Report of a near-death experience: ‘On September 23, 1978, I had my first contractions. At that time I was nine months pregnant with what would later turn out to be our second daughter. The entire pregnancy went by the book. After some time, my husband and I go to the hospital together with the midwife. I am driven to the delivery room.
The midwife regularly listens through the large wooden horn. The membranes are broken. It is very quiet in the delivery room. Everyone is walking past each other, talking to each other quickly and softly. When I ask what’s going on, neither I nor my husband gets an answer. The contractions are gone, but I feel good.
In the meantime, the gynecologist and even more nursing staff have been added. We know nothing. I’m told to push. “I don’t have contractions!” That is not the case. There is clattering with pliers, scissors, bowls, and cloths. My husband falls, and the delivery room is pulled out and placed in the hallway. Suddenly I notice that I am looking from above at a woman who is lying on a bed with her legs on the supports.
I see the panic in the nurses and doctors, I see a lot of blood on the bed and on the floor, I see that the woman’s belly is pressed very hard with big hands, and then I see a child being born from the woman. The child is immediately taken to another room. The nurses are devastated. Everyone waits.
My head falls back with a loud bang as the pillow is removed at a rapid pace. And again I see great crowds. I shoot through a dark tunnel at lightning speed. A great peaceful, blissful feeling overwhelms me. I feel intensely satisfied, happy, quiet, and peaceful. I hear beautiful music. I see beautiful colors and beautiful flowers in all possible colors in a large meadow. At the end is a beautiful, bright, warm light. That’s where I have to go.
I see a being, in a light robe. The creature waits for me and extends her hand. I feel warmly and lovingly awaited. We walk hand in hand towards the beautiful and warm light. Then she lets go of my hand and turns around. I feel drawn back. I have to go back. I notice a nurse beating my cheeks hard and calling me.
After the near-death experience: back to the ‘real world’
After some time (?) I know where I am and I also know that my child is not well. Our daughter is not alive (anymore). How this return hurts me! And what would I like to return to… yes to where? This world goes on. The medical cause of my near-death experience is the blood loss that occurred during childbirth.
This blood loss was initially not noticed or insufficiently noticed by the nursing staff. Probably everyone was focused on giving birth to the child. Only at the last moment are measures taken by pulling the pillow from under my head, supplying me with blood and… I haven’t seen any of that since. I was already in paradise then.
Once returned from that beautiful world, from this beautiful experience, the reception here in this world was cold, cold, and above all loveless. The nurse to whom I tried to tell what beautiful things had happened to me, took it off by saying that I would soon be given some medicine so that I could go to sleep and that it would be over?! Past? About? I didn’t want that at all. I just didn’t want it over, not over. I wanted to go back to it. The gynecologist told me that I was still young, that I could still have enough children, and that I just had to move on and think ahead.
Who wants to hear about my near-death experience?
I stopped telling my story. I found it so hard to find words for my experience, how could words express what I had experienced? But then what? Where could I tell my story? What was wrong with me? Had I gone mad? The only person to whom I was allowed to tell my story ad nauseam was my husband. He listened and asked questions, but he himself didn’t know what I had experienced and what to do with it and what it was called, and whether I was the only one with such an experience. I’m happy with it then and still now. That he could listen like that.
My near-death experience didn’t jeopardize my relationship. And I now know that such a thing is very precious. Talk about unconditional love! But it felt like I was the only one who had experienced such a thing. No one in this world who asked me anything wanted to know anything. Now that was more difficult in my case, because how should you react if you expect a birth announcement and there is a funeral card? That is already difficult for many people, let alone that an experience like the one I had experienced could be heard.
I was living like a robot at that time. I took care of my husband and our first daughter and walked the dog, but I wasn’t there. I was with my experience. How could I get there again? Where could I hear such beautiful music, see such beautiful colors, find such beautiful flowers, see such beautiful light, and experience so much unconditional love? And was I crazy to think that way? What was wrong with me?
In my own graduate thesis I write an important recommendation for care providers: ‘If only I had received one percent of all this advice as can be found in books and articles about near-death experiences today, I would have been so grateful for it!’
In 1978 the assistance was apparently not as up to standard as it is now, but I have not seen anyone other than ordinary nurses, the gynecologist, and the obstetrician. The GP has not been, not even after a few weeks. He has not contacted me. Did he assume I was all right? I didn’t go to him either, because what was I supposed to tell him? I had concluded that my experience was not normal and that you had better keep quiet about it. The check-up with the gynaecologist went smoothly. Mechanically I was still in good shape and that was enough. No further questions were asked. And I was silent.
Shut up and carry on
I have lived in silence and searching for years. And when I finally find a book in the library in which is written about a near-death experience, it is inconceivable to me that I have had such an experience. That couldn’t be right? I didn’t believe myself anymore. Only very, very slowly did I dare and could believe me, take my experience for real, and accept and integrate.
That was not easy. Over the years I had developed a nice survival strategy, or rather, a flight strategy. Fleeing from my feelings, fleeing from myself. I started taking on more and more work. In addition, I was very passionate about sports, even running. How symbolic! After all, I ran away from myself and from my near-death experience? That went well in the beginning, also according to the concepts of this world: I often stood as a victor with flowers in my hands, but those weren’t the flowers I was looking for either.
I had more and more trouble with the opinions of others, of colleagues. I came into more and more conflict with myself, with what my feelings said and with what I knew. It all got more and more difficult. My body intervened. Via being overworked, and overstrained, I feel like I was burned out, it became a depression. I was treated by a homeopathic psychologist. After all, there are no coincidences. He is the first aider who listens to my story, to my experience. He also believes it to be true and just finds it! But that is now more than twenty years after my near-death experience!
Finally a listening ear for my near-death experience
He advises me to draw my experience, write it down, or at least be involved with it. With him I made an exciting journey within myself. Everything is accepted and is normal. I discover that I am not crazy but that my near-death experience has changed me. Therefore my fear of death has completely disappeared. What a difference from the years before my near-death experience, years in which I struggled with death and with the fear of death.
That’s why I have trouble with the concept of time. I always lose track of time now, unlike before, when I lived by the clock. Therefore materialism is not important to me. That’s why only unconditional love counts to me. And I had and have it with my husband. And yet again recently I read in a study that there could be no unconditional love among people.
And they won’t believe me! That’s why I sometimes feel like an outsider. That is why, usually during holidays, I am so looking for landscapes, for colors and flowers that I have seen and cannot find again. That’s why I can’t stand arguing, I want to go to that peaceful environment. I can’t argue either.
Now, having made my journey within myself to where I am at this moment, I am happy with my near-death experience. I accept it as something beautiful that I have experienced, that gives me peace, that allows me to be myself, including my experience. It is good to live now, with my experience.
By integrating my near-death experience, this world only gets better. Only from the time that I started to accept and integrate my near-death experience can I be a little happy with life here again. My thoughts and feelings are relevant anyway, they are not weird or crazy; they are needed to get through the tangle of my own identity and not that of the masses.
It does mean, however, that I still have a task ahead of me to make the near-death experience more widely known to people, especially to first responders. My own small survey of GPs in my hometown has disappointed me that many of them still don’t know what to do if someone has had a near-death experience. But the most important thing for me now is that I can be who I am, with my experiences. I am who I am, no more, no less! And that is good.’ EM