Wisdom From Beyond

Take Comfort in NDEs

The good news is that so many articulate, intelligent and inspirational individuals have had near death experiences and have bravely decided to tell their tales to anyone who cares to open their ears (and hearts and minds). And one of the things that nearly all of them tell us is that, yes indeed, our physically departed loved ones are among those spiritual beings who come to greet us once we leave the physical for the spiritual world.

Why is this idea so comforting? Well, as Elizabeth Bishop reminds us in The Art of Losing, her classic celebrated poem of love, loss, and heartbreak we can lose many material things (even big ones, like a house!), almost without batting an eye, because these losses, while certainly not fun, do feel somehow survivable. 

But it is if/when we lose the people we love the most (our parents, siblings, spouses, dear friends, or, God forbid, our children,) that this “art of losing,” as she brilliantly calls it, becomes the one “art” that we fear we may never learn how to master. Those are the losses that just seem to ache forever, perhaps fading a tiny bit with time, but never leaving us completely, until it is our own time to die.

But I think that the most articulate NDE survivors who have experienced what NDE researcher and oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long have described as “exceptional NDEs” have something very important to tell us about these most profound types of losses. What some NDErs explain upon returning to the physical world following their fascinating spiritual journeys, is that these losses, the ones that feel so permanent (and unendurable) here on earth, are actually not permanent. They teach us that consciousness survives death and that we will in fact be reunited with the spirits of the ones we love in the afterlife.

Furthermore, if you have ever watched even just a single videotaped interview of or read the testimony of one well spoken person who has been through a near death experience, you will notice right away that they report that they have lost their fear of death as a direct result of their experience of temporarily crossing over to the other side. (Imagine that! Imagine being totally liberated from your fear of death.) These individuals also want to convey to those of us who have not had our own NDEs that there truly is no need to fear death, and that they have learned this valuable spiritual lesson firsthand. 

Of course, just because they are informing us that we need not fear death, this does not mean that we should not live our lives to the fullest here on earth. Quite the opposite! We should embrace and celebrate every moment here in the physical realm and try to learn all we can from our varied experiences here (the good, the bad and the ugly). (This life on earth is one big classroom, they also report, so we should soak up all of our experiences here like sponges.) 

Nor does it mean we should try to “leave the party early,” so to speak. (This becomes especially clear if you listen to or read accounts by near-suicides who experienced NDEs during their unsuccessful suicide attempts.)

It just means (if we believe they are real) that our finite "earth lives" are but a fraction of our whole (infinite) spiritual lives (which both preceded our limited time here on earth, and which will go on after our time here is done). 

If we can keep all of this information in healthy perspective, that is, if we can “take the long view,” so to speak, this attitude can serve us well when we are trying to cope, both with our mundane day-to-day troubles, as well as our much more profound struggles, such as coping with the profound sense of loss we feel following the deaths of those we love the most. 

Something else to consider: Like many people who have undergone NDEs, or other life-changing spiritual experiences for that matter, through my own reading and general research on the subject, I too have become convinced that when our loved ones die and move on to the other side, they do not want us to dwell forevermore on the sense of loss we feel in their physical absence. They really do not want us to suffer or struggle in the aftermath of losing them. Rather, they want us to go on living, and not just “going through the motions” of living, but really fully and richly living our lives, every moment of every day.