A Slender Thread: Near Death Experiences
Life After Life
Personal accounts from people who claim to have had near-death experiences can be found far and wide. Normally, these stories tell of a white light beckoning them to enter a tunnel. Once inside this beacon of light, the person experiences a sense of peace and contentment. In these versions of events, all's well that ends well. This is not, however, always the case.
Now and then a story will fly in the face of all that we have heard before. The following tale of one man's glimpse into the afterlife is not filled with benevolence and serenity. His experience was not one of being welcomed by loved ones or celestial beings. Rather, he was forced to look into the terrifying window of the most nightmarish of places. He had visited, what he believed to be, Hell.
This story came my way, as many do, via social media. I am constantly sending out requests for real-life experiences and am seldom disappointed with the responses I receive. The following account is no exception.
For much of his life, George Workman had kept to himself. He had never felt the need to surround himself with friends. He didn't consider himself a mean person, he just didn't like people and they seemed to feel the same way about him.
George had worked as a postal carrier for over twenty years before a heart condition had forced him into early retirement. He had loved his job. It had allowed him to earn a decent living while rarely having to interact with his co-workers. Now that he was retired, he spent his days reading and gardening. Life was good.
One thing that George had zero tolerance for was religion. His wrath would rain down on any poor soul who made the mistake of ringing his doorbell with the intention of ministering to him. George took great pleasure in railing against them and anything they believed in. He considered himself an equal opportunity offender. He had even posted a sign outside his door warning "religious fanatics" to stay off of his property.
The only group that George had a lower opinion of than the pious was children. He couldn't stand how noisy they were. When kids would ride their bikes up and down the street he would sit on his porch and watch them, just waiting for one of them to get too close to his yard so he could chase them away. George may not have thought of himself as mean, but everyone else did.
George had no family to speak of. His parents were both long dead. He had a sister who lived nearby, but they had not spoken to each other in years. He had dated only a couple of women in his life, but the relationships never worked out. He had accepted that he would live his life as a bachelor.
Aside from reading and gardening, George couldn't think of many things that he enjoyed doing in those days after he retired. He never cared for animals, they were almost as bothersome as children. He had trapped many a stray cat and taken the animal, cage and all, to the river and submerged it until the animal had drowned. He did the same thing with raccoons and possums. Anything he trapped would be disposed of in this cruel fashion.
It was at the age of sixty-two that George Workman's life would be changed forever. This was when he suffered three heart attacks in one day. That he lived through such trauma is a miracle in itself, but it's the story that he tells of his time between life and death that makes this so incredible.
When George had his first heart attack on that day in September, he knew immediately what was happening. His left arm had gone completely numb as he was working in his garden. When he attempted to stand up, he found that he had no strength in his legs. He couldn't catch his breath and sweat was pouring off of him.
Since George couldn't stand, he crawled across his yard in an effort to reach the back door. He hoped that he would be able to pull himself inside and phone for help. The last thing he remembers is looking up at the sun and then laying down in the grass. It was then that his nightmare had begun.
He didn't know it at the time, but one of his neighbors had seen George sprawled, face down, on the lawn. The man had called 911 and waited by George's side until emergency personnel arrived.
Paramedics quickly determined that George had no measurable vital signs. They worked on him right there in the yard until they found a heartbeat. He was then taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
George's ordeal was only just beginning. He would go on to suffer two additional heart attacks while in surgery. At one point, he had died on the operating table and had to be resuscitated. George had no way of knowing what was happening to his body, but he can relate exactly what his soul was experiencing. The story he tells is something out of a horror movie.
George remembers waking up on the lawn. The sun had gone down and dark clouds had filled the sky. He felt fine at this point so he got up and tried to walk to his house, but something was holding him back. He suddenly found himself surrounded by dark figures he could not identify. All he knew was that they were faceless masses whose only recognizable features were arms and legs.
As he attempted to walk, the figures grabbed at his legs and pulled him back down to the ground. He would stand up only to be dragged down again and again. George began to shout at them to let him go. In spite of the fact that they had no faces, he could hear them laughing at him as he begged to be released.
The figures began to scratch George as he lay on the ground. During the attack, George noticed that the scene around him was changing. Even though he had been lying in grass when he first woke up, he now found himself on jagged rocks that were cutting deeply into his skin. The sky was completely black, but somehow he could still see everything around him.
As he watched, the dark figures began to take on more distinctive forms. George could now see that they had elongated faces and sharp teeth that protruded from their mouths. They also possessed fully formed eyes that blazed like fire.
