My experience occurred as a result of a car accident when I was 18 (I am now 52). My friend Kristen was driving and another friend, Tim, was driving his car in front of us. We lived in the mountains so the roads were winding, ran along a very steep cliff and there was snow piled at the edges of the road. Kris (driving a bit reckless along with our friend in the car in front of us) had to swerve suddenly to keep from running into Tim’s car. When she swerved she hit the snow at the side of the road and lost control of her truck. We started to head over the side of the mountain, but at the last minute the truck suddenly swerved 90 degrees and hit a very large pine tree, wrapping the entire front of the truck around the tree. As we first left the road and were heading for the edge of the mountain cliff, time seemed to slow down, scenes of my rather short life flashed in my mind, and then as I looked out over the cliff, thinking we were going over the edge I thought to myself, “Your life really does flash before you,” and, “This is how I’m going to die.”
Then I felt a very odd sensation through me and “NO!” went through my head – I’m not sure if this was me saying this in my head, or my friend or something else (my friend told me later she didn’t remember saying or hearing anything so I guess it was in my head.) Just then the truck suddenly spun 90 degrees and we were instead heading for a tree. I remember screaming then as we barreled into the tree. The impact was unbelievably jarring. I was wearing my seatbelt and when we hit everything went black for a minute. I opened my eyes and my friend was crying and screaming. I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. I tried to speak but no words would come out.
Then I felt like I was in a vacuum tube or something, being pulled upward and out of my body, out the top of the truck. I don’t remember seeing the truck, but I saw Tim running towards it, his car was sideways at the side of the road, its front bumper lodged into the snowbank at the side of the road. I saw another truck coming down the road from the opposite direction, a boy we went to school with who was Kris’s ex-boyfriend, jumped out of the truck, left his door ajar and came running over as well, crying and yelling. Then all went dark. I was in a sort of “tunnel” – not sure if tunnel is really the right word but it was dark all around and I felt like I was being sucked towards a light far away. I was being drawn towards it. When I was in the light there was a presence with me. It was 3 separate beings/men/or whatever, and yet they were all one. It’s hard to explain. I saw the face(s) and they were different in subtle ways and yet they were the same. The one in the middle spoke to me, greeted me, but not with a voice. As it began to speak all I remember seeing is the one figure but there was still the feeling of there being three.
It asked, “Why are you here?” I didn’t know what it meant because I didn’t know what it meant by “here”. I think I questioned what it meant by asking me “Why are you here?” but I didn’t speak the question. I felt like I was in the presence of someone authoritative. I felt extremely drawn to him/it. I wanted to be there, to go with him/them/it even though I wasn’t sure where I was or what was going on. When I answered that I didn’t know why I was here, I felt what seemed like slight disapproval from him/them, then boom – I found myself in some sort of something like a body? It was my body and yet it wasn’t really a body. I did sort of feel like I was lying down though. I think I was lying in front of the tree where we crashed, only there was no vehicles, no road – I felt like it was the unblemished version of the accident location, that is there was no scaring by man. There was a strangeness to the scenery. It was bright, like a clear sunny day, only there was no Sun per say. It was as if everything, the grass, the trees, the flowers, the ground, had their own inner light that lit everything, everywhere with no shadow, no darkness anywhere. The clarity of everything was intense. The colors intense. It was like looking through some sort of filter. I felt so peaceful and content and perfect…everything was perfect and I was in awe at all of it. Then I was aware that I was not alone and that he/them/it was still there, looking down on me from above me. I stood and looked at him/them/it.
Again he/they/it said, “Why are you here?”
I responded, but didn’t speak, “I don’t know.”
“Do you know what happened to you, how you came to get here?” he/they/it asked.
“I don’t know,” I responded.
“Do you remember what happened?”
“Do you know who I am?” he/they/it asked gently as if this meant everything. Up until now it seemed to “ask” somewhat sternly, although not in a mean or threatening way. But when he/they/it asked if I knew who he/it was it seemed softer, gentler, almost sad?
