Grace's Near-Death Experience

The following near-death experience appears in Dr. Cherie Sutherland's book, Within the Light. Dr. Sutherland is a NDEr whose experience led her to conduct an in depth three year study of the phenomenon. She is also the author of Reborn in the Light which unfortunately is out of print. She is a visiting research fellow in sociology at the University of New South Wales. Following her research and publication, Dr. Sutherland has lectured and become involved with a variety of NDE projects. Below is the near-death testimony of Grace.


I was in labor, for the first time, and it was an extremely difficult labor. I was thirty and the cervix wasn't dilating properly, and nothing was happening. This had just been going on and on and on, and it was excruciating. I was starting to drift in and out of consciousness and they were getting very panicky. They kept coming in and listening to the fetal heart and checking my pulse. I think that's fairly normal, but all of a sudden there seemed to be a lot of panic and they were wheeling things in, and in and out, and suddenly I wasn't there anymore. I mean, up until then there'd been an awareness of what was going on around me, even though I'd been drifting in and out of blackness. But the last thing I remember before I did move, or had the sensation of movement, was, "We're losing her!" Then suddenly I was somewhere else.

I recall a sensation of movement out beyond myself, like I'd left something behind. And I seemed to move through a portal. There was a glow, but I didn't seem to stop and think, there was no thought, there was no "Will I, won't I?"

Just suddenly, I found myself in a place, and it was a real place, and I was there. I was standing just beyond the portal and I looked around me. There was a intensity of color. It was a green, and intense emerald green. It was like, there were gentle rolling hills, there were no crags, no sharp edges, nothing that was cruel, nothing that was other than gentle. The sky was intense blue, the scene was gently rolling (I know you've heard this before, but that's what it was.).

And there seemed to be figures, grouped, almost a theatrical grouping, like a stage set. And at first they were just amorphous, shadowy figures and I was peripherally but intensely aware of a grouping on my right, ahead of me, but I hadn't really looked at it. I knew it was there but it was not impinging on my consciousness too much at that stage - I was too busy looking the other way.

And as I looked one of the figures seemed to resolve itself, and I thought, "I know that face," and I suddenly realized, "Oh God, it's my aunty Hannah," who died eleven years ago.

And then I saw my uncle Abraham, who died before I was born, and I knew them. They were not speaking, their mouths weren't moving, but they were there, and they were sort of there for me. I knew they were there to see me, and they knew me, even though they'd never met me (I'm going to end up crying). My granny, who I'd never met, my grandfather, just all the people I've never known and even those I'd known a bit who'd died many years before, or who'd even died recently, and they were there. Anyway, then I turned and I looked at this figure standing next to me - it was my father.

My dad died when I was sixteen. I was a very rebellious teenager and we were always at loggerheads. And the day he died, we were moving - we'd sold the house and we were going to move into a flat - and he and I had a towering row and I said to him, "I hate you," and did the normal teenage ugly thing.

Anyway, he went to the flat with the movers for the last time, saying he'd come back and get me later on. I was waiting for Daddy to come back and the afternoon wore on and there was no sign of him. It was growing dusk when I saw a police car going past. Suffice to say Dad had had a coronary.

He died very suddenly, there was no saying good-bye, there was no chance to say, "Dad, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean that. I do love you."

It was just ... he was gone. And I never really was able to mourn properly - I was sort of dashed off to Sydney to live with my mother. It was all very practical:

"Now, don't cry, you'll be all right."

But I always had this terrible sense that I never had a chance to say good-bye, or a chance to just say "I'm sorry."

And then standing in that place, it went through my mind, "Is this real or is this my imagination, because it's what I want to have happen?"

It's really peculiar, but I actually thought that:

"Am I doing this within myself because it's what I want?"

And then Dad spoke to me. And he said, "No, honey" (because that was his name for me). He said, "Honey, you're not imagining, it's not coming from you, you're with me and this is our time to talk."

Anyway, we talked, laid the ghosts to rest. And I looked down and there was my dog Lucky. He died when I was very young, and he was just there. Of course now if I was to go to the same place, my German shepherd would be there, too. I'm quite looking forward to seeing Razzy again. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

I didn't have any sense of time, I don't know how it was for, but we talked about all sorts of things.

And I said to him, "You must wonder what I've been doing, or you must sometimes feel angry with me."

And he said, "No. Here, what goes on in the world has no meaning."

He said, "We're here to care for you, we're here to take you on."

And then there was a sense of drawing back, and I panicked and said, "Dad, I don't want to go!"

He said, "You have to go, it's not your time yet, you must go back. You're going to have a son, and you'll have to bring this boy up, bring him up yourself."

Then Dad told me my marriage was going to break up. (We'd only been married just a year!)

