What Happens When We Die? Part Two: NDEs

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A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. Such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light.

I believe NDEs offer us the best evidence of life after death.

Over the years, I’ve read numerous accounts from average people and medical professionals like Penny Satori who is one of the leading experts on Near Death Experiences.

I recently read an account where a young woman developed an embolism after giving birth and she went into cardiac arrest. She flat-lined several times and after an hour of trying to resuscitate her the doctors pronounced her dead. Then they noticed a pulse..

Four days later she woke up and she had a story.

The woman left her body and watched the doctors working on her. Then she was whisked off on a journey by an ‘orb of light’ that communicated with her via thought. Yeah, I know that sounds a bit funky monkey but stay with me..

She was shown the world from a different vantage point, as in flying, and I don’t mean United Airlines.

She experienced the world more vividly and profoundly than is humanly possible.

She felt an overwhelming sense of being loved.

She was shown deceased relatives.

She was shown a little girl who was yet to be born. This child would be ‘different’ and would teach people acceptance.

She was told that she had to go back by her deceased mother.

She told her doctor everything except the part about the child because the knowledge that the child was going to have problems upset her and she hoped it wasn’t true.

The doctor implied that it was nothing more than an hallucination.

She didn’t mention it again to anyone outside of her family until many years later when she was working as a staff nurse and a lunch-time conversation turned into a discussion about weird stuff that happens to people who are close to death. She shared her story and this time she mentioned the child because 21 years after her NDE, her daughter had a little girl who was born severely autistic. Alongside her daily challenges was an infectious sense of humour and the ability to make people choose love over anger.

Impressed?

I’m not done yet.

One night this woman’s granddaughter (then aged four) told her that she remembered seeing her ‘before’. Her grandmother didn’t immediately understand until the girl told her that she saw her when she “died and went to heaven”.

“I saw you there”.

*shiver time*

How can people, whose hearts have stopped (and who are clinically dead) report lucid and structured experiences when their brains are not working?

The answer is that we still don’t know but at least the medical profession is starting to take the NDE seriously.

The Aware Study

AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) is the biggest ever medical study into NDEs led by Dr Sam Parnia where scientists at the University of Southampton spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria. Of those interviewed – 39% claimed to have had some form of awareness before their hearts were restarted. One man’s 57 year old man was able to accurately recall everything that was going on around him after his heart stopped.

Dr Parnia: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.”

Dr David Wilde, a research psychologist said, “There is some very good evidence here that these experiences are actually happening after people have medically died.”

The study concluded that in some cases of cardiac arrest, recollections of awareness are compatible with out of body experiences that correspond with actual events. Also that a number of people may have vivid NDEs but don’t recall them due to drugs or brain injury. Most importantly, the findings are such that further investigation is warranted. In other words, it’s time for the medical profession to treat NDEs and the people who experience them with more respect than the usual, ‘The brain does funny things’.

The experience I spoke about in the previous post wasn’t an NDE or an OBE – That’s out of body experience, not Order of the British Empire – but I DID experience the overwhelming feeling of love and peace which is something that NDErs frequently describe..

Some Common Elements of the NDE

  1. A feeling of overwhelming love
  2. Mental telepathy
  3. Life review
  4. Experiencing God
  5. Ecstasy
  6. Unlimited knowledge
  7. Shown the future
  8. Told to ‘go back’
  9. Tunnel and light

Some of the scientific theories are plausible. Theories such as The Dying Brain Theory or The Temporal Lobe Theory etc. However, one theory I have always rejected out of hand is The Hallucination Theory. The woman in the story brought back knowledge of something yet to happen and it not only happened but was validated. That doesn’t sound very ‘hallucinatory’ to me.

NONE of the dying brain theories adequately explain why people are able to bring back knowledge of things YET to happen. The best some skeptics can come up with is ‘coincidence’. ‘Coincidence’ is what people say when they can’t be arsed to dig deeper. Essentially – it’s a cop out – followed by ‘There is no proof, therefore it doesn’t exist’. They state their ‘opinions’ as facts. To be fair, the skeptics I am referring to are not really skeptics at all. They are what Marcello Truzzi calls, ‘pseudo-skeptics’ The true skeptic looks at ALL the facts and evidence before they form an opinion and even then they will remain OPEN to changing their minds in the light of new evidence. The pseudo-skeptic never changes his/her position.

