Beyond the Telling of Stories: Studies of Survivors of Near Death
Eight-year-old Jesse Lotte nearly died of liver failure from fulminant mononucleosis. She was in the Intensive Care Unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital for three days in a profound coma, and suffered clinical death from a total body shutdown.
Yet she survived and made a full recovery.
We interviewed Jesse as part of our research study of all survivors of near death at Seattle Children’s Hospital from 1985-2000. We did not accept volunteers to our study. We had no idea whether or not the children we interviewed had any sort of experiences associated with surviving near death.
In fact, our bias was that they did not have any experiences. Our research team, comprised of the departmental heads of the Intensive Care Unit and Neurology as well as a host of medical students, had the traditional scientific viewpoint that when you are dead, you are dead. We thought that when patients go into coma and die, consciousness ceases and they experience only darkness and then nothing at all.
We were then shocked to interview Jesse Lotte about nearly dying and hear her say that she remembered her own death. She said that she heard and saw the nurses coming into her room and bringing “that crash cart thing." She then said “...and then I saw my grandmother (who had previously died). She was just sitting there. I was here (in her bed) and she was there (beside the bed). I was just so shocked to see her.”
As can be seen in the above picture, Jesse’s grandmother was surrounded by a...
Why Do Some People Forget?
What about people that are brought back and have no memories of an afterlife?
There are many theories about this ranging from the kinds of medications people receive in the course of treatment that might affect memory, or the parts of the brain that are damaged that might make retrieval of the experience difficult.
It might be as well that some people do not have an NDE and this is a phenomena evident in only a portion of the population.
Lisa Smartt has begun research in neurocognitive pathways and profiles that might predict who will have or remember NDES, but I am less inclined to investigate things in this way.
I consider how another dimension might interface with our own and am more interested in the notion of event boundaries and discontinuous realities. That is, there is a layering of dimensions or experiences, like an Escher painting, in which mutltiple dimensions can co-exist and certain shifts allow for our entering and exiting different realms.
Negative NDEs and Hell
Most of the people who talk about their NDEs describe a peaceful experience and having felt an overwhelming sense of love, something that a Christian might call “heaven; " others, however, have described an intensely scary and unpleasant experience. What has...
A Divinity School Student's Secret
When I was a young Divinity School student, I hid out in the books of the ancient mystics, isolating myself in their words, in a search for myself. I felt different than my classmates. When they were sitting in chapel every morning for an hour for three years, I chose to sit alone in our library to read and take notes and meditate or hide in the bowels of the library practicing yoga where no one would see.
I had a secret: One day in March, years earlier, on the side of an icy mountain, I had died. I went ice climbing on the world-famous Lower Weeping Wall, along the Saskatchewan River and Ice Fields Parkway in Banff Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. My climbing partner was an experienced ice climber, but I was a novice. On our descent, we became trapped on the side of the mountain. As the sunset, exhaustion, and hypothermia overcame us. I died on the side of that mountain.
Headshot by Robert Mitchell
Instantaneously the Angel of Death carried me to Heaven, to a place of non-being and no thing, an infinite illuminated greater darkness, of timelessness, and telepathically talked with the Supreme Being. I had passed through a Divine Fire Purgative Love*—a hell of my own making—and received undeserved forgiveness from the Merciful Abundance of Love.
The Knower of All lit up the full story of my life. Nothing was hidden in shadow, and so I saw my true self—an everlasting soul-creature created and called into being by name by Creator. My orb-like, genderless, body-less consciousness was then infilled, overwhelmed, and...
Part Two, But Is It Real? Series with Dr. Melvin Morse Better Understanding Consciousness Through Children's NDEs
Sometimes the accounts of near-death experiences themselves contain elements which prove that they are “real," meaning that we can trust the information gained from them.
Eight-year old Jamie Untinen nearly died from a severe brain infection. During the time she was clinically dead, she thought that she floated out of her physical body and met Jesus.
“He was very nice,” she said. She also saw a light which told her “who she was and where she was to go."
