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Near-Death Experiences of Children

Summer portrait of mother and son on nature

P.M.H. Atwater, L.H.D., Ph.D. (Hon.) (pmhatwater.hypermart.net and www.amazon.com) survived three death events that produced three different near-death experiences in 1977. Visit Atwater’s Q & A Blog and her NDE News Blog. Sign up for her free online newsletter. She is one of the original researchers of the near-death phenomenon, having begun her work in 1978. Today, her contribution to the field of near-death studies is considered on par with those of Raymond Moody and Kenneth Ring. Her first two books, Coming Back to Life (2008) and Beyond the Light (2009), are considered the “Bibles” of the NDE. With the publication of Future Memory (2013), she has expanded her work into areas of brain development that call for a reconsideration of what is presently known about transformation consciousness. She has done extensive research into the aftereffects and the analysis of common elements of the NDE. Her research into children’s NDEs led to her writing the book Children of the New Millennium (1999). In her latest book, Edge Walker: The Many Lives and Deaths of PMH Atwater (2023), she tells us the whole story of her succession of NDEs. Her book, The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences (2014), is in my opinion the most comprehensive book on the subject of NDEs to date. She is an NDE expert and the author of many other wonderful books including: The Forever Angels (2019), The Animal Lights Series of Children’s Books (2019), A Manual for Developing Humans (2017), Dying to Know You (2014), Children of the Fifth World (2012), NDEs, The Rest of the Story (2011), I Died Three Times in 1977 (2011), Beyond the Indigo Children (2005), We Live Forever (2004), The New Children and NDEs (2003), and Goddess Runes (1996).The following are P.M.H. Atwater’s insights into the NDE from her book, Beyond the Light What follows are some of the childhood near-death experiences profiled in her book, Children of the New Millennium reprinted by permission. Brad Steiger’s near-death experience is an excerpt from his excellent book, One with the Light. David Goines experience is an excerpt from his website which, for some reason, no longer exists on the internet. I suspect he is now in spirit.

1. Laura’s NDE (age 3 ½ )

PMH Atwater

My father, in a blind drunken rage, raped and sodomized and beat me to death in the middle of the night. At the most extreme outpost of pain, I cried out to God and in that moment I was torn from life.

As I died I felt myself raised up by angels in robes of many colors. I did not know where they were taking me as they flew, carrying me up higher and higher in the sky. Finally, we reached a place where emptiness gave way to form, and form took the shape of huge cloud-like masses on which other angels seemed to be walking, although they too floated through the air.

The angels carrying me lay me at the feet of a beautiful female angel whose radiating love was more powerful than any of those around her. She said to me in a voice whose sweetness and tone are unknown here on Earth, “Tell me your story.”

I said to her, not in spoken words but in thoughts, “I will, but now I need to rest.”

My spirit had no energy, even to answer this loving lady.

God in the manifestation of infinite light appeared off to my left, and I was engulfed in a form of all-powerful, all-nourishing love. That divine being appeared as a massive column of golden light, with the suggestion of a human shape inside. I both saw and felt his light, feeling as if I were in a warm bath that completely healed and protected me. I never wanted to leave. No conversation passed between us, but in those infinite moments I acquired the knowledge that allowed me to go back to Earth to complete my life.

After this infinite moment had passed, there began a battle for my life between the angels in heaven and the doctors on Earth. Every time the doctors pounded on my chest, my spirit was sucked into my body for a split second, only to be pulled back again by the angels. They held me by my feet, struggling to keep me from coming back. Finally, the doctors pounded one last time. I heard an angel say, “They’re stronger than we are,” and I was sucked back into my body, sat up, screamed, and passed out.

To this day, I always have the feeling that I need to go back, that there was something more I was meant to do there before returning. That feeling of incompleteness keeps me half in the other world all the time.

2. Clara’s NDE (age 10)

I was in the fifth grade when I became sick with extreme pain in my lower right side. My teacher thought it was only a stomach ache and ignored it. Two hours later I was rushed to the hospital. I was terrified and begged to go home. I was fighting the ether mask when it happened. One second I was awake, scared to death, the next second I was falling straight down a dark hole as if in a well.