Science understands the human body but it does NOT understand the nature of consciousness. There is no proof either way but there is a mountain of evidence to support survival of consciousness and thanks to the AWARE study there is scientific evidence obtained under TEST conditions.

“We just don’t know what is going on. We are still very much in the dark about what happens when you die and hopefully this study will help shine a scientific lens onto that.” ~ Dr David Wilde

There is no denying that the evidence is there to support the theory that consciousness survives death. Most importantly, the lives of those who experience them are never the same. They look at life differently and have no fear of death. Some even come back with ‘psychic abilities’ that they didn’t have before such as being able to see ‘auras’ or predicting the future. I read about one lady who was able to move objects with the power of though after her NDE. Sadly, her blog was inundated with nasty comments and she shut it down from public view.

You don’t have to believe these people but they deserve their truth as much as you deserve yours and this is their truth.

If you’ve had an NDE or a similar experience to me and want to share it, please do. If you want to talk about it privately, send me an e-mail. I would be fascinated to hear your story. Meanwhile, here’s a few websites and books for you to get stuck into.

NDERF Website

IANDS – Website

NDE Books That I’ve Read & Recommend

Dying To Be Me ~ Anita Moorjani

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeons Journey To The Afterlife – Eban Alexander

Evidence Of The Afterlife: The Science Of Near Death Experiences ~ Jeffrey Long

Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of Near Death Experience ~ Pim Van Lommell

Wisdom of Near Death Experiences: How Understanding Near Death Experiences Can Help Us Live More Fully ~ Dr Penny Satori

 

 

 

What Happens When We Die? Part One: ADCs

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I love talking about death, me. Strange considering I have health anxiety, but it’s not death itself that gets me hyperventilating – it’s the dying bit.

What interests me is what happens to us after we die.

I believe that consciousness survives death because I’ve experienced paranormal phenomena – my earliest recollection being when I was 9 years old when on two separate occasions I saw a child in my house who didn’t belong there. In other words, I saw a ghost.

However, the experience that turned me into a ‘bleever’ happened early one December morning..

Something woke me up around 3am. It was a familiar sound but it took a few seconds to comprehend what it was because – you know – brain fog? Once my brain engaged, I realised it was my Bontempi organ..

The organ was operated by batteries and made a whirring sound when you switched it on. Somehow, it had switched itself on despite being visibly off. I wasn’t scared but I was awake. The only way to shut the damn thing up was to take the batteries out. So I did. I also made a mental note to get my dad to look it the next day. Problemo sorted, I got back into bed.

Close Encounters of the Bontempi Kind.

That’s when I saw my rocking chair moving gently back and forth.

I assumed it was movement generated from me walking about. Logical, right? Only the bugger kept on rocking long after I’d stopped moving. It was as if somebody was sitting on it? Except that NOBODY WAS THERE. There were no open windows, no drafts, no heating and NO LOGICAL REASON FOR THIS TO BE HAPPENING! By now you’d imagine that a young girl would be crapping her pajamas? On the contrary, I was exceptionally calm.

At this point that I became aware of a smell of perfume. I knew the smell, but from where?

What happened next is why I believe so strongly that our consciousnesses never die..

Brace yourself, folks, cos it’s about to get wanky..

I was filled with THE MOST INTENSE feeling of love.

Think of how it felt to hold your babies for the first time and then multiply it by about a GAZILLION.

Then I remembered who’s perfume it was..

It was my grandmother’s.

The same grandmother who’d once owned the chair that was rocking by itself. The perfume was hers. I don’t remember it on her, as I was only 6 when she died, but I was given her jewellery which was infused with her perfume – the same perfume that was filling my room.

It was unmistakable.

My Bontempi returned to perfect working order. Dad could find no logical reason for it’s ‘malfunction’. My theory? Grandma had to wake me up somehow, right? Just enough noise to wake me but not enough to scare the shit out of me.

