. If you go through there, you can’t come back here. Your life will be over, and you won’t have done the things you need to do.’ Brilliant shards of light in all colors danced around the opening. They appeared and disappeared, as if the light energy was being fragmented and shattered at the contact point between two worlds at different energy levels.

She showed me some details about my children [who were not yet born] and revealed a view of another woman even more lovely and desirable—the wife I was married to. She then said it was time to return, that my breathing had stabilized, and that my nervous system was able to work on its own. I saw her light begin to withdraw from me as she retreated from my view. This light persisted for two or three seconds as I awakened, while my wife was holding my face in her hands.

The NDE changed Steve’s life. I felt tremendously ignorant. I started buying books. I filled up notebooks on histories of different nations, on archeology, and on philosophies. I found I could memorize and play a Bach prelude and fugue with only a few hours of preparation, whereas before I had to struggle for weeks to learn a piece of music.

My family found my changed viewpoint unbearable. My ability to see the future, and my tendency to react and answer the private thoughts and intentions of my father’s business associates, rather than their outward, polished manners, was very disturbing to everyone.

I can’t watch TV cop shows. I think it’s obscene to show a killing without remorse. My teenagers and I have a running battle about their TV selections.

I love God more than anything. But I almost can’t go to church. I can’t relate to the shame and guilt in the lessons. The discussions on guilt and sin don’t hold any relevance for me, and don’t make me happy. They don’t fit into any of the experiences I’ve had. I tried opening these subjects gently and cautiously with local church leaders, but they didn’t respond well.


Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience (Insight Books, 1998; Moment Point Press, 2006), 36-40.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Her NDE "life review" filled her with compassion

Psychologist Kenneth Ring writes: “For the past ten years I have been teaching a course on the near-death experience (NDE) at my university. Every semester, thirty-five to forty young undergraduates arrive at my classroom on the first day of the new term, usually somewhat nervous about taking such an offbeat course but generally enthusiastic and curious about the topic that has already excited their interest.

Ring invited Laurelynn Glass Martin to share her NDE with his class. “Laurelynn, who is now in her thirties, began by explaining how her life changed when she was a senior in college. She had gone into the hospital to have what was supposed to be a routine twenty-minute laparoscopic surgical procedure. However, her physician, as she learned later, exerted undue force making the initial incision, puncturing her abdominal aorta, her right iliac artery, the inferior vena cava, and her bowel in two places, ultimately hitting her vertebral spine. As a result, Laurelynn lost almost 60 percent of her blood—and her pulse and, obviously, nearly her life.

Without any warning, Laurelynn recalls, she suddenly found herself floating above her physical body, off to the right side, observing with detachment, the efforts of the medical team to revive her lifeless form.

The surgical team was frantic. Red was everywhere, splattered on their gowns, splattered on the floor, and a bright pool of flowing red blood, in the now-wide-open abdominal cavity. I couldn’t understand what was going on down there. I didn’t even make the connection, at that moment, that the body being worked on was my own. It didn’t matter anyway. I was in a state of freedom, having a great time.

I then traveled to another realm of total and absolute peace. There was no pain, but instead a sense of well being, in a warm, dark, soft space. I was enveloped by total bliss in an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance. The darkness was beautiful, stretching on and on. The freedom of total peace was intensified beyond any ecstatic feeling ever felt here on earth. In the distance, I saw a horizon of whitish-yellowish light. I find it very difficult to describe where I was, because the words we know here in this plane just aren’t adequate enough.

I was admiring the beauty of the light but never got any closer because next I felt a presence approaching from my right, upper side. I was feeling even more peaceful and happy, especially when I discovered it was my thirty-year-old brother-in-law who had died seven months earlier. Although I couldn’t see with my eyes or hear with my ears, I instinctively knew it was him.

He didn’t have a physical form, but a presence. I could feel, hear, and see his smile, laughter, and sense of humor. It was as if I had come home, and my brother-in-law was there to greet me. I instantly thought how glad I was to be with him because now I could make up for the last time I had seen him before his death. I felt bad about not taking the time out of my busy schedule to have a heart-to-heart talk with him when he had asked me to. I felt no remorse now, but total acceptance and love from him about my actions.

“Reflecting on her behavior toward her brother-in-law seems to lead Laurelynn back further into her life and, before she knows it, events from her childhood begin to appear to her, all at once, yet in chronological order. In one, she says: I had teased a little girl my own age (five years old) to the point of tears. I was now in a unique position to feel what that little girl had felt. Her frustration, her tears, and her feeling of separateness were now my feelings. I felt a tremendous amount of compassion for this child. I hadn’t realized that by hurting another, I was really just hurting myself.

