Stories of life, death and faith: ‘To Heaven and Back’

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One woman is under water and without oxygen for 30 minutes after a kayaking accident. Another has end-stage cancer. A teenage boy suffers heart failure.

On the brink of death, all three tell stories of leaving their bodies, going to heaven and coming back.

For each, their story raises questions: Is heaven real? What does it feel like to die?

And for each, their answer — airing Sunday on CNN's "To Heaven and Back" — will be grounded in their experience. These are their accounts:

MARY NEAL

It was January 14, 1999, and Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, had surprised her husband, Bill, with a week-long kayaking trip with friends in the Los Rios Region of Chile.

It had been a good trip. The couple spent the week enjoying people, the food and the culture.

But that morning, Neal's husband wasn't feeling well. So he stayed behind while she joined their friends on a section of river well known for its waterfalls and drops of 10 to 15 feet.

"When I first put (afloat) on the river, I didn't feel quite right," she said.

Neal crested at the top of the first big drop in the river. She looked down into what she later described as a bottomless pit.

Then she went over.

Written By: Randi Kaye and Chelsea J. Carter
continue to source article at cnn.com

18 COMMENTS

  1. So, these people ALMOST died and had hallucinations while they were oxygen deprived and approaching death? Then, they were revived and recounted the hallucinations? Wow. powerful stuff. Next we will hear from Shirley McClain who was abducted by aliens while she slept. Then I will take my daughter to practice her parallel parking and eat dinner and go to bed.

    • In reply to #1 by crookedshoes:

      So, these people ALMOST died and had hallucinations while they were oxygen deprived and approaching death? Then, they were revived and recounted the hallucinations?

      We don’t even have a way to establish that they had those hallucinations, only that they relate memories of having hallucinations. In some cases those memories may be constructed post facto during the recovery process while their brains are working around the discontinuity produced by the trauma. The process of getting started again, and the typically associated confusion, is often left out of these stories.

      • In reply to #8 by Quine:

        In reply to #1 by crookedshoes:

        So, these people ALMOST died and had hallucinations while they were oxygen deprived and approaching death? Then, they were revived and recounted the hallucinations?

        We don’t even have a way to establish that they had those hallucinations, only that they relate memo…

        Yep it always annoys me that these cases are reported as” “I heard …, I saw …, I went … ” when the accurate description is “I woke up and I recalled hearing …, seeing …, and going … ” Even more annoying when the story is “The doctors said I was brain dead but I heard, I saw, ….”. In fact more likely is “I woke up and I was really confused but after a few days I recalled … “

        Michael

  2. My guess – CNN is riding the thermals of newly released trailer for ‘Heaven is for Real’, based on the popular book of same name. Killer ratings via feel good stories – t’is what the network wants under the tree / in the stocking.

  3. What ridiculous sturm und drang, when you can have the same “transcendent” experiences from LSD, lack of oxygen, high altitude, fever, ‘shrooms, fasting, dehydration, concussions…

    Talk about not knowing the difference between subjective and objective evidence. Since when do personal anecdotes/hallucinations count as evidence? Do these people think the imaginary friend they had at age 3 really existed? You’d think doctors or surgeons, with at least a semblance of a scientific education, would know better, but I guess not.

  4. So the first hallucinater had a premonition of her son’s death and did literally nothing about it? And what task could he possibly have achieved by that age? I have a particular dislike for predictions that have no predictive value.

    The lack of curiosity about any of the things she claims to have experienced is the most staggering thing about this, but then maybe prolonged oxygen deprivation can damage the brain’s normal investigative instincts…

      • In reply to #11 by Nitya:

        I really like that sentence. I’ll have to store it up for later use, when the need arises. :-)

        =) Of course astrology is the worst perpetrator, even when it is actually making predictions (as opposed to giving advice, which is its usual currency).

  5. Is heaven real? No chance, but because these people have been made aware of it’s existence, then during the point of oxygen starvation that is the thing that their brain draws them to.

  6. The other bizarre thing is that all 3 stories feature other close relatives or friends dieing prematurely. Can’t Mary Neal see that the same god that apparently saved her, later killed her son in a car crash?

    This is wishful thinking and woo worked up into a 17 year old’s school essay. CNN should be ashamed.

  7. One of the striking things is that these superbeings the half-dead encounter never say anything interesting. It would be beneath their dignity, I expect to give you a betting tip, but they might give a hint about the outcome of the civil war in Syria, or something weighty like that.

  8. All of these people were religious, by the way. Isn’t it interesting that they all saw things that confirmed their beliefs? The Christians talking with Jesus, for example.

    I bet it’s never happened that a Christian who had a near death experience saw Mohammed or vice versa.

  9. Why Jesus? Why not Mohammad, Ram or Moses. Our imagination is so much limited to which religion we are born into. She felt she is going to die but brain was not completely dead and created these delusions based on the child hood memories she was raised with. Why Jesus need to tell her to get her husband checked with doctor. Why Jesus can’t take care of it himself. At old age having medical issues is quite normal.

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