What I experienced was an ADC (after-death communication)

What the actual chuff is an ADC?

Bill and Judy Guggenheim defined the ADC as a “spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a family member or friend who has died.”

There are twelve major forms of after-death communication.

Sentient ADC – Where you sense the presence of the deceased.

Auditory ADC – Where you can hear the voice of the deceased.

Tactile ADC – Where you feel the physical touch of the deceased.

Olfactory ADC – Where you smell a fragrance associated with the deceased.

Partial Appearance ACD – When you see parts of the deceased but they don’t appear to be ‘solid’.

Visual ADC – A full appearance from the deceased where they look ‘solid’ and ‘real’.

Twilight ACD – These occur as you fall asleep or wake up.

Sleep State ACD – When a dream is more than a dream.

Out of Body ACD – Contact with the deceased during an OBE.

Telephone ACD – Phone-calls from heaven – literally.

ACDs of Physical Phenomena – Flickering lights ‘n’ shizz.

Symbolic ACDs – Butterflies, rainbows, robins or inanimate objects as a sign from the deceased.

My experience was sentient, olfactory and physical. To be honest, I’m glad Grandma didn’t choose to ‘appear’ in part OR full because I’m fairly confident I would have shit the bed.

My ADC happened in the early hours, as many do, simply because it’s when we are most relaxed and there are fewer distractions. They also happen during stressful times in our lives or around special days, like birthdays or anniversaries. My ADC happened on December the 18th 1981. My Grandma died on December the 18th 1976. Coincidence?

The experience is very special to me. The reason I don’t fear death is because five years after she died, my grandmother was still around. I couldn’t see her but I was aware of her.

Sceptics have belittled my experience as a ‘dream’ or ‘psychotic episode’. Thing is, you don’t remember dreams decades later and I find the ‘psychotic episode’ theory to be insulting – not to mention lazy.

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that involves a loss of contact with reality.

I might be a fully-fledged psycho now but I wasn’t then. I was 11 years old. My head was full of Duran Duran and Smash Hits. If I was going to have a hallucination – it would have been Nick Rhodes, mate, not the grandmother who I could barely remember.

Believing in the afterlife doesn’t make people stupid or gullible. Some hard-line sceptics  openly ridicule people’s experiences and ignore the fact that many believers are credible people. Scientific people with letters after their names and shit.

In a review of research on ADCs, Streit-Horn (2011) found that they occur with people of all nationalities, intelligence levels, religions, ethnicity etc. People who report these experiences are typically NOT mentally ill.

None of this matters to the closed-minds of the sceptics, mostly because they have reputations to live up to. They demand scientific proof, or it didn’t happen.

I can’t prove any of what happened to me and those who could verify certain things are no longer here. Does this mean it didn’t happen?

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Albus Dumbledore

A big thank you to Lori from Days Gone By Etsy shop who kindly allowed me to use and adapt her Bontempi photograph.

 

 

 

The Dash In-Between

There is a dash which represents our lives between birth and death.

This is the dash.

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My dash has one date before it because I’m still alive, or at least I think I am?

*checks pulse*

Yep, still here.

One day there will be two dates because there is no doubt, whatsoever, that I’m going to die.

I try not to worry about that too much.

OK, I’m lying through my teeth. I torture myself DAILY with thoughts of death. But then I suffer from health anxiety, innit?

I don’t fear death itself. Truth be told, living is hard graft when you are autistic and I’ll probably be glad of some eternal rest after a few more decades of life in the shit-lane. NOT that being autistic is shit. It isn’t. It’s the anxiety, that’s shit.

The thing is that death is still a bit taboo. Brits don’t like to think about death until they absolutely have to despite TV adverts encouraging us to ‘plan for the inevitable’. Life Insurance companies give away bribes gifts, like clocks, so you can watch the seconds tick away. Nice touch, Guys.

However, some of us don’t get the opportunity to plan for the inevitable because we get wiped out under the wheels of a Number 48 bus during a spontaneous sprint across the road to buy a pie or the shock of the £250 supermarket bill stops our hearts, literally. Or we succumb to some disease or other. We like to think we’re in control of our own lives but we’re not.

