Heaven Knows…it’s been a long journey

Early in 2013, I wrote the first paragraph of a book about the afterlife, near-death experiences, about people who had died and been resuscitated prior to Dr. Moody’s ground-breaking 1975 book, Life After Life and the research that has been going on in this field for decades.

It was a book that had been conversing with me inside my head for almost a year. Fortunately, no-one knew this, otherwise I might have been invited to become a resident of the Sunny Valley Home for the Chronically Bewildered, and the book would never have been written. (Although it’s possible I’d have remained considerably saner if that had occurred!)

The truth is, I almost discarded the whole project after two psychics gave me the bad news!

Months before I wrote the first line, I had removed 30 or 40 dusty old books from my bookshelf, re-read each one carefully and scrawled copious notes. By the time I’d finished, every book was fringed with yellow post-it tabs and my scribbled notes filled three lined notepads.

At last, I was ready to start writing.

The words came tumbling out and my fingers could barely keep up. Sometimes. At other times, I spent hours searching through notes to find ‘just the right quote’ or details of a specific incident.

Day after day, month after month, I kept going, and it was almost finished when an old friend, Rhonda, phoned. Now, those of you who have read my book will already be well-acquainted with my amazing psychic friend, Rhonda.

“The book’s not ready!” she told me in the middle of a conversation about something altogether different. “It’s not finished.” Rhonda never ceased to amaze me – she didn’t even know I was writing a book!

“Er…no, it’s not yet, but… um, almost.” I stuttered.

“Nowhere near!” she insisted. “Lots more to do.”

“But Rhonda, I…..”

“Two years!” She interrupted. “It won’t be ready for two years.”

Two years? I’d spent almost a year on this book and it was already way longer than I’d planned. I couldn’t possibly add more!

“You can research, you can collate, but there’s a lot more to add. And don’t ask me what. You know I only repeat what ‘they’ tell me.”

“Hmmm, ok.” I said with a sigh, determined to complete it in the next few weeks, regardless of her grim counsel.

For the next few days, my mind kept replaying those words. “It won’t be ready for two years.” Rhonda had always been eerily accurate with her predictions.

The step at the back door had always been my ‘thinking-place’, so I positioned myself there that evening and begged the universe to provide confirmation—or hopefully, otherwise— of Rhonda’s warning.

The following day, an acquaintance welcomed a new facebook friend to her timeline. Shirley described herself as a psychic. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I wonder.” Apart from Rhonda, I had never been very trusting of psychics. I made the decision to dismiss her presence on my computer screen as mere coincidence if she lived more than a few miles away.

She lived less than a few miles away! I made an appointment.

At the end of my amazing reading with Shirley, the book had not even been mentioned. Well, that was hardly surprising. Apart from Rhonda – who only knew because ‘they’ had told her— very few people were aware I was writing it. This time I was desperate enough to ask outright while also taking care not to give too much away.

“And … the book?” I almost whispered.

Shirley sat in silence for a few minutes. Then she said: “Not yet.”

I find it amusing, daunting and amazing to listen to the recording of this reading today. Her ‘not yet’ is followed by a long period of silence and I can still feel the emotions pulsing through me at hearing those words, still recall how my mind was spinning as I tried to decide whether to pursue the matter.

Eventually, I asked “How long?” More silence followed before Shirley said “They’re telling me two years.”

The loud thump of my fist slamming down on the table can be easily heard on the CD. Thanks, universe!

I spent the following week staring at a blank computer screen, wondering what else I was meant to write. Whatever it was, it would apparently take a further two years! What I had written so far— what I thought was a complete book— had taken less than a year! I decided this book must be destined to become the biggest book in the history of publishing!

As a distraction, I started cleaning out my study. Let’s face it, almost anything is better than staring at a blank computer screen. In the process I found my old journals! I hadn’t seen my journals since I’d packed them away before moving house sixteen years earlier.

Not only am I a regular journaler, I’m also an incurable hoarder. This meant I had years and years (and even more years) of journals stacked in a box. And – as almost anything also beats cleaning up a room instead of looking at a blank computer screen – I took time-out to sit down with a coffee and flick through them.

When I came to the journal labelled 1987, I almost skipped it. 1987 had been a distressing year. It was not one I wanted to dwell on, but something compelled me to open it. As I began to read bits and pieces, I realized that finding these journals was no accident.

I spent the next few weeks reading everything I had written over a ten year period.  When I’d finished, I knew how the book needed to be changed. I returned to my computer, removed 21,000 words, put them aside for book 2, and started all over again, including many of my journal entries about my own doubts and fears.

Shirley’s reading took place on May 15, 2014, Rhonda’s a few days earlier.

In August, 2016, I finished my book. Either I was three months late, or Rhonda and Shirley were both three months out in their predictions.

On November 5, 2016, Heaven Knows, sub-titled A Personal Journey in Search of Evidence, was loaded to Amazon.

blogpixTomorrow I start on book 2.

Hey, I’m not getting any younger, and there are at least three more books on the subject rattling around inside my head. (It’s a busy place in there!)

And they say writing a book is easy! Ha!

Cheers, SandyC


The Dawning of the Age of IANDS

“I don’t believe it!”

That was all cardiologist Dr. Michael Sabom could say in 1976 about the recently-published book, Life After Life when psychiatric social worker Sarah Kreutziger brought it to his attention.

sabomDr. Sabom was an enigma. A scientist to the core of his being, he was also a regular church-goer who accepted the church’s doctrines of an afterlife because he believed they helped guide proper behaviour. At the same time, he recognized that faith was totally subjective and unscientific, and insisted there were “no such things as inexplicable phenomena, but merely scientific facts waiting to be discovered.”

When colleague Sarah Kreutziger accepted an invitation to do a presentation of Moody’s book at their local church, she asked Dr. Sabom to participate. He was reluctant, but eventually agreed to be available at the presentation to deal with any medical questions the audience might have.

Kreutziger loaned him her copy of the book. He read it, but remained unconvinced. He later wrote in Recollections of Death: “My indoctrinated scientific mind just couldn’t relate seriously to these ‘far-out’ descriptions of afterlife spirits and such.”

Kreutziger appears to have been very persuasive. She suggested that in preparation for the talk, it might be helpful if they both conducted surveys of hospitalized patients who had survived a medical crisis. He was convinced no-one would report such an experience, but at least he would be able to tell the audience with a sense of satisfaction that: “We asked!”

The third patient Dr. Sabom interviewed turned his world upside down!