And I remember saying, "Dad, I don't want that to happen. I always thought that when I got married, it wouldn't happen."

It was a very intense feeling. I said, "Dad, I don't want to go - I want to stay with you. Let me stay with you." I was most distressed, I didn't want to go back.

He sent me back. He told me that he would be there, he would be there again for me. And I seemed to be moving back quickly, like, there was no sense of travel, but just I was there.

And he repeated again, "You're going to have a boy."

Then the panic: I thought, "My God, I haven't picked a boy's name!"

And then I came through, I was there in the delivery room again, and I was crying.

Anyway, many hours later, my son was born by cesarean section.

"When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." - Indian proverb


Jan Price's Near-Death Experience

Jan Price is one of the founders of the Quartus Foundation, a research and communications organization whose mission is to probe the mysteries of ageless wisdom and integrating their truths with metaphysical spirituality. The foundation is currently headquartered in Boerne, Texas near San Antonio. Ms. Price is a regular columnist in the magazine Whole Health and has written numerous articles for the Quartus Report and other magazines. She is also a speaker and has produced several meditation audiocassettes.

Jan had an unusual near-death experience after suffering a nearly fatal heart attack. Her experience is documented in her book, The Other Side of Death. In her near-death experience, Jan discovered she was destined not to linger in paradise but to return to the physical world and the body she had left behind. While many people are greeted by a "Being of Light" during their near-death experience, Jan was greeted by her beloved dog that died prior to her experience. Their new relationship while she was in heaven will amaze you. Her experience will show you what happens to your beloved pet when they cross over to the other side.

Her Experience

I remember being surprised as I observed the full heart arrest taking place. I suppose we never really think of ourselves as dying, but obviously I had died because I wasn't in my body anymore.

Then suddenly I felt something on both sides of me, not as we might describe a physical touch, but more as a feeling, a sensation of a presence - of entities, more than one. I could see their light as forms of energy, and I realized that they were angelic beings - loving, pure, holy, helpful. They were assisting me, and I felt an upward movement. Then everything was blue.

Suspended in the ocean of blue, golden streams of light - like stardust - began to pour through me. The light felt so good. If I harbored any lingering heaviness from my life on earth, I knew it was being taken away. And as the radiation continued, I realized there was no longer any sense of gravity, no pulls from the past, only a feeling of being ethereal, gossamer in lightness. Then, like a sweet elixir, the shining rays infusing me washed into the surface a lifetime of memories, beginning with my birth.

(Jan is now greeted by her beloved dog, Maggi, and discovers they can communicate telepathically.)

As the density changed, becoming lighter and finer, I felt that I was being lifted to another level of awareness - and then I found myself in surroundings that appeared to be more substantial - Maggi was there. My beautiful dog, my beloved springer, came to me. She had died less than a month before, and John and I still ached from her absence.

I felt her presence, her love, and she appeared to me as she had when she was in physical form - only younger, more vital. She said, "You know that Daddy can't handle both of us being gone right now."

"Yes, I'm going back," I replied. "Will you come soon?"

"When it is time, we will know. Now I will show you wondrous things. Let's explore together."

If you are having difficulty accepting the idea that my first encounter on the other side was with a dog, you aren't the only one. While John thought it was perfectly natural, one of our daughters became a little upset when I told her about it. I think she would have preferred that her mother be greeted by Jesus, an angel, or at least by a family member. I did meet a Master Teacher - I'll get to that later - but Maggi came first. After all, she had been close "family" for many years, and whoever is responsible for setting up the Welcome Wagon over there certainly knew what a delightful experience it would be for me to be greeted by her.

So Maggi and I were interacting on a finer wavelength, and although we had dropped our physical vehicles, our bodies were made visible to the senses through an image in the mind projected as form - and she was as real to see and touch as she was when I'd held her in my arms in the physical world.

My friend Maggi and I walked side by side as we had so many times in that other place of being. Without any effort we moved through a realm of ecstatic color. The pulsating, indescribable colors were fluid - energy waiting to be formed. Maggi showed me how to shape forms out of energy by pressing with my mind. If you want the form to hold, you press firmly. This is a highly mental realm, and form is created with no bodily effort. An image of that which you wish to create is held in mind, and through intense focus is brought into expression. You can lock it in, or release it.

Maggi and I played in the color field, stepping into various hues and feeling their particular vibration. The matchless quality of the colors fascinated me because I hadn't seen anything like them before, and cannot to this day find words to describe the beauty of the shades and hues.