Other thoughts were conveyed to me, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow; now I get it. Everything about our existence makes sense.’ I finally got around to questioning my brother-in-law (not with words but more [like] transference) about what was happening and asked him if I could stay. He told me it wasn’t my time yet, that there had been a mistake, and that I had to go back. I remember thinking, ‘Okay, I’ll go back, but I know how I can get back up here.’

At the same instant, his thoughts were mine, saying: ‘You can’t take your own life (suicide). That isn’t the answer, that won’t do it. You have to live your life’s purpose.’ I understood, but I still remember thinking, I don’t want to go back, and his thought came to me, saying, ‘It’s okay; we’re not going anywhere. We’ll be here for you again.’ The last thought of his was ‘Tell your sister I’m fine.’

I felt myself going back, dropping downward through darkness. I didn’t feel that I had a choice and was slammed into my body. I couldn’t believe I was returning to such a hellish environment, but then the beauty of the experience flooded back to me, giving me the most serene peace and calm I could hope for under the circumstances.

After the NDE, value changes came. I felt that the materialism and external stuff that was a big focus before just didn’t matter anymore. My priorities in life took a complete turnaround. I felt there was a purpose for my life, even down to the smallest detail of being kind to others spontaneously and freely, loving more deeply, [and] being nonjudgmental and accepting of one’s self and others. I also got a strong message about the importance of always seeking knowledge. I no longer fear death and, in fact, will welcome it when it is the right time—and that’s only for the universal, supreme power to decide. Until then, though, I try to enjoy each day like it’s my last and live more consciously in the moment.

Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience (Insight Books, 1998; Moment Point Press, 2006), 27-32.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The NDE experience of grace

Kenneth Ring is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, co-founder of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS), and founding editor of the Journal of Near-Death Studies. His other books about near-death experiences include Life at Death (2013), Heading toward Omega (2012), The Omega Project (2012) and Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind (2008), and Lessons from the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience.

Ring is an early NDE researcher who also taught a course about NDEs for many years at the University of Connecticut. In his course and in this book he argues that sharing NDEs with others may provide some of the emotional and spiritual benefits, and even personality changes, that have been verified as likely for NDE survivors. In other words, a person doesn’t have to have an NDE but may be influenced by hearing about NDEs to lose their fear of death, or to be convinced that death is not a time of divine judgment. I know pondering my father’s experience and reading about NDEs have affected me in these ways, and this is in large part why I am trying to share these experiences with my children and grandchildren.

Bruce Greyson, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, writes in a Forward to the 1998 edition of Lessons from the Light: “If any one person can claim to be an authority on near-death experiences (NDEs) without having had one, that person must surely be Kenneth Ring. Ken dares to writes frankly in these pages about the meaning of NDEs, inferring teleological conclusions from his empirical studies. In violating the scientistic taboo against mentioning such concepts as meaning and purpose, Ken honestly confronts a topic most scientists pretend plays no role in their thinking. As the biologist Ernest William von Brück put it more than a hundred years ago, ‘Teleology is a lady without whom no biologist can live. Yet he is ashamed to show himself with her in public.’

Some theologians “have decried NDEs for holding out the false promise of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called ‘cheap grace,’ the unconditional forgiveness of sins without any required contrition. ‘Cheap grace,’ wrote Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship, ‘is the deadly enemy of the Church.’ But is that in fact what NDEs promise, or is that a misreading of its message?

In reality the grace that is bestowed upon NDErs comes hand in hand with a very costly discipleship. The unconditional love NDErs report in their experience does not by any means gloss over their sins or excuse their future behavior. Quite to the contrary, NDErs experience firsthand in their NDEs the painful consequences of their sinful behavior, and return to earthly life as confirmed disciples, who understand from their own experience that their behavior does indeed matter, far more than they could have imagined."

Bruce Greyson, 1998 Forward in Lessons from the Light, xv-xix. The photo above is Greyson.
Greyson is a co-author of Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), a book that Eben Alexander highly recommends in Proof of Heaven, his NDE account.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

NDEs may be shared "transpersonal experiences"

Neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick writes: “William of Occam’s proposition that the simplest explanation is usually the best is as valid today as it was in the fourteenth century. It is logical to assume that one brain mechanism underpins both NDEs and mystical experiences, rather than to argue that one of them—the NDE—has quite a different explanation. If we accept that the NDE is a form of mystical experience, it explains at least some of the things that have puzzled us. It explains why not everybody who is near death has one, and why there is no common cause.

