Near-death Experience Aftereffects

Clouds, sky, and sun. From

I recently discovered the following lists of near-death experience aftereffects based on the research of P.M.H. Atwater. They also seem to hold true for those who have had deep or remarkable spiritual experiences, but that’s just my opinion. These lists were developed from more than 3,000 adult research sessions plus 277 with children.

I’ve adapted and formatted the lists (original format). They come from Atwater’s book Beyond the Light. I think the aftereffects are fascinating.

Psychological Aftereffects of Near-death States

Most Common (between 80 to 99%)

  • loss of the fear of death
  • more spiritual/less religious
  • more generous and charitable
  • handle stress easier
  • philosophical
  • more open and accepting of the new and different
  • disregard for time and schedules
  • regard things as new even when they’re not (boredom levels decrease)
  • form expansive concepts of love while at the same time challenged to initiate and maintain satisfying relationships
  • become psychic/intuitive
  • know things (closer connection to Deity/God, prayerful)
  • deal with bouts of depression
  • less competitive

Quite Common (50 to 79%)

  • displays of psychic phenomena
  • vivid dreams and visions
  • “inner child” issues exaggerated
  • convinced of life purpose/mission
  • rejection of previous limitations/norms
  • episodes of future knowing common
  • more detached and objective (dissociation)
  • “merge” easily (absorption)
  • hunger for knowledge
  • difficulty communicating and with language
  • can go through deep periods of depression and feelings of alienation from others
  • synchronicity commonplace
  • more or less sexual
  • less desire for possessions and money
  • service oriented
  • healing ability
  • attract animals
  • good with plants
  • aware of invisible energy fields/auras
  • preference for open doors and open windows/shades
  • drawn to crystals
  • laugh more
  • adults: lighter afterwards
  • children: wiser, more serious, bonding to parents lessens

The Near-Death Experience of Howard Storm

Of the many near-death experiences I have heard or read, Howard Storm’s account is one of the most remarkable and memorable to me. In 1985, Howard was a hard-driving atheist who thought as he was preparing to die in a Paris hospital that it would be a “go to black” moment, the end of his existence. He was in for a delightful surprise, as are we all.

Howard changed careers after his experience, as many experiencers do: He got a theology degree and became a pastor.

Some of the things about Howard’s experience that really resonate with me:

  • His authenticity and vulnerability
  • How his ember of faith rescued him
  • His long interview with Jesus Christ
  • His impression that Jesus not only loved him but really liked him!
  • His many insights into other worlds, the next life, angels, and the other side of the veil

This interview is longer than most but worth the listen.

You can find his book, My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life, here.

The Near-Death Experience of Tricia Barker

I found the fascinating near-death experience of Tricia Barker yesterday morning. Her joy is contagious, so I am sharing it with you today.

At 22, Tricia was on her way to run a 10K race in Austin, Texas when she was hit head on at 65 miles per hour. She died for two and a half minutes during surgery, but came back with the story of an incredible encounter with angels and God who gave her a very clear mission.

I bought Tricia’s well-written book on audio immediately and listened to the entire recording in one day. It was heart crushing, as profound, devastating, and haunting as it was redemptive.

I was amazed and even shocked by what she has been through in her life. Some people make incredible sacrifices to be able to teach others how to live life joyfully. I believe Tricia Barker is one of those people. Her YouTube channel is Near Death Experience: Healed by the Light.

I listen to, watch, and read a lot of near-death experiences. (I’ve collected over 100 of them here.) I’ve written a post about patterns that are common in near-death experiences. I’ve also written about an atheist’s near death experience.

Patterns in Near Death Experiences

Courtesy LDS Media Library
Elijah Ascending into Heaven, by W. H. Margetson

Over the last year or so, I’ve been studying near-death experiences in depth. I’ve read or listened to books, watched movies, listened to or watched more than 40 NDEs on video, and discovered a repository of nearly 4,500 NDE stories, originating in over 30 languages. And in years past, I’ve met and spoken in depth with several people who have had these experiences themselves.

I’m totally assured that NDEs are real. There’s overwhelming evidence that they are. I can’t write them off as coincidences and “hallucinations” and be honest with myself.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot and have drawn up some notes on the fascinating patterns that emerged from my study. Here are a few highlights.