Maggi wanted to show me where she lived, which she said was patterned by much of what she remembered of the homes where she had lived with us. She had held the images in her mind, pressed, and created a place of residence. As she spoke of her home, we arrived there, which didn't seem strange at all at the time. Later I realized that it was a rather bizarre experience - not only the instantaneous "being there" in the space of a thought but also the idea that our dog actually had a beautiful home on the other side. Again, John later helped me to understand this when he said that Emanuel Swedenborg, a frequent visitor to the heavenly realm, wrote that animals do indeed have abodes in the spiritual world, pointing out that they "have such knowledge, for it is implanted in them to know of themselves their homes and dwelling places, as is evident from abundant observation.

As I stood in Maggi's dwelling place, I felt great joy. There was a fire in the fireplace, giving the room a warm, friendly glow. A wall of books - of course! Beautiful paintings and oriental rugs. One whole side of the room was glass and you could look out on a vista of rolling hills, bubbling streams, and many trees.

We sat comfortably on one of the soft, velvety seats, content just to be together. I stroked her beautiful head and she laid her paws across my legs. To touch again was so precious, for there was so much love between us. Without spoken words we shared memories and deep feelings. Much communication over here was silent, although sound was sometimes used simply because it was so pleasant. My heart overflowed with gratitude for the opportunity to have this reunion - and see my loved one so joyously, vibrantly alive in what can truly be called paradise. Reluctantly, we left Mag's lovely home, for I felt an inner prodding to move on.

Next we went to a place she called the "lookout". It appeared to be only an overhang on a high cliff, but the view was intensely magnified. I could look into the world I had left behind as though peering into a monitor, if I chose to do so. No one spent a lot of time here, Maggi said, but some occasionally stopped by to check on what was going on in the earthly realm. I decided not to; I wanted to keep moving on in this world of exquisite bliss.

Sensing the questions forming in my mind, Maggi informed me that we would go where all the answers are. Quickly we approached a structure of supernal beauty. It was vast, of the purest white, and somewhat Grecian in architecture. Paths led into the structure from all directions, and I observed many people coming and going.

Over the archway through which we entered the structure, I saw the words TEMPLE OF KNOWLEDGE and felt a gentle power drawing me into itself. There were pillars of varying heights, becoming higher and higher toward the center.

Turning back to the interior of the temple, I saw that creative activities were taking place in different areas. There were a number of individuals sitting at easels painting, and I saw one man playing a flute-like instrument that emitted the sweetest of sounds. Farther on, dancers moved with ethereal grace, performing with a lightness impossible to the physical human form. As I watched in utter delight, I became aware that the musical background for this visual feast came from what I would call a celestial choir - an orchestra of voices creating "heavenly" music for the dance. This "Music of the Spheres" was indeed singing the praises of the Creator.

A little tug from Maggi reminded me that there was more here in the temple to investigate. Moving in toward the center, it was quieter, and the gentle power that I had felt earlier was stronger. Here were individuals, wise ones, it seems, stationed at intervals and waiting to assist those who chose to approach them.

I intuited that I should do so, and was strongly drawn to one on my right.

The Wise One

Masculine in appearance with a flowing beard and very penetrating, knowing eyes, he was dressed in a robe of white. There was a band of gold encircling him - not in the form of what we might think of as an aura but more like a shiny ribbon of golden light. He gestured that I should sit before him, and I immediately heard his words in my mind. No verbalization was necessary.

There is much you wish to know, and you shall. All information is available to you. We will assist and instruct, and then you may move to the center and receive it yourself. I already know your questions. Be assured that all will be answered. As you adjust and understand how to work with mind on this level, you will automatically know what is needed as the desire arises.

Since your arrival here, you have been escorted through several different realms; there are many more, and nothing is restricted. Each person is free to experience fully, and the only governor is the state of the conscious mind. Deeply held beliefs are what come into visible expression here, just as they do on the dimension from which you have just come. Not everyone will have the same experience, for truly we create our own. However, subtle energies gently press on closed, restrictive minds, and like the rosebud's petals, they slowly open and expand and are soon willing to accept greater understanding. Then they are ready to move from their limited concept of life to the eternal adventure, for there is ever more to know, to do, to be.

Know this: No one is lost or left behind. Each individual unit of consciousness is of equal importance and can never cease to exist. Whatever has been played out in the world of dense matter forms the initial mold for life here, but no one is locked into that mold, and each can progress to higher and higher levels of being.

Be still and let me show you. There are cities out there as on the dense physical. Different levels of consciousness inhabit them. Observe. There are levels you would not feel comfortable on, but those who go there feel right at home."

Taking form before my eyes was the skyline of a great city. I could see three different dimensions of it simultaneously. The first had a dinginess pervading the atmosphere. There was a gloominess, and everything was gray, even the inhabitants, though I sensed that somewhere beneath the discoloration pulsed life and beauty. It brought to mind the lowest levels of existence in the world from which I'd come. Evil walked the squalid streets with malevolent bearing. No one here was up to, or expected, any good.

