Knocking on Heaven's Door
What the Latest Research Shows

by Randy Peyser

"This is School-That's HOME," says Linda Jacquin, a two-time near death experiencer, and speaker at a recent conference for Near Death Studies in Vancouver, B.C. Sponsored by the International Association for Near Death Studies, (IANDS), Jacquin's summation reflects the feeling of many who have visited the "Great Beyond."

Although most of us have heard about Near Death Experiences to some degree--moving through a tunnel, heading toward a light, being met by angels and loved ones, etc.--numerous researchers who presented at the IANDS conference are in the process of expanding this field of study much further.

For example, P.M.H. Atwater, author of "Children of the New Millennium," presents information about the Near Death Experiences (NDEs) of children. According to Atwater, children's NDEs differ dramatically from those of adults.

Children often report the presence of a comforting light which they describe as the "black black," or the "dark dark," a black light which is often tinged with purple around the edges. Far from our interpretation of this as some form of negative energy, this particular black light is entirely positive.

Many children--as well as abused women who leave their bodies during times of abuse--also often report being received and comforted by a being named Elizabeth. She is consistently described as wearing a white robe with a red/maroon sash which drapes from one shoulder to the opposite side of her waist.

Another researcher, Professor Harold Widdison, author of "Heaven is Our Home," talks about what happens to those who are stillborn or miscarried. As reported by both children and adults who have been greeted by these beings in the course of their NDEs, these beings are very much alive and waiting for their loved ones to join them when it is their time.

Widdison tells the story about a little boy who has a drowning experience, (the most common way children have an NDE). Upon resuscitation, he says to his mother, "Mommy, how come you never told me I had a brother named, Michael?" The boy had been lovingly greeted by his brother, Michael, who had been born dead. The mother nearly fainted when her son revealed this information to her. NDE's are not always perceived as being loving.

In fact, many adults report a very different kind of NDE, where they encounter grotesque figures or witness horrifying acts. In her study of such reports, Dr. Barbara Rommer, author of "Blessings in Disguise," concludes that ultimately, these experiences are positive.

She believes people have these experiences as a "wake-up" call. Upon returning to this reality, the experiencer has the opportunity to re-evaluate his or her life, and make new choices. The mindset of the person at the time of their NDE may also play a role. For example, if a person had been depressed or suicidal prior to their NDE, this might indicate a pre-disposition to a 'Less Than Positive' (LTP) experience of the other side. "

A third possible reason for these experiences," says Dr. Rommer, "is that the experiencer is seeing exactly what they believe they will see. For example, those who are brought up with the concept of hell, fire, and brimstone are likely to have an LTP experience because their internalized belief system tells them it must be that way."

Another presenter, hospice nurse, Maggie Callanan, who is the author of "Final Gifts," defines a new branch of study called, "Nearing Death Awareness." Callanan observes that as many approach death following an extended illness, they will begin to say things which do not seem to make sense until we inquire further.

While they may be perceived to be demented at this point, Callanan believes that they are speaking to us symbolically as they float in and out of this reality while entering into whatever comes next.

For example, a terminally ill golf enthusiast grins at her one day and says, "I've got my invitation." "Invitation? Where are you going?" Callanan inquires. "To the 'Big Tournament'," he excitedly replies. "When is the Tournament?" asks Callanan. "Saturday." Saturday comes and the golfer dies happily...he's ready for the Big Game.

Another area of recent investigation concerns "After Death Communication," (ADCs). In his book, "Hello From Heaven," author Bill Guggenheim has documented over 2000 examples of people who have had direct communication with their deceased loved ones in which the contact was initiated by the deceased without the involvement of a medium.

According to Guggenheim, 50 million Americans, or one out of five people, has had an ADC, far more than those who have directly experienced angels or NDEs. He gives the example of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who shares her experience of walking down a hallway in a hospital while contemplating leaving the medical field during a difficult time in her life. As she walks, she is met by a former patient who encourages her to stay the course. Nothing unusual about the interaction, except for the fact that the patient was deceased!

Guggenheim describes the many ways in which the deceased choose to communicate, including establishing contact through dreams, a familiar scent, an electronical disturbance or telephone call, a "feeling of presence," hearing a voice, feeling a touch, or through their actual appearance in waxy, luminous, partial, or full form, as in Kubler-Ross's case. "

Almost all ADCs provide comfort, hope and healing," says Guggenheim." This seems to be consistent with the main message of the Near Death Experience. All paths lead us back to HOME.

For further information contact: IANDS www.iands.org
or (860) 644-5216

P.M.H. Atwater www.cinemind.com/atwater

Bill Guggenheim www.after-death.com

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