“I don’t know,” I still responded. “I don’t know who you are, what happened or where I am.”
“So you don’t know what happened and you don’t know who I am?”
“Then you cannot stay. You have to go back,” he/they/it said with finality.
I was taken aback and suddenly felt a bit panicked. I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to stay and I began pleading, “No, please, I want to stay here – don’t make me go back.” But the being(s) shook its head, “No. You cannot stay here now.” And that was that.
I felt like I was gently pushed back and away, and then it again felt like I was in some sort of vacuum, only now it was sucking me backwards, back to my physical body. I was above the crash scene. I remember hearing Kris say “Oh my God, oh my God, she’s dead! She isn’t breathing.- help!” But, the strange thing was she was not saying it then, she had already said it, right after we crashed. And Tim flung open my door, struggling with it because the metal was crunched up. He called out to me, shook me gently and then reached over me to unbuckle the seat belt. He said, “She isn’t breathing and I saw myself slump into him when the seatbelt released. But this had already happened – I saw it happen then, but it had actually already happened. Kris was crying and her ex-boyfriend who had come onto the scene yanked at her door, but it wouldn’t open. He was crying calling out to open the door. Tim was still holding me, yelling over his shoulder to other people coming onto the scene to go down the road to the “camp” and call for an ambulance. I was watching all this happen, even though it had already happened – I know that doesn’t really make sense, and this is why I am uncertain about “time” and whether there was any time as we generally think of it in an earthly, reality sense.
I saw a fire truck and ambulance pull up and then a highway patrol car coming down the road. Then the fireman came up, the ambulance and rescue team came. Tim, who was holding me, let me go as one of the rescue team talked to him and he quickly examined me and Tim gave a quick rendition of what had happened. They were talking to Tim, and to Kris and talking about how to get the door of the truck open on the driver’s side. Then a highway patrol officer pulled up and stormed over yelling at all the civilians to get away from the scene and to move on. He seemed angry or agitated. It was then that I was back in my body again. I was sucked back in and I was flooded with feelings of cold, and intense pain, and the sensations of hardness of everything around me, even the solidness of the air around me. I opened my eyes and both my friends started crying in relief. One of the firemen said, “Oh – I thought we had actually lost you there for a minute.” Then the highway patrol officer pushed his way in rather rudely, I remember thinking, and asked me what had happened. The fireman backed away and gave him his space next to me but did not leave.
“What happened?” he asked me. I remember looking at him because I remembered being asked that by that other being but it certainly was not the same person or voice I had heard before. I didn’t answer: I just looked at him. He asked me again what happened but when I still didn’t answer he asked what my name was. I just looked at him, realizing that I couldn’t remember. It was then I realized that I couldn’t remember anything, not my name, not who I was, who the people around me were, what had happened…everything was a complete blank with the exception of my experience. The officer asked me again and I finally told him I couldn’t remember. He seemed very agitated and made some remark about bullshitting with him and he bet we had all been drinking and “damn teenagers”. Then the fireman pushed his way back in and told him to back off, that I was just in a traumatic car accident and he actually initially thought I wasn’t “coming back.” He told the officer to go interview someone else.
Well that’s basically the end of my experience, as it was. I gradually got my memory back fully within a few days, but those days were extremely odd. Having no memory of anything except that experience left me feeling like I…separated from everyone else and like this world was the strange alien place and not where I had been where everything was peaceful and pleasant and glowing. I’m not sure what exactly I felt separated from…like I no longer belonged here on Earth sort of. I felt a disconnect with life here. I found the physicalness of everything strange. To be honest I sort of felt like people were strange as well, but perhaps that was because I couldn’t remember people or my life with people.
Once I had my memory back I was obsessed with what had happened and what I had seen and experienced. I wanted to know what exactly had happened, what it meant, why it happened to me. I felt angry that most people I told brushed it off as a dream or hallucination or a couple years later one college professor stated, “It is strange how the brain will make things up to help us cope with a difficult situation.” I learned not to talk about it, but I still want to understand what happened, the why and what, etc.