I personally resuscitated Jamie Unitinen. She was part of my study of children who survived cardiac arrest, done at Seattle Children’s Hospital under the supervision of the Department of Intensive Care Medicine and the Hospital’s Human Subject Research Review Board. I know that she was clinically dead during the time that she says she was out of her body, visiting Jesus and angels, and meeting “grandpas, grammas and babies waiting to be born."
Jamie was rushed to Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington by her private physician after she went into a coma in his office. She had a form of bacterial brain infection which should have resulted in death within a few hours of presentation. Instead she lived to...
The photograph that runs with this column has been declared an official vision by bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt. It consists of a mysterious spray of light coming down from the heavens directly over the church of St. Mark in Assiut, a Nile River town about 250 miles south of Cairo.
Egyptian legend say that it was near this spot that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him King Herod had died. From here, the Holy Family began the return trip to Israel that would end its five year exile in Egypt, which Egyptian or “Coptic” Christians believe began when the Holy Family crossed the border from Israel to get away from King Herod who wanted to kill the baby Jesus.
There are a few chapters in the book of Matthew about the Holy Family fleeing the wrath of King Herod, but nothing written in the Bible about what the Holy Family did nor what they learned on their flight to Egypt. But Egyptian Christians and Muslims have collected stories over the centuries and assembled a Holy Family Trail in their country, which includes 33 sites venerated by the Coptic Orthodox Church.
The church being bathed in light in this photo is in Assuit, the 33rd site on the trail. Like many of the others, it has been associated with miracles since it was built more than 200 years ago. Lights have been the miracle here. Off and on for two centuries lights have appeared to come down from the sky directly over the church steeple. Tens of thousands of people have seen them, and many Egyptians have captured them on film....
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, experimenting. There was no pain in my chest. I took another and became even more aware, as if waking up from a dream. Then I felt a familiar touch. When I opened my eyes, Tamara was right next to me. She was real, too; I could feel her. She was alive. I could feel her familiar vibration even more powerfully than her physical presence.
She looked the same as she always had, beautiful, but now I could feel her presence at a deeper level than ever before. Beyond how she looked, I was experiencing everything about the essence and power of her soul.
However, she was crying and upset.
Why were we here?
Was the crash a bad dream, or had I died? Had we both...
Dr. Ring enjoys hearing from his readers. If you have comments about his blog posts, please send them to [email protected] .
Nature has symbols for her nobler joys,
Her nobler sorrows. Who had dared foretell
That only man, by some sad mockery,
Should learn to laugh who learns that he must die?
-- Wilfred Scawen Blunt
I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.
-- Woody Allen
Not long ago, a good friend of mine, about twenty years my junior, wrote to me saying that he was already fretting about getting older:
I have been thinking of you off and on again these days, pondering whether I should take you as my role model for how to deal with getting older. I am 61 now and quite often annoyed about the symptoms of getting older, while you often wrote things like: "There is still a lot I can be grateful for" and other encouraging things.
“Ah, my early sixties,” I thought wistfully, “I was in my prime then.” Well, all right, I was...
TODAY'S QUESTION continues our exploration of the continuity of identity.
In an earlier ASK RAYMOND, you said that after death, we are all "absorbed into the light," what does that mean to you?
Click on the video above to hear the answer.
The Life Review & Being "Absorbed Into the Light"
On Monday, Raymond talked about how during the life review, people report reviewing their lives from the perspective of others, especially those whom they hurt during their lives.
The life review is a process of developing and deepening empathy and appears to be an important part of how we grow as "souls."
In this short response, Raymond describes being "absorbed into the light" as a process of unification that appears to occur after we die as our individual identities dissolve in some ways while at the same time, a core identity does, indeed, remain.
Why does that individuality continue to exist? His answer is a little surprising.
This week's responses from Raymond are relatively short.
If you are left with more questions, please feel free to send them into us at [email protected] and Raymond will get to them as soon as he can.
You can also send questions for Jeffery Olsen and Dr, O'Driscoll to that address, so they can incorporate the answers into their live webinar presentation on December 4. Or you can ask your questions live that night.
Thanks, everyone!- Lisa Smartt
Interested in our ongoing...
TODAY'S QUESTION: Do people choose their time of death?
Click on the video above to hear the answer.
Interested in our ongoing research into people's last words?