“To my utter amazement,” he wrote, “the details matched the descriptions in Life After Life. I was even more impressed by [the patient’s] sincerity and the deep personal significance her experience had had for her.”

Of course, before revealing her secret, this woman initially needed to be convinced that this curious doctor was not “an underground psychiatrist posing as a cardiologist.” In those days, people who experienced an NDE rarely, if ever, told their stories to anyone for fear of being dismissed as crazy. Until Dr. Moody’s book became a world-wide success, most presumed their experience had been unique to them.

Life After Life gave them permission to say “Yes! That’s what happened to me, I’m not the only one!”

Sabom thought often about that first NDE he heard, and of the woman whose life had been changed by it. Little did he realize that his own life was also about to change dramatically.

Uncomfortable with the unscientific manner in which Moody’s data had been collected and analyzed, he contacted Sarah again and together they designed a scientific study with rigorous guidelines. This study commenced only a few months after the initial publication of Life After Life and continued for five years.

It took many more interviews before Sabom was convinced. For years, he insisted that NDEs were “near” death experiences, not “after” death experiences, and therefore doubted they had anything to do with the afterlife.

In The Light Beyond (Moody and Perry, 1988) Sabom wrote: “I can’t tell you at what point I believed that this was really occurring. It took a lot of people with NDEs. But when they all started telling basically the same story… the first thing that went through my mind with these people was: ‘You have read Raymond Moody’s book, haven’t you?’”

Then he added: “And the patients hadn’t!”

While Sabom and Krutziger were conducting their studies in Florida, 2,000 kilometers north, in Connecticut, a young psychologist was going through a period of soul-searching.

ringKenneth Ring was feeling spiritually adrift. While volunteering his services in a convalescent home in the hope of absorbing the wisdom of some older, wiser person, he chanced to read Life After Life.

Ring’s interest in altered states of consciousness had already brought the work of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to his attention, who had provided him with an awareness of NDEs before Moody’s book was even written. He therefore had no argument with the contents of Life After Life. In fact, he was inspired by it.

But, like his colleague in Florida, he was also aware that a more scientifically structured study would strengthen these findings. He designed a series of questions that Dr. Moody had not addressed.

Not surprisingly, these questions were almost identical to those Dr. Sabom was asking in Florida.

  • How common were these NDE’s? Did everyone who came close to death go through this process, or only a few?
  • Were NDE’s the same for those who died as a result of an accident, suffered serious illness, or attempted suicide?
  • Did NDE’s only happen to those who believed in an afterlife, and did faith contribute to the imagery in these experiences?
  • What were their social, educational and professional backgrounds?

Ring secured the names of 102 patients aged between eighteen and eighty-four who had survived a close call with death or had been resuscitated from clinical death.

During the thirteen months he spent interviewing these survivors, he heard NDE reports from 49 of them, which was almost half this sample. The remaining 53 survivors did not recall experiencing an NDE, but were still interviewed to serve as a ‘control’ group.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, Sabom and Kreutziger interviewed 116 people, and after dismissing those who had voluntarily come forward to report their nde’s, 78 participants remained. Of these, 34 (about 44%) reported a near death experience.

In 1977, Drs. Moody, Ring and Sabom met at the University of Virginia, along with medical sociologist John Audette, Bruce Greyson (Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Sciences of the University of Virginia) and other interested health professionals.

When the group convened, it was clear that both health care professionals and experiencers alike could benefit greatly from an organization dedicated to the research and education of NDEs. Such an organization could offer informational and networking support.

This core group formed the Association for the Scientific Study of Near-Death Phenomena, which changed its name to the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) in 1981.

Releasing the butterfly

kubler-ross“Many people say: Of course, Doctor Ross has seen too many dying patients. Now she starts getting a bit funny.”

These were the opening lines of On Life After Death, a little book containing transcripts of three lectures given by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross between 1977 and 1982.

Dr. Ross received international recognition and acclaim for her first book, On Death and Dying (1969) and it remained on the US non-fiction bestseller list for over a decade. It is still regarded world-wide as the classic work in its field of thanatology.

In one of her lectures, Dr. Ross explained that when she sat at the bedside of a dying child, she would explain to the child that the human body is like a cocoon, and that it is only a house to live in for a while.

“As soon as the house is in an irreparable condition,” she would say, “it will release the butterfly.”

To Dr. Ross, this was no fairy tale. Throughout the 1960’s, she had interviewed over five hundred terminally ill patients, sat beside countless numbers who were going through the dying process, and listened intently to the stories of many who had died and been resuscitated.

One case was particularly intriguing. A twelve-year-old girl confessed to her father that she had an experience she’d never told to anyone. A few years earlier, when she had been deathly ill, she had left her body and had not wanted to return. As she explained to her father: “I don’t want to tell my mummy that there is a nicer home than ours.”

The girl told her father that she had traveled to the “other side” where she had been lovingly held by her brother. But this caused her confusion, because she didn’t have a brother. Her father was shocked. Her brother had died only a few months before she was born, and neither of her parents had ever mentioned him to her.

In the 1960’s Dr. Ross instigated a course at the University of Chicago and began weekly seminars on the treatment of terminally ill patients. During one of these seminars, she did something so controversial, it almost destroyed her reputation!

She brought a woman to the stage who had been declared dead but had been resuscitated.

Mrs. Schwartz related how she had floated out of her body and watched as the nurse rushed out of the room to summon help.

Now, keep in mind that this occurred about a decade before the publication of Dr. Moody’s ground-breaking book, Life After Life, brought the concept of near-death experiences to the attention of the world!

Mrs Schwartz explained that she had observed the doctors frantically working on her from her vantage point above the bed, and she was later able to report which members of the team had wanted to give up. She was even able to repeat a joke one attendant had told in an effort to relieve the tension.

While this was nothing new to Dr. Ross, the reaction of students at the seminar surprised her. She later wrote: “They all leaped on me because I refused to label the woman’s story as hallucination. They all wanted me to give this woman’s experience a convenient psychiatric label so they could forget it.” (There Is Life After Death by Kenneth L. Woodward, article in McCall’s August 1976, page 134)

The cynical reaction by the medical students prompted Dr. Ross to begin an in-depth study of experiences reported by patients who had been resuscitated after having been declared dead.

Together with hospital co-worker Reverend Gaines, she began collecting accounts of near-death experiences from around the world. To be certain the results contained no religious or cultural bias, they collected data from a variety of cultures including Eskimos, Hawaiians and Australian Aboriginals, and from people with various belief systems such as Hindus, Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, agnostics and atheists.

