Writing About Life After Death

Hello S.E. friends, Gwen with you today. I’ve been absent for a while because of a move across the country. Now that I’m settled, it’s good to be sharing ideas with you again.

You may recall that my prior post focused on the last moments of life. Today I continue that thread and look into the concept of life after death. Through our characters, many of us touch into this mystical realm when we include a death scene. Perhaps there’s a re-encounter with deceased loved ones or angels, then again, if we don’t like our character, maybe he or she faces a judgement. We write what our story needs and sometimes what we as writers need.

On a personal note, when I was a child, my mom told me a story that stirred an interest in the heavenly world. She relayed that my great aunt was on her deathbed when suddenly she sat up, reached out, and said, “Oh look, the angels have arrived,” and with those words she succumbed.

Did she see angels? My mom never doubted that she did, and when mom described the scene, she always mentioned how beautiful my aunt was as she took her last breath. This story of angels coming for my aunt found a special place in my child’s heart. Eventually, it led me to dig deep and research the life after death phenomenon, the findings of which eventually were expressed in my stories.   

Have you had a similar journey and wondered, could it be? Could it be that life extends beyond death? Though our religious faith may answer that question for many of us, let’s look at some of the research evidence.

Dr. Raymond Moody, MD, PhD is famous for his in-depth research into near-death experiences. His work with thousands of individuals, who officially died then came back to life, opened the door to the scientific basis for life after death. When he began his research, he was both a skeptic and an atheist. He claims neither now. And his conclusion? Consciousness survives death.   

Many have written memoirs describing their near death experience (NDE). But there are two physicians who have greatly influenced my understanding and writing – orthopaedic spine surgeon Dr. Mary Neal and neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander. Their personal accounts and subsequent analyses are stunning. Both have added notable credibility to this topic.

In reading the books of the above three doctors and several memoirs of people reporting a NDE, certain universal characteristics emerge that are useful for writers to know. Those who have died and then returned to life, often describe situations that include:

  • Floating above their body and viewing the scene around their unconscious form
  • Ascending through a dark tunnel and moving towards light
  • Meeting spiritual beings
  • Encountering a loving presence
  • Reuniting with deceased relatives and friends and sometimes beloved pets
  • Experiencing a connectedness with all of creation
  • Viewing scenes of one’s life and assessing what has been learned or not
  • Believing the experience to be more real than physical life, and post-NDE  
  • Feeling unconditional love for everyone.

These characteristics are not exhaustive, but they are common. A couple of years ago, I met a gentleman who had experienced two NDEs. He recounted his fatal heart attacks with vivacious joy and explained that he had no fear of death. “I’ve already died twice,” he said, “and it was simple. Coming back was the hardest part of the experience because I wanted to stay.” I asked why, and he referred to an all-consuming love and then added, “It was beautiful in ways I cannot adequately explain.” This man’s experience echoes that of countless others.

How about you? Have you experienced a NDE or written about life after death? I’d love to know your experience and thoughts on this. Won’t you share with all of us?

Till our next visit, all the best!

73 thoughts on “Writing About Life After Death

  1. Hi Gwen, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences in this regard. I write a lot about death and the afterlife but not in the context your are meaning here. I am interested in real human NDE such as the ones you’ve described here and also the religious aspects, but I have not known any one who has been through one.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s a fascinating topic for sure, and like you, I’m very interested. Many of us write about the afterlife, so I thought it would be fun to actually provide some of the findings from doctors. I am struck by how universal the experiences are. Hopeful, right? Thank you, Robbie, for sharing. 😊