“But the major question still remains unanswered. How is it that this coherent, highly structured experience sometimes occurs during unconsciousness, when it is impossible to postulate an organized sequence of events in a disordered brain? One is forced to the conclusion that either science is missing a fundamental link which would explain this, or organized experiences can arise in a disorganized brain, or that some forms of experience are transpersonal—that is, they depend on a mind which is not inextricably bound up with a brain.

“This is a story that was told to me by the niece of an old lady who was an old family friend. Some years ago the old lady lay peacefully dying, at home, in her own bed. Her niece, who was looking after her, was sleeping in a room just along the corridor. She left the doors of both rooms open so that she could easily hear her aunt if she called. During the night the niece woke and saw light outside her door. Thinking that a light had been left switched on, she got out of bed and saw that the light was streaming from the door of her aunt’s room. As she entered the room she saw that the light was surrounding her aunt. As she watched, the light slowly faded and her aunt died.

"When I was told this story it reminded me of a letter I had received from a mother who was at the hospital bed of her dying child. She too had described seeing a light full of pure love shining from and surrounding her child as he finally died. Now, one has to think very differently about a light, which can be seen only by the dying person and one, which seems to emanate from them, which others can see.

“These accounts seem to show that the NDE may not be just a private experience, but part of a common world that we can all experience,” Fenwick suggests. Also, “These experiences could suggest a different reality and a different model of the universe; one in which there is an interconnectedness between people both before and after death. But unless mind and brain are separate it is difficult to see how this can be.

“If we accept the subjective experience of the people who gave these accounts, then we have to accept that what happens to the dying person can in some way affect those around them; that the NDE can sometimes be a shared experience rather than just a personal one. One mind seems to be affecting another mind directly—and this is not something that is built into or can be accounted for by any of the scientific theories we’ve looked at so far. We have to look for some quite different theory of mind.

“We’ve been assuming that everything is created within the brain. An alternative view is that everything is transmitted through the brain. William James was one of the strongest exponents of the transmission theory. He described in his book Human Immortality (1898) the idea that beyond the ‘veil of reality’ in this world, and particularly beyond the brain, there is a transcendent reality in which the soul may live. He argued that it is the brain, which transmits and modifies the beam of consciousness.

“We have seen that the NDE is both timeless and independent of death; that it seems to be part of the spectrum of normal human experience. For many people the NDE is a profound spiritual experience. It makes them value life without clinging to it, appreciate each day as though it was their last."


Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick, The Truth in the Light: An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Berkeley Books, 1997).


The Art of Dying (2008) by Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick “looks at how other cultures have dealt with death and the dying process (The Tibetan ‘death system,’ Swedenborg, etc.). They compare these practices with phenomena reported through recent scientific research. The book also describes the experiences of health care workers involved with end of life issues who feel that they need a better understanding of the dying process, and more training in how to help their patients die well by overcoming the common barriers to a good death—such as unfinished business and unresolved emotions of guilt or hate.” 

The first 41 minutes of this excellent and very informative video  has an update on Fenwick’s research and reflections as of August 24, 2014. Fenwick describes the dying process and its similarities with NDEs. He draws on and affirms end of life experiences (ELEs) and describes the transition during dying, from our ordinary consciousness of experiencing the duality of subject and objects to a non-duality experience of consciousness that characterizes NDEs as well as dying.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Are NDEs simply vivid dreams?

Neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick writes: “We have seen that during dreaming, brain physiology is highly organized, and this makes it unlikely that NDEs occurring when the brain is damaged and malfunctioning are simply dreams. Can we also argue that even when the brain is functioning normally there are psychological aspects of the NDE that make dreaming an unlikely explanation?

“The first difficulty is that if the NDE is only a dream it is odd that so many people experience the same, or at any rate very similar dreams. Also, most dreams “do not have the sense of absolute reality which is such a hallmark of the NDE. Finally, I think we also have to accept that subjectively, the NDE does not feel like a dream. Everybody knows what a dream feels like; the people who descried these NDE experiences remain convinced that what happened to them was not a dream.”

