GREETINGS: It's only 5:30 pm and already the sky is black as pitch, the temp warm - unusually so for this time of year - and I find myself back at my computer to handle another question a fine friend asked. You are all friends, you know, and each question sent to me represents another opportunity for souls to connect, to speak, to share, to search and seek.
I've been writing this column since June of 2003. It was Kevin William's idea initially. I had been writing columns for "Vital Signs" mini-magazine, a publication of IANDS, for many years and had retired the post. All those past IANDS columns are now available on a CD through them. If you are interested, plug into their website at www.iands.org and purchase a copy. Interestingly, I began also in a June month for IANDS - the year 1981. That means I've been doing one kind of column or another about near-death and related states for two and a half decades. Never stopped to tally the years....I just keep doing it because it feels right to serve in this manner and to lend a helping hand.
This weekend is Christmas. My husband and I drive to Roanoke to be with his mother and his twin brother Tony and wife Bev. It's our first Christmas without his father. He died unexpectedly and was buried last month with full military honors. We get to be Grief Angels - for the family and for each other. The holidays are magical in so many ways. Two aunts of mine who were important during my growing years also passed. This year, especially in our family and perhaps in yours, life and death mix together and sing within the same chorus of sweet music, bright lights, and the depths of darkness. I witnessed during my three near-death experiences how wondrous darkness is, the counter-point to light, both of them aspects of The Creator's palette as our potential is mapped and colored. I am at home with both swings of existence, as we trade in substance and form between the physical and the spiritual.
I send to you all many blessings and much love. Another year comes. I will continue with these columns throughout 2007. We'll see after that.
Special thanks to Kevin Williams and my webmaster, Steff. They are incredible people with incredible talent, both of them heroes in my book. So, here we go - another question with another answer. Hugs, PMH
QUESTION: "I have a friend who has written a very nice, thoughtful piece about the lives lost on the plane that recently went down near Lexington, Kentucky. Interestingly, his setting is the collective spiritual experience of passengers immediately after their deaths. He asked me to read it and, among other things, specifically comment on one aspect we've learned from near-death experiences: he has their spirits proceeding as a group through the tunnel.
"I told him the group aspect bothered me, that so far as I know the transition is always completely solitary - i.e., even though they died simultaneously, each spirit would proceed individually through a personal tunnel, not in company of any others. Do you recall ever encountering an NDE reporting the experience of more than one person at a time? The nature of the subject seems to inherently exclude group reports, but if any exception exists, I'd like to share it with my friend. There's a lot of love and caring in his motivation. Thanks."....Don
ANSWER: Don, I originally replied to your question last September. As I look over what I sent to you, I see where I assumed the plane crash you were referring to had to do with the tragedy of September 11. In rereading my reply, I think I may have made a mistake, so, I am answering you again.
There are records of mutual and collective "exits," but not in any kind of tunnel, at least not in any research I am familiar with. I urge you to read "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death Experiences." If you don't have a copy, I think IANDS still has a few left to sell, or you might try your library. There are several sections in the book where I talk about shared, mutual, and group deaths/near-death experiences. For instance, on page 164 and 165 I give a few examples - the first where two friends drowned together and had virtually the same near-death experience in virtually the same way. The second is of an entire crew of twenty firefighters who were trapped by flames and could not escape. All of them suffocated to death, only to be rescued when hope was lost and resuscitated. What is so fascinating about the firefighters is that each one, unbeknownst to the others and in separate hospital rooms, described the same scene of seeing each other leave their bodies and float on up into the air, communicating with each other, noting things in particular - that each one precisely remembered and in detail. They died as a group and they ascended as a group. I have run across this same basic story about relatives who were killed together, as told by those who survived or survived long enough to tell what happened before they too died.
These reports concern leaving the body and immediately after. Of the two friends who drowned together, they each described not only leaving their bodies in the same manner but of witnessing their funerals - although each funeral was of a separate nature with separate families. Since they both were revived, the funerals never happened - but they certainly could have and would have been held in the manner seen.
So what does this tell us? Well, it suggests and strongly so, that people can die together and experience the death process together and leave their bodies together, and can share various aspects of what comes next in a similar fashion. Thus, the idea of your friend that passengers of a crashed airplane could have ascended as a collective is a good one and is grounded in research. Yes, most of us die in a singletary event, our experience our own; yet, even though it can be otherwise (like in a group or a collective), there is nothing to deny that eventually we do indeed separate and are drawn to our individual paths and histories.
However, the idea that a large group of airplane passengers might all leave in the same tunnel, going the same direction, in the same manner, is a little far-fetched. I say that because the "tunnel" component of near-death states is not all that common. It could happen but it's not that likely.
In the original Gallup Poll done in 1982 to determine if many people were even having near-death experiences, and if they were, what were their experiences like.....only 9% of the people reported anything like a tunnel. Only 9%. It wasn't until the media sensationalized Dr. Raymond Moody's book, "Life After Life," that "tunnels" suddenly became popular and more people started to report them. As you know, words are difficult to find to describe what experiencers go through. They really grapple for what words to use and how to say what they saw. Suddenly, thanks to the media, they had a word, "tunnel," that seemed to fit when no other word would. Right afterward, there was a rush to use the word "tunnel" as if it were now a measuring "rod" to determine if an experiencer's episode was truly a valid one. Sad, but true. I've even witnessed experiencers change their description of what happened to them, just so their episode would be "legitimate." They weren't lying, per se - they were trying to be accepted in the only way they knew how. Yes, some people really do experience tunnels in their episode, adults and children; but don't confuse the few who do with the many who do not.
As far as the situation of September 11 and what might have happened to the thousands of souls who exited at the same time, I suggest that you go to my website at www.pmhatwater.com and read my free e-book entitled "The Challenge of September 11." It's an accurate description of what I witnessed when I traveled to New York City as a soul, to help my fellow souls. What of my story could be verified, has been.
Thank you all so much for reading my columns and sending me more questions. God bless you, each one. PMH