Amy's account impressed me because young children call it as they see it, without bluffing, and I have ever since paid particular attention to what they report, unless it is obvious they are being coaxed or coached in their accounts. Of particular interest to me are the reports of the very young who would not have had time to be enculturated by adult beliefs about NDEs.
Separate studies on children have shown that they describe what they have seen and experienced without embellishment or subterfuge when compared with a similar group of adults recounting experiences. It is therefore fascinating that young children have a startling consistency when relating NDEs, while massive deviations occur when they relate fantasies or dreams. NDEs are not their fantasies nor dreams. In addition, they recount afterlife experiences by describing a similar sequence of events to adult NDEs. In addition, most children on return seem to progress with a sense of purpose and direction as they mature, without developing a fear of dying.
Here are a few accounts given by children.
Colton Burpo, as remembered and recorded by his parents Todd[i] and Sonja, gave a description of looking down at his body on an operating table. Colton had been three-years-old at the time of the operation, but had turned four by the time this conversation took place. He moved from looking at his body to watching what his parents were doing:
‘But you were in the operating room, Colton,’ I (Todd) said. ‘How could you know what we were doing?’
‘Cause I could see you,’ Colton said matter-of-factly. ‘I went up out of my body and I was looking down and I could see the doctor working on my body. And I saw you and Mommy. You were in a little room by yourself, praying, and Mommy was in a different room, and she was praying and talking on the phone.’
Todd and Sonja Burpo were astounded. How could Todd have possibly known these details, unless he had been looking from above as he claimed?
It is amazing that the youngest of children, even babies, can have an NDE. PMH Atwater[ii] is a brilliant and bold researcher of NDEs: consequently, I quote her work often, despite her not sharing my Christian worldview. She describes the case of Robin Michelle Halberdier of Texas City, whose near-death episode took place in a hospital when she was between one and two months of age. Born prematurely, and with Hyaline Membrane disease, Robin was not expected to live. Her recollections years later are given below, but with her adult perspectives and language.
My first visual memory was looking forward and seeing a brilliant bright light, almost like looking directly at the sun. The strange thing was that I could see my feet in front of me, as if I were floating upward in a vertical position. I do not remember passing through a tunnel or anything like that, just floating in the beautiful light. A tremendous amount of warmth and love came from the light.
There was a standing figure in the light, shaped like a normal human being, but with no distinct facial features. It had a masculine presence. The light I have described seemed like it emanated from that figure. Light rays shone all around him. I felt very protected and safe and loved.
The figure in the light told me through what I now know to be mental telepathy that I must go back, that it was not time for me to come here. I wanted to stay because I felt so full of joy and so peaceful. The voice repeated that it wasn't my time; I had a purpose to fulfil and I could come back after I completed it.
The first time I told my parents about my experience was right after I began to talk. At the time, I believed that what happened to me was something everyone experienced. I told my mom and dad about the big glass case I was in after I was born, and the figure in the light and what he said to me. They took my reference to the glass case to mean the incubator. My father was a medical student at the time, and he had read a book about near-death experiences. From comparing the information in the book with what I told them, they decided that's what I was describing. My mom told me all of this some years later when I brought the subject up again.
I began attending church at the age of five, and I would look at the picture of Jesus in the Bible and tell my mom ‘that's who it was in the light’.
I still have many physical difficulties with my health because of being premature. But there is a strong need inside me that I should help others with what death is, and talk to terminally ill patients. I was in the other world and I know there is nothing to be afraid of after death.
Such coherent memories when Robin’s brain was not yet sufficiently formed to record them in this detail are a conundrum for researchers. Some NDEs experienced by babies still in the womb, and only recounted by the returnee years later, pose an even greater puzzle, because the brain should have been far too immature to form memories in such graphic detail. Nonetheless, where medical and other details have been investigated, they have checked out precisely. Personally, I believe that a myriad of NDEs illustrate that consciousness survives death – that the spirit and soul separate from the body and brain at death and receive information directly in the spirit world. Thus this particular difficulty disappears.
Consciousness is therefore the ultimate survivor – beyond atoms and molecules that are left behind at death – beyond our energy cycles – beyond our time and space – in new afterlife venues with their own time, space and elegant physical laws.
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