“We set out to test the NDE for ‘reality’ in a scientific way,” he continues. “But there are aspects of the experience, which simply don’t fit into our scientific paradigm and which seem to be inconsistent with a physical or even a psychological phenomenon. There remains the possibility,” however, “that the NDE is a mystical experience, and that it originates in a transcendental reality.

“One way of testing this is to look at some experiences in which it seems very unlikely that there is either a physical or psychological mechanism at work. Mrs Frances Barnshey was one of the few people who described an experience, which seems to have arisen quite spontaneously.

I was in bed, recovering from ‘flu, reading. I began to feel very relaxed and peaceful. I’ve never felt like that either before or since that experience. I put down my book as I could hear my husband and two children moving about downstairs, getting tea ready, and I remember thinking, ‘Lovely, there’s going to be a cup of tea in a minute,’ and just at that point I felt myself shoot up out of my body, through the crown of my head of my head at the most terrific speed, like being fired from a rocket. I was out in space, no dark tunnel, and I thought, this is how the birds must feel, so free.

I was actually like a kite on an endless string, which I could feel attached between my shoulder blades. I couldn’t see any kind of body belonging to me, I seemed to be mind and emotions only, but I felt more vital, more myself than I’ve felt in my life at any time before or since. I found myself traveling towards this tremendous light, so bright that it would have blinded me if I’d looked at it here, but there it was different. I reached the light, which was all round me. I saw no one and heard no one, but I knew I wasn’t alone, and I felt this wonderful love enfolding me and understanding me. No matter what my faults, what I’d done or hadn’t done, the light loved me unconditionally.

I so wanted to stay there, but I was told that this couldn’t be, I had to go back, and then I felt this cord on my back—the biblical silver cord?—pulling me back and the next thing I knew was that I was back in my body and my son was coming into the bedroom with my cup of tea. The experience is as vivid in my mind as it was when it happened. I’ve always believed in life after death, though I no longer belong to any form of organized religion, preferring to find my own path, but if I needed anything to confirm my belief in another plane of existence, that experience certainly did. I feel so grateful to have had it.


Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick, The Truth in the Light: An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Berkeley Books, 1997).

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How are NDEs to be explained?

On the basis of current science, neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick concludes, NDEs are inexplicable. “Consciousness is maintained by a delicate global system which enables all the cortical model-building structures, including memory, to be excited and active. If this system goes down we lapse first of all into confusion and then into gradually deepening coma.

“This is the real paradox of the NDE. If someone is unconscious they cannot model-build. If they build an NDE model, they cannot be unconsciousness. If they are in a precomatose confusional state, any models they build should also be confused. Also, “memory does not function in unconsciousness. Even if someone who was unconscious could somehow build models, these models should not be remembered. So how is it that when an NDE occurs during unconsciousness it is remembered—and remembered so clearly—afterwards?

”From the point of view of both memory and model-building, it should be quite impossible to have an NDE when brain function is really very seriously disordered or the brain is seriously damaged. If science fails to provide an adequate explanation, then we shall be forced to consider another possibility: that in some way not yet understood, mind and brain are different, and mind can exist independently of brain.

He acknowledges: “There is some evidence to support the view that endorphins may be involved in the NDE” but concludes “even if we accept endorphins as a partial explanation, we have to argue that very special brain states are required if they are to lead to the bliss of the NDE, or, alternatively, that only some personality types respond to endorphins by experiencing bliss. And this seems like special pleading.” Fenwick also notes there are “clues which point in the direction of right-hemisphere involvement” in NDEs but he concludes: “this gives us nothing like a complete answer.”

“Change the way the brain works and you change the way you see the world. Disorders of mood can actually change the way the brain works; if you are very depressed, for example, you will tend to select sad memories and notice sad events all around you. And unhappiness seems to be quite a common trigger for the near-death experience.

Constance Cawthorne: My NDE occurred forty years ago and arose because of a strong overpowering urge to get to the other dimension. I was twenty-eight years old at the time, with two children. I had been in a state of despair through seeking a meaning to life and not getting any answers. I prayed to die—and one day I did!

I traveled at terrific speed down the tunnel with a tiny light ahead, which got bigger as I approached it. I felt utter joy as I knew when I reached it I would find what I had been seeking. However, before I ‘passed over’ I seemed to be in the presence of formless (but not faceless) spiritual beings who transferred to me the thought that I must go back—my family needed me, and I had not finished what I needed to do.

