A phenomenon closely related to deathbed Visions and NDEs is shared-death experiences (SDEs) as coined by Dr. Raymond Moody. In these experiences, bystanders who are close to a dying person experience many of the same elements of the NDE with the dying person, including leaving their bodies, meeting beings of light, and seeing the life review of the dying person. These bystanders are themselves healthy and not dying yet seem to share these experiences. This phenomenon casts doubt upon the materialistic theory that NDEs are caused by hallucinations of a dying brain. In his book, Glimpses of Eternity: An Investigation Into Shared Death Experiences, Dr. Moody shares many eyewitness accounts of those who have shared the experiences of the dying. His book draws upon his lifetime’s research as well as recent findings. These kind of NDEs attain a higher validity when they occur with a significant physical distance between the dying and the individuals sharing the NDE. At no time are there any indications the experiencers are themselves in any discernible medical distress. Typically, the experience accompanies an individual who is dying through sudden, spontaneous, and unexpected means; and includes the sense of rendering assistance to an otherwise confused individual. P.M.H. Atwater has this to say about SDEs:
“There are cases in which several experiencers seem to share in each other’s episode; that is to say they have the same or similar elements, scenario type, or basic storyline. Usually these are encountered when two or three people are involved in the same accident at the same time or are in the same general section of the hospital at the same time. Sometimes these states are experienced singly (one individual is not aware of the other during the episode, but later learns that both apparently had the same scenario). Sometimes the people involved are aware of each other, and are able to confirm the extent of that awareness after they are able to compare their separate stories.” (P.M.H. Atwater)
1. The Shared Death Experience of Johnny and His Wife
In one example of a shared death experience, Dr. Moody reports about a woman who experienced a vivid shared life review with her dying husband named Johnny and included events she was completely unaware unaware of:
“I was beside him the whole time in the hospital and was holding onto him when he died. When he did, he went right through my body. It felt like an electric sensation, like when you get your finger in the electrical socket, only much more gentle.
“Anyway, when that happened our whole life sprang up around us and just kind of swallowed up the hospital room and everything in it in an instant. There was light all around: a bright, white light that I immediately knew – and Johnny knew – was Christ.
“Everything we ever did was there in that light. Plus I saw things about Johnny… I saw him doing things before we were married. You might think that some of it might be embarrassing or personal, and it was. But there was no need for privacy, as strange as that might seem. These were things that Johnny did before we were married. Still, I saw him with girls when he was very young. Later I searched for them in his high school yearbook and was able to find them, just based on what I saw during the life review during his death.
“In the middle of this life review, I saw myself there holding onto his dead body, which didn’t make me feel bad because he was also completely alive, right beside me, viewing our life together.
“By the way, the life review was like a ‘wraparound.’ [Webmaster Note: This refers to 360 degree vision often experienced in NDEs] I don’t know how else to describe it. It was a wraparound scene of everything Johnny and I experienced together or apart. There is no way I could even put it into words other than to say that all of this was in a flash, right there at the bedside where my husband died.
“Then, right in the middle of this review, the child that we lost to a miscarriage when I was still a teenager stepped forth and embraced us. She was not a figure of a person exactly as you would see a human being, but more the outline or sweet, loving presence of a little girl. The upshot of her being there any issues we ever had regarding her loss were made whole and resolved. I was reminded of the verse from the Bible about ‘the peace that passeth all understanding.’ That’s how I felt when she was there.
“One of the funny things about this wraparound view of our life was that we had gone to Atlanta in the seventh grade, to the state capital, where there was a diorama. So at one point we were watching this wraparound and watching ourselves in another wraparound – a diorama – where we stood side-by-side as kids. I burst out laughing and Johnny laughed too, right there beside me.
“Another thing that was strange about this wraparound was that in certain parts of it were panels or dividers that kept us from seeing all of it. I don’t have the words to this, but the screens or panels kept particular parts of both of our lives invisible. I don’t know what was behind them but I do know that these were thoughts from Christ, who said that someday we would be able to see behind those panels too.”
