After near-death experience, boy says heaven is real

A Nebraska boy named Colton Burpo was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery — and what he had to say after his recovery has people stunned:

There were things Colton did and things he said after the surgery that were out of the ordinary, but none of it made sense until a drive past the hospital four months after the surgery.

His Dad jokingly asked Colton if he wanted to go back to the hospital.

Colton’s response?   “You know Dad, the angels sang to me while I was there,” the boy said.

Todd remembers looking into the mirror and seeing his son’s face being dead serious, with no smile or notion that he was joking in return.

Todd looked at his wife and asked, “Has he ever talked about angels with you before?”

Colton claims that while on the operating table he went to heaven and that he met his great-grandfather Pop. Colton says his grandfather didn’t look like the man in the photo in his house, but instead looked like the man in the picture sent months later by his Grandmother, a young man without glasses.

But perhaps the most shocking part of Colton’s story, the baby he never knew about.

One day while Colton was playing he walked up to his mom, and out of the blue asked, “Mom, I have two sisters, you had a baby die in your tummy didn’t you?”

Sonja was shocked and overwhelmed by what her little boy had just said. When she asked him who told him, he said, “she did Mommy, she said she died in your tummy.”

Todd and Sonja had never told their son about the miscarriage Sonja had before Colton was born. After all, it was more than a four-year-old would ever need to know.

Colton went on to tell his mom that she was a girl and, “she looked familiar and she started giving me hugs and she was glad to have someone in her family up there.”

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32 responses to “After near-death experience, boy says heaven is real”

  1. I had heard this story earlier but have to admit, despite being a big fan of heaven, I find this story a bit odd and not believable.

    For starters, based on Catholic Theology, we will all be in “Spirit Form” until the last judgment, with the exception fo Jesus and Mary of course, who was bodily assumed.

    It would also be a bid odd for any family member, even a beloved spouse, to “Feel like it was nice to have a family member around.” Com’on, in the presence of God, the beautific vision, do you think any of us will be thinking about earth life, especially siblings we never met/knew on earth?

    Was it a “spiritual hug?”

    As for “up there”, heaven is “right here.”

    Not buying this one, but I do believe the kid might of had a spiritually enchanced dream of some sort, which went on to be embellished, probably by his non Catholic parents (making the assumtion this did not come from a Catholic).

  2. stories like this should be used more as a teaching moment for what the church believes and to teach the real truths of after life and not giving credence to some new age experiences (real or not). it would make a good show for Ghost Whispers if the show was still on the air!

  3. Re: Klaire’s comment, since the kid is only four, of course the story had to be told through the filter of the parents. I would be inclined to believe that he indeed had a near-death experience. The deceased sister may have expressed joy at seeing a family member. And the parents interpreted this as she “Felt like it was nice to have a family member around”. None of them are probably are schooled in expressing theological nuances. The story is what it is, a thought-provoking and hopeful hint of life beyond the grave.

  4. My nephew had a near death experience when he almost drowned. He was about age 4 and tells a very similar experience about the people he met – people he didn’t know but who were family members. He could describe them to a tee. So, I tend to believe this kid.

  5. Hmmm:

    I guess i have met four folks who confided in me by telling me their own “near-death” experiences. None of these, however, were children. My own father told me his before he did die (October 1977) even thought the event had occurred way back in 1946. I suspect he did not think anyone would believe him.

    I have also heard stories (and maybe some of you in long-term geriatric pastoral care can chime in) where older folks who are close to dying are visited by “angels.” In all of these cases, as in the “near-death” case of my father, from that point onward in time, the fear of death was no longer in control of that person.

    Do I believe in “near-death” experiences? Yes. I have had too many testify to their own not to believe that they happen.

  6. I believe this is likely true, although the great thing about being Catholic is that my faith does not hinge on it. There is the public teaching of the Church that is sufficient.

    Klaire, yes there is taught an intermediate state between death and the second coming, but we express that in time and space and maybe time and space are human constructs anyway.

    A really great book on death and afterlife was published last year by an academic theologian, Terence Nichols. He knocks it out of the park, and takes into consideration interreligious dialogue, modern science, and yes, NDEs.

