Whether you are a believer or not?
The fact is…
When it comes to NDEs (near death experiences)?
They make for a fascinating study.
Even if you are a cynic:
As a nurse, I’m always cheered when I see a patient who appears to be making a good recovery. That certainly seemed the case with 60-year-old Tom Kennard, who’d been suffering from sepsis after surgery for cancer.
After a couple weeks in the intensive care ward, he was well enough to be moved from his hospital bed to a chair. Moments later, however, he suddenly slumped into unconsciousness.
There was no doubt at all that he was out cold. He responded neither to my urgent questions nor to the painful pressure of my Biro on his fingernails.
Worse still, his skin became clammy, his oxygen levels dropped and his blood pressure plummeted — clear signs that his condition had become critical.
As I quickly gave him extra oxygen, I called out to the other nurses in the intensive care unit. Four of them immediately flocked to Tom’s bedside, and we gently helped return him to his bed as we called for a doctor urgently.
He was still unresponsive when the doctor arrived, followed a few minutes later by a consultant.
Indeed, Tom didn’t regain full consciousness for another three hours.
Yet, during those three lost hours, he had apparently gone on a life-changing journey. His first sensation, he told me afterwards, was of ‘floating upwards to the top of the room. I looked down and I could see my body on the bed. It was lovely, so peaceful — and no pain at all.’
In the next moment, the hospital ward had disappeared and he’d entered a pink room, in which his father was standing next to a man with ‘long black scruffy hair and nice eyes.’ For a time, Tom talked telepathically with his father.
At some point, he became aware that something was touching him. Once again, he was back on the hospital ward ceiling — looking down at me and the doctor.
I was putting a lollipop-shaped instrument into his mouth to clean it, he recalled later.
He could also see a woman beyond the cubicle curtains, who kept twitching them to check on his condition.
Indeed, I can personally verify that everything Tom ‘saw’ while unconscious was 100 per cent accurate — down to the swab I used to moisten his mouth and the names of the consultant and of the physiotherapist lurking behind the curtains.
While all this was going on, Tom heard the man with the scruffy hair say: ‘He’s got to go back.’ This came as a blow: he remembers desperately wanting to stay.
Shortly after that, he told me, ‘I was floating backwards and went back into my body on the bed.’
His pain was excruciating, but he could still vividly recall how peaceful he had felt in that pink room. ‘Pen,’ he told me, ‘if that’s death, it’s wonderful.’
This near-death experience had two significant effects on his life. First, Tom says, it completely removed any fear of dying.
(This had been noted on his hospital admission form, and his sister has since signed a statement confirming it.)
Yet, in front of me, soon after his near-death experience, Tom opened and flexed that same hand. This should not have been physiologically possible, as the tendons had permanently contracted. What had caused this sudden, seemingly spontaneous healing? Even now, science has no answers.
But when you study near-death experiences, as I have for the past couple of decades, you grow used to phenomena that defy all rational explanation.
Take, for instance, the case of Fred Williams, a Swansea pensioner in his 70s who was suffering from the final stages of a terminal heart problem.
One night in hospital, he lost consciousness and we feared he was about to die.
But he somehow managed to keep his faltering grip on life. And when he eventually came to, I noticed at once that he looked very happy. My colleagues also remarked on this.
By the following morning, Fred had recovered sufficiently to see his anxious relatives.
To their astonishment, he told them that he’d been visited — while unconscious — by his mother and grandmother, both of whom were dead, as well as by his (living) sister. They’d just stood by his bedside, keeping vigil. ‘I couldn’t understand why my sister was there as well,’ he remarked.
Unknown to him, his sister had actually died the week before.
Fearing the news might jeopardise his recovery, his family had kept it from him. Poor Fred never learned the truth, and died a week later.
But possibly the most extraordinary case I know of personally is that of a Moroccan woman in her late 30s, who ran a clothes business.
In November 2009, Rajaa Benamour had an anaesthetic injection for minor surgery, after which she found herself mentally scrolling through her entire life, right back to her birth. This was followed by what she could only describe as a rapid review of the creation of the universe. After being discharged from hospital, she started trying to find books about what she’d learned during her vision.
Eventually, she realised that she had somehow acquired an in-depth understanding of quantum physics — despite never having previously known anything about the subject.
This motivated her to study the subject at university level.
The professor in charge of her studies was astounded. The knowledge she’d already acquired, he said, could not have come either from studying student textbooks or taking a quick course.
Stranger still, he was puzzled by some of her scientific theories — yet they’ve since been confirmed by papers published in physics journals.
As a staff nurse who’s worked in intensive care at British hospitals for 17 years, I’ve seen thousands of patients die.
Some were heavily drugged or hooked up to numerous machines; many were no longer able to speak.
Back in 1995, I began to wonder: is death so terrible that we must do everything in our power to delay it with powerful drugs and machines? What is death, anyway? What happens when we die? Why are we so afraid of it?
So I began reading about death — and eventually came across the concept of near-death experiences, or NDEs. People who’d experienced these strange and intense visions all seemed to be saying the same thing: death is nothing to fear. Could they be right? My scientific training told me that NDE’s were almost certain to be hallucinations. Or wishful thinking.
But, in the end, I decided to embark on a PhD on near-death experiences, while continuing to work in intensive care.
I began my eight-year study as a cynic. But by the time it ended, I was convinced that near-death experiences are a genuine phenomenon.
What IS the truth?
Pretty sure it is not one, we as individuals, will each fully know, grasp and acknowledge…
Until we take the great journey ourselves.
But one thing IS for sure, for those that have experienced NDEs…
They transform the people who have experienced them.
And because they do, maybe Science should scoff at them a little less…
While getting to the study of them a little more.
For there IS something there, something great…
Something FANTASTIC to be discovered.
If we but just open ourselves…
A little bit more.