Gallery H
Looking Beyond
Page 2
Page 3

“Near Death” Experiences – Do They Prove Life After Death?

By James Donahue

New medical and surgical techniques have created conditions in which patients are physically allowed to die for brief periods before being brought back to life. And this seems to have created a flood of stories about experiences in an “after-life.”

If you search the web for “near death experiences” you will find more entries filled with personal experiences than most of us would care to read.

The scientific community has regarded such stories as hallucinations, lack of oxygen to the brain, drugs, secondary coma, or mere fabrications. Yet the stories have continued to come in, some of them as a result of situations that could not be simply described away. Consequently some medical people have been taking a closer look at the near death experience.

Among them is Dr. Melvin Morse, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington. Morse became interested in near death experiences in children while working in a clinic in Pocatello, Idaho, in 1982. He said he was called to revive a young girl who drowned in a community swimming pool. She had no heart beat for 19 minutes, yet was revived and made a complete recovery.

This girl shocked Morse and the other medical team members when she recounted details of her resuscitation. It was as if she were in the room watching the doctors working on her body. She also told of going down a tunnel to what she said was a heavenly place. When Morse expressed skepticism, her response was: “Don’t worry Doctor Morse, heaven is fun!”

Indeed, this writer’s brother-in-law, Wayne, experienced a similar vision after drowning in a pond when he was a young lad. He told of traveling down a tunnel and emerging in a beautiful garden filled with light and music. He said he liked it there so much he was upset when he was suddenly yanked back into his body as his brother, who pulled him from the water, was resuscitating him. Wayne, who suffered from a heart condition that claimed his life early, never feared death. He talked about it as if it was something to look forward to. In the meantime, because he lacked a fear of the hereafter, he lived his life to the fullest.

Back when I was a bureau reporter for the Times Herald, a Port Huron, Michigan newspaper, I met Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of the sinking of the ore carrier Daniel J. Morrell, in Lake Huron off the coast where we lived. Hale survived 38 hours on an open raft in a snow storm, wearing nothing more than his underwear and a life jacket. The other men on the raft with him perished within a few hours.

At one point in his ordeal, Hale said he left his body and went down a tunnel before emerging in a beautiful place filled with flowers and trees. He said he saw people he knew there, including his deceased mother, and then found himself back in the ship with the drowned sailors. It was a joyous gathering until one of the men told Hale he wasn’t supposed to be there yet. He said he was told that he had to go back. Suddenly he said he was snapped back into his body on the raft, and experiencing all of the pain and suffering he had briefly escaped from. It was shortly after that when a Coast Guard helicopter found the raft and Hale was rescued.

In his research, Dr. Morse studied 26 cases where children came close enough to death that their hearts were stopped. He found that 23 of the 26 experienced a similar event during the time they were clinically dead. In his findings, Morse concluded that having a near death experience appears to be good in that it results in a profound love for living.

He wrote that one girl summed up the transformation as learning that “life is for living and the light is for later.” 

Those who have been through the “death” experience and then returned share almost the same story of what happens. There is a sense, or a knowledge of being dead, but at the same time there is a great feeling of calmness and serenity that passes over you.

Some have the sensation of floating above the body and seeing everything going on in the room or the area. Others find themselves in total blackness, but it is not a frightening sensation. They soon float down a blue tunnel with a strong, bright light at the end. When they reach the light they are usually in a garden or lovely place, and often meet deceased relatives or other beings.

It is not uncommon for the person to also encounter a being of light or a bright light which they interpret as a deity. There is communication, and often the person is given a review of his or her life. And there is always reluctance when suddenly the patient is suddenly returned to the body.

Since the stories all appear so similar, we have to conclude that there appears to be ample proof that life continues after the spirit, or soul that we are can no longer remain in the earthly body. It is also apparent that once the pain of dying is over, the experience of being dead is not to be feared.

What we find odd about the stories is that the people who have shared this experience seem to be in no hurry to return to the light and their friends on the other side. Instead they relish every day of life they are awarded on this planet.

It is as if our spirits treasure the time they are allowed to exist in these physical three-dimensional bodies in spite of the pain and suffering many of us inflict upon ourselves. And that is a great mystery that we suspect will be known to us all once we have crossed over.