George remembers feeling fear like none he had ever experienced. He felt with every fiber of his being that what was happening to him was real. His skin burned from all of the wounds that had been inflicted upon him. He knew that he had to escape his assailants or they would surely kill him.
When George was finally allowed to stand up, he took off running into the darkness. He ran until he couldn't take another step only to find that he was in exactly the same place from which he had started. There was no way out. Every road led back to the jagged rocks and the terrifying creatures who seemed to exist only to torment anyone they encountered.
The dark figures that George now felt sure were demons, descended upon him and beat him mercilessly. The pain was so excruciating that George hoped that death would take him and end his suffering. Not knowing what else to do, he dropped to his knees and did something that he had never done before in his life--he prayed.
As the demons continued to pummel George, he prayed for forgiveness from Jesus. He begged for a second chance at life. He made every promise to do good that he could think of. He swore to change his ways and be a better person.
George noticed that the demons were decreasing in numbers the longer he prayed. He doesn't know how much time passed, it could have been minutes or hours, but by the time he had said his peace all of his tormentors were gone.
As the last of the demons faded from sight, the sun suddenly appeared in the sky. George could see its bright light shining down on him. The next thing he remembers is hearing someone calling out his name. He opened his eyes and found that he was lying on a gurney in the hospital.
George was in the recovery room following his harrowing experiences on the operating table. Surgeons had managed to pull him back from the brink of death. Although he had suffered damage to his heart that should have ended is life, George felt more alive than he had ever been.
The hospital staff marveled at George's progress. He recovered much faster than they thought possible. George was determined to get better and make good on his promises. He would prove that his had been a life worth saving. He would make a difference in the world.
Following his release from the hospital, George began attending a local church twice a week. He eventually became a deacon. George also volunteered his time ministering at a local homeless shelter. He would go anywhere he thought he could be of help. He had a story to tell and he shared it freely with anyone who would listen.
George believes, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he had been made to experience a taste of Hell so that he could turn his life around before it was too late. There are many who don't believe him and he accepts that without judgment. He alone knows the truth.
Whatever happened to George that day, he's a better man for it. No longer a miserable curmudgeon, he is now everyone's friend. He would give the shirt off of his back to anyone in need with no questions asked.
George is kind to both children and animals alike. He even settled down and married a woman he met at church. Together, they adopted a pair of cats from the local animal shelter. He is proud to say that he spoils them rotten.
If George didn't visit Hell, what could have caused his complete change in personality? Did he simply have a nightmare that had seemed so real that it had frightened him into being a better person? If that was the case, perhaps the anesthesia caused him to conjure up the demons that had seemed so real.
Even if those scenarios are true, what made George think that praying would do him any good considering that he had never believed in such things? George can't explain why anything happened the way it did. He simply accepts it for what it was for him--a new lease on life.
Another Place and Time
My father-in-law, Larry, had a near death experience that has haunted him ever since. Although he wasn't attacked by demons, neither did he experience anything that could be described as joyful. This is his account of his time in a world between life and whatever comes after.
In February of 2014, Larry was admitted into a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina in order to undergo shoulder replacement surgery. The procedure went off without a hitch, but three days into his recovery it was clear that something was wrong.
It was soon determined that his appendix had burst causing dangerous toxins to flood into his bloodstream. He was rushed into surgery where an emergency appendectomy was performed.
As infection ravaged his body, he was pronounced dead twice during the twenty days he spent in the hospital's intensive care unit. During both instances, he remembers his soul leaving his body. Larry was not at all prepared for the strange events that would follow.
The place where his soul ended up was what he assumed to be purgatory. He described everything as being one dimensional, flat with absolutely no depth. There were no women anywhere to be found--only men. There were no colors other than brown and beige. Everything around him appeared to be thousands of years old.
Most of the men that he encountered sported long beards. He saw dogs with long, skinny tails that looked like they had stepped out of a page from Egyptian history. In fact, everything around him suggested that his soul had somehow traveled back in time to ancient Egypt.
My father-in-law has never studied or shown any interest, one way or the other, in ancient times. He can't explain why those images appeared to him or why he had found himself among the ancients during the periods when he was clinically dead.
The one thing about his stay in purgatory that worried him the most was the length of time that everyone else had apparently been exiled there. The men he encountered seemed to have all been stuck in this ancient world for thousands of years. Even as he was eventually freed to return to his body, the others remained behind to continue their endless wait.
He said later that his biggest fear had been not being allowed to move on. He hadn't cared at the time whether he returned to Earth or departed for parts unknown. He only knew that he didn't wish to be trapped with the hordes of lost souls who seemed to have been forgotten by time.