Shared Death Experiences (SDE)
Shared Death Experiences (SDE) have been documented by the Society for Psychical Research in London since the late 1800s. Peter Fenwick, MD, and Elizabeth Fenwick, RN, who research end-of-life phenomena, have collected hundreds of shared-death experiences in the United Kingdom and in Northern Europe. Dr. Raymond Moody formally coined the term “shared-death experience” in his 2009 book, Glimpses of Eternity. Previously, the phenomena now identified as the shared-death experience was associated with death-bed visions (William Barrett), death-bed coincidences (Fenwick), and other extraordinary end-of-life phenomena.
The core elements of the shared-death experience are remarkably similar to those of the near-death experience (NDE). Although no single SDE has included all of the elements listed below, and although no two SDE’s are exactly the same, a person who experiences even one or two of these elements receives profound benefits from their SDE. The following elements may characterize shared-death experiences:
• Mist at death
• Hearing beautiful music
• Change in the geometry of the room
• Strong Upward Pull on the Body
• Shared Out-of-Body Experience
• Seeing a Mystical Light
• Empathically Co-living the Life Review of the Dying Person
• Greeted by Beings of Light
• Encountering Heavenly Realms
• Boundary in the Heavenly Realm
Preliminary research from Shared Crossing Research Initiative and Dr. Raymond Moody’s research has shown that the shared death experience offers many benefits, including:
• Dramatic grief reduction, knowing that the one who has died is actually alive and well in the afterlife
• Greatly reduced fear and apprehension of death
• Increased belief in an afterlife
• A deeper understanding and refocusing on one’s purpose in this life
“Another source for shared-death experiences was the deathbed research of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in England, from which I was able to gather nineteenth-century shared-death experiences. One of the books compiled by the pioneering researchers Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers, and Frank Podmore, Phantasms of the Living, contains more than seven hundred cases of paranormal phenomena, many of them deathbed visions and shared-death experiences. Another book, Death-Bed Visions: The Psychical Experiences of the Dying by Sir William Barrett, a physics professor at the Royal College of Science in Dublin, is nothing less than the first scientific study of the minds of the dying. He concludes, by the way, that dying patients are often clear-thinking and rational and that the events around them are often spiritual and supernatural.”
— Raymond Moody, Paranormal: My Life In Pursuit Of The Afterlife, Chapter 23
Raymond Moody: Four Differences Between NDEs and Shared Death Experiences
I studied shared-death experiences just as I had done with near-death experiences nearly four decades earlier, dissecting them into their elements. The shared-death experiences contained most of the traditional elements of the near-death experience, including tunnel experiences, seeing a bright mystical light, out-of-body experiences, even the transformational quality found in near-death experiencers. But there were four differences that I found to be extraordinary and new.
Mystical Music: Those who have shared-death experiences very often hear music emanating from the surroundings. It is common for the music to be heard by several people, even those coming and going, and it can frequently last for long periods of time. The people I surveyed described this music in various ways. To some it was “the most beautiful and intricate music I have ever heard,” while to others it was “the soft, wild notes of an Aeolian harp.”
Geometric Changes in the Environment: Even though my family experienced this change in geometry when my mother died, it is still difficult for me to describe it, and the people I spoke to who had had the same experience were no better able to find words for it. A woman I interviewed said simply that the square room “shifted.” A man who’d had a shared-death experience at the bedside of his mother offered a confusing description of a room that “collapsed and expanded at the same time. It was as though I was witnessing an alternative geometry.” Others said that the room opened into an “alternative reality” where “time is not a factor.” And still another person likened this change in geometry to Disneyland, in that “it made me realize that most of the stuff that happens in the world happens behind the scenes and that all we see is the surface, where the functioning part is.”
I don’t know what this change in geometry really means. From my personal experience and the descriptions of others, it seems as though people who are dying, and sometimes those around them, are led to a different dimension.
A Shared Mystical Light: The most profoundly transformative part of a near-death experience is the encounter with a mystical light. Those who see the light never forget it. Sometimes these individuals feel the light, as though it is palpable. Many NDEers declare that the light emits purity, love, and peace.
Those who have had shared-death experiences say the same thing. Individuals and groups have said that the room of a dying loved one “filled up” with light. Some describe this as “a light that is like being swept up into a cloud.” I have heard it described as “a light that is vivid and bright, but not in the way that we see with our eyes.” Other descriptors have been “translucent,” “a light filled with love,” “a light that tickled me,” and a “long-lasting light that stays even when it’s gone.”
An experience of light shared by a number of people at a deathbed does a lot to demolish the skeptics’ argument that the light seen by those who have near-death experiences is nothing more than the dying brain shorting out. If a number of people who are not ill or dying share a mystical experience of light, then the light can’t be caused by the dying brain of just one of them.
Mist-ical Experience: Another common event in the shared-death experience is seeing emissions of mist from the dying. This mist is described as “white smoke,” steam, fog, and so on. Often it takes on a human shape.
I have spoken to many doctors, nurses, and hospice workers who have seen this mist. One doctor in Georgia who saw it happen twice within six months said simply, “A mist formed over the chest area and hovered there.” A hospice worker in North Carolina twice saw mist rising from a dying patient and described what she saw as clouds with “a sort of mist that forms around the head or chest. There seems to be some kind of electricity to it, like an electrical disturbance.”