I’m 47 now. How did that happen? It only seems like yesterday I was snogging Nick Rhodes’ face off on my bedroom wall but thanks to an early menopause I feel like I’m in the re-make of Cocoon..

Having a biological age of 103 means I’m already down on the deal and at this rate I’ll be giving The Boy a lift to high-school on the back of a mobility scooter – which he’d probably love. Most women amble gracefully into menopause whereas I’ve been catapulted into it to find the hormone police waiting for me, truncheons at the ready.

‘ELLO ELLO ELLO! WHAT ‘AVE WE ‘ERE THEN? ‘OESTROGEN AND A FULLY FUNCTIONING PELVIC -FLOOR? WE’LL BE ‘AVIN THOSE! AND YOUR SANITY. HAND EM OVER, THERE’S A GOOD MRS. WE DON’T WANT NO TROUBLE NOW DO WE?’

Bastards.

So I’m swallowing all manner of pills and potions in an attempt to claw back a few years or at least slow the process down. It could be a lot worse. Of course it could because as annoying as my symptoms are, they are transitory and by the time I’m 50 (ish) I should be slightly less deranged. So my GP says, anyway..

With the menopause (and bits dropping off me at an alarming rate) I’m more aware of my ‘dash’ than ever. My parents are dead and mortality is slapping me in the face and, yes, it unnerves me. Someone told me that when you hit 40, it’s downhill from then on. They lied. It’s 35.

I grew up thinking that you got old and then you died. Grandma was in her 70s, as was Nan, and Grandad was a respectable 81 when he wheezed through the pearly gates…

That’s how I expected it to be.

Then the unimaginable happened…

A girl in my school died. She was fifteen years old.

Her dash was too brief.

Years later, my nephew died. His dash represented just four years. How sad is that?

My dad died aged 58 and by now I’d realised that ‘three score years and ten’ wasn’t a cert. To be fair, Dad’s dash was a happy dash apart from the last 12 months, which were shit.

I’m not afraid of death itself because I’m one of those lunatics who believe that consciousness survives death. It’s the before bit that worries me because I have the pain threshold of a testicle. I can’t even stand a deep clean at the dentist without having to be anesthetized so what chance do I have with something major?

I want to reach a grand old age (marbles intacto, obvs) where I can gracefully say, ‘Rightio, Death, I’m ready. You may take me now’. Then I want to slip into a Werthers induced coma having watched an entire box set of Ground Force and, seeing as this is my fantasy, Alan Titchmarsh can be the one to take me to heaven wearing nothing but his wellies and a smile.

That’s another thing about the menopause. One day you’re into Duran Duran and sling-backs, the next you’re craving middle-aged gardeners and comfy slippers. Or maybe that’s just me?

Death is going to happen sooner or later because none of us are immortal except for Bruce Forsyth who’s 302. We can always pay to have ourselves cryogenically frozen but it’s out of most people’s price ranges. Not to mention, creepy.

We worry about death but forget that before we were born, we didn’t exist. Get your brain cells around THAT one! We are part of something much bigger than ourselves but we’re all connected right down to the microscopic stuff that we can’t see. There is too much intricacy and beauty for it all to be random or meaningless, so says me. Our bodies become diseased or frail and eventually stop working but the essence which is us cannot die because it’s energy and energy doesn’t die – it just re-groups.

The dash represents our entire lives. We don’t get to choose when we we’re born and the majority of us don’t get to choose when we die. What happens in-between isn’t necessarily our choice but our attitude to any given situation, regardless of how difficult, most certainly is our choice. This is what our eulogies will be about. Not how long we lived, but how we lived.

In this little corner of the internet I make fun of myself because it’s therapeutic. I try to be kind to my fellow human beings even if I don’t understand them very well. My life will always require effort because I’m autistic, not to mention a nervous Nora. But I brought three amazing human beings into this world and that’s what I’m proud of and when the day comes when my dash is complete, I hope their memories of me will make their tears happy ones. Happy as in I’ll be missed. Not happy as in doing the conger round the living room shouting ‘YESSSSS!! THE OLD BAG’S FINALLY CROAKED! WHERE SHE KEEP THE WILL, BRO’S?’