“We can’t,” Fenwick says, explain experiences like this “by suggesting the cause may be drugs or brain damage, too little oxygen or too much carbon dioxide. All that we are left with is an overpowering, life-numbing sadness. These brains are certainly capable of making models. But why should the models they make be almost identical to the NDE?"


Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick, The Truth in the Light: An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Berkeley Books, 1997).

Monday, November 23, 2020

NDEs often cause a spiritual awakening

For a few people,” UK neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick notes, the NDE confirms the religious faith they have. “But for many, perhaps most, it is a spiritual awakening that may have very little to do with religion in the narrowest sense, and nothing to do with dogma. It certainly tends to confirm belief in some form of afterlife. But when the presence of some higher ‘being’ is felt, this is only seldom defined as, for example, a Catholic or a Jewish God. And Christian icons such as Jesus and Mary are notably absent except in very rare cases. The experiences have a universal quality.” If an NDE were simply a psychological experience, “one would expect it to be much more culturally influenced than it seems to be.

Mrs Joan Hensley wrote: Certainly my life changed. I am less frightened of dying personally, and I do believe there is life after death. But it hasn’t particularly made me more ‘religious;’ what I do feel is that there are so many religions in the world, why should our God be the only one or indeed the correct one? I feel my experience proved there is a God—before that I don’t think I really believed in anything, just accepted what my parents believed in.

“Almost everyone who has studied near-death experiences has found that at least some of the people have become more sensitive or intuitive. After his NDE, Dennis Stone of Coventry began to foresee future events. In August 1938 my first premonition of impending disaster occurred. I saw a vision of the Second World War. I found myself standing about a hundred yards or so from my home, watching Coventry burning and hearing the bombs whistling down and bullets spanging off brickwork. I looked down the London road and watched a bomb set fire to a fuel dump close to the local cemetery.

All this I told my family and I became agitated because they did not believe me. That is until it actually happened in precise detail—with one exception: I was not quite in the precise spot on that fateful night. I was ducking the machine-gun bullets from German planes, which, I might add, killed nine of my neighbors close to me.

“One of the most fascinating and detailed letters we received was from a man who suffered two cardiac arrests after a coronary thrombosis, and had several experiences during this time. Most were positive, but he also had an experience of ‘Hell.’ It was really like all the images I had ever had of Hell. I was being barbecued. I was wrapped in tinfoil, basted and roasted. Occasionally I was basted by people (devils) sticking their basting syringe with great needles into my flesh with the red-hot fat. I was also rolled from side to side with the long forks that the ‘devils’ used to make sure that I was being truly roasted. I wanted to call out but no sound would come; it felt as if my brain or consciousness was buried deep within me and was too deeply embedded for either them to hear or for me even to make it work. I was overcome with the feeling of utter doom and helplessness.

He explains away this experience, however, as being due to the treatment he received in hospital. I was wrapped in a tinfoil blanket, an electric heat cage was put over me and during that time I was turned several times and innumerable injections were given.

Fenwick comments: “In those organized religions in which Hell figures, suicide is a sin and might well be considered an entrance qualification. And yet none of the people who wrote to us about a near-death experience during a suicide attempt reported a hellish or even an unpleasant experience. On the contrary, what they experienced seemed to provide a reason for continuing to live.

Anne Thomson wrote: I could cope no longer with three small children and one dreadful husband (whom I later divorced). I took a massive overdose of sleeping tablets and was not found for four hours. I was rushed to the nearest hospital by ambulance from the RAF base in Wales, where we lived at the time. I very nearly died and was unconscious for four days. On the fourth day I was slipping away. I had a cardiac arrest and the doctors and sister were working on me.

I left my body. I went up very slowly, not looking back at myself in the bed. The peace was beyond what I can explain; it was so beautiful, I felt so light in weight and I saw I was going towards a white light—not the white like this notepaper I wrote on, but a spiritual white. I almost reached this light, when suddenly I was pulled downwards and did not stop till I was back in my body. I was heavy, everything seemed so dark and then I came to and slowly came to realize I could not be taken, as three children needed their mother.

I always did believe in God but only because it was bred into me. But since that experience I have a lot of faith towards God and towards life beyond our lives on Earth. I firmly believe God made me well and helped me through all my time of rearing three children alone in the years that followed.


Peter Fenwick and Elizabeth Fenwick, The Truth in the Light: An investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Berkeley Books, 1997).

Gödel's reasons for an afterlife

Alexander T. Englert, “We'll meet again,” Aeon , Jan 2, 2024,