I don’t know how to interpret the mist that some see at the point of death. There are so many who see it that it makes no sense to me to say that death is playing tricks on the eyes or that these are hallucinations. Plus, this is by far the most common element reported by those who have shared-death experiences.
— Raymond Moody, Paranormal: My Life In Pursuit Of The Afterlife, Chapter 23
A groundbreaking, authoritative exploration — rich with powerful personal stories and convincing research — of the many ways the living can and do accompany the dying on their journey into the afterlife.
In 2000, end-of-life therapist William Peters was volunteering at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco when he had an extraordinary experience as he was reading aloud to a patient: he suddenly felt himself floating in midair, completely out of his body. The patient, who was also aloft, looked at him and smiled. The next moment, Peters felt himself return to his body…but the patient never regained consciousness and died.
Perplexed and stunned by what had happened, Peters began searching for other people who’d shared similar experiences. He would spend the next twenty years gathering and meticulously categorizing their stories to identify key patterns and features of what is now known as the “shared crossing” experience. The similarities, which cut across continents and cultures and include awe-inspiring visual and sensory effects, and powerful emotional after-effects, were impossible to ignore.
Long whispered about in the hospice and medical communities, these extraordinary moments of final passage are openly discussed and explained in At Heaven’s Door. The book is filled with powerful tales of spouses on departing this earth after decades together and bereaved parents who share their children’s entry into the afterlife. Applying rigorous research, Peters digs into the effect these shared crossing experiences impart — liberation at the sight of a loved one finding joy, a sense of reconciliation if the relationship was fraught — and explores questions like: What can explain these shared death experiences? How can we increase our likelihood of having one? What do these experiences tell us about what lies beyond? And, most importantly, how can they help take away the sting of death and better prepare us for our own final moments? How can we have both a better life and a better death?
• Excerpts from “At Heaven’s Gate”
• Shared Crossing Project Website
• Shared Crossing Stories Library
• William Peters @SharedCrossings On Twitter
• Shared Crossing Project On Facebook
• Shared Crossing Project On Instagram
Raymond Moody’s Shared Death Experience
All of the siblings descended on Macon with the goal of making [my mother’s] final days as comfortable as possible. We cared for her at home, and when she was checked into the hospital we stayed at her bedside. Two weeks from the date of her diagnosis, she died.
It was in the final moments of her death that my next field of research was revealed.
She had been comatose for two days, so we didn’t expect much to happen besides her quiet passing. Shortly before she died, however, she awoke and with great coherency told us that she loved us all very much.
“Please say that again,” said my sister Kay.
With great effort, Mom pushed the oxygen mask from her face and said again, “I love you all very much.”
We were deeply moved by her effort to express her love. We all held hands around the bed — my two sisters, their husbands, and Cheryl and I — and waited for the moment of death.
As we held hands the room seemed to change shape, and four of the six of us felt as though we were being lifted from the ground. I felt a strong pull like a riptide, only the pull was upward.
“Look,” said my sister, pointing to a spot at the end of the bed. “Dad’s here! He’s come back to get her!”
Everyone later reported that the light in the room became soft and fuzzy, like looking into the water of a lighted swimming pool at night. Rather than sadness dominating the room, we all became joyful. As I wrote later, “It was as though the fabric of the universe had torn and for just a moment we felt the energy of that place called heaven.”
My brother-in-law Rick Lanford, a Methodist minister, said that he felt as though he left his physical body and “went into another plane with her.”
It was like nothing that had ever happened to any of us. Over the next several days we all spent hours together in my parents’ home talking about the experience, trying to assemble all of the details into a coherent timeline. What had taken place with my mother was a shared-death experience. Shared-death experiences are like near-death experiences, but they happen, not to people who are dying, but to people who are in the proximity of a loved one who is dying. These spiritual experiences can happen to more than one person and are remarkably like near-death experiences.
— Raymond Moody, Paranormal: My Life In Pursuit Of The Afterlife, Chapter 22
Daughter Forgives Her Mother Following Shared Death Experience With Her Father
My whole life changed when I followed my father to heaven and experienced a glimpse of the divine.
Up to this point in my life I had not been a believer in God. Neither was I an unbeliever. I was content living my life without any kind of faith in a life beyond this earthly realm. I was busy with my career as a journalist and my roles as wife and mother. My father’s death turned my world upside down.
I had a near death like experience, accompanying him part way on his divine journey. Many people doubt the truth of near death experiences, citing so-called scientific explanations – patients near death having hallucinations due to lack of oxygen, or having other brain chemical changes when death is near that produce false images. But I was not near death myself when my father passed over, neither was I impaired by drugs or alcohol or anything else that might cause false perceptions. What I experienced that night when everything changed was the TRUTH. All else in this world revealed itself as illusory. Here’s how this extraordinary revelation unfolded:
I knew my father had advanced prostate cancer for which there was no cure, but I refused to accept that he would die. He was my lifetime hero, my fount of unconditional love, and I could not imagine my life without him in it. Certainly, I was troubled by his illness, but I fooled myself into thinking there could be a treatment that would allow him many more years on earth.
One morning, as I readied myself for work, putting on my make up at the sink in the bathroom, something shocking happened. My husband had already left for work and my children were in school so the house was unusually quiet. As I applied my lipstick, the entire master bathroom was enveloped with a fragrance so strong, so unmistakable, it shocked me to my core. It was the unique smell of my mother. I didn’t know on a conscious level what my mother had smelled like but subconsciously the connection of the baby to the mother was cemented by smell.
