Life Reviews are purpose driven, not process or venue driven.
In fact, the Life Review has been recorded as happening at any stage of an NDE, perhaps because of its importance. PMH Atwater 6 experienced hers while still in the Void (a venue discussed later).
I expected some kind of theatrical showing of my ‘Life as Phyllis’, or perhaps something like a television replay, but such was not the case.
Mine was not a review; it was a reliving. For me, it was a total reliving of every thought I had ever thought, every word I had ever spoken, and every deed I had ever done; plus the effect of each thought, word, and deed on everyone and anyone who had ever come within my environment or sphere of influence whether I knew them or not (including unknown passersby on the street); plus the effect of each thought, word, and deed on weather, plants, animals, soil, trees, water, and air.
It was a reliving of the total gestalt [totality] of me as Phyllis, complete with all the consequences of ever having lived at all. No detail was left out. No slip of the tongue or slur was missed. Neither mistake nor accident went unaccounted for. If there is such a thing as Hell, as far as I am concerned, this was Hell. I had no idea, no idea at all, not even the slightest hint of an idea, that every thought, word, and deed was remembered, accounted for, and went out and had a life of its own once released; nor did I know that the energy of that life directly affected all it touched or came near. It’s as if we must live in some kind of vast sea or soup of each other’s energy residue and thought waves, and we are each held responsible for our contributions and the quality of ‘ingredients’ we add. This knowledge overwhelmed me!
The old saying, ‘No man is an island,’ took on graphic proportions. There wasn’t any heavenly St. Peter in charge – it was me judging me, and my judgment was most severe.
As when I previously realized my body was not me, I also came to realize Phyllis wasn’t me either. She was a personality or a facade I had once projected. She was an extension of me, a part I had played, a role I had acted. She was a particular development I was engaged in, a particular focus I had become, and that focus had not developed quite as planned! [She has changed her name officially later to ‘PMH’ Atwater rather than staying ‘Phyllis’ Atwater.]
I was disappointed and saddened at this, but I took interest and satisfaction from one characteristic she had repeatedly displayed, and that was her desire to try and try again. She always did something, even if unwise. She was not one to sit back and wait upon others or capricious fate. She was relentless in her determination to make of herself a better person and to learn everything possible. She was a doer, willing and able, a person who would reach and stretch. This pleased me and at last I pronounced her personality good and the life she had lived worth its living.
During this judgment [reflection] process, ‘The Void’ in which I dwelt began to pull away and separate from my dining room in Boise. These two worlds separated as they had previously merged, but I was still next to the light bulb, having never at any time altered my location or the space I occupied. Only my environment had changed [into the Void], not I.
As I looked down at the body of Phyllis on the floor, I was so filled with love and forgiveness that I floated ever so gently back into her body.
I believe God’s purpose is to tailor the Life Review for the best benefit of the NDEr, and that this becomes the deciding factor regarding the variations seen in the above stories – of style of presentation, venue, order, length, and detail. Life Reviews demonstrate that God is intensely and comprehensively interested in every living person.
Having looked at many Life Reviews, I find that they reveal the overriding importance of love – loving God and loving others.
What is the nature of this love that is emphasised during NDEs? In each case it has been an active, practical, compassionate love; it is neither a self-indulgent feeling, nor a search for God in practices that do not involve actively loving others. There seems to be a mysterious link between loving both God and others at the same time – they are not independent actions, it seems that the one keeps adding to the other, and that real success comes from doing both together. Ritchie 7 found this, and wrote in 1963:
Today, over 20 years later [post- NDE], I feel that I know why I had the chance to return to this life. It was to become a physician so that I could learn about man and then serve God. And every time I have been able to serve our God by helping some broken-hearted adult, treating some injured child or counselling some teenager, then deep within I have felt that He was there beside me again.
There are many different styles of Life Reviews. Different personages may be delegated to take the NDEr through the appraisal process. Lisa 8: ‘There were three spirits or angels, all females, older – suddenly I am being shown my whole life. It was like watching your life on a fast forward video or DVD. It was something I saw in my mind.’