Both Ross and Gaines were astounded by the results. The similarities to those they had heard from their own patients could not be ignored.

In a 1977 lecture, she shared the results of her world-wide study:

  • “They are all fully aware of shedding their physical body, and death, as we understand it in scientific language, does not really exist.”
  • “There is no time or distance. If we are separated from a loved one [as we are dying] we have only to think of them and we will be wherever they are in an instant.
  • We may try to communicate with those we leave behind, but soon realize they can neither see nor hear us.”
  • “We become aware that departed loved ones are awaiting us on the other side.”
  • “We may travel through a tunnel, pass through a gate, cross a bridge, or travel through something else familiar to us.
  • At the end of this journey, we will be embraced by an indescribably loving light.”
  • “If we are meant to return, we are permitted to see this light only briefly. If this is the end of our earthly journey, however, we will experience understanding without judgement as we stand in the light, and will come to understand that life on earth was nothing more than a school.”
  • “We will be shown our life from the first to last day and will re-experience every thought we had, every deed we did, and every word we spoke. In the light of unconditional love and non-judgement, we will come to understand the consequences resulting from those thoughts, words and deeds, and recognize how many opportunities we missed to grow.
  • “…many of our patients …are not always grateful when their butterfly is squashed back into the cocoon.”
  • “Not one of the patients who has had an out-of-body experience was ever again afraid to die.”

Dr. Ross was honored with twenty doctorates for her work with the dying. By 1982 more than 100,000 students had attended her classes on death and dying in colleges, seminaries, medical schools, hospitals, and social-work institutions.

In 1999 she was named by Time Magazine as one of the hundred greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Not bad for someone who was believed by some to be “getting a bit funny”!

Kubler Ross departed this world in 2004. She was posthumously inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.


Feathered Messengers

“Call the mobile vet! NOW!!” I shouted.

firstdayhome Nikki, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had been a cherished family member for just six years, but the cancerous lump on her side had grown rapidly in recent weeks.

She never complained, but on this particular afternoon she staggered into the kitchen, collapsed on the floor and yelped loudly. I fell to my knees and stroked her head, assuring her that everything would be ok. I knew her time had come.

The vet arrived thirty minutes later. While he prepared the injection, I grabbed her bag of canine chocolate drops. I had always restricted her to just a few at a time, but for this greedy little princess, a few had never been enough.

I knelt beside her and held the treat close to her nose. She raised her head slowly and gobbled it up, her enormous brown eyes shining with excitement. At any other time she would have leapt to her feet and wagged her tail. Now, lifting her head was the best she could do.

The vet joined us on the floor at Nikki’s tail-end. I turned my back on him, focusing on her beautiful face, placing chocolate drops in her mouth one at a time and watching her gobble them up with delight. Her eyes never left my face, nor mine hers.

For a brief moment, it occurred to me that I had already given her far too many! Then I remembered what was happening behind me and kept popping them into her mouth, talking softly to her as I did.

As she stretched her sweet head forward to reach for the tenth treat, she slowly closed her eyes. I cradled her head and gently lowered it to the floor.

Then I cried for a long time.

Barry buried her in the back yard, and I agonized over whether I had made the right decision. I knew she could not have recovered, but was it the right time? I had learnt that people had “a time”, but did these same rules apply to dogs? I didn’t know. I only knew she had been in pain and I couldn’t let her suffer.

Three days later, I crouched next to her grave and began to weed around it in preparation for a small headstone. Suddenly, a small bird swooped down and collided with my head.

“Strange,” I thought. We regularly fed magpies and butcher birds in our yard, and other birds rarely trespassed. They certainly didn’t dive-bomb us! Even magpies – known for their aggressive behaviour –took food gently from our hands.

I continued weeding when another bird did the same, and I wondered if I was too close to a nest. I looked around. There were no trees nearby where nests might be.

I took the hint and moved away, sitting on a step nearby to watch and wait.

The birds remained on Nikki’s grave for ten or fifteen minutes. They didn’t chirp. They didn’t scratch around looking for worms. They stood, silent and still, staring at me as I stared back at them. I was instinctively aware that something unusual was happening, but at the time I had no idea what it might be

Birds have long been considered “messengers of death”. There are numerous superstitions surrounding this partnership. My Irish grandmother always shivered if she heard a bird sing after dark. “Aaach, someone just died!” she’d announce. Many times she was right, but of course, someone probably died every minute of every day.

My grandmother also accepted, without question, that a bird tapping on the window brought news to the household and often predicted the death of a loved one.

The Irish do love their superstitions!

However, the Irish were not the only ones with supernatural notions about birds. Even the eminent psychiatrist Carl Jung recognized them as encapsulating the archetype of transcendence and rebirth, and Jung was certainly not Irish!

A wide range of cultures throughout history believed birds were symbolically connected with death. In Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Nordic and American Indian mythologies, birds were said to serve as spirit guides, messengers who were able to fly between the worlds of the living and the dead and assist the departed on their journey.

Even today, many cultures view birds as psychopomps – a Greek word meaning a creature that escorts newly-deceased souls from earth to the afterlife. (Psycho=soul, Pompos=escort)

storkBut psychopomps are not restricted to escorting the deceased to the spiritual realms. Historically, birds were also credited with helping to bring newborn souls into this world. The legend of the stork delivering the baby no doubt grew out of this ancient belief.

Psychopomps are also believed to act as messengers between worlds. Renowned American naturalist and explorer Ernest Ingersoll wrote in his 1923 book, Birds in Legend and Folklore: “the belief in the supernatural wisdom and prophetic gift in birds is … based on the almost universal belief that they are often the visible spirits of the dead.”

Is this why the bereaved often notice birds – especially those that have special meaning for the departed – acting in a surprising or unusual way?

This occurred to me shortly after my mother’s passing. She had often voiced regret that the kookaburras we heard laughing merrily in the distance never came close enough to be fed.

kookieOne morning, shortly after her passing, our first kookaburra appeared on the railing around our deck and waited patiently to receive a tasty morsel. Since then, his entire family regularly come to take food from our hands. Is that a coincidence?

While birds are universally recognized as psychopomps, they’re not alone. The veil between worlds is thinner for most creatures than it is for us. Wolves, dragonflies, cats and dolphins are among many that have earned reputations as messengers from the spirit world.

