I've been doing some reading and re-charging batteries. One book I looked at is Glimpses of Eternity, Raymond Moody's latest collection of NDE anecdotes. This describes what he calls 'shared death experiences', where family and friends of a sick person themselves experience some kind of event at the moment of the patient's passing. Most probably fall into the category of 'deathbed visions'. However there are also a few near-death experiences in which the living get to see what the dying are experiencing.
This addressed a question I've been asking about the life panorama, which appears both in NDE reports and in communications through mediums. It's said that you can access your entire life, and that it's spread out in front of you like a diorama, so you can enter into each memory and relive it. But I wondered, does that mean anyone can access the same memories? Are you an open book for anyone you associate with to read? And if so, how would you feel about that?
The concept of privacy does seem to exist in afterlife accounts, where people describe being able to withdraw from company if they feel the need. On the other hand, when they are with others they can't conceal anything they are thinking, which is as obvious as if they were jabbering out loud.
Here's a an account given to Moody by a woman whose shared life review with her husband was vivid and contained images and events that she had previously been unaware of. It occurred when her husband died of cancer.
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'. 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.
Quite a striking account. I'm struck by the statement that yes, some of it was 'embarrassing and personal' but at the same time there was no need for privacy. I tend to assume that when the time comes we won't be judgmental about our private goings on, or those of other people - and that we'll see all that in a different light.
Here's another, by a woman in her seventies describing her experience of tending to her dying mother. As her mother died the light in the room suddenly became much brighter and more intense and she felt a rocking motion through her whole body. She then found herself seeing the room from a diferent 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 to, and she sure recognised 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 favourite 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.
I felt great tenderness from my mother and father. This entire event overflowed with love and kindness. Since that day I wonder: Is the world we live in just a figment of our imagination?
Glimpses of Eternity is quite a slim volume, and much of the later part is taken up with old research into deathbed-visions. So it seems there's not a lot of material to make an identifiable category of shared NDEs. I certainly haven't come across anything like it before and I suspect it's quite rare. But I'd be interested to hear of any other experiences like these.