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Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What’s the difference between a near-death experience (NDE) and a death experience?

 A near-death experience, a term first coined by the physician and psychologist Raymond Moody, refers to vivid, unforgettable and baffling events and recollections of those either physiologically or psychologically close to death.

But my book, GLIMPSING HEAVEN, attempts to interview only those who I believe were once actually dead: the chief engineer of a research vessel who drowned during a storm off Ventura, California; a schoolteacher and an actress, both of whom died in childbirth and were then resuscitated; a college student strangled by a young man whose advances she had rejected – along with many others who died, however briefly. And many others.

I thought it essential to interview at length only those who had actually died (rather than those near death), because Dr. Moody’s term, however memorable and ground-breaking, is also a bit ambiguous and in my opinion, not ambitious enough. After all, there’s a big difference between being near death and being actually dead. If you are dead, then revived, and return with intense and vivid memories of adventures and voyages taken while you were out – well that’s a huge discovery. It flies smack in the face of established science.

Q: How can we believe these stories of the formerly dead?

My question these days is: How can we not believe them. I’m not talking about every anecdote from every person who claims to have died and then returned. But these days, there are just too many of them. Reason suggests they can’t all be liars, fantasists, or attention-grabbers. In fact, in some instances the cardiologists, neurosurgeons and nurses I spoke to for GLIMPSING HEAVEN verified a number of the recollections of patients who had temporarily died.

Q: But surely these are rare instances, possibly explicable?

Not rare. Not rare at all!

Thanks to improved methods of CPR and other forms of resuscitation, hundreds of thousands of the dead are coming back to life – many with memories of what it was like. It is no longer unusual or the province of myth or the Bible. The formerly dead are returning, walking amongst us. You probably have encountered some of them, and don’t even know it.

Some of these formerly dead people have memories – vivid ones – of what I call in my book death travels.

 Q: Why are they called death travels?

The assumption – my previous assumption and the belief of almost everyone I know, including classical scientists – is that death equals stasis. Nothing happens after you die. Your body is still. Your brain ceases to think. The heavy black curtain drops on the last act. That’s all there is.

As it turns out, however, many of the dead travel – and not necessarily to the same place. Each voyage is different. That is what they recount on their return.

While dead, they somehow glimpse the entire universe: stars, planets towards which they can move just by willing it. Or they find themselves communicating with wise strangers about metaphysics. Or they land – how they never discover – in gorgeous gardens surrounded by plants of unearthly colors. Or they find themselves in a void where they can actually visualize cello music. These are not simply visions. They are travels to strange places.

No plane tickets, no menus of exotic meals, no hotel bills, true.

But travels, for all that.
Q: Are the returning dead different from the rest of us?
No one ever asks me that question, so I decided to ask the scientists and medical personnel I interviewed for my book.
And the answer I believe is: Yes. The returning dead are different.

They may not have been different from the rest of us before they died – most of those I interviewed were perfectly ordinary until death came along. But death is transformative. It changes us. A cardiologist I interviewed believes it may alter our DNA.   But without a doubt (and this is not a belief, but a fact) death changes us.

It certainly changes our lives. We are never the same after we die.

We are better.

 © 2014 Judy Bachrach

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