Of course, I didn’t know any of this as I sat on the step, waiting for these annoying feathered creatures to move away. I had never heard the word ‘psychopomp’. I just wanted to get on with my weeding.

I was almost ready to give up when the two feathered guards flew away. Somehow, I knew they wouldn’t bother me again. I was right.

Perhaps, three days after the lethal injection, it had finally been Nikki’s “time”, and her escorts had been waiting to take her on her final journey.

At least, I like to think so.

Have you ever encountered a psychopomp? Has one appeared to escort a dying loved one or come to comfort you after their passing? If you have a psychopomp story, I’d love to hear about it.

featherCheers, SandyC


Heavenly Tantrums

Hands up those who would rather be alive than dead.


But wait. There are a few in the back row who didn’t raise their hands. Why not?

Ah! That’s because they’ve already been there! Let’s indulge in a little time-travel so we can talk to them.

First, we’ll head back to the 1950’s and bring Dorothy to the stage. Dorothy contracted polio as a child and spent most of her life in an iron lung.

ironlung“As I died,” Dorothy begins, “my attention was drawn to a bright light … I found myself in a new world … everything was joyful. I could walk again! My muscles could do what I wanted them to do, and I felt completely happy, no pain, no restrictions, all light and gay. I was so pleased to leave my worn-out shell behind me and be free.”

Then she adds: “A voice – the sweetest I have ever heard – spoke from the light and said: ‘No, Dorothy, I am sorry but it is not time yet. You have more to do.’”

A low murmur fills the hall. Everyone questions what a woman confined to an iron lung could possibly do. Alas, Dorothy can’t share this secret with us, because the nurse rushes to her bedside and successfully resuscitates her.

yensenHoping to find answers, we travel further back in time to hear from geologist Arthur E. Yensen, who died in an automobile accident in 1932. A skeptical mine geologist, Arthur was amazed to find himself back in what felt like was his “real home”.

“I met a group of loving beings on the other side,” he tells us, “and I confessed to them that on earth I felt like a visitor, a misfit and a homesick stranger.”

But then, one of Arthur’s new friends dropped a bombshell: “You have more important work to do on earth, and you must go back and do it.”

“Like a kid having a tantrum, I kicked and screamed and begged.” Yensen confesses. “Oh no, not back to that horrible place! Let me stay, let me stay.”

“One of my new friends explained that earthly life is not supposed to be happy: ‘We call it a miserable preliminary,’ he told me, adding that ‘if you find any joy in it you are just that much ahead.’”

“All my protesting did no good.” Arthur adds sadly. “I would have stayed, but someone bigger than I was running the universe.”

Now, Arthur has also departed and we still don’t know why we’re here. Will we ever understand?

Let’s try Mrs. Conant, who died of an overdose of medication prescribed by a doctor who was “… at the time, unfortunately, under the influence of stimulants”.

Fasten your seatbelts, because we’ll need to travel all the way back to 1873.

conant2“I met my deceased mother!” Mrs. Conant announces with delight, “When she told me I had to return, I wept and begged to be allowed to stay. Mother gently but firmly told me that I had yet a mission to perform.”

A mission? This was starting to sound serious! Sadly – or happily, depending on your point of view – Mrs. Conant was also revived before she could provide an answer.

Since we’re already in the 19th century, why not call on Dr. Wiltse. He died of typhoid fever in 1889. Perhaps he can shed some light on this mystery.

Dr. Wiltse took an unusual route to heaven. He walked along a road!

“Eventually,” he recalls, “I came upon three large rocks blocking my way, and I paused to consider what I should do. Instantly, a large cloud moved into position over my head and I became aware of an awesome presence within it.”

stopThe cloud told him: “If your work was to write the things that have been taught you, waiting for mere chance to publish them, if your work was to talk to private individuals in the privacy of friendship – if this was all, it is done, and you may pass beyond the rocks.”

“I was relieved,” he admits, “and I moved to pass beyond the rocks, but the cloud continued: ‘If however, upon consideration, you conclude that it shall be to publish as well as to write what you are taught, if it shall be to call together the multitudes and teach them, it is not done and you can return into the body.’”

Finally, a clue! Or is it?

Having already died once, Dr. Wiltse reasoned that “if I go back, soon or late, I must die again. If I stay, someone else will do my work and so the end will be as well and as surely accomplished. Again I began to step past the large rock, but … a smaller cloud appeared in front of me and I instantly knew I was going to be stopped. I found myself growing weak and unable to move. Then I lost consciousness.”

Surely we’re not all meant to write books or teach the multitudes!

greysonDr. Bruce Greyson, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioural Sciences of the University of Virginia, has conducted numerous studies over four decades on the near-death experience.

He states: “The realization that we each have a mission or purpose was a common theme among survivors. While acknowledging that each person’s mission may not be earth-shattering or news-worthy, experiencers understood that it was crucial for each of us to complete our allotted tasks.”

Allotted tasks sounds far less daunting than missions!

Writing a book or teaching the multitudes may be the ‘allotted task’ for a few, but our purpose is likely to be something far more challenging, like learning patience, humility or forgiveness, or offering light to help someone find their way through a dark world.

“On earth I felt like a visitor, a misfit and a homesick stranger.” Arthur E. Yensen reminds us. Many feel that way.

A few months after the publication of Life After Life, Dr. Moody suddenly realized with horror that his book may have been responsible for a spate of suicides. After all, the accounts he quoted had painted the ‘other side’ as a place full of love and understanding, and where those like polio sufferer Dorothy could run and jump without restriction.

He need not have worried. Research has since revealed that most people who experience an NDE following attempted suicide rarely make another attempt. They return with the understanding that we’re here for a specific time and purpose and recognize that if we don’t honor that purpose, we’ll have to do it all over again.

“If I stay,” Dr. Wiltse considered in 1889, “someone else will do my work and so the end will be as well and as surely accomplished.”

He was wrong. As Arthur E. Yensen reminded us after the failure of his own heavenly tantrum: “Someone bigger than I was running the universe.”

Cheers, SandyC

The Indifference of Dying

One evening in 1987, my mother went to bed. She didn’t get up again for a year.

Convinced she was dying, I became desperate to know if there was any truth to the existence of the afterlife. I also needed to know what it felt like to die.

This took more courage than I thought I possessed. Like most people, I didn’t want to think about death. Heck, I couldn’t even look at the page in the newspaper where names of people who had died were listed!