The second dimension was of the same panorama, but brighter and more colorful, and had a familiarity. Hope lived amid despair. There were neighborhoods with neat houses holding reasonably contented folk; shabby rows of dwellings housed those more discontented. Expansive lawns separated palatial homes from those of less grandeur. Within each sector was happiness and horror, love and hate, joy and sorrow - the dualities of life on a less that harmonious realm. It was a life accepted by many in the land I'd left behind as the only way life could be. Some knew better, more than just a few, and the hope that lived amid despair would at some time blossom into a better way of life.

Last in the trinity was a city of light, like unto John's holy city in the Book of Revelation. I saw the same skyline as before, but this time it was pure gold - with colors like precious gems, transparent glass, crystal clear. All who walked through the city brought glory and honor into it. Harmony and order prevailed, and the residents lived joyfully, creating that which brought forth beauty and fulfillment - a place of perfect peace, the peace that passes understanding.

The slices of life I was seeing existed on both sides of the veil, I realized, and as I watched, the populations were shifting. A subtle but certain movement from the densest to the brightest was occurring. As misconceptions were altered on one level, a change took place on the next. Whether in physical form or on the other side of death, a change in perception benefited all. Truly our deeply held beliefs not only affect our own life experience but that of others. We are intricately connected to all that exists throughout eternity.

The Wise One continued speaking. "Throughout the vast unlimitedness of All That Is, the creative energy - that which is called the Spirit of God - is expressing itself as you, me, and everything else. Wherever we are, the God-source is, and we are always somewhere."

"Sometimes I am in places where God doesn't seem to be, as in the middle of a heart attack," I responded. "Surely God is not there."

"Yes. Wherever we are, the Source, God, is. A heart attack isn't bad. It is just an experience accepted on a certain level of being. We are so unlimited that we can limit, restrict, contract. Such power is awesome, for it is our very nature to create. We are constantly expressing in some way.

"Now go into the innermost part of the temple. You will find it easy there to open your mind and listen. Much knowledge will be received, but you will not be consciously aware of all of it at the moment. It will be assimilated and brought into remembrance bit by bit after you return to the body. More understanding is needed there, and you will have the opportunity to share. Beloved old friends will continue to work with you, as we have in the past."

They called themselves the "beloved old friends."

"Yes, I am one of them," he said. "This is why you were drawn to me. Remember what we have taught you and stay open to receive. Now go, for soon you must return. Our love is ever with you."

Her Higher Self

I sat, quietly at ease, and had the sensation that tiny fingertips were caressing my crown. I felt my mind open like the petals of a flower. Then softly and tenderly came the knowingness, the connection with all that is. In moments of meditation I have touched this level before, but never with such completeness, clarity, intensity. Here, in this celestial silence, all was perfectly clear, understood. Here was fulfillment. All knowledge was mine, and I could draw it into conscious awareness as needed. On all levels we can tap into Universal Mind, but it's easier here because of the more subtle energies.

In the center of the universe I stand encircled by divine being. In this I live and move and have my being. I am in this world, and of it. The world of natural order, ease, and joy. Eternal goodness flowing, doing, being all. There is only joy; waves of love support, sustain. I am in God, not outside.

I am in love, consciously at peace with all there is. In God, I love and move and have my being. In love, I live and move and have my being. In peace, I live and move and have my being. There is nothing else. There is no outer. All is in the circle of God, Love, God Love. GOD LOVE.

The Kingdom of God is within me. Yes. But more important, I am in the Kingdom of God. The Spirit of God is within me, but more important, I am in the Spirit of God. The love of God is within me, but more important, I am in the love of God. All there is is God. I can be nowhere else. I cannot be separate from God. There is nowhere else. There is no place else. There is no else. There only IS.

Now, before me, shimmering, iridescent light began to take a particular shape. A woman of breathtaking beauty appeared as I watched in awe, and even after the full materialization from pure light to visible, substantial form was complete, nothing was static. I continued to see a "quivering" of her structure, as though looking at a fluid, rippled reflection in a pond. Her movements were of pure grace as she positioned herself directly in front of me. Her hair was dark, her face pale, yet with color.

"Look into my eyes," she said with a gentle but commanding smile. As I did, I felt myself being absorbed. I was no longer just the entity I knew of as me, but more, so much more. The eyes I stared into were mine, the eyes of my soul.

In deep humility, I accepted that which I was shown. "Oh my, I am all of that - so beautiful, glorious, wise, loving, kind, powerful. I didn't know. I had no idea."