There were loud sounds like buzzing and ringing and metal scraping together, then I was up by the ceiling looking down on myself. I felt as though I was spread out all over the room like vapor or a cloud. I watched as the doctor had a square green machine wheeled into the room by a nurse, and then worked on me using it. There were several nurses there.

Suddenly I was standing alone in a room with large, heavy doors leading into other rooms. Someone came to me. I didn’t see him; I only heard his voice. He led me up through what seemed like a tunnel. I seemed to be walking, but my feet didn’t touch a floor. Suddenly I heard what sounded like a city-sized playground full of kids, laughing and playing. Hearing them calmed me. Another man came to meet us. I didn’t see him either. He asked the one leading me who I was, then he went away. When he returned he told the man with me that I had to go back, that they weren’t ready for me yet.

I was led up a sidewalk to a large building with large doors. I walked inside and saw people all around working and doing things. I was taken to a huge iridescent white room and told to sit down on some steps that led up to a large white chair, and wait there for someone who was to talk to me. He came out a door at the other end of the steps, walked to the chair above me, and sat down. He was dressed in a white, long-sleeved, floor-length robe with a wide gold band around the mid-section. He wore sandals. His dark brown hair was shoulder length; he had a long face, broad chin, dark eyes with black around both eyelids, like eyeliner pencil, but it wasn’t. His skin was olive colored and his eyes were as liquid love. He communicated by looking at me. No words had to be spoken, as we could hear each other’s thoughts. He told me what I had to do in life and had me go to the other side of the room and look down into something like a TV set so I could see my future. What I saw made me very happy. This man, who I believe is Jesus Christ, said that once I woke up in the hospital I would forget what I was supposed to do in life.

“Nothing can happen before its time,” he cautioned.

As I was leaving the room he said I must obey his commandments if I wanted to come back.

When I revived, a nurse was sitting beside my bed and she said, “Thank God you finally woke up.”

I told the doctor that I had watched him work on me and the color of the machine brought into the surgery room. He didn’t know what to say.

3. Cecil’s NDE (age 11)

My brother and I went swimming. He had a problem. I tried to get him out of the water, but in his panic he pulled me under several times. We both drowned. He died and I came back. I can remember it all like yesterday. Just as I could no longer stay afloat, a strange sound like ringing in my ears started. A peaceful feeling came over me. I felt my spirit come out of my body and I went into a black void. That was a little frightening.

A long way off there was a pinprick of light. I moved toward it, slowly at first, then faster and faster as if I were on top of a train accelerating. Then I stopped and stepped fully into the light. I noticed everything – sky, buildings, glass – emitted its own light and everything was much more colorful than what we see here. A river meandered around. On the other side was a city, and a road running through it to another city, and another city and another and another.

Right in front of me but across the river were three men. They projected themselves to me. They didn’t walk or fly; they projected over. I didn’t recognize them, yet I knew one was Lynn Bibb. (I was named after him. He died a matter of weeks before I was born.) I knew these three men were looking out for me, like a welcoming committee to escort me over the river to the first city. I had the feeling that if I went with them, there would be no coming back, so I hesitated.

The first city was like first grade. People stayed there until they were ready to go to the next city – your eternal progression, from city to city. Behind me and to the left was a strong light source, very brilliant and filled with love. I knew it was a person. I called it God for lack of a better term. I could not see it; I felt what seemed like a male presence. He communicated to me, not so much in words but telepathically, and he asked, “Why did you hesitate?”

I replied, “Well, I’m kind of young to die.”

He chuckled. “We have babies die.”

I said, “Well, there’s some things I want to know first.”

He replied, “What do you want to know?”

“What is death?” I asked.

He said, “Turn and look to one side.”

As I did, I saw a bad car wreck. Several people had been killed. Out of some of the bodies a spirit came up to progress on.

Some who did not believe it was possible stayed in their bodies and would not emerge. I asked if they could be reached and he said, “Yes, some more quickly than others and some maybe never.” Death, then, is not believing in anything.

I asked, “What is hell?”

He said, “Turn and look again.”

I saw an old woman in a rocking chair determined to sit and rock and worry about children and grandchildren and everything else. Hell is therefore a lack of wisdom and not moving on, choosing not to go any further, sitting there and doing nothing. Hell is not a place.

