Losing the Fear of Death: A Q&A With the Linns

Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences
You Don't Have to Die to Experience Your True Home
By Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis Linn, and Matthew Linn

What is a near-death experience?

A near-death experience is an experience in which people who appear to be dead or in danger of death leave their body, find themselves fully conscious in another realm, and then return to this life. The stages of an NDE may include: separation of consciousness from the physical body; heightened senses; intense feelings of peace and love; passing into or through a tunnel; encountering a brilliant and loving light; encountering other beings, such as mystical beings or deceased relatives and friends; an altered sense of space and time; a review of every moment of one's life in which there is no judgment and only love; visiting unworldly realms; an experience of universal knowledge; encountering a boundary or barrier; returning to one's body, often with a new sense of the purpose of one's life.

How common are near-death experiences?

Near-death experiences are common, well-documented, and similar across cultures throughout the world. Current estimates are that between four and fifteen percent of the world's population have had an NDE. Therefore, almost everyone has either had one or knows someone else who has had one.

Why do you think people are so interested in near-death experiences?

The general public has been interested in near-death experiences since the publication of Raymond Moody's book Life After Life in 1975. In the years following, these experiences have been studied extensively and many more books have appeared on the topic. Interest in them has only grown, in part because modern resuscitation techniques have allowed more people to return to life and have also given NDEs increased credibility in the medical community.

At one level, some of the fascination with NDEs may be because they often result in great leaps in personal growth. At another, deeper level, we believe NDEs remind us of where we came from. Many people who have had NDEs report recognizing the realm in which they find themselves, and describe it as their "real home," the home they knew before their life on earth and the home to which they will return.

What are the typical effects of a near-death experience?

NDEs often result in great leaps in personal growth. For example, even sociopaths may return from an NDE with a conscience and a capacity for genuine love. The after effects of NDEs have been carefully researched and typically include loss of the fear of death, healing of deep hurts, increase in self-esteem and compassion for others, a sense of union with all things, an increased sense of social justice and concern for the environment, and a clearer sense of how to fulfill one's purpose in life. People who have had NDEs typically change their vocation by moving away from a focus on material success and moving toward service to others and care for all life.

How has writing this book affected you personally?

Writing this book has confirmed our memory of coming from the place described by people who have had near-death experiences, and given us a more abiding perspective on the gift of our life here. We always knew there was life after death, but writing this has also helped us look forward even more to returning to the place from which we came, and meeting loved ones who have already gone on. Thus, any fear of death we had has diminished.

We are also more aware that everything counts and nothing is lost. Often when we are making a decision about how to handle a situation, we ask ourselves, "Am I doing the most loving thing, and how will I feel about this decision look during my life review?"

Most of all, writing this book has helped us own our true size, as we grow in the awareness that comes to many NDErs that we ourselves are the Light and we are love.

Who is this book for?

All three of us are introverts, and parties or other social gatherings can be an ordeal for us. Our usual strategy is to find at least one person we know well, and stay near that person. Since we began writing this book, we have found ourselves walking into a room full of people and discovering that we could have a meaningful conversation with anyone there. As soon as someone asks us what we are doing currently, and we tell them we are reading and writing about near-death experiences, their eyes widen, their attention seems to focus, and they start asking questions. Almost always, they know someone who has had an NDE, and surprisingly often they have had one themselves. Even the skeptics seem fascinated. So, we believe this book is for anyone.