Since the horror of the slaughter in a Connecticut elementary school, it has been difficult to know what to say about almost anything. Unreality is not limited to the so-called supernatural or paranormal, and hell walked into that school as surely as it is said to exist in any terrible afterlife.
What can one say? What could I say? At last it dawned on me that the voices which might be helpful are those of children about their near-death experiences.
Back in the olden days, when NDEs were still relatively fresh as a phenomenon, there was a certain amount of disbelief that children could have such an experience. For sure, there was curiosity about the possibility. At the time, because I spent my days in the IANDS office and saw the mail and processed entries into the archives, it was a simple matter to see what could be found. The result, which took about six months of research and correspondence, was an article in one of the early volumes of what would become the Journal of Near-Death Studies.
So far as I know, none of the experiences of the children in that study originated from being shot. At the same time, I have heard more than a few accounts of NDEs from teens and adults associated with criminal assault, combat, sexual attack, physical abuse, and other types of violence. They sound the same as NDEs related to ordinary illness and misadventure. And all of them sound the same as reports of deathbed visions.
This post, then, offers a link to a slightly edited version of that original article about how children experience being close to death or, in some instances, believing themselves on the other side.
The Near-Death Experience in Children
Dear Nan Bush,
Thank you for writing your article and the link.
Years before my death I was praying. Asking God about everything from the Holocaust to a neighborhood friend in a wheelchair. Cried out why He didn’t stop all wars and illness. After I was spent I felt a gentle presence. Raised my head and saw a beautiful Light made of many Lights. Looked like diamonds. And caste no shadow.
After that I knew our prayers are heard. I didn’t get answers to all my questions. Still I was greatly blessed. Still am.
For all that happened to the children and adults, again I don’t understand. I trust God though still question why.
Call me old fashion, but I miss the good ol’ days when TV had 2 stations. Neighbors visited on porches while stringing green beans. Prayer was legal, etc.
Change is constant but I suspect things will turn around that is better than I can imagine for the good out of love.
Nan Bush says
Thank you, Lin. Lots of us share your nostalgia, while at the same time recognizing that hindsight is often sweeter than the reality was. Still, porches and good neighbors…yeah.
It is incredibly difficult to even look at the news when the Sandy Hook story is being covered, much less publicly comment on it. For example, the few Facebook posts it generates rarely get any “likes”. Readers may appreciate the sentiment of the post, but cringe at the word “like”.
It’s been my experience that when people privately discuss the shooting, the conversation is usually over in less than three minutes. It’s just too much to bear. And I’m talking about folks who weren’t directly affected, God help the ones who were.
There are so many issues. The lack of mental illness treatment in America. Guns. The innocence of children whose biggest worry in life was a visit by Santa Claus. The media getting in the face of the victims parents.
And that all-time biggie – God.
Nancy, this column meant a lot to me, even though I’m sure praise about commentary is the last thing you (or anyone) would want on this topic. I pity the religious leaders who had to face the families, but the fact is, these little ones are in Heaven right now, even if it feels almost vulgar to publicly say it. After all, in our ‘rational’ world, Heaven is considered to be a cop-out.
Near-death experience research and literature has a lot to contribute to grief counseling, and it tears me up when I see materialist skeptics and religious conservatives dismiss the evidence. In my opinion, there is no excuse for why the whole world is not in a dialogue about the nature of the afterlife, instead of the existence of it.
Although I have no doubt in my mind that the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting are part of a life that is beyond our widest dreams right now, I pray that the victims left over in this life will find their spiritual peace.
Please, don’t ever give up the drive to spread the word.
Nan Bush says
Thank you for a thoughtful reflection.