O would some power the gift give us, to
see ourselves as others see us.
— Robert Burns 1785, in poem ‘To a Louse’.
Many NDErs who have progressed far enough are shown a Life Review, usually during the encounter with the Being of Light in Paradise, although the the venues vary. Masses of information can be presented in a flash in the spirit realm, directly into the soul, which is very different from how the human brain ponderously accesses and processes information. Consequently the Life Review can occur with events reviewed simultaneously; alternatively it may be presented chronologically. Differing styles of presentation are also used. As always, the experience is tailored to the individual for their understanding. For example, Susan Finlay 1 drowned in the River Thames near Oxford. She was just seven years old. After a brief experience of the beauty of Paradise, she found herself sitting in a large room with an enormous screen on one wall.
As I looked I began to see my whole life go before me. At the age of seven my life story was not extensive, but everything was projected on to that screen, and I knew it was a summary of my life.
I was shown key moments during my brief period on Earth – what I had done, followed by what I should have done. Sometimes it was what I had said, followed by what I should have said. I didn’t feel condemned, but I knew that what I was witnessing was true – that what was being said or shown was not something that I could argue against because it was fair and right.
I could hear a voice explaining things to me, but I did not see anyone or anything, other than this huge screen.
Then, as quickly as it had started, the whole thing was over, and I was back on the riverbank in Oxford, with my friends standing around me, pumping the river water out of me!
The intent of a Life Review or ‘debriefing’ is sensed as being primarily for education and reflection, as we see in Grace Bubulka’s 2 description that follows. Grace is a nurse and educator who died a decade ago. She describes the sweep covered in her review.
Suddenly, I saw it all. I saw me as I was as a baby, a child, a teen, and adult, all at once. At the same time, I saw everything I ever did, everything I ever thought, everything. I saw events and people in my life that I previously considered important. Also, I saw many things that seemed-not-so important. I was aware of everything in my life all at once and I was aware of every response that others had to what occurred in my life. It was all there for me to understand ... everything ‘good’, ‘bad’, or ‘indifferent.’
Grace then illustrated her review by describing one episode in detail, which is seldom done, but which gives us insight into the possible significance of what to us may appear to be a trivial incident.
For example, I remembered knowing deeply about a situation that I dealt with in first grade as a six-year-old child. I was in class and it was a few minutes before recess. Sister Celine had positioned three holy cards on the edge of her desk in the front of the room. The holy cards were to be awarded after recess in the spelling bee that our class would have. I was at the front desk and could see the holy cards well. The one in the middle depicted a gossamer guardian angel watching over two small children crossing a bridge. I wanted that card so badly! As we filed out for recess, temptation overtook me and I stole the holy card. I slipped it quickly into my uniform pocket. No one saw me.
During recess, I felt sick with guilt. I snuck back into the classroom while the other first graders were playing at recess and placed the holy card back on Sister’s desk.
In my near-death experience I remembered everything about that situation. What was really impressive, though, is that I was aware how very wrong that action was.
Grace did not feel condemned at learning this. It was embarrassing that others in the afterlife were witnesses of her misguided actions and weaknesses, but she felt enveloped by a comforting love that softened everything.
I was enveloped in a loving feeling and given insight into areas of my weaknesses.
I suddenly realized aspects of my life that were not compatible with eternity in the Light. I also knew now how to correct this. I was charged with the accountability of the remainder of my life.
I knew that more was ahead in the Light that continued forever, but I could not go there now.
Seeing my life left me with the impression that my life mattered and was somehow significant as to how far I could go into the Light. My work was not yet finished. My work was to begin inside me and within my family.
I was able to concede to my impending return now that I fully understood the message.
The Life Review is incredibly detailed, vivid and real, and the emotions and feelings that are associated with each memory or image may be re-experienced, together with the emotions of the observers. For example, the NDEr may see himself or herself being born, and feel the emotions of the mother at the time, and of the attending medical staff. Of course, only an omniscient God has that level of knowledge about people, even to what they and others were thinking and feeling, such that any suggestion that the Being of Light is Satan or some other evil force during these reviews is clearly incorrect.
