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Ralph J's ADC

Experience description:  

On April 9, 2001 my wife of almost 19 years went into crisis and died as a result of incorrect medication (according to the attending ICU physician). I married late, so our three children were only 9, 11 and 13 at the time.  My wife, Pam, had undergone a very difficult emotional breakdown for the previous 8 years due mostly to childhood sexual abuse and other trauma. She had been over prescribed an antipsychotic drug, Zyprexa, and  had gained a great deal of weight (5'3", 226 lbs) a year or so before she died.  She was taking massive amounts of psychotropic drugs, so it was easy for the hospital to mix them up, as they apparently did.  I say all this to show that her physical and mental condition were less than ideal when she passed away. 

As a seminary professor of theology, I had become interested in near death and out of body experiences, since they seemed to have descriptions or at least analogues in scripture. I had read widely and interviewed a number of people with such experiences and found them intriguing. (One of the world's most prominent atheists, Dr Anthony Flew, became a theist a few years ago in part because of his research into NDEs).   

My research in this area naturally led me to expect the possibility of an encounter of some sort with my wife.  For several months after her death nothing unusual happened.  Then one night I had a vivid, intense dream in which Pam appeared.  She was in her prime, as on our wedding day, slim and beautiful, wearing a familiar, white dress with tiny blue flowers, and smiling at me.  I was incredibly joyful to meet her again. The encounter was so real, I blurted out, half joking, "I thought you were dead!"  She bantered back something like: "Oh, that was just a conspiracy of the Funeral Directors Association!"  We carried on a lighthearted conversation briefly, and then she was gone.  Even during the encounter I immediately thought about how depressed I would be when it was over, but when I woke up I was euphoric and remained so for many days afterward.  The experience was a dream, but extremely vivid and intense.  (This was a very moving experience; I am in tears even as I describe it now).   

I could write off this experience as a simple dream generated by my unconscious to overcome grief, except that during that same week (it could have been the same night), my wife's best friend and my mother (with whom she was quite close), both reported similar dreams about Pam.  They had no such dreams about her before or afterward. I believe my mother even said Pam was wearing the same familiar dress I had seen.   

I have never had an encounter like that before or afterward, but this one event was a life-changer; it greatly reduced my grief for her and almost replaced it with joy.  I came away reassured that Pam was OK and happy in the hereafter, and that God was in loving control of our destinies.

Was this experience difficult to express in words?  No

Did you hear the deceased or hear something associated with the deceased?          Yes

            Describe what you heard, how clearly you heard it and what was communicated:    See above

            Did the voice or sound seem to originate externally or outside of you, inside you, or did you not hear a voice or sound, but had a sense of knowing what was communicated?  It was very close to a normal conversation, though the way one would have a conversation in a dream.

            If you heard a voice or sound, was it similar or dissimilar from the voice or sound the deceased made when they were alive?           Identical to her voice when alive.

            Is there any possibility what you heard was from any other source present in the surroundings at the time of your experience?           No

            Was there any possible impairment to your hearing at the time of the experience?   No, but then the "hearing" was in a dream.

Did you feel a touch or experience any physical contact from the deceased?            No

Did you see the deceased?         Yes

See above

            How clearly did the deceased appear?            Extremely clear

            How much of the deceased did you see?       I seem to remember almost full form, vaguely from the knees up.

            Did the deceased appear or not appear to be the age at which they died?       No.  She was much younger (30, not 49) and very slim, as on her wedding day, not obese as when she died.

            How healthy did the deceased appear to be?            A strong contrast to her usual drugged state before her death.  Then her speech was often slurred and depressed.  In the dream she was mentally sharp, with a quick humor she never had in life.

            Is there any possibility what you saw was from any other source present in the surroundings at the time of your experience?           Absolutely not

Did you smell a distinct smell, scent, fragrance or odor associated with the deceased?      No

How long did the experience last?        Perhaps a minute or two

Was the beginning and end of the experience gradual or more sudden?         Fairly sudden at both ends.  The encounter came as a huge surprise.

Could you sense the emotions or mood of the deceased?           Yes

As above: she was extremely bright, alert and articulate--more than in life.  Very happy and funny.

Did the deceased give you information you did not previously know?  No, but I was surprised at her wit.  It was a standing joke that she just didn't get jokes during her lifetime.  This was something new for her.  Otherwise no new information;  I got what was important: that she was "alive" and happy.

How do you currently view the reality of your experience?           Experience was definitely real

            Please explain why you view the reality of your experience as real or not real:           Again, a very similar experience with Pam happened with her best friend and my mother, within a very few days of each other, if not on the same night.

            Was the experience dream like in any way?   Yes

It was definitely a dream, but very vivid as it was to the other two women who experienced it at approximately the same time.

Was there any emotional healing in any way following the experience?           Yes

What was the best and worst part of your experience?      It dissolved the sense of separation from my wife and the resulting grief.

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?         Yes                 Describe:            More convinced about the traditional Christian view of life after death.

Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?
   Yes     It was very reassuring about the well-being of my wife.  That was the main effect.

Did the experience give you any spiritual understandings such as life, death, afterlife, God, etc.?            Yes    

Death Compacts are when two or more living people promise among themselves that whoever dies first will try to contact the other(s).  Have you ever made such a compact?   Uncertain

Given my interest in the subject, I think we probably talked about this, but I don't have a clear memory of it.

Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later?          Yes As above, two others close to her had the same kind of encounter/dream.

What emotions did you feel during the experience?            See above.

Was the experience witnessed or experienced by others?           Yes

Did you have any sense of altered space or time?   No

Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?    No

Did you become aware of future events?       No

Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience that you did not have prior to the experience?         No

Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body?     No

Did you meet or see any other beings other than the deceased?            No

Did you see a light?           No

Did any part of your experience seem to occur in a place other than the location described above?            No

Have you shared this experience with others?         Yes     I told of this experience often in my theology classes as an experience that would support the traditional doctrine of personal eschatology (events of the end)

Have you shared this experience formally or informally with any other researcher or web site?   No

 Is there anything else you would like to add regarding your experience?       These types of universal experiences are probably the most compelling evidence for the correspondingly universal beliefs about a human soul that leaves the body at death and which goes on to its eternal destiny.

Were there any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience?            No

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?         No 

Did you ever in your life have a near-death experience, out of body experience or other spiritual event?           Yes 

Yes, about a terrifying experience "seeing" an abortive Soviet nuclear missile launch on 7 March, 1968, 8:15 PM Hawaii time, that I discovered 38 years later could have been totally actual, but that's a story for another time if you're interested.

Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?               Yes

Please offer any suggestions you may have to improve this questionnaire.    You've done a good job.  This is valuable research!  Keep up the good work!