I knew without a doubt that my departed mother was trying to reach me. I put down my lipstick and sat in a nearby chair, completely stunned. What did she want to tell me? I opened myself to receiving her message. She told me three things: 1. Your father is going to die very soon, 2. There is nothing you can do to change this, and 3. I am going to help him. And then the fragrance withdrew quite suddenly.
My mother had not been a very loving presence in my life. When my sister and I were young she hit us when we misbehaved. She didn’t just use her hand to deliver a spanking. She struck us with sticks, hairbrushes, wooden paddles and more. We were afraid of her anger towards us. She was frequently drunk and sometimes disappeared for periods of time. I remember her passed out most days when I came home from school, but she always put herself back together in time to prepare a nice dinner for my father. She was always attentive to him but at times neglectful of her children. Her mean spiritedness reached a towering hatred towards me one afternoon when I asked if I could visit a friend. Her smile curled into a sneer as she spoke to me.
“Dear Susan, aren’t you the lucky one to feel loved and cared for every day of your life.“ Her voice got low as she snarled, “It’s a lie, little girl. I have never loved you, not then, not now, not ever. Now, leave me alone!”
I was devastated. Was this the truth? Even if it wasn’t, what mother would ever want to deliver such a hurtful message to her child? I cried.
Now I am an adult with children of my own. My deceased mother has come for a visit. She has just delivered an unexpected and unwelcome message to me about my father’s impending death. Was she singling me out yet again for her uncommon cruelty? This felt very different. On some level, I knew she had delivered the truth to me, and it broke through all my defenses. I sat there and sobbed for a very long time.
The following week I had a vision of experiencing my life flashing before me in fast rewind showing me that every decision I ever made was perfect for my journey and totally understandable. I never made a “good” or “bad” decision. The experience felt like a kind of purging of shame, regret, and unworthiness. All things were as they should be, and I need not second guess any decision I ever made.
Two weeks later my father was hospitalized and the siblings and grandchildren gathered by his side in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where he had lived for many years.
On the third day of our vigil, we could see that Dad was deteriorating. He floated in and out of a coma state much of the day. When it was time to go back to his condominium for the night, I lingered at my father’s bedside.
“I love you, Dad.”
And in a strong, clear voice he answered back.
“I love you too, Sue.”
The children and the grandchildren settled in for the night. My sister and I shared a king sized bed in one of the two condos my father owned. I couldn’t sleep but I was not anxious or upset, just quiet and calm. I could hear my sister snoring quietly beside me and knew she was sleeping.
And then my mother’s foretelling unfolded in sights and senses I didn’t know I had.
In the stillness of the night, from my father’s condo, I saw him in his hospital bed with a gathering light coming to the upper right side of the bed. He was very frail. The gathering light was beyond words, inviting, intense, pure, a light unlike any I had seen before. I became aware of movement within the light and focused on that.
I soon saw that my mother was in the light, was part of the light and that this was the light of life itself, the light of God. She was more beautiful than any woman I had ever seen before. There was a purity and innocence in her essence. When I saw her this way there was, in an instant, complete forgiveness for anything I might have perceived as hurtful about her behavior on this earth. When I saw her in the light she was holy and that this was the truth about her then, now and forever.
I knew in this awareness that God is real and His love bigger and mightier than any concept of love I had ever had before. In the earth realm, I could not conceive of a love like this, but in the light beside my father’s bed, I understood a love beyond earthly perception.
I also understood from my mother and God that we are here on this earth for one purpose – to love one another. We have made this life journey on earth so complicated as humans, but in the divine light I understood that everything was truly simple. There was no sense of time in this vision, only an imparting of pure truth, all at once.
I saw my mother reach out to my father and lift him into her light, cradling him in her arms. Then the light began to fade and disappear from my vision. I then saw with my body’s eyes that I was in the bed in my father’s condo where I had been before the vision, my sister next to me still snoring. I glanced at the clock. It was just before midnight.
In an hour or two the phone rang and it was the hospital telling me that my father had died. The nurse asked if we wanted to come view his body before they took it to the hospital morgue. So at about 2 am, we all (my sister and her daughter, my brother, my daughter, and I) got in the car and drove to the hospital. We gathered around his body and said prayers of thanksgiving for his love in our lives.
A nurse came into the room and I asked her if she knew when my father had passed on. She said she had come in to check on him just before midnight and could see he was near death. She left him alone and returned at 12:15 to find that he had died. Then I knew that my vision was real and I began to sob at the sudden knowing of so many things: mother had said she would help my father and she did. She was holy and pure and a child of God. God is love and love is all. Our purpose in this realm is to love each other.
Faith in the truth had come to me like a bolt of lightning and I was forever changed. After my father’s death my sister became estranged from me. I did not understand why she despised me but she made it clear she did not want me in her life, though I tried in letters and phone calls to reconnect. I was very distraught by her hateful attitude.
What followed this revelation was a two year period of what I have come to understand was grace. I was in tears most every day from the joy of the world I was seeing with new eyes. I saw the preciousness of everyone, including high school students in a class I taught who had been deemed “troublesome” by the school administration. I joined a church. My son and I attended Sunday services each week. I cried at the beauty I saw in the people and their rituals. I began to have some insight into why my husband’s first wife was so mean to me. She saw me as a threat to her as a mother and feared she could lose her children’s love because of my presence in their lives. This was utterly baseless, but with this understanding I was able to marshal some compassion towards her.