  7. Trudy Harris, a Hospice nurse, who is an acquaintance of mine, has written a powerful book about the experiences of the dying called, “Glimpses of Heaven,” There is a sequel,
    “More Glimpses of Heaven.” She has given workshops to the deacons and lay ecclesial ministers in our diocese.

    Description (from Amazon)

    “Trudy Harris began her career with Hospice in 1981, eventually becoming the president of the Hospice Foundation for Caring. This collection of more than forty true stories of Harris’s patients offers readers an incredible glimpse at what lies beyond and what the living can learn from the dying. Her patients have described to her visions of angels and loved ones who have gone on before, the sounds of ethereal music, colors that did not exist on earth. She has been with hundreds of patients as they took their last breaths and knows the kinds of questions that both the dying and the loved ones they are leaving behind ask. • What do you say to a loved one who is dying? • What happens when we die? • How can you make a dying friend feel safe? • Does a dying person really see angels, hear music, or see friends and family members who have already died? Tender, heartbreaking, and eye-opening, Glimpses of Heaven offers a window into the world beyond and life after death.”

  8. i am sorry but as far as i know there is nothing in catholic tradition that affirms this near death experience. and even some recent talks by Pope Benedict on purgatory show how easily we project cultural patterns on after life. the church also goes so slowly with all visions etc because it understands how deep this goes on a psychological and psychic level, but those are still just part of nature and a part that we in the west are not that aware of, but it is not supernatural.

    People can believe it but at least back it up with something more than “i tend to believe it” or “I FEEL it is true”. As far as i can understand it is just a modern day form of snake oil sold to people.

    Do a quick web search and see how the Tibetans discover a newly reincarnated Lama among young boys. It is much more convincing than any near death experience is, so we should believe in reincarnation?

    it is sad that a catholic blog and other deacons are putting this stuff forth as something solid.

  9. Does the fact we can’t verify them mean we shouldn’t believe that Teresa of Avila had mystical experiences?, John of the Cross, Faustina?

  10. Norb…

    Shortly before he died, my Uncle Joe (Aunt Agnes’s husband) could be seen lying in bed, his eyes following invisible figures move through his room. He said that he saw his mother and his (deceased) brother, and at one point even called me “Johnny,” his brother’s name. The day he died, he sat up in bed and extended his arms, as if trying to embrace someone.

    From what people in hospice care have told me, these experiences are not that uncommon.

    Dcn. G.

  11. Mary, what is the criteria of the revelation we are given in the scriptures? what is the criteria of the church? what is the opinion of the saints themselves in this regard?

    St Paul says he would rather hear five good words that bring conversion, st John of the cross says a number of times to put NO faith in visions etc., st Teresa says to be very cautious in all this and to be humble to outside discernment so not to be deceived.
    the church holds that unless it leads to greater conversion of life and a certain dread and fear from the Alll Holiness of God that makes one cry for mercy and have greater faith in his grace then it is not a supernatural encounter.

    is it just a feel good experience that can easily be explained by any depth psychology or an encounter with the holiness of God that leads to real conversion? st Paul is clear in telling us that the evil one can come as an angel of perhaps this bright light at the moment of death is just as easily one last desperate act of satan to deceive us? it is not by accident that in the ‘hail mary’ we pray for the Holy Virgin to pray for us at the hour of death when we are so vulnerable and can easily be attacked.

    but if you and the deacons who believe in all this think it is of God and rooted in the Catholic tradition, then go for it and let me know how it works out for you at the moment of death !!

  12. I’ve searched far and wide for any definitive teaching from the church on near-death experiences (NDE). There doesn’t seem to be any.

    I suspect it does fall into the realm of “private revelation.” Like all these things, a little healthy skepticism can’t hurt.

    Dcn. G.

  13. Anthony, I don’t think anyone here is saying they “believe” in it the way we believe in Scripture, as revealed truth. As IC said previously, our faith doesn’t hinge on it being true. It is, nevertheless, something that interests us all, since we all have lost loved ones, and we all have to die someday.
    St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Thomas Aquinas, and many other saints had experiences just prior to death of glimpses of the hereafter. I don’t think being interested in near death experiences is something bad, as long as we don’t give them too much importance, and neglect the practice of our faith as taught by Scripture and the Church.

