Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 06/17/2012

Shared Near Death Experiences: The newest arena for ancient death research

Stanislav Grof takes a few minutes out of his day with me to expand on his views of the possibility of life after death. Photo by JGP.

Following our child’s physical death, more than any other time in our lives, we look for assurances of life after death — or existence after death, if not “life” as we understand it. We need a lifeboat to cope. Something to hang onto by our fingernails.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies (San Francisco). He is a renown NDE researcher, and he expressed what many of us believe in this way: “In denying the possibility of existence after death, we are denying death as an event with far-reaching psychological, philosophical and spiritual implications for human life.”

“Shared near death experiences” is the latest buzz phrase in near death experience (NDE) research circles, introduced recently by Dr. Raymond Moody. It refers to the experience of “sharing” the dying person’s ability, for example, to see dead “guides” who come to a deathbed to help the dying “cross over.”  Researchers like Grof, author of   The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and the Mystery of Death  are expressing a keen interest in further research in this area. However, tell most psychologists or psychiatrists that you’ve had a mystical or spiritual shared NDE experience, and in very short order, you’ll intuitively understand that your  “grief session” has turned into a “therapy session” to address  a troubling mental “pathology”; that’s understandable (they’ll assure you) due to your grief and inability to cope with a family death.

Tell a psychiatrist that, because of your psycho-spiritual experience, you are closer to an understanding of the significant transformative state that you, via your dead or dying loved one, entered into. They’ll most likely ask if you often hear voices in your head when no one else is in the room? Or have you gone on any new medications lately? Try to explain the certainty that you now possess that your loved one (and you) has an innermost divine core within, which is part of the creative energy of the greater universe – explain that to someone whose science and foundation is built around a definable EGO, which is the study of conscious consciousness, not intuition and soul knowledge.

Because we are stuck in 20th century thinking about death, we give it a materialistic, scientific value. With death, all life and consciousness ceases to exist. We don’t take spirituality seriously; it’s relegated to “parapsychology” researchers or clinicians. Instead, we’re prompted to make a beautiful corpse, acceptable for public viewing and disposal. There is no mainstream study of how to prepare for the reunification with a higher plane. We should, however, acknowledge Hospice workers – the best at this type of support — for stepping in when funding allows; but even then, dying assistance is provided when the person is actively dying, not just preparing for a future trip with the mindfulness of an eventual death of the body.

If we look behind us, to ancient or pre-industrial times, we believed then that our purpose or journey was not limited by the brain’s ability to direct the processing of oxygen. In those times, there was an intense interest in both dying and the expected afterlife, and “visitations” were accepted as an integral part of everyday life. There was effective human support for dying, and rites of passage which involved spending quality time with the dead body.

Now, I think we’re getting to the top of the 20th century “death science”  ladder only to find out it’s propped against the wrong wall. The more I study NDE research, and the more time I’ve spent counseling the dying, or the grieving survivors left behind, the more firmly I believe in pre-cognition of death, shared death experiences, and the continuation of cosmic existence after death of a physical host body.

Reality is, regardless of what anyone thinks about it. The answers will be provided in time to us all. However, even now, this bereaved parent lives in a reality that promises eventual reunification and understanding.

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