As though looking into a kaleidoscope, I saw myriad lifetimes and experiences. Oh, the wonder of me. This powerful creative energy could take on any form it chose, and right now it was expressing as a woman called Jan, so of course I would perceive it as feminine.

Words from beyond my own thought processes began to pour into my mind. "You have been only casually thankful for your gift of life. Be thankful each day for this great gift. Most people go through life never really appreciating it. The purpose of life is joy, and with spiritual understanding the physical senses are enhanced. Savor fully the loveliness of each experience. Self-awareness is the prayer of the heart, and to pray without ceasing is to play. Play with the joyful abandon of the child, absorbed in the delight of each moment. Let go of obligation and duty, and live for the pure joy of being.

"Take my hands," she said, and the sound of the voice was like music. As we made the connection, waves of ecstasy washed through me, and I took on the fullness of this magnificent being that I am an extension of. No longer was I observing this shimmering radiance. I was it. The glory I had in the beginning, I thought, I have now and ever will have. Complete in my individuality, I understood the old admonition "Know thyself."

A gentle pulling caught my attention, and I heard the melodic voice once more. "Hold on to as much as you can as you make the descent back into the body and resume personality."

I felt myself moving backward rapidly, feet first, as though I was being sucked into some vortex. Like a distant chime, I heard the words, "Remember, pray without ceasing. Play, love, laugh, live for the joy of it. Have fun. Happiness is holy."

As I approached the physical form, I passed five individuals who seemed to be assisting me. Maggi was still with me, and the last thing I remember seeing was her sweet face."

"All are but parts of one stupendous whole whose body Nature is, and God the soul." - Alexander Pope


Lynn's Near-Death Experience

The following near-death experience appears in P.M.H. Atwater's book, Children of the New Millennium (now out of print - see The New Children and Near-Death Experiences). P.M.H. Atwater is a three time near-death experiencer and long time researcher of NDEs. Her emphasis on the importance of NDE aftereffects and her theory regarding a transformation "brain-shift" that follows the experience have energized research in the field. P.M.H. Atwater is respected within the field for her originality and known for her direct and provocative ideas. In her book, "Children of the New Millennium," she reports the account of a child named Lynn, at age thirteen, who had a near-death experience in which he sees his beloved dogs in heaven. Lynn underwent open-heart surgery at age thirteen to correct a condition she had had almost since birth. She was unable to run and play with the other kids, and she would on occasion turn blue and get sick. A large black Great Dane named Harvey was her constant companion and best buddy. Lynn's near-death experience is described below:


The last thing I remember in surgery was a male voice saying in a very matter-of-fact way, "Uh-oh, we have a problem here."

The next thing I knew I was floating around the ceiling looking down on my body. My chest was open wide and I could see my internal organs. I remember thinking how odd it was that my organs were a beautiful pearl gray, not at all like the bright red chucks in the horror flicks I loved to watch. I also noticed there was a black doctor and an Oriental one on the operating team. The reason this stuck in my mind is that I was brought up in a very white middle-class neighborhood, and I had seen black schoolteachers but never a black doctor. I'd met the operating team the day before, but they were all white.

Suddenly, I had to move on, so I floated into the waiting room, where my parents were. My father had his head buried in my mother's lap. He was kneeling at her feet, his arms wrapped around her waist, and he was sobbing. My mother was stroking his head, whispering to him. This scene shocked me, as my father was not prone to showing emotions. Once I realize they would be fine, I felt myself pulled into a horizontal tunnel.

The ride through the tunnel was like nothing else. I remember thinking, "So this is death."

The tunnel was dark, and every once in a while something that looking like lightning would flash across my path. These flashes were brilliant in color and didn't scare me. At the end of the tunnel was a bright light.

From the light came two dogs of mine. One was a collie named Mimi who had died three years previously from an infection, and the other was a box named Sam who had died two years before after being hit by a car. The dogs came running and jumped on me and kissed my face with their tongues. Their tongues weren't wet, and I felt no weight when they jumped on me. The dogs seemed to glow from a light that was inside them.

I recall saying to myself, "Thank you, God, for letting my dogs be alive."

I hugged my dogs as tight as I could.

I then called my dogs and together we started walking toward the light. All colors were in the light and it was warm, a living thing, and there were people as far as the eye could see, and they were glowing with an inner light - just like my dogs. In the distance I could see fields, hills, and a sky.

The light spoke and it said, "Lynn, it is not time for you yet. Go back, child."

I put my hand up to touch the top of the light. I knew then that I had touched the face of God. I told God that I loved him, and I wanted to stay with him.

Again the light said, "Lynn, go back. It is not time for you. You have work to do for me. Go back."

I know this sounds silly, but I asked the light, "If I go, can I come back and will my dogs still be here waiting for me?"

