You may have never heard about shared death or near-death experiences, as they are not nearly as well known as near-death experiences (NDEs) as a whole. However, these shared experiences are a very important piece of the evidential puzzle as regards the existence of life after death and the reality of the world that NDErs experience.
In a shared death or near-death experience, someone who is present at the death or near-death of another person will actually perceive along with them many of the elements that are common features of NDEs. The living person may float above their body, see a beautiful light, and perceive other deceased loved ones who’ve come to escort the newly dead. They may even participate in the life review of the dead or dying person. It is as though the healthy, living person is for a few moments caught up into the same spiritual world experienced by the one who is crossing over into death. The existence of these experiences is very important because it shows that certain skeptical explanations for NDEs–that they are mere hallucinations of a dying brain, for example–cannot be correct, since the living person sharing the experience in these cases certainly does not have a dying brain!
An excellent overview of shared death experiences is given by Dr. Raymond Moody in his book Glimpses of Eternity, where he not only provides many examples of people’s experiences with this phenomenon but also notes that they are much more common than their lack of press would lead one to believe. In his lectures around the world, Moody has found that 5 to 10% of the members of his audiences have had such experiences, making them only slightly less common among his audience members than the near-death experiences he’s best known for writing about.
What sets Scarlett Heinbuch’s case apart is that she actually shared the NDE of a man she had never met, a man who later became her husband. Heinbuch was trained as a Reiki energy healer, and through an unexpected series of events, she found herself at the hospital bedside of a man in a coma who was expected to die within days.
Though this man named David was a stranger to her, she felt led to lay hands on him, and at the beginning of one of their healing sessions, she suddenly found herself coming out of her body and transported to what she could only assume was heaven. “There was nothing but love, complete and total peace,” she says. Eventually, she became aware that the spirit of the man she’d been working on was there in that place with her. “I was overjoyed to see him and he was jubilant to see me,” she writes. “We were talking telepathically–communing with our minds. I felt I had arrived home with my other half.”
Heinbuch also experienced something many other NDErs have reported: a sudden rush of knowledge, as she became aware of the answers to all the spiritual questions she’d ever had. She knew what life was about, and she knew that this man David was her “mate from the forever time.” She was also able to see as David showed her the events of his own recent life and the feelings that had accompanied them.
And then, suddenly, she was back in her body. She was back in the world where David was still a man in a coma, and she was just a healer wondering if her efforts were going to make any difference to him in his dire state.
One of the brilliant aspects of Heinbuch’s book Waking Up to Love is the way she leads us through her story exactly as she lived it, with all of the astonishment and sheer uncertainty it entailed. I mean, what do you do when, for all anyone else knows, you’ve never met this person, and yet you’ve experienced heaven with them and spoken to them on a spiritual level that most of us only ever dream of being able to communicate with one another? And, most puzzling of all, what do you do when that person, against all medical prognoses, wakes up? How do you interact with someone whom you know so deeply on a spiritual level but whom you’ve never actually had two words with in physical life?
Heinbuch is a very gifted writer, and she ably carries the reader along on her journey of puzzlement and discovery. In fact, the pacing of her book is so good that I could hardly put it down. I started it one Sunday morning and had it finished by that evening.
Scarlett Heinbuch’s Waking Up to Love is a highly personal, candid memoir about an extraordinary meeting between soul mates, as well as the power of selfless, faith-filled love. It is a thoroughly engrossing read, and it is also yet another marvelous piece of evidence that life–and love–stretch far beyond the bounds of this physical existence.