Note: The following excerpt has been used with the permission of a former client and/or the publisher. Please note that I can adjust my prose style for a particular genre, and the following is not intended to represent my full range of styles or the number of genres I consider. For nonfiction, the level of complexity can be adjusted depending upon client preference.
The near-death experience, or NDE as it is now commonly termed, has several features as noted in almost fifteen million reports dating from the early 1960s. Not everyone experiences all of the following symptoms, nor are they always sequential, although they represent the most common elements of the classic NDE.
In the early stage of the experience, most people have a classic out-of-body experience, feeling themselves floating peacefully above their bodies. They experience neither panic nor pain, even if their condition results from a gruesome automobile accident or life-threatening surgery. If resuscitation occurs quickly, they often feel a reluctance to re-enter their physical bodies.
A majority of people then find themselves undergoing what is commonly referred to as "the tunnel experience." Patients are drawn into a long tunnel and begin to travel at enormous velocities (several claim they are moving at the speed of light) toward a distant light. Once through the tunnel, they find themselves engulfed by an intense white light they believe to be heaven, or even God himself. It should be noted that some people, after leaving their bodies, simply float into this otherworldly realm, bypassing the tunnel experience altogether. A few patients find themselves in beautiful pastoral settings or crystalline cities, although most still describe their surroundings as suffused with a supernatural, loving light.
A life review almost always occurs, although this frequently happens before the tunnel experience. (Again, the sequence of these phases varies from patient to patient.) Those undergoing the near-death experience feel their lives flashing before them. Some report reliving everything they've ever done in a matter of seconds, while others simply see pivotal points in their lives. Almost always, a being of light is said to be hovering nearby, as if guiding the patient through his or her memories. Interestingly, no judgment comes from these beings of light, who are described as angels, Christ, Buddha, or Allah. Patients uniformly state that unconditional love and acceptance radiates from the light surrounding them, although patients themselves may feel considerable shame or remorse at certain life events.
A reunion with deceased relatives is a frequent symptom of the NDE. Many report meeting relatives they did not even know they had (such reports usually being corroborated upon resuscitation if necessary birth records are available). It is often deceased relatives who communicate that patients must return to their physical bodies, explaining that there is still work to do on earth. There is usually a reluctance to return, and some patients are even given a choice as to whether or not they wish to return or stay in the heavenly realm.
While it is easy to dismiss such experiences as resulting from drugs administered during anesthesia, a majority of NDEs occur to people who have no drugs of any kind in their systems, such as those undergoing a cardiac arrest or a near-fatal accident of some kind. This would seem to rule out drug-induced hallucinations as a cause for the phenomenon. Exactly what triggers the experience is still being actively researched. Doctors and psychologists, however, are quick to point out that whatever findings may emerge in future studies, the NDE is not proof of life after death. Rather, such a belief is, and will remain, a matter of faith.©2006