2. A Dying Mother and Her Daughter’s Shared Death Experience
In another example, Dr. Moody documented the account of a woman in her seventies who described a shared death experience while tending to her dying mother.
As her mother died the light in the room suddenly became much brighter and she felt a rocking motion through her whole body. [Webmaster Note: Such rocking motions are an indication of an out-of-body experience.] She then found herself seeing the room from a different angle, from above and to the left side of the bed instead of from the right side.
“This rocking forward motion was very comfortable, and not at all like a shudder and especially not like when a car you are riding in lurches to the side and you get nauseous. I did not feel uncomfortable but in fact the opposite; I felt far more comfortable and peaceful than I ever felt in my life.
“I don’t know whether I was out of my body or not because all the other things that were going on held my attention. I was just glued to scenes from my mother’s life that were flashing throughout the room or around the bed. I cannot even tell whether the room was there any more or if it was, there was a whole section of it I hadn’t noticed before. I would compare it to the surprise you would have if you had lived in the same house for many years, but one day you opened up at it and found a big secret compartment you didn’t know about. This thing seemed so strange and yet perfectly natural at the same time.
“The scenes that were flashing around in midair contained things that had happened to my mother, some of which I remembered and others that I didn’t. I could see her looking at the scenes too, and she sure recognized all of them, as I could tell by her expression as she watched. This all happened at once so there is no way of telling it that matches the situation.
“The scenes of my mother’s life reminded me of old-fashioned flashbulbs going off. When they did, I saw scenes of her life like in one of the 3-D movies of the 1950s.
“By the time the flashes of her life were going on, she was out of her body. I saw my father, who passed seven years before, standing there where the head of the bed would have been. By this point the bed was kind of irrelevant and my father was coaching my mother out of the body. I looked right into his face and a recognition of love passed between us, but he went right back to focusing on my mother. He looked like a young man, although he was 79 when he died. There was a glow about or all through him – very vibrant. He was full of life.
“One of his favorite expressions was ‘Look alive!’ and he sure did look alive when he was coaching my mother out of her body. A part of her that was transparent just stood right up, going through her body, and she and my father glided off into the light and disappeared.
“The room sort of rocked again, or my body did, but this time backward in the opposite direction and then everything went back to normal.
3. Dr. Melvin Morse’s Case of Shared Death Experience
The following experience is described by Dr. Melvin Morse in his excellent book entitled Parting Visions. Morse described this experience as “one of the most beautiful experiences of its kind that he has ever read.”:
“Karl Skala was one of Germany’s most noted poets. During World War II, he had an NDE. He and his best friend were huddled together in a foxhole during an artillery bombardment. The shells hit closer and closer until one finally hit close to Skala’s friend and killed him. Karl felt his friend slump forward into his arms and go limp with death. Then a strange thing happened to Skala. He states that he felt himself being drawn up with his friend, above their bodies and then above the battlefield. Skala could look down and see himself holding his friend. Then he looked up and saw a bright light and felt himself going toward it with his friend. Then he stopped and returned to his body. He was uninjured except for a hearing loss that resulted from the artillery blast.” (Dr. Melvin Morse, Parting Visions, page 45-46)
4. Sussanna Uballe’s Shared Death Experience
In the Summer, 1996, edition of the Journal of Possible Paradigms, Issue 4, an unusual shared NDE is described by a woman named Sussanna Uballe. Here she describes what happened:
“The experience of co-experiencing death is, I feel, much like an NDE. I did not have a near death experience, but did travel part way up the tunnel with my husband as he left this dimension.
“On Memorial day (observed), May 27, 1979, I was five months pregnant with my son, Christopher. My husband and I rode bicycles and ran errands around town, and it was a very hot day for Minneapolis. I lay down after dinner and was so exhausted that I could barely move. As my husband went to the corner store about 8:00 to buy something for his lunch the next day, I fell into a very deep sleep.
“I dreamt that I was walking with my husband, Herb, up a dark and shady forest path. It was a heavily wooded path, which was enclosed by a thick canopy of trees overhead. The path was slightly inclined, and at the crest of a hill I saw the sky, somewhat like the light at the end of a tunnel. Herb and I had been in deep conversation, about what I could not tell, but I suppose we were reminiscing about our relationship. I felt our very closeness and felt totally in love.