Ah, but once I took my first step on this journey, I discovered that dying appeared to be nowhere near as confronting as I had feared. Comments by near-death experiencers in Moody’s Life After Life included:

“There was no pain, and I’ve never felt so relaxed.”

“… a momentary flash of pain, but then the pain vanished.”

“I couldn’t feel a thing in the world except peace, comfort, ease – just quietness.”

“… the most extreme comfort I have ever experienced.”

Comforted by these, I bravely moved on to other books on the subject and found eerily similar statements.

beaufortAs a young naval cadet in the early nineteenth century, Francis Beaufort almost drowned. Here is how he described his experience in his autobiography:

“… a calm feeling of the most perfect tranquillity superseded the most tumultuous sensations … I no longer thought of being rescued, nor was I in any bodily pain. On the contrary, my sensations were now of a rather pleasurable cast, partaking of that dull but contented sort of feeling which precedes the sleep produced by fatigue.”

It has been said that drowning is not an unpleasant experience, but what about other causes of death?

Well, did you know that Dr. David Livingstone (of the “I presume” fame) was almost devoured by a lion?

Seriously, that could hardly have been pleasant.

livingstoneIn Adventures and Discoveries in the Interior of Africa (Hubbard Bros, 1872) Livingstone wrote: “…… he caught my shoulder as he sprang and we both came to the ground below together. Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier does a rat.”

Can you imagine anything more terrifying, or more painful, than being eaten alive by a lion? Then you may be surprised by Livingstone’s next words: “It caused a sort of dreaminess in which there was no sense of pain, nor feeling of terror, though [I was] quite conscious of all that was happening.

Livingstone added that “this shake annihilated fear and allowed no sense of horror in looking round at the beast.” His only emotion was that of intense curiosity as to which part of his body the lion would have next.

Good heavens!

Livingstone concluded: “the peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by carnivore; and if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death.”

Another not-so-fun way to die would be falling from a great height! Nineteenth-century Swiss geologist and mountaineer, Albert Heim, survived such a fall, and reported that “everything was beautiful without grief or anxiety, and without pain.” He added that “elevated and harmonious thoughts dominated and united the individual images, and like magnificent music, a divine calm swept through my soul.”

As a result of his experience, Heim conducted what was perhaps the first in-depth research into near death experiences. He published his results in the year book of the Swiss Alpine Club in 1892 as ‘The Experience of Dying From Falls’ and described his own encounter, along with thirty other first-hand accounts of near-fatal falls by mountain-climbers and workers who fell of scaffolding.

Heim learnt that “no grief was felt, nor any paralysing fright. There was no anxiety, no trace of despair, nor pain, but rather calm seriousness, profound acceptance and a dominant mental quickness.”

His research also revealed that “consciousness was painlessly extinguished, usually at the moment of impact, which was at the most heard but never painfully felt.”

I sincerely doubted my mother was going to fall off a mountain, drown at sea or be attacked by a man-eating lion, so – and with considerable trepidation – I moved on to reading about people who were dying permanently.

This was a major leap for me, but in the process I discovered the dying had even more to tell us than the almost-died.

osisKarlis Osis, Ph.D researched extensively in this area in the late 1950’s. His findings were published as Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses in 1961 – an academic masterpiece designed to bring tears of joy to any scientist!

Osis discovered that fear was “not the dominant emotion in dying patients.” Indifference, he noted, had been indicated far more frequently.

Indifference? Seriously?

One doctor commented that “there is such a resigned, peaceful, almost happy expression which comes over the patient, it is hard to explain but it leaves me with the feeling that I would not be afraid to die.”

Many even experienced elation or exaltation shortly before their death. “Their moods were so heightened,” Osis observed, “that the patient preferred to die into this kind of experience rather than to continue living without it.”

In his classic book, The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale related the story of his friend, Mr. Clarke, a construction engineer who died briefly during a serious illness. Peale described Clarke as a “quiet, restrained, factual, unemotional type of man with a scientific turn of mind.”

“I must be dying! Clarke recalled thinking when he found himself outside his body.

Then it occurred to him that perhaps he had already died!  “… I almost laughed out loud,” he later told Peale, “and I asked myself: why have I been afraid of death all my life? There is nothing to be afraid of in this!”

My mother and I survived our ‘year from hell’. It was a year that taught me about the pain of watching a loved one suffer.  I also discovered something else that year: nothing is as fearful as it might initially seem to be, especially when it is viewed in the light of knowledge.

I thank you, Mum, for giving me that precious gift.

Cheers, SandyC




Who looks through your eyes?


“That’s the one with the beard,” Katie told her mother.

Katie was only 7 when she drowned in a swimming pool in 1982. No-one knew how long she had been underwater, but she was no longer breathing when she was eventually noticed and rushed to a nearby hospital.

Based on the report by ambulance personnel, she had been clinically dead for at least fifteen minutes. Probably more.

Fifteen minutes! Clinically dead!

A CAT scan revealed massive swelling to Katie’s brain. With no gag reflex and an artificial lung machine to breathe for her, no-one expected her to survive, least of all the young paediatrician who attended her, Dr. Melvin Morse.

Remarkably, Katie made a full recovery within three days. Even more remarkably, she was able to recall a number of events that had occurred throughout the period of her ‘death’.

On meeting Dr. Morse for the first time, she told her mother: “That’s the one with the beard. First there was this tall doctor who didn’t have a beard, and then he came in.”

Morse confirmed this, and agreed that subsequent statements made by Katie were also uncannily accurate.

How is this possible?

We all look at the world through our physical eyes. We take this for granted, but evidential accounts like Katie’s – and there are thousands – suggest that our eyes are merely a camera lens, a tool we use to view this dimension.

Neuroscience tells us that our brain interprets what we see with our eyes. But if the brain dies with the body – and we know it does – how do those who have NDEs interpret what they see through eyes they no longer have, by a brain that is physically dead?

Who or what is looking out through our eyes?

monroe2The strange experiences of New York radio broadcasting president, Robert Monroe, may provide some clues.

In 1958, Monroe developed a strange malady. Whenever he tried to sleep, his body began to shake and vibrate for about five minutes. He subjected himself to a series of medical tests, all of which proved he was perfectly healthy.

Confused but relieved, he took his doctor’s advice to “stop trying to resist it and see what happens.”

These vibrations continued intermittently for several months until one night, while waiting for them to pass, he tried to distract himself by thinking about his hobby. An avid glider, Monroe was looking forward to an upcoming gliding trip and imagined himself soaring through the skies.