  14. For the recored, I absolutely believe in NDE. I’m convinced the BVM was at the bedside of my mom at the hour of her death. In fact, as I felt the “presence”, my mom, deep in a coma, (hadn’t been conscious in days), opened her eyes and yelled out her last word, p r aaaaaaay. I fell to my knees feeling the overwhelming presence, soon after, my mom passed. From that day on, I have had a profound love for the BMV, convinced she was there as much for me. I always suspected that my mom, who was very Marian devoted, had asked the BVM to watch over me when she died in a special way. Subsequently, I had my conversion.

    Recently our local priest lost his mother. I wasn’t there, but he said before she took her last breath (she was very devout), she told him she saw the angels and held up her arms (she too was in a coma), all the while with a beautiful smile and fixed eyes, as if that was the only thing whe was seeing.

    I also spent much of my early career with terminal patients in hospitals and have experienced many amazing stories, especially after codes.

    I could write pages on these kind of stories. It’s not the NDE I questioned, or even that the kid had one. I just think the “filtered story” reads a bit like one of those con psychics Larry King used to have on his show talking to callers’ dead realtives.

    None the less, I DO believe the kid was shown behind the veil, and like I said initially, the “real” story probably got a good parental maker, so much so, that it just reads as cheesy, especially to a Catholic.

  15. I think Pope Benedict has (recently) spoken very clear on topics as hell, heaven and purgatory and has commented on what is just psychological and culturally determined. He also mentioned this topic in his talks at Fatima last year.

    have you looked into why NDE is so different for someone in a Hindu, Buddhist or other cultures or even for an agnostic or atheist? it is also a common and documented experience in those cultures but expressed in very different ways. Which one is correct?

    Of course God can use a psychological or psychic experience to call one to greater conversion and surrender to his mercy. but then it is not the experience but the response of surrender and trust that is important.

    there is a whole new age business and popular line on NDE, it is in the movies, tv etc. and the church has spoken very clearly on the dangers of this whole new age movement (a very perceptive document a few years ago).

    but basically they are just “visions” and the church is very clear on how to discern visions. for myself i will stick with St Paul and St John of the Cross…… not in visions but pray to have faith in the Word of God. IMHO

  16. When under stress, asleep during surgery, the mind can do whatever it needs to to cope. In this case, the child saw heaven and dead relatives, according to his story. Am not sure if he died and went to heaven during surgery, but if this makes folks feel good—-no problem. I would suspect that the parents would have been told if he had coded during surgery.

  17. Pagansister–you forgot the most interesting part–
    met his unknown sister and knew she was miscarried.
    This (and other NDEs like this) go way beyond “helpful coping unless anesthetic.

  18. IC, get your point, but feel that there is a chance he heard about the miscarriage sometime when the parents were not aware he was within hearing range. Little ears hear more than people think. :o) He was 4 when all this happened, and I’m guessing that he is being brought up in a Christian household. I’m sure he has been shown pictures of what people think Jesus looked like, and had seen pictures of his other relatives over the course of his short life. ( I know I had shown our children the picture of their great grandparents etc. as they grew). IF indeed he is convinced he saw Heaven and all those folks, there is no harm done.

  19. The child saw his Great Grandfather as a young man. This is absolutely consistant with many personal accounts of NDE’s in which they are told that in spirit the soul is eternally young and this is reflected in the appearance of the spirit.

    This kid passes the credibility test big time.

  20. Trust me, this is real. We as human can only know in part what God has and is, as well in store for us once we leave here. Even those who work with hospice prewarn relatives and loved ones they will see people that has past. If you believe the bible, it is real, if you believe religion, you will get lost with any of them everytime. Man explains religion, but God sent Jesus to be the mediator for us as a blood sacrifice. I wondered the same before and had to study a lot more to find the truth. Just as we are told about Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc., they are things to make us feel good and explain to children that are too young to understand. But the bible says when we truly divide or interpret the word of truth, you don’t need religion or doctrines. Ask about the Holy Spirit as your teacher. Trust God, not me on this one.

  21. I believe him, I myself, or anyone I know has never had a near- death experience, but this child says he meet people in heaven that his parents never told him about, he saw gold streets like the bible says. This video is truly amazing. I pray it will help other seek GOD. God bless everyone.