I only told a handful of people about my huge revelation, even though I wanted to shout to everyone “There is nothing to fear in this world. There is no death!” I realized I could not give anyone the divine experience that changed my life and that some people would think I was at best quirky and at worst insane. I especially didn’t tell my sister because she was in such a troubled state my story would only pour fuel on the fire, so to speak. She neither wanted, nor could accept any comfort from me for some unknown reason.
I went to a healing service at church with the laying on of hands. I had been quite troubled by my sister’s feelings towards me and had prayed she would come to her senses. At this healing service I decided to change my prayer. I asked God to help me surrender my pain about this relationship and accept my sister’s decision to cut me out of her life. I waited in the line leading to the altar for my turn to kneel there and let a healing helper lay hands on me. I did not expect anything to happen to me immediately, but it did. As this lovely church woman put both of her hands on my head I felt a gentle heat surround my head…a feeling of heat and light which filled my mind with awareness and took away all of the pain I had felt about my sister. I experienced a miraculous instantaneous healing. I left the church feeling a great lifting of a burden and a beautiful sense of peace.
It has been 20 years since all of this happened to me. Here are all the things I gained:
• Rock solid faith in God
• No more fear of death
• More loving and accepting of my brothers and sisters
• An understanding of the importance of forgiveness
• A knowing that love is all that is real
• A deep gratitude to my Creator and all that is holy
• More joy, more peace, more contentment
• A grasp of a beautiful concept that giving and receiving are one and the same.
And this is but a short list. As I live this earth dream to its conclusion, the insights keep unfolding and enriching me. And I believe my amazing transformation has touched many loved ones in ways they might not even be aware or could express in words. After all, I have learned there are senses beyond our physical bodies that can guide us to truth.
The question still remains in my mind — why was I given the gift of this brilliant and life changing revelation? In recent years I have become a student of the book A Course in Miracles, considered to be the words of Jesus scribed by Dr. Helen Schucman. One of the most important concepts in A Course in Miracles, perhaps the most important, is the goal of atonement for each of us. Atonement is the undoing of error brought about by unloving thoughts. According to the Course we can achieve salvation through atonement. And the means for this most valuable goal is forgiveness.
I think, perhaps, my mother gave me the gift of this divine vision as a part of her own atonement. She wiped the slate clean, so to speak, by allowing me to be witness to her holiness, thus dissolving any wrong-doing of the past. When I understood the truth of who she really is in God’s eyes — perfect, innocent and holy — nothing she had done in the earth realm mattered at all to me. It was as if it had all been undone. Thank you, sweet Mother, and thank you, dear God.
Dr. Raymond Moody Discusses Shared Death Experiences With Lynn Fishman
Dr. Raymond Moody And Paul Perry Discuss Shared Death Experiences
Paul Perry Interviews Dr. Raymond Moody About Shared Death Experiences
Dr. Raymond Moody Discusses Shared Death Experiences At IANDS
Raymond Moody discusses his research into shared-death experiences. Presented at the IANDS 2011 Conference, September 2-4, in Durham, North Carolina. For more information about Raymond Moody and shared-death experiences, go here.
Glimpses of Eternity
By Raymond Moody
Raymond Moody, author of the multimillion copy best-seller, Life After Life, reveals new results from his lifelong investigation of what happens when we die. Raymond Moody revolutionized the way we think about death with his first book, Life After Life, which was stories of people who died and then returned to life. Going through a tunnel, encountering an angelic being or having an out-of-body experience are hallmarks of what Moody termed a “near death experience.” Since the publication of his multimillion copy best-seller, hundreds of thousands of people have contacted Moody to share their own experiences. The startling pattern that Moody discovered is that at the time of death, loved ones also have inexplicable experiences. Glimpses of Eternity is the first book to talk about the phenomenon of “shared death experiences.” Readers will discover deathbed moments when entire families see the light or the room changes shape. Others tell of seeing a film like review of a loved one’s life and learning things that they could never have known otherwise. The stories are at once a comfort and a mystery, giving us a new understanding of the journey that we will take at the end of our lives.
Book Review: Glimpses Of Eternity: Sharing A Loved One’s Passage From This Life To The Next
By Robert Perry
October 15, 2010
I recently finished Raymond Moody’s new book, Glimpses of Eternity: Sharing a Loved One’s Passage from This Life to the Next. I had looked forward to reading this ever since reading and watching some of the advance material. Just as Moody brought near-death experiences (NDEs) to public awareness 35 years ago, he now said he would bring a new and extremely important phenomenon into view, one that puts to rest the skeptical objections to the NDE.
He calls these shared death experiences. They are where a person (sometimes several people) seems to actually share in the crossing over of a loved one. People began sharing their personal stories of these with him even before he published Life After Life. And as time went on, he became even more interested in these shared death experiences than in near-death experiences. Over time he has asked audiences all over the world if they have had such shared death experiences, and he implies he has collected quite a number, although he never tells us how many.
He outlines in Chapter 4 the elements of a shared death experience. He says that no one in his records has had all of the elements, but since the elements and their sequence have a consistency, he assembles a composite experience, which I have condensed here:
A woman is sitting by the bedside of her dying husband, holding his hand. She feels a charge of energy pass through her and realizes her husband has died. She then sees a glowing white mist come up from his head or chest area, rise up, and dissipate. She hears beautiful, otherworldly music, unlike anything she has ever heard.