The light said yes, and then told me there were people who wanted to see me before I left. From out of the light came my maternal grandparents. I ran to them and embraced them. They were going to walk me part of the way back. Just as I was turning to leave, a man stepped from the light. He wore a full dress uniform, U.S. Navy. He was very tall and very blond, with blue eyes. I had never seen the man before, but he knew me and smiled.

"I am your uncle Franklin. Tell Dorothy that I'm okay and that the baby is with me. Tell her I never stopped loving her and that I am glad she got on with her life. Tell her that when her time comes, I will come for her. Remember to tell her I love her."

As I turned, the man shouted, "Tell Dorothy, tell her you met Franklin and I'm okay and so is the baby."

My grandparents told me if I stayed any longer I might not make it back. But I wanted to talk with Jesus. I had a very important question to ask him. A beam of light, different from yet similar to the first one, covered me. I knew this light was Christ. I leaned against it for one moment and then asked my question.

"Dear Jesus, is it true that you gave me this heart condition so that I would have a cross to carry like you did?"

(Sister Agnes, my sixth-grade teacher, had told me that my heart condition was my cross to bear from Christ.)

I heard the voice of Christ vibrate through me as he said, "No, this heart condition of yours is not a cross from me for you to bear. This heart condition is a challenge to help you grow and stay compassionate. Now, go back."

As I walked back, my grandmother told me that my father was going to leave my mother and that I would be my mother's strength. I saw people hiding in the tunnel, people who were afraid to come into the light or who were disoriented about where they were. I expressed concern for them but was told not to worry, as a guide would be along to help them. Some of these people looked like soldiers. Then I remembered Vietnam and I knew where the soldiers were coming from."

[Webmaster's note: In PMH Atwater's book, she documents how the revelations Lynn received in her near-death experience were later proven to be true, such as the black and Asian doctors, her uncle Franklin and the baby, and her father leaving the family.]

"Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean." - David Searls


Randy Gehling's Near-Death Experience

Ten-year-old Randy Gehling of Arlington Heights, Illinois, had been begging for a new bicycle for his birthday all summer long. On September 8, 1988, the tenth anniversary of his arrival on planet earth, he got his bicycle - but he also came very close to changing his mailing address to heaven.

Steve and Kathy Gehling, Randy's parents, found the accident bitterly ironic. Randy's near-death experience appears in Brad Steiger's book, One with the Light.

"For months he begs for a new bike for his birthday," Steven said.

"The minute he spotted it on the porch, he tore off the ribbons, ignored the eight little friends gathered for his birthday celebration, and took off for a "quick spin" around the block. He just didn't seem to see the teenager from across the street using the alley as a shortcut home."

Kathy remembered the anguish of the long hours that they spent in the waiting room, not knowing for certain whether their son would live or die.

"He had been unconscious ever since the neighbor boy hit him with his car. His new bicycle was all mangled. Some of the neighbors said that Randy was sent flying fifteen or twenty feet by the impact. All we could do was pray."

After a three-hour surgery, the doctor visited them in the waiting room and told them that the prognosis looked good. Randy was in a recovery room, and as soon as it was advisable, he would be wheeled to a hospital room where they could wait by his bedside. The doctor could not promise whether Randy would be conscious enough to respond to them yet that night.

The next morning at about seven-twenty, about seventeen hours after his accident, Randy opened his eyes, saw his parents at his bedside, and smiled.

He accepted their gentle hugs and kisses in silence, then told them:

"Wow, Mom and Dad, what a trip!"

Steve and Kathy chuckled at their son's first words. Then at a loss for the proper response to such a comment, Steve said:

"Yeah, I guess you really went flying over the handlebars, eh?"

Randy nodded, then winced at the pain of the movement. His head was completely swatched in bandages, leaving him with only a peephole around the eyes and a small open space for his mouth.

"Yeah, I flew up to the stars and went to heaven. I saw the angels, and I even think I might have seen Jesus. Oh, and I saw Grandpa Hansen, too."

Steve and Kathy glanced at one another in meaningful silence.

"He's still under the effects of the anesthetic," Kathy whispered. "It's like he's dreaming."

Randy protested what he overheard of his mother's whispered analysis.

"It was no dream. I was there!"

Steve and Kathy decided to agree with their son so they would not aggravate his condition so soon after surgery. But over the next days and weeks, they came to have a different opinion of their ten-year-old son's visit to heaven. They had to admit that Randy may well have experienced much more than a dream.

According to the notes taken by Kathy Gehling, here, somewhat abbreviated, is Randy's account of his near-death experience:

"I didn't really know what had hit me. I just seemed to go flying through the air.