None of us are getting out of this thing alive, are we? All we can do is accept death and hope that when he does come for us, he’s a friend. Most importantly, we need to make our dashes count.

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” ~ Terry Pratchett – Good Omens

 

Hello, It’s Me..

Everybody remembers the last conversation they had with a loved one before that person died.. It doesn’t matter if the conversation was in person or via the phone. It was those words, spoken or unspoken, that stay with you.

Princes William and Harry were holidaying in Scotland with their father when they last spoke to their mother. Diana was in Paris but she always found time to speak to the two boys who were her life. On the 30th of August she phoned her sons. William and Harry remember this last conversation as being too brief because they were eager to be doing other stuff. They were behaving as young boys do. They were not to know that in a few hours time the mother that they loved so much would be dead. That last phone call haunts them and I understand it because I too am haunted by my last phone call with my mother.

Death.

Death is tricky. Sometimes you get prior notice that he’s coming for a loved one. If death is inevitable, then surely this is the best scenario because nothing is left unsaid? The living can carry on comforted that they got to say goodbye and the dying can let go knowing that there is nothing left to say. That’s the kind of death I want. To leave on my terms. However, Death so often takes our loved ones without warning. There is no opportunity to tell them one last time how much you love them. They are simply – gone.

Death gave no warning about my mother.

The last time I spoke to Mum was the night before she died. I’d been in hospital having a procedure done under general anesthetic and I’d not been home long before she phoned to see how I was. I was woozy from the anesthetic and I just wanted to sleep so I fobbed her off and told her I’d speak to her the following morning. That was the last time I ever spoke to her. How could I know that she would be dead before I woke up the next morning?

Mum hadn’t been ill, except for a “bit of a tummy bug” which she’d mentioned in passing that week. The ‘bug’ turned out to be Bronchial Pneumonia. If she was suffering, nobody knew, because she didn’t say anything. She didn’t ‘do’ illness. Illness was an inconvenience which interfered with hair appointments. She couldn’t be done with it and in the end her stubbornness was her undoing.

What happens in these circumstances is that you replay that conversation over and over in your mind. You don’t remember the other conversations you’ve had with that person. You just remember those last words. You rewrite the script or at least you try to because you feel cheated or guilty or both. You feel like you are the worst person in the world because of that last conversation. You’d give anything to be able to go back in time and do it differently. To this day, I don’t remember if I told her I loved her. Normally, I would have, as I had ended every other phone call, but I was semi-sedated. I most probably did because I ended every conversation the same way. The problem is that it was often like reciting the Lords Prayer, as in, something that you say without actually thinking about it. You know?

My mother was no longer at the end of the phone but that didn’t stop me dialing her number. I needed to hear her voice and I knew where I could find her, for a little while longer, at least..

Hi, it’s me, I’m not here at the moment but leave a message and I’ll get back to you.

I lost count of how many times I rang number Mum’s number to listen to this message. Even though I knew that the phone was ringing out into a house which was no longer a home, it didn’t matter because it was still her voice and it comforted me.

Given the chance, our last conversation would have been very different. Then again, there is a belief that things happen for a reason. What if I was to go back and hear something in my mother’s voice which alerted me to the fact that something was wrong? What then if I was to intervene only for the outcome to be that for the rest of her life she was frail and dependent on others? If you knew my mother you’d understand how much she’d have hated that. As hard as it is to lose someone, if we look hard enough, we will see a blessing in some form. Sometimes we just need to look at things from their perspective instead of our own.

It’s unrealistic to treat every conversation as if it’s the last you will ever have. Life gets in the way and with the best will in the world there are always going to be occasions where we have to cut conversations short. However, no matter how brief a conversation may be, there is always time enough to say the only thing that really matters.

“The news of life is carried via telephone. A baby’s birth, a couple engaged, a tragic car accident on a late night highway – most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of a ringing.” Mitch Albom ~ The First Phone Call From Heaven

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