“He began to tell me about what it was like to die; at first filled with rage, pain, and frustration, and upset that the clerk didn’t seem to understand his pleas to call an ambulance, that he had been stabbed in the heart and needed help. He said that after a short while, which felt interminable while he was experiencing it, he left his body and floated above it and saw the body below him, and felt detached from it, like it was just a body. He was filled with peace and love. And he felt no pain.
“After telling me this, he then said that he had to go. His feet started to move very fast, and he began to leave me behind on the path. I told him that I could do that too, and put some effort into “powering up” my feet to make them go super fast. I actually started to rev up and move along the path quickly, and felt as if I was traveling up a tunnel of forest toward the sunlight at the top of the hill. As I began to keep pace with him he said “NO!” in a very powerful voice, and I woke up in my bed, feeling hurt at being told no.
“I looked for him, to tell him about my dream. He wasn’t there, and his side of the bed showed that he had not slept in the bed that night. It was dawn. I began to get irritated, thinking that he must have gone off with some friends, and feeling upset at how irresponsible he was behaving. I went to where we kept our bicycles, to see if his was there, and it wasn’t. I was so angry that I broke the bicycle lock and chain off of my bicycle with my bare hands, (he had taken both keys with him), and set off down the street toward the corner store. His bicycle was near the store, and a patrolman was standing next to it. I asked him where my husband was, and why his bicycle was sitting there. He asked my name and address, and refused to tell me anything more. He suggested that I go back home, and that someone would explain everything to me later. In about fifteen minutes a police officer and a clergyman came by and told me that Herb had been killed the night before.
“The dream braced me for this news, and although I was in shock, I felt assured constantly that he was not in his body, and a comforting presence was with me throughout the next few days of viewing the body, the funeral and other unpleasant business.
“Two days after the funeral, I was preparing for bed and contemplating suicide to join Herb, so that we could be together on the other side or in our next phase of incarnation or whatever. I consciously thought a question, “Should I kill myself to join Herb, or stay here.”
“I then went to bed. I was just falling asleep when I felt a presence by my right side, and looked to see Herb, naked and glowing with a soft, beautiful white light. He looked beautiful and I felt filled with love and happiness to see him. He spoke mentally to me, and said, “This is our son,” indicating my womb, “Take good care of him.” I had no question then about my purpose, and have tried to do the best possible job taking care of my son ever since. It did not at all seem strange that he used the word “son”, and, of course, although these were the days before ultrasound, I did give birth to a boy.” (Sussanna Uballe)
5. An Anonymous Shared Death Experience
The following the shared death experience of a person who wishes to remain anonymous.
“Here is my story of an NDE I had on Thanksgiving evening at my apartment. At that time (around 1991 and 1992), I had a friend who was diagnosed as terminally ill from AIDS complications. Six months before, the doctor told him he had three months to live. So, basically he was on borrowed time. In the early 90s, there was no medication for advanced HIV or AIDS. Once you got sick, you basically died.
“I was not planning on preparing a huge Thanksgiving dinner that evening. But, for some reason, I woke up and called all the people in my address book. I left messages on their phone machines and said that anyone who had no place to go for Thanksgiving could come to my apartment.
“I began cooking shortly after that. I cooked all day and fed people as they strolled in. Then, around 11 p.m. that night, Phillip showed up. He was the guy who was terminally ill. He told me he had nowhere to go that evening and was thankful I had called him.
“All the guests for the day had gone, so Phillip and I began to eat together. I had not eaten all day because of the several people that came over and my entertaining them. So, I was quite hungry and tired.
“At this point, Phillip explained how six months ago, he had three months to live. He decided he would try to make it to Thanksgiving and then finally let go.
“So there we were and we were laughing and joking about how he would die after eating dinner. He’d already lived three months longer than he was supposed to and he was quite accepting of the whole situation. He was no longer afraid. He told me that his liver was so weak, at that point, that really he wouldn’t be able to eat all the rich salty and sugary foods on the table. If he did, he probably would actually die. But, that would be OK. At least he made it to Thanksgiving and would die happy knowing he had a place to go and a friend who cared for him. So he decided he would eat the dinner – everything – and if he died, then it was God’s will.