  22. I read some of these comments and I think that people need to stop thinking so much! Like for real! Heaven and hell are real and we are going to one or the other! End of story!

  23. Just one comment: suppose what we are being taught is wrong . . . and what the little boy saw was real. I think God’s truth is a lot simpler than what we are sometimes lead to believe . . . .

  24. I don’t know how being cathlic makes you a non beleaver of this book the bible is hearsay just like this book its not written in blood the bible contradicks its self in so many ways im a cathlic to but i only truly beleve in GOD !!!!!!!!!!!! I am open to anything as we all should be especaly from a small boy an inacent. GODS messages to us so listen you never know

  25. I beleive this kid! Dahhh, you’re right, thinking too much won’t get you anywhere! Who are we to judge the encounters others have with their heavenly Father. Religion is a nasty spirit. It isnt about religion, it is about KNOWING your Father. Sometimes God uses experiences, and things we go through to teach us. This kid was taken to his secret place early. Call him greatful and blessed to get to see his Father, and not to mention his relative!
    For those who want to pick every thread out of this encounter, leave it alone, and let God run the show.

  26. Klaire,
    You are a catholic and catholics probably dont believe in this stuff but I do. I am a Christian and according to the Bible, this story is true. I definately believe this kid because, why would a kid lie at such a young age? You have heard the kid say it himself.

    For people who accept Jesus into their heart and their savior, they go to heaven. If they refuse, they go to hell. It’s as simple as that.

  27. Please be careful of getting caught up in these stories. I am not speaking by authority but only my own experiences. I read too many of these and found myself doubting everything about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, everything in the Scriptures. It can lead you into a trap and I firmly believe most if not all of these NDEs are lies from the evil one. It started out as a “good thing” for me because I thought I was learning beyond the teachings of the Church and the Scriptures. I kept reading more NDEs and before I knew it I was reading accounts from ouija board sessions and other forbidden sources. The Holy Spirit eventually came down on me like a ton of bricks and convicted me in the spirit. I now only read ones that claim to be scriptually true but I still sense something is wrong in most of these. Take notice of how few NDEs focus on the salvation promised though our Lord and Savior. They usually end with a “you were a complete failure and you need to go back and do it right this time” theme. What about go back, trust in the Lord and sin no more? I haven’t read too many that made the point we all fall short of the mark and you will burn in the lake of fire because you did not have faith in Jesus.

  28. Apparently some of the comments might members of the catholic church, shows there church is definitely not true, because of the skepticism of there remarks. But as for the church I belong with, this little boys experience, is roght on the mark, what our church believes in, particularly the comment about his grandfather. Having to to do with what church I belong to; well all of you that are Catholic and read this, I think you should into what LDS Church(Mormons) have always believed and everything this boy experienced, is exactly what my church believes and the one that believes these experiences are caused by satan himself, the one thing I can say about that,”You are surely misled.” Depending what kind of person you have been on this earth, you will either be will be with good people or you will be with bad people, not both together. Look into your heart, god will let you know what is true, but if you are not living a good life, god will not confirm evidence of this truth to you.

  29. I personally do believe in NDEs and I have known a number of similiar stories that occured to my close relatives just before their deaths. I am a monotheist for the starters. Its our understanding that Angels do come just before death to capture the soul, however in order to not to frighten the person who is about to die, they (angels) either bring some one from the already deceased family member with them or they(angels) themselves come in a shape/form looking like a deceased family memeber. So in many of the cases in which person who is about to die does say that i see my mother, my father or even my best best friend.
    My wife who works a hospital has also witnessed this situation at least once in her life.

  30. there is no contradiction in my Holy Bible…what version(s) are you reading? Holy scriptures have been proven true time & time again – never once proven false. There is no good reason to believe errant teachings. Check everything against scripture. (Hint: that means you have to read it, ask God for clarity, study the Word, memorize it, and hide it in your heart.)

  31. Some religions say these are the works of satan. But the mention of heaven, angels, relatives reduces satan even more. The happenings are unfavorable to him so they are not his creations. People are happy to learn about these things that link to heavenly things. God is praised.

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