I was in no way religious before the experience. My family was not religious, and religion was never discussed so I knew nothing about Jesus or Christian beliefs. My friend who was driving suggested the 3 beings I described as 3 yet one, were the Holy Trinity and I couldn’t stay because I didn’t know who Jesus was. I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I read about it much later and decided it could have been. On and off through the years I sometimes wonder about the whole thing – was it real, was it imaginary like people had kept saying to me? My first husband told me that if it was real it was the devil trying to take my soul and trick me and I shouldn’t think about it. He was brought up very religious…a Presbyterian. I did eventually become a Christian and now feel like it was a sign of what is waiting on the other side of death.
Even immediately after, although I didn’t really understand what had happened, I was not afraid of dying per se, only of the pain and trauma it might take to initially get there. After that it would be wonderful and a state of being you would not trade for anything. But alas, I was sent back.
The question often occurs to me ‘what about other people’s experiences that aren’t or weren’t Christian?’ I of course don’t have any real answers, but perhaps it’s not that we don’t all have a “life after death”, but perhaps what we believe impacts where we go or how we experience that next stage. So if you are a Christian you spend eternity with Jesus/God in what we as Christians call Heaven as we are promised if we accept Jesus as our savior. If you are not a Christian I don’t know that you cease to exist, or that you go to Hell, but that you just don’t experience this place Christians call Heaven, you don’t spend eternity with Jesus, but instead you just experience something a bit different – not necessarily bad, but just different because you do not belong with Jesus in this place called Heaven – like living on Earth you just do not live in Jesus’ house, not that you don’t live, you just live in a different house.
My dad passed away from cancer when I was 30. I watched him wither and we knew he was going to die soon. He was not a Christian and by that time I was. I spent a lot of time later thinking about what Christians say about those who don’t believe…that they will not spend eternity in Heaven. But does that mean they will go to Hell, or that they will just cease to exist? I don’t think that is true…I have to believe that is not true.
I have had experiences with what I believe are spirits of the dead and perhaps something different even than actual people who have died…but I had those before the near-death experience (assuming that is what it was) and I have had them after. I had those more as a child, but I still have them now from time to time. I believe we live on in one way or another after our bodies die. It may be different for different people (the actual experience of what is next) perhaps, but we, our souls, continue on. I’ve had too many other experiences, in addition to the one I have described, to believe anything else.
When my father was at the end, we were at my parent’s house and it was early morning when we received a call from the hospital saying my dad was in the last stages before death and that we should come immediately because he didn’t have much longer. We pulled ourselves together and made our way out to the hospital which was a 40 minute drive. My parents lived in the mountains still and I remember the winding drive down to the valley and not really thinking of anything in particular I suppose, just sort of in a daze, watching the scenery go by when suddenly I felt this sort of whoosh pass through me, like physically pass through me, nearly taking my breath. It startled me and I remember looking over at my mom who was driving to see if she had noticed anything, but she was just looking at the road with that same dazed look I probably had just a few seconds before. I looked at the clock on the dash and it said 10:43am. I looked at the clock because I knew what the woosh was somehow – it was my dad and it felt like he was telling me he was leaving but that he was ok and even happy, and this was his goodbye to me. It was only that woosh through my body, but I knew that it was him and that he had died. When we got to the hospital the nurse told us he had already passed away and the time of death was marked at 10:40am.
I wouldn’t say anything "sensitivity-wise" changed much after my experience though. I had always had strange experiences with intuition, flashes of scenes that came true, seeing spirits and shadow people from time to time, highly sensitive to other’s emotions etc. It was never something I thought much about as I had no control over it and it only happened on occasion. I would say it happened more when I was young, but it does still happen now from time to time. I’m not sure if that has anything to do with my experience, as far as why I had that NDE or what have you. I have very much learned to cope with what I experienced and I live a normal life. I have learned to block out what I don’t like and just roll with the flow. However I still think about it often and am very curious about other’s experiences and how they are similar and different than mine.