I asked if there was a Devil or Satan.

He said to me, “Would God allow that?” He continued, “If I made you God for just a few seconds, what would you do first?”

I knew my first act would be to eliminate any Devil or Satan. I asked, “How do I know right from wrong?”

He replied, “Right is helping and being kind. Wrong is not only hurting someone but not helping when you can.”

We walked as I asked about the universe and reasons for everything. All of these things were shown to me. Then he wondered if I still wanted to return to the physical world.

“I do want to return.”

He asked, “Why?”

I said I would help my mother whom my father had left with four children and one on the way. God kind of chuckled and asked me for the real reason. I said I would leave the Earth a little better than I found it.

Then you may return with some of the knowledge of the things you have learned, but the rest will be veiled for a time. Live in such a way that you will not be going back when you return here again.

I woke up face down in the mud of the river bottom and was ‘lifted’ to the top. I threw up great amounts of water, then pulled myself out of the river only to discover my brother had died.

4. Brad Steiger’s NDE (age 11)

Brad Steiger was a famous author of paranormal books such as Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places, Dog Miracles: Inspirational and Heroic True Stories, and Angels Around the World. On an August day in 1947, 11-year-old Brad Steiger nearly died of multiple skull fractures after being caught in the metallic blades of a piece of machinery on his family’s Iowa farm. He felt his “essential self” drift away from his body. He watched his sister run for help and realized he was simultaneously in his father’s arms being carried from the field, and above himself, observing.

While “out” of his body he was shown a geometric design of colors and seemed to see the patterns inherent in all of life. He came back to his body just as the surgeons were about to operate.

Although he did not understand it, he felt he had been shown a plan of the universe, and that he had a mission “to testify to others that the human spirit is eternal and that we are not alone in the cosmic scheme of things.”

Children report being taken on a tour of heaven, seeing angels, colorful geometric patterns, and dead relatives and pets. One 9-year-old boy, after 36 hours in a life-threatening fever, reported seeing his sister during a tour of heaven. It was she who told him he had to come back to life. His father assured him he couldn’t have seen her there as she was safely away at college. The following morning they found out that the daughter had died the night before in a car crash.

One of her professors at the Chicago Theological Seminary once told of a girl who was dying and reported seeing her brother right in front of her in the hospital, telling her it was “OK.”

When told of this after her death her parents were stunned. They had never told her she had had a brother who died years before she was born.

5. Guenter Wagner’s NDE (age 11)

Read Gunter Wagner’s NDE in the Exceptional NDEs section.

6. David Goines’ NDE (age 13)

This is the true story about an event that forever changed David Goines’ life and that has been the basis for the way he has since lived. When he was thirteen years old, he was riding his bike to school when he was hit by a concrete mixing truck. His resulting near-death experience revealed to him many of the secrets of the afterlife. Many questions concerning “Why are we here?” and “What is the meaning of life?” are answered here. At the end of his experience, he was given a choice – a choice that is offered to all of us. It is a choice we all must make when we die. The following is David Goines’ NDE testimony in his own words.

I remember the fear of impact (getting hit), however, I have no recollection of the impact or having my body become totally integrated with the bicycle, nor hurtling over sixty feet through the air and landing in the canal. My next memory was quite a scene in the hospital emergency room. It was the most unique experience of my earthly life. Unique, because I was observing my own body in the emergency room and all the activity going on, except that I was not in my body. I was above it all – looking down. I was feeling no pain.

Everyone was very busy. I knew by their activity that I was in serious trouble. There was much discussion about how to extract me from the tangled wreckage of my bike and/or whether they would need to leave me in it until I was stabilized enough to try. I could see and hear everything. It was gruesome. It was frightening. They finally decided they had me stable enough to get rid of the bike and they called for a welding specialist to bring a torch to help cut me out of the bike. Thank God my body seemed to be unconscious. All of this would have been quite enough for my young mind to endure – until one nurse, whom I knew, said to another, “Well – it certainly makes you wonder if it is worth saving this mess.”

