BY TONY HARRINGTON
NDE stands for Near Death Experience.
Each day in the United States, approximately 7,452 people shuffle off their mortal coil, whether by natural causes or other means. Sometimes though, someone cheats the system and finds themselves standing at death’s door but not ready to cross the threshold.
Those who have suffered egregious trauma but have returned from the precipice of death are said to have a near-death experience.
For individuals who have come face-to-face with their own mortality and returned to the land of the living, the experience can be transcending. Those who have experienced a NDE are often inexorably changed. Some find a renewed peace and acceptance of death, while some set about on a spiritual path to right wrongs and make peace in preparation for the day when turning back is not on the table.
In speaking with those who claim to have died and returned, the stories all have a similar trend or pattern. Something horrible happens, they see their life literally flash before their eyes, and they are heading towards a bright light.
Incidents of NDE have been reported on so much that there seems to be a template of points someone needs to check off when describing their encounter. Either these are true sensations, or they have become so ingrained in our culture/subconscious that we actually experience them solely because we are expected to.
However, amidst the same-old-same, there are fewer instances of people seeing beyond the veil of the earthly realm. In the moment of their death, there have been reports of individuals seeing things far more inexplicable than the standard fare.
For some, death has permitted a glimpse to what is happening just outside the realm of our earthly construct.
Recorded conversation with “Joshua”
“There I was, laying on the ground after having fallen three stories. The fall happened in slow motion. It was surreal, I knew I was going to die. I was literally rationalizing my entire death as I plummeted to the pavement. I hit the ground immediately after accepting that there was no way out of this. I literally thought, ‘Fine. This is going to hurt though.’ Then everything went dark for a minute.”
After the moment of impact, Joshua, a roofing contractor, reports that he opened his eyes. He could see people standing over him. He noticed a few members of his crew who were panicked and on the phone. Obviously they was calling emergency services. One of them mouthed something to him, but the wooshing sound that filled his head and ears drowned out all other sound.
He became aware of several people standing behind his co-worker. They were calm and stood huddled close together. Their faces were warm and welcoming. They smiled, their eyes seemed to convey so much emotion, almost acknowledging the sorrow and pain while simultaneously offering so much comfort and compassion.
“It was then that I realized they were different. My co-workers didn’t interact with them in any way, as if they were oblivious to them standing there. The people were all dressed differently; they seemed out of place if that makes sense. Their fashion was anachronistic, old-timey. Not of one era, of multiple bygone eras.”
For Joshua, it was clear. The individuals gathered at the scene were there to take him home; to wherever it is we go when we die.
“I just knew it. No rhyme or reason, it seemed natural, almost reflexive, or instinct. They never said a word, the just stood there looking at me with the warm and welcoming smiles. I didn’t feel any pain, I felt no sorrow in leaving my wife and dog behind, it was as if I knew they would be okay in time. I could sense the hurt and the sorrow in the now…in this moment, but I could also feel it dissipate with the passing of time. They would never forget me, but they would heal.”
To this day, Joshua is convinced that the people he saw were guides who were sent to help him cross over. He remembers seeing them not just at the construction site as he lay dying, but in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room, and even in the hospital.
Joshua suffered a brain breed, blunt force trauma, a collapsed lung, renal trauma, and a broken vertebrae. He died once on the way to the hospital but was revived by paramedics, and he died once while in surgery but was revived by hospital staff.
“There was two distinct times where I saw everything. That’s the only way I can explain it. I saw every possibility, every road not taken, paths diverging, alternate timelines…everything. Every question i ever had was there, laid out before me with answers. And the same people from the construction site were there with me. They grew clearer with each second, like they were in high-definition and everything else was in standard definition. I wanted to be with them, I wanted to follow them. There was this overwhelming sense of…love. These people seemed so familiar to me, like people who I had not seen in ages. Their presence…I get choked up to this day just thinking about how it felt. I knew them, but I don’t know how, and I wanted so badly to go with them.”
Joshua survived the fall. It took three surgeries, and many months of physical and occupational therapy to get back on his feet. He uses a cane to this day. Cold, damp weather wreaks havoc with his bones and muscles but he gets by.
Not once in his description of the events leading to his death did Joshua report seeing a bright white light at the end of a tunnel. He didn’t hear the voice of God, or see angelic beings in white robes. He didn’t ascend to Heaven or see the fiery pits of Hell.
“What I saw, defies explanation. The best way to explain it was that I saw everything at once. But even then, that’s not accurate. I sensed things more than I saw them. I had clarity, every question I had about every decision I made was revealed. But it seemed so natural. I just knew things in that moment. But, knowing what I know, I still can’t place those people. I can still remember their faces and how it felt to see them. I know them… knew them; but I don’t know from where. It’s never going to make sense, I suppose.”
Why was Joshua’s experience such a deviation from the normal experience of those who had a NDE? Are experiences tailored to the individual, as unique as fingerprints? Does faith or lack thereof play a part? Are Christians’ experiences vastly different from those of other cultures and religions, or even those of atheists? And who were the people that he encountered with whom he felt such a bond? Spirit guides? Angels? Ghosts of people from his past lives? One day we may know the answers, when our time comes.
If you have experienced a NDE and want to share your encounter, please feel free to comment below to add your experience to the collective.