Lost in these thoughts, he felt something pressing against his shoulder. He reached behind and felt a smooth surface. Had he fallen out of bed? Looking around, he noticed there was no furniture surrounding him.

It wasn’t the floor!

Monroe looked down (which he initially thought was up!) and saw his bed. He was bouncing gently against the ceiling! To his horror, he noticed another man in bed with his wife! He willed himself to zoom in and take a closer look.

The ‘other man’ was himself!

Monroe insisted on a second series of tests, but again these revealed nothing abnormal. He sought the advice of a psychologist friend, Dr. Bradshaw, who suggested he repeat the experiment if possible.

Shocked, Monroe declared that he wasn’t ready to die.

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll do that,” Bradshaw stated calmly. “Some of the fellows who practice yoga and those Eastern religions claim they can do it whenever they want to.”

Monroe wondered why anyone would voluntarily choose to have such terrifying experiences. He asked his friend what “it” was.

“Get out of the physical body for a while.” Bradshaw explained. “They claim they can go all over the place. You ought to try it.”


Still concerned he may have a mental illness, Monroe searched libraries and bookshops for information. The only books he could find on the subject were religious. These advised him to “pray, meditate, fast, go to church, and absolve sins.”

This merely added to his confusion. Did he qualify for sainthood, or was this the work of the devil?

The next time it happened, Monroe later wrote: “I smoothly floated up over the bed, and when I willed myself to stop, I did, floating in mid-air. After a few seconds I thought myself downward, and a moment later found myself in bed again.”

Finding he had some control, Monroe began experimenting, and took notes after each experience. His book (see below) became a multi-reprinted best-seller and is now considered a classic. It contains numerous verified examples of his travels, along with his efforts – usually successful – to validate each experience.

Monroe (and many more like him) did not have to die to experience this phenomenon, but Burris Jenkins did. Following an explosion on his cruiser in 1957, Jenkins was rushed to hospital. He promptly left his body, looked back at the person occupying his bed, and was most indignant that “the patient tried to identify himself as me!”

“I shuddered away from the thought and ignored it.” He later stated.

This is a common reaction by NDErs when viewing the body from beyond it. An accident victim told Dr. Moody: “I could see my own body all tangled up in the car … I knew it was my body but I had no feelings for it.” (Life After Life)

When Dr. Wiltse died of typhoid fever in 1889, his doctor declared him to have been clinically dead for half an hour and was “as fully as I ever supposed anyone to be dead.”

Remarkably, Wiltse recovered and later recalled that during his ‘time-out’: “the body and I no longer had any interests in common.”

As a medical doctor himself, Wiltse paid close attention to the process of leaving his body, and I’ll be including many of his insights in my upcoming book, Heaven Knows.

The experiences of Dr. Wiltse and others again prompts the question: if we are not our bodies, then who are we?

In an effort to find answers, Robert Monroe collaborated with consciousness researchers including Stanislov Grof, Edgar Mitchell (the 6th man to walk on the moon) and Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and in the early 1970’s employed professionally qualified scientific and engineering people to help him conduct research acceptable to other scientists.

As a result, the Monroe Institute was established as a non-profit education and research organization.   During its first thirty years, over 20,000 people attended its residential program. These included a group that one might not immediately equate with consciousness research – the US military!

The former director of the Intelligence and Security Command of the US Army confirmed in the Wall Street Journal in 1994 that they had sent officers to the Monroe Institute in 1978 and 1983 for out-of-body experience training

The purpose of this would later become known as Remote Viewing – a form of distant surveillance.

Today, the Monroe Institute comprises several buildings in Virginia (US) where it continues to research non-physical realities, out-of-body experiences, and human consciousness.

Perhaps one day we will all recognize that we are not our bodies, but that we merely occupy them in the same way a deep sea diver occupies a diving suit.

Have you had a validated out-of-body experience? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Cheers, SandyC



Closer to the Light, Melvin Morse, 1990

Journeys Out of the Body, Robert A. Monroe, 1971

Halfway between two worlds

Oh Arline, it’s so strange here.” Arline’s mother commented as she lay dying. “I’m in a never-never land. I’m halfway between two worlds.”

What are we to make of this? Could a dying brain provide Arline’s mother with hallucinations simply to ease her fears? If so, what clever brains we all must have!

Near-death experiences have been the ‘flavor of the month’ for 40 years, yet deathbed visions, which also provide strong veridical evidence, are rarely discussed.

Could it be that dying for real is more threatening for most than the prospect of spending a few minutes checking out heaven during an NDE?

It wasn’t too long ago that family members were shunted out of hospital rooms when their loved ones began making their transition. While I  understand the reasoning for this – it was considered far too confronting to witness the dying process of a loved one – such enforced separation not only robbed them of some sense of closure, it also deprived many of the opportunity to share profound insights.

In the nineteenth century and earlier, people appear to have been more aware of the significance of this mystical moment. In those days, most died at home surrounded by loved ones, and their dying words were often written in diaries or bibles and shared with family members who were not present at the time.

When ten-year old Daisy was dying of scarlet fever in 1864, her mother wrote down every word her daughter uttered and published it as a book in 1894.

In Daisy Dryden: A Memoir, we learn that Daisy often spoke of (and to) her deceased brother, Allie:

I do wish you could see Allie,” Daisy said to her mother on one occasion. “He is standing beside you. He says you cannot see him because your spirit-eyes are closed, but that I can, because my body only holds my spirit … by a thread of life.”


Such deathbed statements are not unusual. One of the first books on this subject – appropriately called Death Bed Visions – was a collection of historical accounts gathered by Sir William Barrett, a scientist who was appalled by the Spiritualism craze sweeping the world at that time.

In everyone’s life, however, there comes that moment when beliefs and attitudes are put to the test. Barrett’s moment came when his wife – a distinguished surgeon and gynaecologist – attended Doris, who successfully gave birth but owing to a serious heart condition, could not be saved.

Lady Barrett later related Doris’ final words to Sir Barrett:

“Oh lovely, lovely.” Doris had said, looking up at the ceiling and smiling. When asked what was lovely, she replied:  “Lovely brightness, wonderful beings ….”

Doris’ baby was brought to her and she questioned whether she should stay for the baby’s sake, then quickly added “I can’t – I can’t stay. If you could see what I do, you would know I can’t stay.”

