If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences. -William Isaac Thomas.
It is difficult for most of us to imagine what it`s like to have a near death- experience! To begin with, a person who has had one, has nearly died! Nobody expects to nearly die! As Sigmund Freud put it so succinctly, ” When we attempt to imagine death, we perceive ourselves as spectators.”
When a near-death experience takes place, it is generally completely different from anything that people could have imagined ever happening to them. When NDEr`s describe their experience as being “unworldly”, they generally understate it. Words like unworldly don`t begin to explain an experience that takes you out of your physical body and into the realms that have been described so vividly in the dozens of NDE accounts that I have read so far, and I have studied this subject for many years now, through many medical surveys and scientific studies that have been published.
BARRIERS TO SHARING
It is a long journey from the time that a near-death experience takes place, until the changes following the experience are fully manifested. These life changes often include transformations in the near-death experiencer`s values, beliefs, and relations with others. Collectively these changes are called aftereffects.
Near-death experiencer`s often tell that the aftereffects were the most important part of their experiences. Aftereffects can dramatically affect the NDEr for the rest of his or her life. To understand NDE aftereffects it is helpful to “walk a mile” with the NDErs, following what happened from the time of the NDE until the aftereffects become fully clear later in life.
For NDErs the first challenge is obviously to recover from what nearly killed them and many seek therapy, for what is diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that many people suffer from when going through this trauma, for example war veterans ect.` NDErs have to deal with the shock of the life-threatening event and the memory of the NDE experience.
Many people believe that NDErs would jump at the opertunity to share such a dramatic experience immediately after it happens. In reality, this is not usually the case. After recovering from nearly dying, if they try to share their story, they often encounter another challenge: they may be met with indifference and even negative reactions, to the point of some people mocking and being cruel to the experiencer. It`s easy to understand how crushed a near-death experiencer would be, trying to share just how remarkable and personal the experience was, only to be told by the people taken into the experiencer`s confidence that the NDE was due to the drugs, hallucinations, or a dream, or was imaginary and never really happened. People have even been accused of being simpathy seekers or attention seekers. When NDErs encounter such inappropriate reactions from others, they may suppress their experience and the memory of it. If they do, the possibility that they will develop life-enhancing aftereffects are greatly reduced, and some suffer from deep depression because they suppress this personal experience.
Compounding the difficulty NDErs face in sharing, is that near-death experiences are often so unworldly that they may be difficult to express in words. Near-death experiences are often called “ineffable”, not only are they difficult to explain to none experiencers in words, but also because it may be difficult to mentally process these astounding experiences. People may struggle for a long time to understand what has happened to them, and they expect that others would firmly deny, or would not understand the experience that they have gone through.
Still, some people, thank heavens!! are brave, and they still share their experiences with medical personnel shortly after it occurs. Sometimes they are lucky enough to find nurses and doctors who understand NDEs and may even have had the experience themselves, or have studied the information that medical and scientific surveys have revealed to scientists who have spent many years studying this phenomanon. Unfortunately this isn`t always the case when the experiencer encounters a member of the medical team who are uninformed about NDEs or just don`t care enough to find out about them. The result is a negative responce and a look that says ” you must be crazy “. Imagine for a minute! just how traumatic it is for the experiencer to encounter reactions like this one, when they share this information.
This is a small example of what I have read in a study. A man in Peru, nearly died from meningitis, a very serious brain infection that is life-threatening. Here is what happened when he tried to share his experience:
” I told some people about my experience, and they said I was crazy, even my own wife wouldn`t believe that it really did happen. My own doctor insisted that I get psychiactric help because I told him that I felt that I had spoken to an angelic type of energy ”
Near-death experiencers are generally very uncomfortable sharing their experience with their medical caregivers, for fear of being mocked or recieving negative reprisals.
It`s no wonder that some medical personnel have a difficult time knowing how to respond to this information as even the experiencer, doesn`t know how to respond to the event either. The unexpected nature of the NDE always presents a significant barrier to sharing this information. Most patients who go through this experience don`t even know what it was in the first place, and therefore find it difficult to relate this experience to the faculty who study this phenomenon. An NDE study survey asks, ” did you have any knowledge of NDEs prier to your experience? ” A resounding 66.4 percent of respondents of NDEs said no! Only 12.7 percent questioned in the study felt that their experience, when it happened, included features consistant with their beliefs. Understandably it would be difficult to talk about this experience, especially if you didn`t believe that anything of its kind could happen.
These barriers to sharing this information about NDEs clearly state why many people do not speak of their experience for years or even decades, but the experience and information stays in their memory very clearly. However, surveys and scientific studies, have found that nearly 90 percent of experiencers share this information in these important studies. Research has shown that it takes on average, a minimum of seven years for people to come to terms with their experience, whether adult or child! One of the most common responses found, is a deeper understanding of spirituality, and this has given the experiencer profound comfort in their knowledge of the afterlife, and also reduced their interest in material gain or status, and it has had the affect of giving them a greater understanding and appreciation of life. Later research found a myriad of other aftereffects, including a belief in the sacredness of life, a sense of God`s presence, and an awareness of the meaning and purpose in life.
Near-death experiencers often become increasingly aware of the needs of others and are willing to reach out to them. They may seek to live life more fully and with real joy. Personally speaking, I think the world needs a lot more people with values like these.