"And then a really funny thing happened. A part of me - I guess my soul - just kept flying, and I saw my body smash into the ground. I knew it had to hurt to land that hard, so I was happy that I was where I was - wherever that was.

"When I got a little higher, I saw that it had been Kurt's car that had hit me. I always told him that he drove too fast in the neighborhood. He would usually just make a face at me or flip me the bird. He should have listened to me. I figured that he must have killed me and now he would go to jail."

Randy felt a moment of panic when he realized that he might be dying.

"But then this beautiful angel appeared beside me. She was really pretty. She looked like a movie star with wings. Her voice sounded kind of like Mom's when she is comforting me when I have a stomach ache or something.

"She told me not to worry. She said that she was with me and that she would stay right by my side. She took my hand, and I felt a lot better."

Randy said that they soon approached a dark tunnel. When he held back and said that he was afraid to go into the darkness, the angel smiled and told them that this was the only way that they could get to their destination.

I could see a bright light at the far end of the tunnel, so I said:

"All right, as long as you don't let go of my hand!"

She laughed and said:

"I told you that I would never leave your side. I have been with you ever since you were born. In fact, I was there at your mother's side when you were born. I am your guardian angel."

Randy asked her what her name was.

"We don't have names in the manner that you mean," she said, "but if it makes you feel better to call me something, you may call me, Areo (ah-ree-o)."

The tunnel did not prove to be such a terrible ordeal after all. Randy and Areo seemed to whoosh through it quickly.

"And then we stood before this totally awesome light," Randy said. "It was so bright and powerful that you really couldn't look right at it.

"I looked at Areo, wondering what we were to do next. She said that we would enter the light and become one with it. Before I could ask what that meant, she just gave my hand a little tug, and then we were inside the light.

"That was really cool! I kind of felt as though my body exploded - in a nice way - and became a million different atoms - and each single atom could think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby."

And then Randy and Areo were standing in what appeared to be a lovely part, bedecked with "millions and millions" of colorful flowers. Randy could hear beautiful music playing somewhere off in the distance.

"Just a little ways off I could see a bridge with someone standing on it. Beyond the bridge, I saw a golden city with towers like European castles. The whole city seemed to be shining with light that shot up into the sky like a giant searchlight.

"I could see that some of the domes of the city were red, others were gold, and a few were blue. The gates and walls of the city seemed to be made of bright blue, red, and violet lights."

Randy asked Areo if they were going to visit the city. The angel nodded.

"That's to be your new home, Randy."

They began walking toward the bridge to the city, and Randy saw that the man standing awaiting them was his Grandpa Hansen.

Randy ran to his grandfather and felt his strong arms close around him. Grandpa Hansen had been a farmer all of his life in Minnesota. He had died, still a powerful man, when Randy was six.

Randy asked his beloved grandfather if he would now be living with him in heaven.

"One day," Grandpa Hansen told him. "But not just yet."

When Randy questioned his grandfather, he told him that he still had things to learn on earth.

"You nearly bought the farm this time, Randy-boy," Grandpa Hansen said with a chuckle. "But you aren't ready to cash in your chips yet."

Aero seemed puzzled.

"But it seemed to me that I was doing the right thing. The word that I received indicated that now was Randy's time to return home."

Grandpa Hansen shrugged.

"I was told to meet you at the bridge and tell you to take him back home. He's got some lessons that he hasn't learned yet - and lots of work that he hasn't even started to fulfill."

Before Areo took him by the hand for the return flight home, Randy said that another figure materialized beside Grandpa Hansen on the bridge.

"I knew right away that it was Jesus," Randy said, convinced of the majestic visitor. "I knew by his eyes."

Randy couldn't quite remember all of the things that Jesus said, but he is certain of some of the words.

"Jesus said that I would never quite be the same as I was before I visited heaven. He said that some of the power of the light would remain within me. And he told me to let the love that I would feel in my heart express itself to all people.

"He said that I should never worry if people doubted my story or could not understand what I was telling them. 'One day,' Jesus said, 'everyone will come to see for themselves what you have seen.'"

"Death is only an experience through which you are meant to learn a great lesson: you cannot die." - Paramahansa Yogananda



First of all, I come from a rural town in southeast Alabama. All my life I went to church. I would always see my parent's praying about things and trusting God. Even with all this though, I never got that close to God. I believed in him and that Jesus came to earth and died for me, but it wasn't until 1993 that I totally gave my heart to him.

I had been suffering for years from anorexia. It started when I was fourteen. In 1993, at the age twenty-five, I was so sick and only weighed 64 pounds. I was in and out of therapy for this and even had to be force-fed. Nothing helped. So, after getting the news in September of 1993 that my kidney's were failing, I refused all further treatment and prayed that God would help me. I told him that I'd live for him if he would. I didn't really think I would die because I always pulled through before.