She then finds that she has actually left her body and is floating above her husband’s hospital bed. Next to her floats her husband, also outside of his body, and smiling with joy. As they hover together, they are suddenly surrounded by countless scenes from their life together. She even sees scenes from his life before they met, including from his other romantic relationships. But she finds nothing embarrassing. Later, she is able to verify people and events that she saw and had no prior knowledge of.
They begin to move toward the corner of the room, which is no longer a right angle. The geometry of the room has changed, in ways hard to describe. A tube opens up near the ceiling, a portal to another realm. Together, they enter this tube and move rapidly up it. They emerge into a heavenly realm with a stunning natural landscape. As they move through this landscape, she reaches a point at which she realizes she cannot go further and must return. She says goodbye, feeling happy for her husband’s new existence. She finds herself back in her body. She thought she would feel sad and depressed at his death but instead, in light of the remarkable experience she has just had, finds herself strangely elated.
This book really stretched my picture of reality, I must say. I expected to read about a variation on NDEs — basically, shared NDEs. But that doesn’t seem to be what these are, for the simple reason that no one is near death. One person dies and doesn’t come back. The other person is perfectly healthy; not near death at all. It seems to be a new phenomenon. It clearly overlaps NDE in that there are many elements in common. But there are also some new elements, like the mist rising from the body and the room changing its geometry.
It so stretched my picture of things that even I found myself wondering if the stories were really true. I knew that this same objection had been raised to NDEs when Moody’s first book came out, and that turned out to be groundless. And these accounts had that same ring of veracity to them; you get the sense that people are just reporting something amazing that happened to them, not making anything up. Yet still my doubts nagged at me. One thing that didn’t help is that of the examples Moody provides that are already in the literature — some from the 19th century — none of them have the more impressive features, like being out of the body together and having the life review together.
I finally wrote Dr. Jeffrey Long, author of Evidence of the Afterlife, and founder of the NDERF website that has collected over 2,000 NDEs. I asked him if he has come across such accounts himself. He said, “We have received a number of shared death experiences over the years, and they can be as detailed as Raymond is reporting. For several decades, Raymond asked audiences that he talked to if they would share their shared death experiences with him. Thus he ended up with many.”
The stories in the book are pure gold. They are utterly amazing. However, I did have many quibbles with the book itself. It felt too lightweight and popularized for me personally. Moody never tells us details that for me are important — for instance, are these accounts written by the people themselves, transcribed from audio recordings, fleshed out from notes he took, or just his recollection of what they said? How many does he have? What percentage of his accounts have what features (for instance, the shared life review)? I get the impression that the early stages — mist rising from body, unearthly music, change in room’s geometry — are fairly common, while the later, really spectacular stages — shared out-of-body experience, shared life review, entering tunnel, etc. — are much more rare. But he didn’t address that question.
Moody even takes what I saw as a number of swipes at the scientific side of researching such experiences. For instance, near the end he says, “Experiences like these unfold over time and reveal what they reveal. There are researchers out there who will attempt to hurry these revelations with scientific studies. I wish them well. I am more patient than that. For me, I will bathe in the astonishment of these experiences for some time before coming to any solid conclusions of my own. They will tell me about themselves in due time” (p. 166). These down-his-nose comments toward the scientific research, especially when I felt his book needed more scientific rigor, seemed unbecoming to me.
One last complaint: While I was reading the book, the print is so large, and the format so story-based that I said to myself, “I feel like I just bought an issue of Guideposts” — the inspirational magazine. A couple of days later I looked at the spine to find it that it was actually published by Guideposts. This contributed to that “lightweight” feeling that did not seem befitting of such a heavyweight phenomenon.
All that being said, I feel Moody has done an invaluable service by bringing these experiences to light. One wonders how on earth they have stayed hidden for so long. And it makes you wonder what other important phenomenon are still hidden.
Why do I feel that shared near death experiences are important? Of course, we don’t really know if the living person is having a shared experience with the deceased love one, as we can’t exactly ask the deceased. This does raise the question of whether they might just be imagination. However, there does seem to be evidential information in some of these, such as when the living person verifies things he or she experienced in the life review and had no prior knowledge of. Or when the dying person on his deathbed says with surprise that a certain person has come to get him from the other side, someone he thought was alive, but whose recent death, it turns out, had been purposefully kept from him. Also, remember that many of these experiences involve more than one living person, sometimes several people, and the experiences of these different people seem to dovetail.
I think the fact that these experiences have common features is also important. If they are just imagination, why would Moody’s set of seven recurring features be there?
I think the main significance for me, though, is found in the close similarity with NDEs. Because of the features they share in common, NDEs and shared death experiences seem to be windows onto the same basic process, only seen from a somewhat different angle. As an analogy, before my wife and I moved into our current house, we looked it up on Google Earth. This allowed us to see it from two views — an aerial view and a street-level view. The two views showed us different features, but it was obvious that we were seeing the same house.
Here at my first encounter with this new phenomenon, that is its gut-level impact on me. It feels like in near-death experiences and shared death experiences we are getting two independent views of the same dying process. Which raises the question, Why would two different experiences just happen to depict the same process? The fact that they do strengthens the feeling that the dying process they depict is the dying process as it actually is.
