By definition, a near death experience is “an unusual experience taking place on the brink of death and recounted by a person after recovery, typically an out-of-body experience or a vision of a tunnel of light.” Though fundamentally correct, the textbook definition of NDEs fails to capture the mystery, transcendence, and often supernatural nature of these episodes, which have been well-documented but still remain ambiguous in the wide scope of science.
Some may say NDEs are hallucinations while near the edge of death, or when someone was briefly dead and then revived. Others view them as a spiritual experience or proof of the afterlife, which either offer comfort to the near-dying, or scare them into changing their lives before they end up permanently dead. Though decades of research have gone into the study and documentation of NDEs, they blur an unusual line between science and spirituality, making the reality of near the death experience difficult to ascertain, let alone prove. What is known is that NDEs have been reported often enough for both science and spirituality to take notice, and those experiences have had a powerful impact on those fortunate or unfortunate enough to have had the experience. And while many NDEs have similar characteristics, no episode is ever exactly the same, making them as unique as they are remarkable.
In The Confessionals Episode 123: Island of Lost Souls, one guest describes his own near death experience, in which he found himself in a pleasant “holding place” resembling a beach. Like many NDEs, his experience was one of mystery but also of peace and beauty. Others, however, have a different story - near death events that are not peaceful, but terrible and traumatic. Below are 10 such accounts of amazing, transcendent near death experiences (provided by the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation), and 5 horrifying NDEs that would make anyone glad to be alive:
10 Amazing Accounts of Near Death Experiences
1) NDE due to trauma to the central nervous system from medical procedure: I went to a peaceful place. It was so beautiful that I thought, 'The earth is like a film that hasn’t been developed. Not until we reach the other side, is the film developed,. Everything will be seen in beautiful colors that don't exist here on earth.' I saw a beautiful meadow. There were flowers and colors that were so fantastic that our earthly brain can't comprehend it. The colors we have here on earth are very pale in comparison to the colors I experienced in the spiritual realm.
2) NDE due to drowning at age 19: Yahshael and I were teleported to the center of a vast golden field. I could hear the most beautiful music and I could feel it moving through me. The breeze blew against the tall golden wheat stalks, and as it did I could feel the spirit of all things living around me: animals, plants, the elements. I was one with them. I looked up and saw a huge ball of light that cast the purest, warm light all around me and felt God touch my skin. He knew me, he loved me no matter how imperfect my Earthly life had been.
3) NDE at age 13 due to drowning. Also a shared death experience: I first looked for the sun, but found nothing that provided a light source for the daylight conditions. I then looked across the river, to see such an amazing world of mountains, trees, waterfalls, exotic flowers. Everywhere was green, green, green! It looked like our own natural world, but on steroids. There was so much life with colors, textures, light, and smells that were all in a state of absolute perfection and abundance. I could scarcely take it in.
4) NDE due to severe illness: Running through the trees was something that looked like a cross between a Yak and an Orangutan - a huge muscular animal charging quickly by itself through the wild. I'm then shown more and more other places, some remarkable and some unremarkable. I realise just how huge the universe is. Earth is just a tiny part of an endless world.
5) NDE due to faint after ceasarian section delivery: This place was different. Everywhere there was lush green nature. It was a very peaceful place. I was very happy. There were green meadows and a train rail. In a distance, a train came very fast to where I was standing. The train stopped to pick me up. I wanted to get in the train and depart.
6) NDE due to bleeding out during surgery: My guide took me inside where it opened into an enormous library full of tables and lined with books. Many spirits were studying different books and my guide communicated that this hall held the Book of Life described in the Bible. We continued to a back room where some spiritual Beings were sitting in chairs that circled around a screen in the floor that was like a glass bottomed boat. They communicated that I was to watch my life and then scenes like a 3D hologram appeared. I was able to re-experience myself in all these events in my life, but just as importantly, I was able to experience the impact of my actions and words on those other people with whom I had interacted. Not one of the spirits condemned me for those painful things I had done or not done, but I felt so very sorry and sad about them within my own heart. It all seemed to happen very quickly, but had a tremendous impact on me. I got the impression that these spirit beings had been with me and had helped me plan my life before I was born. They let me know that I would be able to return to my life, if I chose to do so. Then they showed me through the same screen some future events in my life if I chose to return to it. Some events would definitely occur and some events were possible but not definite.
7) NDE while recovering from severe auto accident: My great-grandparents seemed really happy and proud to see me. My mum and my boyfriend were dressed in what they died in. I can not be sure of my great-grandparents but they looked very smart and polished. Again we didn't talk, but we communicated telepathically with our minds. My mum told me she loved me so much and for me to go home because it is not my time yet. I didn't want to leave. They looked so happy to see me and looked so peaceful. There was so much love there and I remember leaving thinking, 'I know I will see them again and I'm not scared of dying now because we will all be together.' I felt very reassured and they seemed so happy!
8) NDE due to auto accident: To my left and in a field, there were many people. I saw my grandma and her sister who had passed in the previous year. The colours were so vivid! In front of me was a medium-sized stream with a white bridge over it. Jesus was standing on the other side of the bridge. There was a huge, sunlight OBJECT shining down on his left side. But it didn't hurt me to look at it.
9) Fear-death experience at time of severe auto accident. Accident occurred two weeks prior to her sharing it: I was aware of this space that looked a lot like a NASA image of a galaxy. It looked like a white light with the spectrum of colors vibrating from it. I understood this as 'Source,' whish was a conscious knowing source. Starlights orbited around in this space in a logical pattern from the larger white-light source. I was there and made of conscious light. There were many other conscious stars, but a few of them inteacted with me. I remember communicating that this place was incredible. One of the light Beings responded, 'Yes, this is home. This is consciousness. This is source.'