Going out in public, when I was able, was a nightmare. People would yell out, "AIDS girl" and things like that. Soon I became housebound, mostly due to my health, and because I couldn't believe the cruelty of people. Then one night I woke up trying to breathe. I couldn't. I was very nauseated, shaking violently, and just so sick I couldn't move. I didn't think I would die because the doctors were about to put me on dialysis and I thought I'd be ok. But I wasn't.

Soon I left my body. I didn't go through a tunnel. I just kind of floated around. Before I knew it, I was in heaven. I knew it was heaven because I had never smelled flowers like that before and had never seen so much beauty.

I went up to my Grandma who had been waiting for me. She looked to be about thirty years old even though she died when she was seventy-five. Then I saw my Grandpa. He died at the age of ninety-two.

He kept saying to me, "Look what I can do."

He was walking on his hands. I didn't understand this or why he was showing me that he could do that. Then Grandma asked me if I wanted to go and see Jesus. I literally screamed, "YES!!!"

The second I saw him I started to cry. I could feel his compassion for me. He comforted me as I told him how I had been done wronged by people on earth because of my condition and how I had suffered with anorexia. He was so, so kind. He told me that he knew all of that and that it was going to be alright.

I asked him if he promised and he said, "Yes."

I told him something that maybe I shouldn't have. I said to him, "You are a very handsome man."

He just laughed. Then I laughed. It was such a great time.

I noted his appearance. He was about 5'9 and probably weighed about 150 pounds. He was slim, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. There were so many people around him; but, (and this is what touches me so much) I was able to go right to him and talk to him. It's not like it would be here. You can't just go up to someone that important and talk to them. But with Jesus you can.

He then told me to go back and tell everyone what I had seen. I said I would. Then he hugged me. It felt like a million volts of electricity going through my body I found that from his hug, I couldn't stand up because of the intense power I felt coming from him.

Then, I felt myself falling very, very fast. I was literally slammed back into my body on the bed. I was slammed so hard that I sat up, shocked. I was so disappointed that I was out of his presence and back where everyone was so cruel. And I was so sick. I could still feel the electrified feeling of his touch. But once again, I was very sick. Then I went to sleep.

The next morning when I woke up I felt hungry so I ate. For the first time in 11 years I ate a full meal, not having any of the anorexic feelings I always had from before. The same day was my doctor's appointment. When the doctor examined me and took some tests, he called a few days later wanting to see me. He told me that I had healthy kidney's. I was in shock. He said, "You do not have kidney failure anymore."

After this I only got better and better. The doctor still couldn't explain it. Nobody could. But I know why. Jesus touched me, my soul body, and healed me. The doctor just said there was no medical reason for my kidneys to be normal. The next time he saw me I had gained about fifteen pounds. Now, nine years later, I went from weighing 64 to 135 pounds. I have never had any kidney problems nor any other kind of health problems that anorexia can cause. I am fine. I am healthy. And I will NEVER forget seeing Jesus. Never. I can't even think of him today without crying. I feel so special to have been touched by him and being able to talk to him and the fact that he had so much compassion for me. I have not encountered anything like that here.

Now to end this, I will tell you why my Grandpa was walking on his hands. My mother never believed me when I told her of my experience. I have only recently told her. I know Jesus said to tell everyone but it took nine years for me to say anything. I told my mother that I saw Grandpa and how he was thrilled to show me that he could walk on his hands. Her face went white. I asked her what was wrong. She said that when he was a teenager, he used to do that to impress people. She said he was very good at it and enjoyed showing off. But she said I must have heard about it from someone. I told her that I have never heard about it from anyone in the family. Many of them didn't even know it when I questioned them later. My Grandma told my mother when she was a child and that is why she recalled it. Grandpa was very old when I was born and the older he got, the more trouble he had doing anything. I knew nothing about him when he was a child. Nobody ever told me anything about him. So she knows there's no way I could know that. But she still doesn't believe that I went to heaven, even though she can't explain how I knew that Grandpa once could walk on his hands. He was very proud of this in heaven just as he was here.

I forgot to mention that I had seen all the pets I had as a child in heaven. Dogs and even parakeets whom I really loved. They had a caretaker - a man who took care of all the animals. So if anyone ever asks me if animals survive death, I have to say, "Yes!"

That is my story and even though I've sinned many times over since then, I know I'm forgiven when I ask to be. I live my life in such a way that if I were to die, heaven would be my home and I'll be reunited with my family and with Jesus again. I have told other people on the internet about this, but they don't believe in God and think I'm a nut. But I don't care. I keep remembering that verse in the Bible that says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. This is so true.

I hope you, who love your pets enjoy the certainty to reunite with them one day...