Some NDErs are able to recall Life Review events, unknown previously, in minute detail. These events had been presented graphically and carried an immense emotional impact.
The nature and purpose of the Life Review are fleshed out in these further examples, just a few of the hundreds reported.
Dr George Ritchie 3 described his Life Review as following an encounter with Jesus in which he sensed ‘you are in the presence of the Son of God’. Jesus subsequently became his interviewer.
His whole life, ‘every event and thought and conversation, as palpable as a series of pictures,’ passed before him to review. He watched himself being born by Caesarean section and looked at the face of his dying mother for the first time ‘whom I had never laid eyes on before’. There was no first and last scene, they appeared to him together in a single presentation, presenting the question: ‘What did you do with your time on Earth?’
At first he tried to answer by things he had achieved, such as becoming an Eagle Scout, and taking out an insurance policy.
Jesus found this amusing and the light surrounding him shook with what Ritchie interpreted as mirth.
Then Jesus repeated, ‘What have you done with your life to show me?’
Ritchie was offended by the question, thinking, ‘Of course I hadn’t done anything with my life! I hadn’t had time!’
This thought was immediately ‘picked up’ by Jesus. The answering thought came as gentle teaching, ‘Death can come at any age.’ This was not presented in a condemnatory way, but as a simple loving truth for Ritchie to ponder.
He then realised that the question about his life was not about performance or accomplishments, but instead about relationships. ‘The question, like everything else proceeding from him, had to do with love. How much have you loved with your life? Have you loved others as I am loving you? Totally?’
Hearing the question like that, I saw how foolish it was even to try to find an answer in the scenes around us [Life Review]. Why, I hadn’t known love like this was possible. Someone should have told me, I thought indignantly. A fine time to discover what life was all about – like coming to a final exam and discovering you were going to be tested on a subject you had never studied! If love was the point of everything, why hadn’t someone told me?
Ritchie had attended Sunday School as a child, and Jesus reminded him that, ‘I told you by the life I lived. I told you by the death I died.’ Studying the life and death of Jesus teaches anyone on the deepest level about love.
George Ritchie had his Life Review while still a spirit inhabiting Earth, albeit out of his body. RaNelle Wallace 4, however, was moving quickly through the tunnel towards Paradise when she had hers. She makes some insightful observations regarding it:
I didn’t just understand the events; I relived them. I was that person again, doing those things to my mother, or saying those words to my father or brothers or sisters, and I knew why, for the first time, I had done them or said them. ‘Entirety’ does not describe the fullness of this review. It included knowledge about myself that all the books in the world couldn’t contain. I understood every reason for everything I did in my life. And I also understood the impact I had on others.
A part of me began to anticipate certain events, things in my life I would dread seeing again. But most of them didn’t show up, and I understood that I had taken responsibility for these actions and had repented of them. I saw myself repenting of them, sincerely wanting God to remove the weight and guilt of those terrible actions. And He had. I marvelled at His sublime love and that my misdeeds could be forgiven and removed so easily.
Did this mean RaNelle had a clean slate, with little left to improve? Her Life Review continued.
But then I saw other scenes that I hadn’t anticipated, things that were just as awful. I saw them in horrible detail and watched the impact they had on others.
I saw that I had let many people down in my life. I had made commitments to friends and family that I had just let ride until they were irreversibly unfulfilled. People had depended on me, and I had said, ‘I’m too busy’ or ‘it’s not my problem’, and ‘just let it go’. My cavalier attitude had caused real pain and heartache in others, pain I had never known about…
I re-experienced myself doing good things, but they were fewer and less significant than I had thought. Most of the ‘great things’ I thought I had done were almost irrelevant. I had done them for myself. I had served people when it served me to do so. I had founded my charity on conditions of repayment, even if the repayment was merely a stroke to my ego.
Some people had been helped, however, by my small acts of kindness, a smile, a kind word, little things I had long since forgotten.
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