Becoming Starlight: A Shared Death Journey from Darkness to Light
By Sharon Prentice PhD
The Shared Death Experience (SDE). Most people know of or know someone who has experienced a Near Death Experience (NDE), but very few have heard of the SDE. The SDE is similar to the NDE except that it occurs not to the person who is dying, but to their loved one who is physically well. That person could be sitting right next to their loved one, or sitting across the room, or even across the globe unaware of the impending death of someone they love. Location or activity level is of no consequence to the SDE. That person, the loved one, is “invited along” to witness the aftermath of physical death. The invitation extended has no RSVP — the person accompanying the dying individual can neither accept nor refuse — they are just “taken” or “given” the experience by powers outside of their control.
Becoming Starlight is one of those stories. It is a story filled with the type of pitfalls that accompany much of mankind on the journey through existence. Deeply embedded in Starlight is an ongoing war with death, faith, and hope- and with God — a war most of us have experienced or will experience in our lifetimes.
Becoming Starlight is a story that has been written, in one way or another, since the beginning of time. The war between life and death — who lives and who dies and why they die — is at the heart of this deeply personal experience. It’s a life-and-death struggle with spiritual darkness and loss of faith. It is a story not unlike the stories of anyone who has loved and lost, grieved and sorrowed, felt anguish and rage, fallen from Grace and questioned the very existence of God. The specifics are different, but the humanity splattered on the human soul and on every page is the same as that of any life lived fully. Some find redemption more easily than I. It took a complete fall from grace for me to be awakened from the trauma and darkness that had found its way into my life, and it took an unexpected encounter — an SDE — to bring me into the arms of God, where I finally found the solace and understanding that I had yearned for. “Becoming Starlight” is the “Lifting of the Veil” that led to a peek into foreverness and to the compassion of a loving God.
Dr. Prentice’s book is a thought-provoking advance that can help bring about progress toward rational enlightenment on the afterlife question. What you will read here opens many new avenues for thinking about humankind’s deepest mystery. Hold onto your hat when you read this book.
“Becoming Starlight is truly sensational; everybody who is seriously interested in the question of life after death should read it.”
While Jan Price has a near-death experience, her husband Carl watches her rise out of her body. Then they both see their family dog, Maggie, who had died three weeks before, come and greet her. Jan was then taken on a tour of various realms where she learned life-changing lessons before returning to her body. “The true purpose of life,” according to Jan, “is the joyful experience of it.”
Scott Taylor: A Shared Near Death Experience
Scott Taylor recounts his shared-death experience at the 2014 Conference for the International Association for Near-Death Studies.
I was in love with a woman who’s name was Mary Fran. Mary Fran and her son, Nolan, were driving home from the lake and they were in a horrific car accident. Mary Fran was killed outright and Nolan, who was seven at the time, was mortally wounded. He had a head injury and it took him about five days to make his transition.
Mary Fran’s family is a large one. She was third in the family order, but Nolan was the first grandchild. Because of the time — five days — all of the sisters, significant others, uncles and aunts, the whole family wound up converging on Saint Mary’s hospital in Rochester . . . When the nurse came in and said it was time . . . the transition was going to be happening soon, we all went into his hospital room. Because I was just the boyfriend — we had been dating about six months — all of the aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews were gathered bedside and I was about six deep in the room. I, and Mary Fran’s youngest brother, Willy, wound up just sitting on a windowsill, while we were waiting for Nolan [to pass]. I had never seen anyone who had made their transition before. It’s slow and it’s gentle and it took awhile. We waited in silence in a prayerful state.
When Nolan’s vital signs flatlined what happened was that, as best as I can describe it, Mary Fran, Nolan’s mother, who had died five days before, came down and scooped Nolan out of his body and it was an exquisite reunion. That reunion was filled with joy — you can only imagine a mother receiving her son back again. But then a really, quite extraordinary thing happened. They turned to me and included me in their embrace and then the three of us went to The Light together. This was something I could never have possibly imagined because when we hit The Light, when we entered this Light, it was a joy, this amazing love, it was this bursting of reunion with the most loving entities and with Mary Fran and Nolan.
Then what happened was that I slowly came back. They went on and I came back into this physical room. What makes this a little special — or weird — is that I bilocated during that period because I was fully present in the room with all of the relatives AND I was with them in The Light. I know I was fully present in the room because Nolan had just made his transition and the room was filled with grieving relatives. They had just lost their brother, their sister, their nephew, their grandson, and I was keenly aware of this really emotional time and yet I was so happy; I was so filled with joy and love that I thought my face would break! I had the ability to recognize that I was completely inappropriate. I wound up covering my face with my hands so I could be in the room with all of the grieving relatives. And then I slowly integrated back into my body and became fully present again.
I didn’t know what to do with this experience. Let’s just say, I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and this whole going to The Light, bilocation, it’s just not part of the lexicon of that tradition, so I didn’t know what to do with it for the longest time. So I kept quiet. I didn’t tell anyone for a really long time. 15 years.
Fast forward 15 years. I’m now at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I’m doing my doctoral work. I wind up doing my dissertation on people who have had near-death experiences. It wasn’t until I started reading the literature about near-death experiences that I found out that I had one. I would never had considered myself as having had a near-death experience because I wasn’t dead, I was perfectly healthy, I was just sitting on a windowsill next to Willy and this extraordinary thing happened to me . . . There was a paragraph in one of P.M.H. Atwater’s books that detailed how this happens to some people and it fit me to the T. Now I had a name for what happened to me: It was a shared or a near-death-like experience…
In the process of doing my research, I asked all kinds of people if they wanted to participate. As it turns out, one of Mary Fran’s relatives had had a near-death experience subsequent to Mary Fran’s. When I interviewed her, we sat down to do the interview and she said to me, “I know why you are asking me this. It’s because of the experience we had in the room. Right?” And I said, “Excuse me? No. We’re here to talk about your near-death experience four years later.” And she said, “Really? I thought maybe we could talk about what happened when Nolan died.” I said, “OK. Yes. You tell me first what happened to you and then I’ll tell you what happened to me.” And she related to me an almost identical experience. That she had witnessed Mary Fran come and pick Nolan out of his body. That she had witnessed the same exquisite reunion between Mary Fran and Nolan. And that Mary Fran and Nolan had turned to her and taken her to The Light.