  • At the moment of death, they almost instantly discover themselves standing next to their bodies or looking down at their bodies from above, and people and activities around them.
  • They often lose interest in what is happening to their earthly bodies.
  • They almost always report an incredible sense of well-being, a complete absence of pain, and little interest in life in the mortal world.
  • They are often greeted by beings of light, some of whom they know personally, some who are vaguely familiar, some unknown. These beings are often referred to as angels or spirit guides.
  • Some encounter beings of darkness, but once the beings of light appear, the dark entities scatter and disappear.
  • As they describe these encounters with other beings, after returning to their bodies, family members often recognize these beings as a relative, such as a grandparent.
  • Many find themselves in something they call a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, they often see a light and are drawn to it. (Not everyone who has an NDE enters or sees this tunnel.)
  • Once they arrive at the end of the tunnel, they describe the place as heaven or paradise. The unearthly colors are much more vivid, varied, and vibrant than they have seen before. They see gardens, buildings, and streets much like on earth, but much more orderly, clean, and ornate.
  • When they communicate with these beings, there is no need to talk with their mouths. They can communicate through thoughts.
  • Some report having 360-degree vision, seeing all directions at once.
  • Movement is also as easy as thought. They can travel over great distances just by thinking of where they want to go.
  • They find the experience very difficult to describe in words, especially in terms of the peace, joy, and beauty they experience, but often call it the most real experience of their lives and that life on earth is more of a dream.
  • Almost all describe a feeling of absolute love, unlike anything they have ever imagined. This love remains with them throughout their lives.
  • Many but not all come in contact with a radiant, loving being who they identify as Jesus Christ and have conversations with Him. They describe Him as infinitely kind, caring, supportive, accepting, and positive. He never condemns them, but occasionally gently chastises them—and they know they had it coming. Some are amazed by His sense of humor!
  • A good number experience a detailed, rapid life review, something that they view on a screen of sorts. They see all the good and bad they have done to others. A recurring theme is relationships with others, as if that is the most important thing we can accomplish on earth—loving, respectful relationships.
  • Some are asked if they want to stay while others are told them must return. Most are reluctant to leave the place that most feels like home.
  • When their spirits reenter their bodies, it is often coupled with a jolt and a sudden return of pain.
  • Some report instant, miraculous healings from diseases or illnesses upon returning to their bodies. Some healings take longer, but are much more rapid and successful than doctors anticipate.
  • All report a completely changed view of life with no emphasis on material things and great focus on relationships and loving and serving others. Atheists and agnostics can’t continue in their old paradigms.
  • Many, after a period of silence, feel compelled to share their stories of grace, healing, and redemption.
  • A few take on an inflated view of themselves, reject their traditional faith or interpret their experience through restricted, orthodox views. Most are very honest, authentic, and vulnerable about their NDE, but some distort their experience and use it for personal and financial gain.

To me, the evidence is overwhelming: our bodies may die, but our spirits continue; heaven is real and so is our Creator; death is nothing to fear or be worried about.

P.S. I’m currently listening to a book published in 1395 AD. It was written by Julian of Norwich and is called Revelations of Divine Love, the first book in history written in English by a woman. Julian’s “showings” or visions resemble those who have had NDEs.

P.P.S I wonder what Stephen Hawking thinks about the existence of an afterlife and God now? I hope I can personally ask him someday.

An Atheist’s Near Death Experience

A friend of mine and coworker at a downtown LDS branch for the homeless has told me several times about his brother-in-law Scott. He was by all accounts a very nice guy, but he did not believe in a God. If you ever brought up the subject, he would turn it off as quickly as he could. He denied God existed and would have nothing to do with Him.

Scott was a heavy drinker and had developed some liver problems over time. He was on medications to help regulate the problem, but one day it caught up with him and he landed in the emergency room. While he was at the ER, he passed away. They were able to revive him there and when he came to, he had an interesting story to tell.

His spirit had separated from his body, and while he was away, so to speak, he was not met by a glorious being or by a tunnel of light. He did see his deceased aunt, however, who without force took him on a brief tour of hell to show him what it was like. When he came back, he told his family what he had seen and said, “I don’t want to go there.”

That very week he sought out a Christian pastor and decided to accept God in his life and Jesus as his Savior. A week later, he died. The second time, though, he did not come back.

Isn’t our God a generous and merciful God? If there is even a twinge of goodness in a person, there is hope and possibility.

I would like to say that, theologically, I don’t worry about hell. I am grateful to know, by study, faith, and stories like this, that hell is a place reserved for the intransigently evil. Those, I am happy to say, are few and far between in my experience. Take heart, not vengeance. There is a lot of hope for the rest of us.