10) Illness at age 14. NDE experience while in coma: I saw people walking their dogs, moms with thier pushchairs, business men holding their briefcases, etc. There were people from all walks of life. I found myself in a beautiful garden with colors so vivid. The colors were unlike any on earth. The grass was neatly cut and the hedges trimmed so perfectly. I walked along a little path, as though I were just on a little visit.
5 Terrifying Accounts of Near Death Experiences
1) NDE of a woman undergoing an operation and spending several minutes technically dead. Experience recounted by the woman’s niece: She says she floated above the operating table and saw them trying to revive her. She says she felt a pull on her and flew out through the very top of the room. She remembered very clearly floating above the light fixture on the ceiling and then there being darkness. Suddenly she found herself floating above the ground several inches just above a field of dirt. In front of her was a very large chasm, deep, very dark, she couldn't see the bottom of it from where she was. On the other side of the chasm was a beautiful field. Green grass, flowers, trees and sunlight. On her side of the chasm it was overcast and very little light, no vegetation just brown dirt. A pair of hands then reached out of the blackness and started pulling at her, almost like ripping the flesh from her legs and feet, causing horrific pain. The hands ripped at her and she felt the pain she had felt before. Finally she came to the dirt side of the chasm again. Then blackness. Then she was on the ceiling of her room in the hospital again and she saw her body spasm violently and her arm smacked the doctors arm breaking his watch, before she was eventually revived.
2) NDE of bishop and author Curtis “Earthquake” Kelley, following a drug overdose as a teenager: He felt his soul going down, because that’s where hell is. Whenever a shaman or practitioner brings a spirit up through the floor or ground, they are calling on entities from hell. He actually saw the bottom of the car the sewer pipes, dirt, and rocks under the street. “I was dragged to a place in the earth that was red and black. Then the spirits dropped me to the bottom of a floor. Demonic spirits beat me on the head and laughed as they mockingly said, “You did voodoo for us. You were a sorcerer. You sold drugs for us. We tricked you! Now you’re in hell. You can’t get out of here. You belong to us now. You are lost forever!” They continued to laugh at me, mock me, and remind me of every bad thing I had ever done. They tormented me in ways I do not want to talk about in this book.” Curtis had a total life review there in hell. He suffered at the hands of “hideous and deformed demonic spirits of every size and form.” Suddenly two golden hands appeared and grabbed him by the shoulders. With demons screaming “No! No! You can’t have him!” the hands took him back up through the earth, through the bottom of the car, and back into his body. A voice spoke to him and said, “Because of your mother’s prayers, and because you have been chosen by God, you were spared.”
3) NDE as a child due to seizure-like event at age 16: One day, I was lying on a couch at home and experienced a seizure-like event. I was foaming at the mouth and passed into another realm. I felt like I was falling into deep darkness, like a bottomless pit. In this place, there was nothing good. I was surrounded by every negative thing like sorrow, hate, disappointment, and whatever negative emotions you can imagine. Only negative things existed in this realm.
4) NDE of Veronika Barthel after she was spectacularly struck by lightning in her car: After losing consciousness, Barthel says that she found herself being roughly dragged along by demons and that all around her she could see these demons throwing people into caves or stabbing them with wicked spears. Around their feet were writhing masses of enormous snakes that seemed to carpet the ground everywhere. Barthel described the scene thus: The creatures that I saw there were more terrifying than anything I even saw in a horror movie. Today I know that they were demons. As soldiers they where marching past me, and in the middle of them were people that were screaming with pain. It was very difficult to breathe down there, because of the terrible smell of this place. I saw a lake, which looked like the inner part of a volcano, where people were cursing because of great pain.
5) NDE of Matthew Botsford, after being shot in the head, dying and resuscitating three times, and spending 27 days in a medically induced coma: Botsford claimed that at first there was pure nothingness; an unbearable void of perfect blackness, which he described as being like “thick, black ink had been poured over my eyes.” This chasm of total darkness began to slowly be illuminated by a blooming light that appeared to come from some glowing abyss below him that was belching out waves of incredible heat and noxious smoke. It was then that Botsford noticed that his hands and feet were shackled with chains and that he was suspended in midair amongst the heat and smoke by some unseen force. It was also then when he began to notice a chorus of anguished screams and unearthly shrieks pervading the air around him as if from an endless sea of tortured, oppressed people. Looking down into the dizzying pit below in a panic, he claimed that he could see strange beasts and less defined things with glowing demonic eyes wandering about, snapping and snarling. The smoke that was vomiting forth from below was also notable for the fact that each plume had framed within it a soul that writhed in torment. Throughout all of this, Botsford described the whole sinister scene as being permeated by a crushing sense of utter loneliness and despair that pierced him to the core. In addition to all of this, Botsford said that the infernal, relentless heat was starting to char and sear his flesh, and as soon as he began to believe that he would be burned down to the bone, ash, and nothingness, all of it grew back to begin the agonizing process anew. Even worse was the arrival of hideous, horned creatures with glowing oval eyes and sharp fangs, which proceeded to rip and gnaw the cooking flesh from his body and devour it, after which the flesh would again grow back. As he hung there roasting above this red, pulsing chasm of snapping beasts, and the shining eyes closed in again and again to feed, Botsford was allegedly grabbed by a giant hand and pulled away, accompanied by a booming voice that declared “It’s not your time.” When he snapped out of his coma, he realized that he was no longer in that terrible, bleak place, but rather in a hospital room with a bad headache and paralyzed on his left side.
Have you ever had a near death experience, or caught a glimpse of the afterlife to come? Tell us about it in the comments, or contact us at The Confessionals Podcast!