So it wasn’t really just me. There were FOUR of us that had gone to The Light! Mary Fran, Nolan, the other relative of Mary Fran’s, and myself. We all went there together. It was verified. Not only has it been verified in the literature that this is a real thing, but that particular experience was experienced by someone else using almost identical language. So, this is real! And it was amazing.
Atheist Dad Is Transformed After Glimpse Of Heaven As Toddler Son Is Taken Off Life Support
BY Geeta Nangia
The Epoch Times
February 17, 2022
Original Story (which includes additional information and photos)
A family who lost their 2-year-old son due to respiratory complications of the flu virus 11 years ago have shared that what God did for their lives, and in the lives of others through their son, has been nothing short of a miracle.
A former atheist, dad Darin Hamm shares his story of how a glimpse of heaven transformed him and led him on a journey of faith, while his late toddler son, Griffin, was given only a few hours to live before he was taken off life support.
A Gifted Child
A bright-eyed little boy with beautiful curly blonde locks of hair, Darin and his wife, Jennifer, state that their toddler son, Griffin, was a “content, happy, and observant child who loved what all boys do — tractors, cars, and being outside with his daddy.”
“It took seven years to have him,” his parents told The Epoch Times, “and he was a gift from God.”
Facing Trials in Marriage and in Faith
While parenting Griffin and their older son, Dylan, went smoothly for Darin and Jennifer, the father-of-three states that they’d been walking through a very difficult time in their marriage.
Jennifer described that, during that time, her husband dealt with a profound amount of anger and frustration toward others. It was not uncommon for him to get into an altercation with someone who upset him at the store or out in the community. He was often unpredictable, and she’d been counseled to think of divorce. However, she struggled and found hope through her faith.
On the other hand, Darin claims he was a proud atheist who “hated Christians,” feeling they were usually inauthentic and the many he knew were corrupt. He said that he often dealt with people who claimed to believe in God but didn’t live a good life.
As an owner of a large business in the Central Pennsylvania region, in an area where many professed faith, he often felt discouraged by others’ behavior and became further angered as a result.
Thus when Jennifer would visit churches, looking for a place for Griffin to be baptized, Darin would tell her she was chasing “the invisible man,” referring to a God he didn’t believe existed.
Experiencing Heaven and a Glimpse of Eternity
However, on a cold January day in 2011, things took an unusual twist for the Hamms. After days of Griffin being on life support due to an unforeseen turn in his ability to breathe, Darin had an experience that would change the course of his life.
The family had been in the hospital at that time for four days and were told that Griffin was brain dead and that, within the next 24 hours, they were going to disconnect him from life support.
“I told the doctors that I didn’t want to guess every time someone walks in the room if they’re going to do that, so I needed them to set a time,” Darin recalled. “So it was 4:30 p.m. when we had this conversation, and so they said the next day at 4:30 p.m. they’d remove the life support.”
Both the parents were told by Griffin’s medical team that they were going to unwrap his head and they were given permission to lay down with him. Darin watched Jennifer as she laid down with her son for hours knowing she didn’t have much time left with him.
“At 11 o’clock, she said, ‘I feel terrible, I haven’t shared,'” Darin said. “She got up, and I laid down with him.”
However, for Darin, the last few hours with Griffin were completely different. As he laid down for 30 minutes, everything around him was getting darker with each passing minute, he explained.
“I wasn’t able to comfort him at all. It was too much for me, ” he said. “It was the first time in my life that anything was too much. I sat in a chair and I looked at him and said aloud, ‘I am not man enough. I can’t comfort my own son, with 14 hours left.'”
Not wanting to give up, however, he tried to summon up the courage and lay down with Griffin again. Finally, the third time he laid down with him, Darin touched his hair and grabbed his hand like a handshake. He recalls telling him, “I never even got to teach you how to shake hands, Griffin.”
What unfolded next was a transformative experience that changed Darin’s life forever. The following is what he shared:
“Right there, at that moment, I was GONE. Like … lifted out of my body … gone. I was traveling with him. He was ahead of me, and he was looking back at me. He had his right hand behind him, and my left hand was holding his hand. We were traveling. It felt fast, but it wasn’t the wind. I could only see blue, and there was communication happening with me. I would get lots of information from what seemed like the atmosphere.
My initial response to Griffin was, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ and he would look at me and his smile was just so large and he was so alive. But, when he would look away from me, I would become very ill, similar to the state I was in when I felt I wasn’t tough enough to comfort him. Then, he would look at me again, and that feeling would go away. It was just so intense … the love I felt, and then he would look away. The third time he looked away, I was so sick and nauseated by my own feelings of not being enough, and I thought to myself, ‘You’ve got to toughen up. This is a rare moment you are getting with your son. He is alive.’ This time, Griffin looked at me, and he laughed. He knew my thoughts, and he knew them deeply. He chuckled and said, ‘Daddy, you aren’t sick!.’ I knew all of what he meant at that moment, spiritually and emotionally. I was NOT sick!