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  2. If consciousness didn’t survive death, how would there be ghosts? How would I explain the visits I get from my father and aunt, and hopefully, soon from my husband? Sadly, people cannot understand spirit unless they’ve had experiences with spirit. It’s one of those things that make people skeptical until it happens to them. I am clairsentient. I smell and feel spirit when it’s around. I also had an out of body incident after my father died, I visited him in heaven. And I’ll never forget the big thud I felt as I landed back into my body. That was the one and only time I had the privilege. I needed the closure and needed to know my dad was doing well. I can only hope I’m granted that with my husband. Also, I would like to add that sadly, I’ve been around too many loved ones at end of life. A few nights before my husband passed, he woke in the middle of night and began raising his arms and started calling out to his dead sister and daughter. I knew what this meant. I’d witnessed the same thing with my aunt who passed a few years ago. Shortly before she passed she was having a conversation with someone not on this earth. When she finished speaking I asked her who she was speaking to. She told me it was her mother. These incidents are real whether people choose to believe them or not. Hugs 🙂

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    • Thank you for sharing your amazing experiences, Debby. How beautiful, how precious. I often feel my parents nearby, an experience I cherish. There’s a sacredness to life that extends beyond what we see with our eyes. I hold it all in deep respect. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Dan. During these crazy times, I suspect most of us have wondered about this topic. For me, it’s comforting to read accounts of those who have traveled this path. Thanks so much for stopping by. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  3. What a cool post, Gwen. And thanks for the excellent summary of what people experience who’ve had an NDE. I used to work in hospice and witnessed many patients’ experiences of angels, reunions, and quite often music. My grandfather described a party with a band before he passed. I’m working on a book now about necromancy and hadn’t thought about including the death experience. Thanks for getting me thinking!

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  4. My mother had 3 NDE experiences before she made her final transition. I have read all the books you mentioned in addition to others and several articles. I know there is life after our physical death of the body. My grandmother used to say it was important to have quiet during the dying process; too much noise was disturbing to the soul. I have always thought of dying as the same as a birth…there is the light as we enter the world, angels guiding our new bodies into the arms of our mothers, the first breath, and the adjustment those first days in our new environment.
    Thank you for writing this article. It stimulated a lot of comments and touched each of us deeply.

    Liked by 3 people

    • How beautiful, Karen. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the image of an angel guiding our new bodies into the arms of our mothers. And I think your grandmother was so wise. I think we need quiet for our journey, and if loved ones can be by our side, how beautiful. 💗

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  5. My mum had a NDE. My sister had gone out with a friend when they were teenagers. (I’d left home some years before.) She had suffered with angina for years, and had had heart attacks. She said she suddenly found herself floating above her unconscious body. She thought @Oh, my goodness. If those girls come in and find my dead, what will happen? So she forced herself back. When my sister came home, she was conscious. I don’t remember what happened then, but she lived many more years afterwards.

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  6. I have not had an NDE experience, but I did meet with a medium once who told me things about my aunt and grandfather that she could not possibly know (as it was never on the internet…lol!). I also know someone who saw her great-grandfather’s spirit at her great-grandmother’s bedside when she passed. I have written about life after death in my Diasodz series, and my current WIP (book 6 in the series) focuses on one character’s journey after death. If you haven’t seen the movie, What Dreams May Come, I think you’ll like it. It’s all about the different stages of purgatory. I haven’t seen it in years, but it made a huge impression on me. Great post, Gwen. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Yvette, for sharing your stories. Powerful and so poignant! I can’t wait for your WIP and thought I haven’t seen the movie yet, I’ll surely watch it in the next few days. Thank you on all fronts. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

      • I watched the movie you recommended, and it was very thought-provoking. The final choice of the husband saved them all. Love is the only way. 💗

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  7. NDEs are a subject that fascinates me, Gwen. I have never written one myself (or experienced one) but I’ve read a number of books that use them, including one that made it the central focus of the plot.

    We lost a family member about five years ago. She didn’t have an NDE, but two days before she died she told me she had.a dream in which three people stood at the foot of her bed and told her they were there because they would be taking her on a journey soon. I always found that so comforting.

    Life after death is the cornerstone of my faith.

