Strange and Beautiful Stories of Near-Death Experiences
After I wrote a book about heaven, people started telling me about their own close encounters
By Mitch Albom, Author of
Faith, critics say, is belief without evidence. Nowhere is this truer than when we talk about heaven. An overwhelming number of human beings believe in the hereafter. Not one has indisputable proof.
But many have stories. Some are their own. Some are passed down. Some have been read. Some have been repeated. The best ones give you chills. But they all give you pause. And this much I can tell you:
There are more than you think.
As the writer of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, I have heard a great deal of stories about the afterlife. And with that book’s sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, now published, I am hearing them again.
It’s not like I’m a cleric. I have no religious training. But I did something 15 years ago that I am doing again now: putting out my own view of heaven, what it might look like, how it might work.
And when you do that, you get stories in return.
This doesn’t surprise me. My first imagining of heaven also came from someone else’s story -- my beloved Uncle Eddie, a barrel-chested, white-whiskered World War II vet. He would sit around the holiday dinner table and tell a tale of a fateful night, a night he was whisked into an operating room for surgery. Sometime during the procedure, he claimed, his soul lifted from his body and floated above the table. He looked down on the doctors and his earthly form. And he saw, huddled nearby, all his dead relatives waiting for him to join them.
“Oh my God, Uncle Ed, what did you do?” we would squeal.
“Do?” he’d respond. “I told them, ‘Get the hell out of here. I’m not ready for any of you yet.’”
And they flew away. Went back to where they came from. And he descended back into his body and lived years longer.
That was my first afterlife exposure. It made such an impression that, decades later, it became the basis of The Five People novel, in which a grizzled war veteran named Eddie is the main character.
Oftentimes, we are so overwhelmed by the experience that we don’t share these stories for fear of being dismissed as ultra-religious or just plain nutty.
What if heaven began with all that being explained to you so that you started your hereafter with a full understanding of your “here”?
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