And then … I experienced the love of God. He was everywhere. He was the blue I saw, and totally encompassed me. I could see the things I had done in my life, the things I thought were good decisions but they weren’t. I could see business decisions that I made that were so wrong, because the perspective with which I made them had been selfish. I was supposed to be my brothers’ keeper. I didn’t take care of people like I should have. I felt God say that He’d put people in my life to take care of them, but I hadn’t. I could see these things play out and God showing me in a very peaceful and loving way, not a critical way. It was harsh, but so loving at the same time. Everything made sense.
I could see eternity, and see it precisely. It was to be outside of time. It was very clear to me there that Griffin, in his two years, did more than most men in one hundred years could conceivably do. His life was truly precious and accomplished.
We got to what seemed like the end, and it seemed Griffin was trying to introduce me to someone. His attention went somewhere and then he looked back at me. And then, he asked me, ‘Daddy, may I stay?’ It was a yes or no question. I knew that I could say no, and that he would have been alive when I got back. It was crystal clear. But you know what I said? I said well beyond, ‘You could stay.’ I said, ‘Wow, son, Of course, you can stay!'”
Darin remembers clearly that the moment he uttered the word, “wow,” he was back in his bed in the hospital shaking his son’s hand and at that moment, everything was “really over.”
“That love, that I felt there in heaven … It was clear that the most I could ever do with all the love I could ever muster up, was a tenth of one percent of the love that I experienced that God had for me,” Darin said of his profound experience.
Lives Transformed Through Realization of God’s Love
When doctors came in to take Griffin off life support, Darin found himself with a “peace beyond comprehension.” Jennifer recalls that, at that time, she knew something was different because he was comforting everyone else.
“I was not as affected by what was happening because my reality was what I was shown in heaven,” Darin said. “Eleven years later, that is my reality. I didn’t know if what I experienced would somehow wear off, or if the knowledge and memory of what I saw would fade.”
His journey toward faith might have been different compared to others and came on rather “dramatically and instantly.” However, he believes that it’s stronger than ever now.
Jennifer recollects that, in the weeks following Griffin’s passing, her husband kept repeating the line, “Life is about love and relationship.”
Darin believes that these were the words he was given while he had the vivid experience of a glimpse of heaven. The encounter made him a completely different man who then had a sudden insatiable desire to read the Bible and learn everything he could about God.
He went down a path where he wanted to let everyone know about God, mend past relationships, and make things right with people in his life. Everyone was surprised and couldn’t believe how he’d changed, as he went from being an angry and volatile person to being patient, loving, gracious, and caring.
“It has been 11 years, and I see how he has totally changed, like a new creation,” Jennifer said. “I started to love my husband again, watching him love Jesus, and love others.”
Over the years, it’s not only Darin’s life that’s changed; he’s also made it his life’s focus to share God’s love with others.
He wants people to know that “Heaven” is real and that God’s love for us is unquestionable. He believes that life is short and that our purpose is to love and serve God and one another.
In an attempt to help others, Darin has spoken to those who have questions about life and has developed a ministry around helping people on the verge of suicide.
For Darin, he knew it was like God gave him the ability to share hope with them. He strongly believes that people who are in crisis somehow end up in his path, so that he can help them to know about God’s love and about eternity.
Meanwhile, Jennifer went on receiving counseling after Griffin passed away. She remembers finding herself in a sad place over and over again.
However, one day, her counselor told her that nothing he could say to her would make her situation be less painful, but he asked her a poignant question.
“He asked me if I had any blessings in my life,” she recalled, “and then he advised me to begin thanking God for those blessings before I lose them. So I began to force myself, before I prayed and went over my laundry list of concerns and complaints, to thank God for each and every blessing in my life and it totally reprogrammed my mind.
“I don’t know where we’d be if this never happened.”
Two years after Griffin changed his address to heaven, Jennifer and Darin were blessed with a daughter, named Alaina.
Jennifer quit her job and began staying at home to savor every moment of seeing her daughter grow up.
Dylan, who loved Griffin with all his heart, is now married and lives close to his parents. Darin and Jennifer are so proud of both Dylan and Alaina.
“God didn’t have to do this, but He has been so gracious. He has helped me to have joy after all this pain,” Jennifer said. “God has been so good in the midst of this.”
Near-Death Experiences of Groups of People
A more interesting and rare type of NDE is called the “group near-death experience”. This is a phenomenon where a whole group of people have an NDE at the same time and location. They see each other outside of their bodies and have a shared or similar experience. P.M.H. Atwater gives a definition of a “Group NDE”:
“These are rare, but they do occur. With this kind, a whole group of people simultaneously seems to experience the same or similar episode. What makes these so spectacular and challenging is that all or most of the experiencers see each other actually leave their bodies as it happens, then dialogue with each other and share messages and observations while still experiencing the near-death state. Their separate reports afterward either match or nearly so. Reports like these emerge most often from events of a harrowing nature that involve a lot of people.
“Shared and group experiences imply that no matter how sure we are that near-death states mean this or that, and are the result of whatever, no single idea, theory, or pat answer can explain them. Even clues from the powerful patterning that researchers like myself have identified, fail to explain all aspects of the phenomenon.”
The following are excellent examples of group near-death experiences: