As one NDEr said, “It all hangs out in the life review, Kid.” He is obviously speaking of his review during his near-death experience. Most NDErs will tell you, nothing is held back. You see both the good and the ugly. But you not only have front row seats to the production of “Your Life,” you actually get to feel the pain and or joy that your actions caused others. It’s sort of like a Broadway production in interactive 3D.
The life review, many NDErs tell us, allows us to zoom in on one particular incident in our lives. For example, perhaps there was a time when you fed your only sandwich to a homeless man but yet another when you could have helped another soul but chose not to. Again, “it all hangs out.”
But in addition to zooming in, we can also zoom out. This allows us to see the bigger picture. What, then, is the bigger picture? What is the meaning behind near-death experiences, afterlife communications, spiritual awakenings and other spiritually transformative experiences (STEs)? The type of experience you may have is not important, what’s important is the aftereffect.
For me, personally, my experience changed my view of life forcing me to question the very nature of reality. IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) defines an NDE as a profound psychological event that may occur to a person close to death or, if not near death, in a situation of physical or emotional crisis. An NDE, says IANDS, is a powerful event of consciousness.
I’ve never had a NDE but one does not have to have an NDE to experience a powerful event of consciousness. For me, it came in the form of a vivid dream or what I now refer to as a visit from heaven. My husband’s friend who died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center attacks came to me with a message for his wife. I was walking down a long hallway and literally felt myself moving. I didn’t know it then but I was actually having an OBE (out of body experience). My body was sound asleep while my soul “astral traveled” to another dimension.
I walked down this long hallway going into a door at the end which led to a room filled with windows and desks. I looked up seeing my husband’s friend Rich who said, “Josie, thank you for mentioning me in your book.” (I mention Rich in the Epilogue of my first book, Footprints in the Sand: A Disabled Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Happiness.)
For reasons I cannot explain, I looked at him and said, “Rich, you have to prove to me that this is really you.” With that, he picked up a flip phone showing me a photo of him, his wife and son. He then looked at me smiling saying, “Boston is OK.” I had no idea what this meant but I did know that this was a message that I needed to get to his wife. The experience was so real; I knew it wasn’t a dream.
The next thing I remember is going through a window and finding myself on the street. As I looked out, I saw a pickup truck. In the bed of this pickup truck was Rich standing behind his wife and son. He looked at me pushing me forward as if to say, “Now go give her the message.” I woke up in a sitting position panting and out of breath; feeling like something had just hit me in my chest.
I was completely stunned; nothing like this had ever happened to me before. Without a doubt whatsoever, I was positive that the experience had been valid. In fact, it felt more real than my earthly existence. But how, I wondered, can anything be more real than my current reality? What did this mean? I didn’t know what to think. How could this be? I continued to rack my brain for answers, but none came.
I nervously called my husband John who was already at work to tell him what had happened. His reaction did not surprise. He reacted like I was off my rocker telling me that I was crazy. I persisted, however, insisting that what I had experienced was real. In fact, I was so relentless that John finally agreed to contact Rich’s sister in-law. We decided that he would send an email explaining what happened. If his sister-in law felt it was appropriate, she would then forward the email to her sister (Rich’s wife).
My husband would later tell me that he regretted sending my email the second he hit the send button. He worried about the kind of reaction he would get from Rich’s wife, not wanting to upset her.
Two weeks later, however, we both realized that the message was indeed meant to be sent. While on vacation, my husband received a message from Rich’s sister in law on his BlackBerry. In short, Rich’s wife had a brother who lived in Boston and was considering moving there but she felt guilty since she had purchased her house with her husband shortly before his death. John read the email aloud not quite grasping what it meant. When he read it a second time we both cupped our mouths in total disbelief.
In the email, she skeptically questioned how I could have known about Boston. Honestly, I had no idea whatsoever that his wife was considering moving to Boston. I had never met Rich or anyone else in his family for that matter. So I certainly did not know that his wife had a brother in Boston. I once spoke to Rich on the phone and saw a picture of him but that’s it! Yet, again, I had no doubt that it was Rich. We communicated clearly telepathically. No need for words; it all seemed so natural at the time.
Yet after my visit from heaven, everything changed. I not only saw life differently, I was different. After all, I reasoned I had received a message from a deceased friend which was later validated. This clearly means two things: There is no death and it is possible for the living to communicate with the “dead.” I put this word in quotes because if there is no death then there are clearly no dead.
Again, I was different. I no longer believed in life after death, I knew. There’s a big difference. A knowing changes the very core of your being. You can’t go back to who you were before even if you tried. And you also can’t forget about your experience.
I soon realized that I had been given a gift and wanted to stand on the tallest mountain and scream, “Life never ends and love never dies.” However, I did the next best thing…I wrote a book called Visits from Heaven (4th Dimension Press). Not everyone is lucky enough to be given proof like I was but I knew there had to be others out there. I searched for afterlife communication accounts around the world that were evidential. Every account in the book is backed up by some sort of proof. I also garnered the support of such well-known experts like Dr. Melvin Morse, PMH Atwater, George Anderson, among others, who contributed chapters to the book.
While writing Visits from Heaven, I visited with a medium for the first time and was told that I was writing a book that was meant to be written. I am being guided by the other side, he told me. At first I can’t say that I believed him. I do believe it now, though. Or, rather, I should say, I know it now.
My life has taken a 180 degree turn and I try not to look back trying always to serve a higher purpose. I know now that life is so much more than it seems. We are all here for a reason and everything we do impacts everyone else. When our lessons are learned and our purpose met, we will return “home” to God. We are all eternal souls and are all part of God, Supreme Source, Universal Consciousness or whatever you choose to call Him. The body is just a jacket we wear so that we can roam the earth, experience life and learn lessons.
As Melvin Morse, renowned pediatrician and near-death researcher, wrote in his book Where God Lives (Harper One/2000), “I understood that man and everything else in the universe is a piece of God. As each snowflake contains miniature representations of the entire snowflake, and each strand of human DNA contains the code to create a unique human, we are all tiny pieces of God.”
Knowing that I am eternal and part of God has changed my life considerably. Last summer, I was sitting on the beach people watching. At first, I was annoyed by the intense heat and humidity and couldn’t wait until my kids returned from the ocean so we could leave. But then suddenly, I was reminded of the fact that we are all one with creation. We are literally “parts of God” experiencing life together.
I smiled as I watched the other children making sandcastles and people huskily making their way past me on the beach. A sense of peace came over me as I was reminded of our true nature. I thought to myself, “What a world this would be if we all only knew who we truly are.” My heart filled with love and gratitude and I was no longer in a hurry to leave. It was a beautiful day at the beach and a perfect way to end a short family vacation.
Since my experience, I understand that the only thing that matters on this earth is love. I used to be so consumed with my journalism career and making a name for myself. I wanted to make a lot of money and live an easy life. Today, I know that I had it all wrong.
The most important thing that I can do in my life is help others. When it is my time and I watch my own life review, the money, career and status will not matter one bit. What will matter are the times that I tried to help others and the differences I made. What will matter is the love that I shared.
I have continued to strive to share this message. My next book, Visits to Heaven, to be released this month offers further proof that there is not just here, but a hereafter. It contains not only incredible NDE accounts from around the globe, but many other mystical experiences including afterlife communications, deathbed visitations, etc. It is also backed up by stories contributed by some of the most respected names in NDE and paranormal research. Writing this book taught me a lot about myself. For one, I am so much more than I think; we all are.
I once read that our great oceans have the power to hold and transmit the vibrations of love, life and good blessings. The human body contains about 60 percent water. We are all “water carriers.” We all have the ability to change the world simply by the way we think and act.
We are all one. We cannot help others without helping ourselves. The opposite is true as well. We can’t hurt others without hurting ourselves. But in the end, “it all hangs out in the life review.” Nothing is without purpose.