Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences by Nancy Evans Bush

Absolutely enthralling–literary, adventurous, incisive, informative and smart…*

That’s what journalist and author Steve Volk said after reading  Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences.

Dancing Past the Dark is the first book to report on the almost one in five near-death experiences that are not peaceful but are marked by fear, emptiness, sometimes perceptions of hell. Based on 30 years of experience and research, the book is packed with first-person anecdotes and consideration of the myriad questions that swirl around these NDEs and the people who report them. A “first” in the near-death literature, the book includes ways of integrating such an experience into life afterwards and possible interventions for caregivers who may encounter patients having a distressing deathbed vision or NDE.

“Engagingly written,” as one reviewer says, Dancing presents ways of thinking about these issues that will be new to many readers. What becomes evident, says Nancy Evans Bush, MA, is that to see these experiences only as a terrible threat about death is to miss an important point: they say something worth hearing about life.

Psychiatrist Bruce Greyson says in his foreword,

This is a book for anyone who aspires to face the totality of the world in which we live. All of us have experiences for which we are unprepared, all of us at one point or another face frightening or distressing experiences, and all of us sooner or later need to master the art of dancing past the dark.

The author, Nancy Evans Bush, herself an experiencer, is President Emerita of the International Association for Near-Death Studies.

* Steve Volk, author of Fringe-0logy


The book is an outstanding piece of work. It is a wonderfully comprehensive and rich history of what can be known and what might be considered about NDEs, both the positive and the distressing, with titles and authors you want to read. The book bursts with anecdote and commentary, offering a full glossary of examples and types for every category of experience discussed, reinforcing for the reader that there is always another way to see things.

Wayne Rollins, MDiv, PhD, theologian and Jungian scholar, author of Soul and Psyche,Psychological Insight into the Bible, and Jung and the Bible

I love, love, love, love this book!

Madelaine Lawrence, RN, PhD, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, nursing educator and researcher, author of In a World of Their Own: Experiencing Unconsciousness

A valuable contribution to the NDE literature and engagingly written. It needs to be seen and read by the wider public.

J. Harold Ellens, PhD, Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.), chaplain, psychotherapist and scholar at the intersection of psychology and theology, author of Understanding Religious Experience and Miracles: God, Science and Psychology

Dancing Past the Dark is what we have all been waiting for. It is Nancy Bush’s thoughtfully deep and inspiring response to the question of meaning. As she confronts her own encounter with the fearful, she lays bare the entire subject and in every possible way.  Through religious, spiritual, and psychological views and histories and traditions, she uncovers light and dark, positive/negative, sanity/insanity to give us a way to consider ‘Mystery’ as no one else has.

This book is masterful—a must for any experiencer of a near-death state (no matter what kind), or a spiritual transformation, religious conversion, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, mystical and shamanic breakthroughs, or any type of encounter with the numinous. Narratives are one thing, the story experiencers tell, but understanding that story, finding meaning, is all important!”

P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D. researcher, author; most recently of Near-Death Experiences: The Rest of the Story.

Publish this book!

Maggie Callanan, RN, hospice nurse, author of the best seller Final Gifts and Final Journeys

View the Table of Contents



Preface: Eden


1      The Beginning

2      The End of Eden

3      The Experiences

4      Experiencer Responses

5      Common Questions


6      First Views

7      Looking the Monster in the Eye: Hell

8      Personal Filters

9      Widening the Horizon

10  The Janus Self

11  The Cultural Milieu


12  Narrowing the Focus

13  Symbolic Language

14  Coping

15  More Questions

16  Bringing the NDE Home: Integration

17  Conclusions

Appendix 1: Interventions for Caregivers

Appendix 2: Experiencer Accounts

Appendix 3: IANDS, the International Association for

Near-Death Studies




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