“Well, he began eating and the food made both of us really high from the tryptophan in the turkey. Especially because both of us did not eat all day long and we were making all these jokes about dying. Then he actually started to fade away in front of me. He turned pure white grayish and slumped over. I thought, ‘Oh my God! He really is dying.’
“Then I saw this incredible white spinning light appear on his left shoulder as he was falling over toward me in his chair. I thought, “My God! I can see his soul leaving his body! Maybe it was an angel who had come for him!”
“In any event, the light was so beautiful and lovely, that I stood up without thinking and thought, ‘Take me! I’ll go and he can stay!’ I so desperately wanted to go into that light and be with it. Suddenly, I was having an NDE with Phillip in a space that I can only describe as heaven. It was simply a pure whiteness of light just like in the movies. No visuals at all. Just white light everywhere.
“Then, I was back in my body. Phillip sat straight up and was back in his body. He was muttering that he guessed he just couldn’t die.
“Then next day, when I awoke, I felt two powerful presences. It was like four pairs of hands on my shoulders: two on each side holding me in my body. I felt two very powerful angels or spirits behind me just resting their ‘hands’ on my back and shoulders and grounding me back into this reality. I cried, even sobbed, that I had come back here. I was actually depressed for some time. I was thinking how wonderful death was and how awful it was to come back.
6. Dr. Joan Borysenko and Her Son’s Shared Death Experience of Her Dying Mother
The following account comes from Dr. Joan Borysenko, a psychologist and author, who had an interesting experience with her son when her mother lay dying. She and her son had a shared death experience with Dr. Borysenko’s dying mother. Their experience was profiled in Eliot Jay Rosen’s documentary entitled, Conscious Dying: Preparing Now For A Healing Passage. The following is the experience in Dr. Borysenko’s own words:
“It was about three in the morning at the time of her passing and we said ‘goodbye’ to each other for the last time at about midnight and then she’d gone to sleep. And my son, Justin, who was about twenty at that time, and I, were sitting with her. We were on opposite sides of her bed. I was having a quiet time. I was just praying, meditating, and my eyes were closed. All of a sudden, I had a very vivid vision. I opened my eyes after this vision and the whole room seemed to be made out of light. I know that might be hard to understand, but it was like everything was made of particles of light: my mother and the bed and the ceiling. Everything was so beautiful. I looked across the bed and I saw my son Justin. And Justin was weeping. Tears were just streaming down his face and he had this wonderful, soft look, this look of awe on his face.
“And he said to me, ‘Mom, the room is filled with light. Can you see it?’
“And, boy, I said, ‘Yeah, I see it. I see the light.’
“And he said, ‘It’s Grandma. Grandma is holding open the door to eternity for us, so that we can catch a glimpse.’
“And then he went on, he looked at me with so much love and he said, ‘You know, Grandma was a very great soul. She came to this world and she took a role. She took a part much smaller than the wisdom in her soul, so that you can have something to push against; you can have something to resist and become fully who you are.'” (Dr. Joan Borysenko)
7. Links to Shared Death Experience Articles, Videos and Books
The Official Site of Dr. Raymond Moody – www.lifeafterlife.com
Dr. Raymond Moody’s Glimpses of Eternity Website – www.glimpsesofeternity.com
The Shared Crossing Project – www.sharedcrossing.com
Dr. Raymond Moody on Shared Death Experiences (15 min. Video excerpt from IANDS 2011 Conference) – www.youtube.com
Dr. Raymond Moody Interview with Paul Perry on Shared Death Experiences (Video) – www.youtube.com
The Art of Dying (book by Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick) – www.amazon.com
Glimpses of Eternity: An Investigation Into Shared Death Experiences (book by Dr. Raymond Moody) – www.amazon.com
Beyond Goodbye: An Extraordinary True Story of a Shared Death Experience (book by Annie Cap) – www.amazon.com