Well-Being with Whitney: Near-Death Experience Lessons: Part 1

People who have survived near-death experiences (NDEs) often make significant changes to their lives after they return from the afterlife — and many of those changes relate to strengthening their well-being. Those who have experienced what it’s like to be completely well in heaven have a lot to teach us about how to live our earthly lives well!

The first lesson is simply to remember that every choice we make about our words and actions truly matters from an eternal perspective. A common part of an NDE is a life review.

People who have had an NDE often report that their entire lives have flashed before their eyes – they’ve simultaneously seen every moment in their earthly lifetimes, yet somehow understood it all completely, during a process known as a life review. Angels, who act as guides for dying people during NDEs, sometimes help people process their life reviews.

People Seeing Scenes from their Lives and Feeling the Impact

During life reviews, people see different scenes from their lives replayed for them as if they’re watching a movie about their own lives.

But they don’t passively watch; they actively experience every thought, word, and deed as they feel the impact of their choices on themselves and every other person with whom they have interacted.

When a person has an NDE, “His whole life passes before him like a film, in the space of 10 seconds, but in three dimensions, with the effects of his actions and words experienced by others,” writes Pierre Jovanovic in his book An Inquiry into the Existence of Guardian Angels: A Journalist’s Investigative Report. “…when the subject relives his life in three dimensions, he is invariably judged by the love he has brought/given to others. Period. He relives each of his actions and words, as well as their effect on others. If he has slapped someone in the face, he relives the slap as if he has given it to himself, experiencing it in the other’s place.”

In his book Spirits, Angels, Demons, and Gods: Experiences on the Road to the Heavens and to the Hells, Don Little writes that, “Activated thoughts, words, and deeds become entities.

In the ethereal, nothing is hidden – nothing! … Souls see and feel the rippling effect of every person that their choices, intentions, thoughts, words, and deeds – good or evil – has ever affected, or will ever affect anyone in the future, and they may see and feel it as though they were in several other people’s bodies at the same time.”

Renowned NDE researcher P.M.H. Atwater writes in her book Near-Death Experiences: The Rest of the Story: What They Teach Us About Living and Dying and Our True Purpose that some people only saw “segments” of their lives during their life reviews. But, Atwater writes, “Some accounts cover the entire impact of a person’s existence: everything said, thought, or done since birth, and the effect he or she had on everyone, even passerby, whether met or not, and on the air, soil, plants, water, animals … the entire gestalt of one’s life – the result of ever having taken a breath.”

Angels Guiding People through the Process to Help Them Learn

While people are reviewing their lives, they may have angels — especially guardian angels — guiding them through process and supporting them as they deal with waves of strong emotions. The angels seem to want to help people learn spiritual lessons from their reviews.

Mary C. Neal, a medical doctor who had an NDE after a kayaking accident, writes in her book To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story about how she found herself in a hallway after traveling there accompanied by angels: “I knew with a profound certainty that it represented the last branch point of life, the gate through which each human being must pass. It was clear that this hall is the place where each of us is given the opportunity to review our lives and our choices, and where we are each given a final opportunity to choose God or to turn away – for eternity.”

Neal, who writes that angels communicated with her through the “pure form” of telepathy during her NDE, points out that angels always hope that people will keep learning and growing — whether during an NDE, or simply in the midst of regular, day-to-day life: “Angels often expose us to, or push us into, a situation that will force our redirection. Of course, our redirection is not really forced; rather, as we are compelled to face the fork in our road, we make a choice to turn left or turn right. Every choice leads us forward, and there is no going backward, no ‘redo.’”

Little writes that, “There is always a teacher present to initiate the life review and to be supportive along with the soul’s spirit guides. … The teacher has the ability to enter your mind and evoke your life review. … The teacher possesses an ineffable force that starts the vicissitudes of your life on the Earth coming to the fore as on a movie screen in order to give you a chance to review and learn from your mistakes and to learn about the things that you did that were of benefit to you and also to God’s creation.”

Life Reviews Focusing on How People Have Treated Others

What seems to matter most in NDE life reviews is how people have treated others during their lives so far. Once people see and feel the impact of how they’ve interacted with other people, they report, they learn that love is what’s most important in life.

“Often the life events reviewed and reinforced that are of greatest importance are those where they showed kindness and love to others,” write Joyce and Dennis Ashton in their book Jesus Wept: Understanding & Enduring Loss. “Personal accomplishments did not seem most significant. It wasn’t the honors or praise of men. Rather, it was the love and charity they showed to other human beings.”

P.M.H. Atwater, who notes that in her NDE research about half of people in all the cases she studied experienced life reviews, half of adults met angels, and 70 percent of children met angels, writes that life reviews magnify the importance of what people may have previously thought were just little things. “The life review actually highlights the little things in life – how we treat each other, lies we told, what we did about our promises and goals, how willing we were to ‘walk that extra mile’ to get a job done or lend a helping hand. It is as if a life review is actually a teaching mechanism, an opportunity to ‘peel back the layers’ so deeds versus consequences can be weighed and measured.”

Jovanovic mentions in An Inquiry Into the Existence of Guardian Angels that, “…less than a third of NDEs with angels included a complete life review of the life lived – as if their presence dispensed with that requirement.” Perhaps some people reflected on portions of their lives through conversations with angels rather than by watching the entire chronology of their lives in a life review movie.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who was a pioneering doctor in NDE research, told Jovanovic: “… at our death, we will be responsible for each of our thoughts, each of our statements, and each of our deeds … everything has its consequences. When you are in the Light, you will be accountable for everything, including your choices. Each person is entirely responsible.”

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