While this is typical of death-bed visions and proves nothing, Lady Barrett related one further comment by Doris:

Why, it’s Father!” she announced. “Oh, he’s so glad I’m coming. He is so near!” Then, with a puzzled expression, she added: “he has Vida with him.”

Doris’ mother later confirmed that Doris’ sister Vida had recently died, but the family had agreed not to tell her due to her weakened condition.

This intrigued her skeptical husband and he spent the last two years of his life collecting other accounts from around the world. His  book was posthumously published in 1926.

osisMany assume these visions are merely hallucinations caused by a dying brain, but Karlis Osis,Ph.D, would not agree. Osis conducted research in the late 1950’s and found that when healthy people hallucinated people, they saw living ones, while the visions of the dying were of those who had previously passed. (Deathbed Observations by Physicians and Nurses, 1961)

The highly esteemed psychiatrist and thanatologist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, made a similar observation. She asked hospitalized children aged five to seven who they would most love to have with them if they could choose, and not surprisingly, 99% replied that it would be their mothers or fathers.

If deathbed visions are merely the mind’s way of providing comfort in the dying hours, then one would expect that these children would hallucinate visions of their parents.

kubler-ross Ah, but then Dr. Ross dropped her bombshell: “In all the many years that we have collected this kind of data,” she wrote in On Death and Dying (1969), “we have never met a child who, in the imminence of their own death, mentioned a person in their family that had not preceded them in death, even if only by a few minutes.”

Ross provided many outstanding examples to illustrate this. One poignant account was of a young girl involved in a tragic car accident with her parents and siblings. The girl suffered life-threatening injuries and Dr. Ross sat beside her to provide comfort as she died.

Suddenly, the girl announced that “everything is all right now. Mummy and Peter are already waiting for me.”

Prior to this, Dr. Ross had neither the courage nor the opportunity to tell the dying girl her mother had been killed in the accident. As the girl’s brother, Peter, had been taken to another hospital, Ross had no information about his condition.

A short time later, Dr. Ross received a call from the other hospital. Peter had died ten minutes before his sister passed.

This experience of being greeted by someone thought to be still alive but later found to have died is so common that it has it’s own label. It is known as a ‘Peak in Darien’ experience. But that’s another story, probably for another blog.

I have collected so many veridical accounts over the years, I could write a book.

Oh, wait a minute, I AM writing a book!

But I can’t resist including just one more intriguing account. This one concerns the second president of the United States, John Adams, who, with life-long friend and occasional adversary, Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1779.

Once retired, Jefferson lived in Virginia while Adams resided in Massachusetts, but the two men kept in regular contact through letters.

johnadamsIt is sufficiently remarkable that John Adams died on July 4th, 1826 – on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration he had drafted with Jefferson.

But wait, there’s more!

Moments before taking his last breath, Adams’ eyes opened wide. He stared intently at the foot of his bed, and in the presence of those gathered around he announced:

“Thomas Jefferson …. survives!”

jeffersonIt was not known until later that Jefferson had chosen that same auspicious day to depart this world, beating Adams into the afterlife by just a few minutes.

Had John Adams’ old friend been at his bedside to welcome him over?

What do you think?

You are welcome to leave a comment. The comment link is at the top of this post, just below the title.



Let me count the ways


Is it possible to find evidence for survival after death? Just let me count the ways!

Note: I say ‘evidence’, not ‘proof’. As any lawyer will confirm, evidence does not necessarily mean proof … unless, of course, sufficient evidence is gathered to make a case difficult to dismiss.

One area of compelling evidence is the veridical perception which often occurs during a near-death experience.

What is veridical? According to the Concise Oxford dictionary, veridical means ‘truthful of visions, and coinciding with realities.’

Yes folks, we actually have a word for visions which prove to be factual!

The “shoe on the ledge” account is considered veridical. For those who don’t know the story, here’s a brief summary: Maria – a Mexican crop-picker visiting Seattle in 1976 – suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. While there, she had a cardiac arrest. Maria was successfully resuscitated, but then became very excited, insisting she had observed a shoe sitting on a high ledge outside one of the hospital windows … while she was flat-lining! She desperately wanted someone to verify this.

To humor and calm her, social worker Kim Clark Sharp peered through windows on every floor. Eventually – and to her amazement – she found the shoe just as Maria had described it.

This veridical NDE is one of many, but it is often brought out and dusted off when debating the validity of NDE’s. However, I recently came across a similar one which occurred almost half a century earlier – in February, 1930.

This account was carefully investigated, and many years later was included in the peer-reviewed Journal of Scientific Exploration (vol.12, no.3, 1998) with the catchy title: ‘Do Any Near-Death Experiences Provide Evidence for the survival of Human Personality After Death?’ by Emily Williams Cook, Bruce Greyson and Ian Stevenson.

Linda McKnight was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation, but died shortly after admittance. She left her body and wandered over to the window.

Her distraught husband leant over her body. “Linda, why do you leave us?” he asked. Linda later recalled thinking how odd it was that he spoke to a figure on the bed instead of looking at her.

The doctor quickly administered heart stimulants by hypodermic, but Linda had no interest in this procedure. She remained by the window watching activities in the street four stories below.

On returning to her body, Linda was intrigued. She needed to prove – if only to herself – that it had really occurred, but she was too weak to leave her bed. She asked the nurse to describe the view out the window, then quickly added: “Don’t tell me. Let me tell you!”

Linda told the nurse there were sheets flapping in the wind, and a Christmas tree on the balcony below.

A Christmas tree? In February?

The nurse needed to open the window and lean out to see these, but was able to confirm both tree and drying sheets, just as Linda had described.

“Then I knew I had died and came back again.” Linda said.

Veridical accounts by children too young to understand death, let alone NDE’s, offer another source of compelling evidence.

Dr. Melvin Morse begins his book, Closer to the Light (1990), with the 1982 account by ‘Katie’ (real name: Kristle Merzlock).

Kristle was 7 when she was pulled from a public swimming pool and rushed to hospital. The report by ambulance personnel indicated she had been clinically dead for at least fifteen minutes, probably more.

With no gag reflex and an artificial lung machine to breathe for her, no-one expected Kristle to survive, least of all attending paediatrician Dr. Morse. Remarkably, she made a full recovery within 3 days and was able to recall a number of events that occurred while she was ‘dead’.

On meeting Dr. Morse for the first time after the incident, she told her mother: “That’s the one with the beard. First there was this tall doctor who didn’t have a beard, and then he came in.”