    Beautiful post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so, Mae, for sharing this personal story. Like you, it is a cornerstone of my faith as well. Science is coming around to what people have believed for time immortal. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Two of my family members experienced NDE. My grandmother saw her dad and husband come for her. My aunt, who was very stubborn, was in hospice, looked at the door and snapped to someone we couldn’t see, “I’m not ready yet. Go away.” And lived three more months.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much, Michele. I tend to include scenes in my stories and writing this post helped me clarify a few aspects. So much to think about, right? Have a wonderful weekend. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post and topic. It is dear to my heart and it does make it’s way into my writing often. I gravitate toward reading about it too in many forms. I have had that experience and can still picture it and remember the feeling. It offers hope in life and writing 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Excellent, thought-provoking post, Gwen. Hope the move went well. To answer your question, I have not personally experienced life after death, but I’ve been there as others have. I don’t fear death, either. Every part of my being knows I’ll reunite with my parents, pets, and other loved ones some day.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I love this post, Gwen. My experience with death was being with Rick when he took his last earthly breath. I can tell you, it was such a sacred event, much like giving birth. Angel’s wings brushed against my skin and I felt such an overwhelming sense of peace. Then I watched a mist float out of the room and out the side door. And now that he is beyond the veil, I still get communications from him. There IS life after this. The consciousness lives on with the cellular memories we accumulate. I have no fear of dying. I know there will be a host of Angels and loved ones to help me make the transition. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 4 people

    • What a blessed experience, Jan. So loving, so precious. I too believe there is life beyond this life. Often I feel the presence of loved ones, and their messages are most comforting. Thank you for sharing so deeply. 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve never had an NDE, but my mom was in a bad car accident once and had what might have been one. I’ve had a few incidents that might have been paranormal/ghostly though, and have written about ghosts a few times.

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    • Thank you, Jeanne. I’ve not had an NDE either, but I’ve had several experiences of unconscious awareness. I’d love to know more about your paranormal experiences. Fascinating! 😊

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      • They weren’t real exciting, and may not really be paranormal, but they are odd. Once when I was younger I thought I saw the tail of my family’s recently passed cat, Gizmo, go by across the living room window. It startled me so much, I gasped and pointed and cried out “I just saw Gizmo’s tail!” Then a few years later, around Christmas and not long after my aunt Carol passed, I heard a musical carousel horse Christmas ornament play a few notes. Carol was born a couple of days before Christmas. Then a couple of years ago, at my old apartment, I noticed a pair of cat salt and pepper shakers I have were turned facing each other. I don’t know how long they were like that before I noticed, but both my brother and my mom both swear they didn’t do it and maintenance hadn’t been in for a long time. This was not long after my aunt Betty had passed, and she had given me those salt and pepper shakers as a Christmas gift one year.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Wow, Jeanne. I’d say there was something to these experiences. I had an uncle by marriage who was at his mother’s bedside when she passed away. There was a picture of her on the wall. It fell off, he turned to see what had happened, and when he turned back, (only seconds later) his mother was dead.

        Liked by 5 people

  13. Great post, Gwen, and I love the example you shared.
    I wrote a short piece entitled Seven Days for an anthology a few years back. That showed the journey after death following common Buddhist beliefs about the process.
    Having experienced NDE more than once, I’m surprised I haven’t written more of this in my fiction.
    Thanks for some added inspiration 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  14. I loved reading about your great aunt’s experience. One of my aunts had an NDE. The doctors had told the family she wouldn’t last the night, but she lived another five years. She told of seeing loved ones that had died before her and of being told it wasn’t her time.

    This is a fascinating subject to explore both in writing and in real life. Great post, Gwen.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you so much, Jill. These accounts give me comfort as well. I love reading about people’s experiences and their changed life after the experience. 💗

      Liked by 2 people

  15. An interesting topic. It’s such a comforting thought and can give that same comfort to others when it forms part of a novel. Glad you’re settled now and I hope this is the happiest of homes for you. x

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