She nearly scared me to death! At that moment, it was more than I could stand above and watch. I wanted to run away from this scene. I needed to escape. Quickly, I turned, took one step through the wall so to speak and found myself in total darkness. I looked back – nothing but darkness! Before I could barely think, “Now I’ve done it!” I apparently took another step; and I was instantly in the most beautiful garden I have ever seen. This garden was like a formal terrace which had been carved out of a rough mountain, just a few feet below the peak. Everything was white marble and evergreen. The air was so incredibly light and clear and fresh and cool. It seemed like I was breathing pure chilled oxygen. The garden was trimmed in evergreen shrubs, each a perfect specimen; and the fragrance of evergreen lightly scented the air. This place seemed so perfect in every detail. Directly in front of me, just a few steps away, was a marble bench which seemed to invite me to come, sit, and rest.

As I sat down and breathed in the fresh wonderful air, I looked around. What a wonderful place to rest. The floor was flat and smooth, polished to perfection such that it looked seamless. This garden terrace was surrounded by low marble pillars and a marble railing and looked like it had been formed right out of the side of the mountain in one seamless effort. I noticed the stark contrast between the formal perfection of white marble and the surrounding mountain that was rough and ragged by comparison.

It seemed like only moments while I looked around this beautiful setting, when I noticed a very warm, kindly, old gentleman sitting beside me on the bench. I had not seen or heard him come – he was just there. A light smile crossed his face, and I knew he was a friend. His face was warmly wrinkled, but soft. His eyes were a soft blue and yet with a depth and sparkle of wisdom. I looked away so as not to fall into his eyes; and as I did, he spoke to me. His voice was firm, but soft and loving.

He said, “Well, you’ve had a rough day,” as if he knew all about it.

With a tired sigh I said, “I sure have!”

No further explanation seemed necessary as we both sat there. Then, I remembered just how much trouble I really was in; and I looked back at him hoping he would have an answer I could stand to hear.

I asked “Am I dead?”

He smiled to assure me and said, “No, you are not dead. Your body is in a lot of trouble, but it is being well taken care of and you do not need to worry.”

I remember I felt so relieved to be told that I was not dead. Life was not over. This was not the end. All these things ran through my mind like a whirlwind that stopped abruptly, and I was filled with a million questions as to explain my current condition. I could not explain why I felt like I was sitting here in this place feeling very much like I had a body and yet knowing very much that I had left it behind.

Again I looked at him, and his face looked so understanding I knew he had the answers even before I asked the question. It was like we could read each others thoughts – even before words were spoken – and I’m not sure but what a lot of our communication did take place this way, mind to mind. Then a kind of panic set in.

I demanded of him: “How am I here, in this place, when I know that my body is back there in the hospital?” And “Where is this place? How do I see this place and you, if I’m not with my body? How can I be two places at once?” I began to feel very upset. “What are you?” I demanded!

His voice calmed me immediately. He said, “You are in a very special place. You are safe.”

He went on to explain that, though my body was in the hospital, it was my physical body and that each of us has also our spiritual body and our mental body.

He said, “It is your mental and spiritual body that is here. It is with your mental and spiritual eyes that you see this place. Likewise, it is through your mental and spiritual body senses that you perceive everything in and about this place. This place is in your mind’s eye, your imagination; it is as it is because this is exactly what you need it to be. Your physical crisis and mental need caused it to be just as you perceive it. I am here too without a physical body. You see me as I see myself in my own mind’s eye. A mental picture (a thought) from my mind to your mind’s eye. I am as you see me because this is the way that I perceived that you needed me to be. Who I am or my name is not important. I am here for you on behalf of your heavenly Father’s love for you and to remind you from where you came.”

My first thought was – The hospital?

He smiled a smile of wisdom and patience beyond wisdom itself and said lovingly, “No, I mean your Father’s house.”

It was then at that moment that I realized that I knew everything that he was saying was true and that I had known this consciously before I was born to this Earth to have a physical body. I remembered that I was also a spiritual and mental body (being), and it all made perfect sense. I even remembered coming through the veil to find and choose my physical body. I was mildly puzzled that I could have even forgotten such things – when he reminded me that to have/experience a physical life – it was necessary to at least for a while, forget a little of our prior knowledge so that we might more fully experience the physical things, be physically challenged, make choices of free agency, and yes, even make mistakes so that we could learn from them in ways that only a physical life could impart.