Morse confirmed this. Subsequent statements made by Kristle were also uncannily accurate.

“First I was in the big room, then they moved me to a smaller room where they did x-rays on me,” Kristle said, adding that there was “a tube down my nose”. Morse was amazed. Intubations were normally done orally, but Kristle had, indeed, been given a nasal intubation.

Veridical accounts gathered by scientifically-trained researchers have used a variety of methods to validate out-of-body states during flat-lining.

For example:

  • Highly esteemed thanatologist, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler Ross, collected numerous veridical accounts of people who, shortly before death, were surprised to be greeted by loved ones they believed were still alive, yet it was later confirmed that these ‘greeters’ had since died.
  • Dr. Kenneth Ring’s book – Mindsight (2008) – details veridical NDE’s by people born blind or severely sight-impaired, yet who have later accurately described doctors, procedures, equipment – and even their own bodies – while they were clinically dead.
  • Dr. Ian Stevenson traveled the world collecting past-life memories of children, then carefully researched them to prove their validity. Since his death in 2007, others have continued this remarkable research. Dr. Stevenson’s book – Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation – is well worth a read if you can find a copy.
  • Dr. Michael Newton devoted many years regressing people to the time between lives, before training accredited therapists to carry out his unique method. His first two books – Journey of Souls (1994) and Destiny of Souls (2006) – are highly recommended.
  • Dr. Gary Schwartz – Professor of Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, and Surgery at the University of Arizona – spends endless hours in his laboratory scientifically testing mediums using double-blind and triple-blind techniques, and reports outstanding results. His procedures and findings are revealed in his book, The Afterlife Experiments (2002).
  • Dr. Alan Botkin has helped countless battle-weary soldiers overcome post-traumatic stress with the help of a hypnotic procedure which allows them to communicate with those left behind on the battlefield. This remarkable technique invariably provides rapid recovery when years of counselling failed to do so. Dr. Botkin’s book, Induced After Death Communication (2005) makes fascinating reading.

I could go on, but if I don’t stop now this will become another book instead of a brief blog! I’ll provide more details about these and other evidence-producing techniques in future blogs.

Cheers, SandyC

Sorry skeptics, he didn’t invent nde’s

Those who  report nde’s are just parroting what they’ve already read or heard.”

WAIT!!! Before you jump through my computer screen, that’s not what I believe!

But it was. Once.

Near-death experiences became such a familiar concept after Life After Life was published in 1975, that these days, phrases like heavenly tunnels, life reviews and beings of light roll of most tongues with ease. It’s tempting to agree with the skeptics and assume that those who say they had an ‘nde’ were already familiar with the concept.

OK, but what about before 1975? Did people have near-death experiences before these accounts were gathered, labelled, catalogued, examined, and subsequently published as a best-selling book?

You betchya! Sorry, skeptics, but we can’t credit Dr. Raymond Moody with inventing near-death experiences!

Ah yes, you say, but were accounts prior to 1975 similar to modern-day accounts?

Absolutely! Throughout history, survivors have described whizzing through tunnels, seeing a bright light and being prevented from entering it. Some were told to “go back, it’s not your time!”

Let’s take a moment to think about this. How likely is it that people who were separated by thousands of miles could make up eerily similar stories? There were no google searches, few if any telephones, and not a lot of local bookshops where they could buy paperback books on the subject!

To satisfy my own curiosity that modern-day nde’s are not merely copycat accounts, I have spent half a lifetime gathering pre-Moody near death experiences, and I am currently writing a book about them. Following are just a few examples I found – can you put names to any of them?

  • A world-renowned psychiatrist who died of a heart attack in 1944. In his 1965 memoir, he recalled finding himself high in space and described how the earth looked from his vantage point. Thirty years after his experience, astronauts described identical views.  (hint: his name is very youthful – with an accent)
  • A high profile American author who was hit by numerous pieces of shrapnel during the first world war. In a letter reproduced in a 1962 biography about him, he described how he felt like “a pocket handkerchief” as he left his body. The incident so deeply affected him that he later had a character in one of his most famous novels have the same experience. (hint: his way was to be a determined writer!)
  • A famous admiral and intrepid explorer who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the 1920’s. He struggled to climb over a wall in a desperate attempt to gain access into heaven. His account was featured in his autobiography, published in 1938.  (hint: he made many feathered friends during his shivery journeys)
  • A nineteenth century admiral whose nde occurred as a result of almost drowning, and included a detailed life review. His experience was carefully documented by the personal physician to King George IV and was later included in an 1847 memoir by a knighted naval administrator.  (hint: the wind scale he invented was named after him, and it is still in use today)

Perhaps the most exciting references to pre-Moody ‘nde’s’ came to my attention when I thought I had exhausted all possibilities. These actually made news around the world this century!

In 2004, Dr. Phillippe Charlier was browsing in a Paris bookshop and came across an old medical book. Published in 1740, ‘Anecdotes de Medecine’ had been written by French military physician Pierre-Jean du Monchaux.

Dr. Charlier purchased it for the equivalent of one dollar.

This battered old book had held its secrets for almost three centuries. One was an account by a man the author referred to as M.L.C and who was described as “one of the most famous apothecaries of Paris.” (Perhaps, like many nder’s today, M.L.C’s fame prompted him to request anonymity for fear of ridicule.)

“M.L.C. had a bad fever in Italy” Monchaux wrote, and he was “cured by French doctors and surgeons using bleedings. After the last bleeding, which was very abundant, he remained unconscious for such a long time that the doctors were worried.”

The patient later declared that “after losing all external sensations, he saw a light that was so pure and strong, he thought he was in paradise. He perfectly remembers this sensation, the most pleasant and beautiful he ever felt in his life.”

Almost 300 years ago, the author compared accounts he collected with those reported by others who had similar experiences, and stated: “Many people of all ages and gender claim to have felt a similar sensation in the same conditions.”

The book’s purchaser, Dr. Charlier, was intrigued. A medical doctor himself, he followed Monchaux’s example and compared these accounts to modern-day reports. Like the original author, Charlier discovered many similarities – indescribable peace, a light so pure and strong it seemed like paradise, pleasant and beautiful sensations, and a clear recall of the event.

Charlier published his findings in the peer-reviewed Journal of Resuscitation.

Were all these people, including M.L.C., merely parroting what they’d heard or read?

If you know of other accounts of near-death experiences published before 1975, I’d be delighted to hear about them – the comment tab is at the top of this blog, under the title.

Cheers, SandyC