If we retained all of our prior knowledge, we might not bother to experience the physical life for its fulfillment – we might decide to skip the pain and thus miss the pleasure. I also remembered the promise I had made to my heavenly Father upon accepting the opportunity, challenges and responsibility of a physical life. To make the most of this opportunity for myself and for him. To return to my Father’s house with the knowledge and experience gained such that likewise, my Father (Creator) could be enhanced by the experience. It was upon this basis that I realized why we need to experience a separation of our total reality when we take a physical body. That is because in order for us to appreciate, benefit, and learn all we can from our physical life, we must seemingly have to re-discover what we knew before – now in physical ways. Likewise, through this physical life we must discover how to return to our heavenly Father. By the good that we do to each other here, by the ways we improve our minds, and by the ways that we learn to cope with a physical body and physical life, do we earn our right of safe passage back to our Father’s house; and in so doing, do we likewise magnify and glorify (honor) our Father. It is our Father’s love that sends us on the journey and it is our love for him that will allow us to go back home to his loving arms again.

As soon as I had remembered all that I needed to know, my loving, special friend disappeared.

This was a wonderful place; it was everything I needed it to be. I not only remembered and could see from where I came, I could also see and remember where I was going, the many things that I was supposed to do. I knew when I chose this life that it would be challenging. I knew that I would be responsible for finding a physical life mate and that, together, we would accept the responsibility of providing new physical life so that others of God’s children (creation) could likewise share in a physical experience for themselves. I knew that I would be responsible for choosing between good and evil so that my life would serve to glorify my heavenly Father upon my return to him.

As I continued to ponder and re-affirm these things, I felt very refreshed and again more conscious of my garden place. I turned and noticed a small winding path leading up to the crest of this rugged mountain. I had not noticed this path before, but it was there now and it beckoned me. I got up from my marble bench and began making my way up the steep access of the path. It was difficult and my footing was very unsure. As I reached the top, I looked down upon a beautiful meadow on the other side. It was so tempting. There were flowers of every description and color. A beautiful brook flowed playfully through the meadow, and I made my way through the lush grass to be by its side. The brook was only a few inches deep. The water flowed quickly. I picked up some pebbles and tossed them one by one into the water. I was about to turn away and leave when I looked on the other side of the stream and saw a beautiful white light much like sunbeams. From this beautiful light a figure appeared. It was clothed in white robes and white light such that I could scarcely tell the difference. I could not make out a face – but I clearly saw hands. These hands stretched out to me and a voice said: “Will you come unto me?”

Without hesitation I stepped into the water, then I paused. I was shaking all over. Then I remembered that I had a life to learn and experience. I turned; and as I stepped out of the water, I said “No, I still have many things which I must do.”

I made my way quickly, running as fast as I could back up to the top of the hill and back down that winding path, nearly falling several times. As soon as my feet touched the floor of my beautiful marble garden, I was consciously back in my physical body, awake, and suddenly in more physical pain than I ever thought possible. My body was in five-way traction, and I was barely touching the bed. Everything hurt.

My first conscious thought was, “Big mistake – boy, I’ve done it now! I’ve screwed up big time! That white figure was Jesus and I told him, “No!”

I don’t know whether I cried more from the physical pain I was in or the spiritual and mental torment I was having over this decision. Later through prayer and meditation, I have been comforted. I now understand and have so often reflected that through this experience I was being offered a choice. A choice which I, and each of us, have the right to make. My heavenly Father has such a profound love for me and all of his children, for that matter, that I was offered through his son Jesus the opportunity to come back to him right then.

His love is so great for his children that he was and is willing to sacrifice his potential for glory. Fortunately for me, I have the opportunity on his behalf to experience a physical life; and hopefully in doing so, I will ultimately magnify and glorify my heavenly Father and more so than if I had accepted grace and forgone this opportunity.

I did not realize that my garden experience had lasted for twenty-one days, until I was told by my doctors and nurses that I had been in a coma all that time. It was from this experience that I was able to draw enough strength and energy to rehabilitate my body, learn to walk again, and do all the things that I have been able to do so far in my life.

I am telling you this story, one, because I needed to tell it; two, because, perhaps you needed to hear it; and, three, because it allows me a credible basis for sharing with you much of the magic that can enhance a physical life.