An important fact to keep in mind is that the information for the reviews exists right now, ‘stored’ somehow in the afterlife.
Here are some further NDEr accounts, each chosen to illustrate different points, the first recorded by Raymond Moody 9:
He made comments here and there. He was trying to show me something in each one of these flashbacks. It’s not like he was trying to see what I had done – he knew already – but he was picking out these certain flashbacks of my life and putting them in front of me so that I would have to recall them. All through this, he kept stressing the importance of love.
A few Life Reviews are reported to be uncomfortable throughout. Deborah Talor 10, who died in 2002, experienced one of these unpleasant reviews.
As I lifted my head and looked over, I saw myself at five-years-old, and my sister when she was six. We were bigger than life. I held my head in shame as I saw myself being evil to my sister. At that point, I felt humiliated beyond belief. I couldn’t handle the pain, and begged for it to stop.
The pain I felt stopped, but immediately started again with more fury. You see, I was no longer feeling my pain and humiliation; it was all turned around to where I felt my sister’s pain. I had a taste [foretaste] of Hell. I was begging for the pain to stop, but it wouldn’t. Her pain that I felt was so profound, I would have given anything for it to stop!
Deborah’s humiliation and hurting were not private; they were on display. God knew all the distressing details that she had not known herself until that moment.
Thankfully, the pain stopped and the line started moving again, but I knew I wasn’t going to Heaven. In fact, I had been given a preview of what was in store for me, and that was Hell! I was crying, and full of terror. I was going to Hell, something I had feared my whole life.
Then all of a sudden my line stopped again. I understood by the Light that I would be going ‘back’ (at the time I didn’t know where ‘back’ was), but I would not be going alone. I further understood that I would be carrying my sister’s pain with me until my death on Earth. I understood that, not only would I feel her pain every day, but that it would serve as a constant reminder of how what I say to a person can really hurt them.
I assure you, I do feel her pain each and every day!
The question hangs in the air – was she able to make the changes required on her return to Earth? Did the negative Life Review have a positive result in her everyday life?
It took me months to tell my husband about my experience. In fact, to this day, it is still hard for me to talk about it. But I assure you it has changed my life for the better! For the first time in my life I have felt amazing. I was able to let go of my past, and now feel no pain. I want to tell the world about my experience, and how it has changed me! I am finally free, free to love, and free to be me!
As Deborah’s experience confirms, even unpleasant Life Reviews are intended for our benefit, and will be so providing the lessons learnt are applied. One of those lessons is the significance of what we say to others. Jesus confirmed this (Matthew 12:36,37): ‘But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.’
However, the Day of Judgement is not yet. Opportunities abound to love God and to love others, and for us to make things right that we have done wrong.
Because many NDErs do not have ‘deep NDEs’ that progress as far as a Life Review, this experience is not as common as some early researchers such as Raymond Moody 9 supposed. Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick 11 in England found Life Reviews were described in only 15% of their 350-NDE sample. A similar frequency of Life Reviews among NDErs (13%) was found by Dr Pim van Lommel 12 and his team in Holland.
Whatever the statistics, hundreds of detailed Life Reviews confirm that God takes our lives and life choices seriously, as we find confirmed in Psalm 33:13-15.
From Heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on Earth –
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
— but, thankfully, not yet judgementally.
However, Judgement Day is still to come, sometime in the future. For the present, it is enough to know that God not only sees us as we are, but also that there is no fooling him, because he has recorded it all in astonishing detail. Often the events presented in the review have been long forgotten by the NDEr, or have even been unknown, such as the feelings of others, but God has held them as significant none-the-less. One returnee felt the blows he had inflicted on another man during a fight 13: ‘He felt his teeth cracking. He felt the blood in his teeth. He felt everything that this other person must have felt at that particular time. There was a complete role reversal.’
Howard Storm 14, who was rescued from unpleasant afterlife experiences by the Being of Light, experienced a Life Review shortly afterwards which he found to be intensely discomforting because it highlighted the selfishness of his life. ‘With Jesus, and the angels he called to us, we went over my life from beginning to end, and it was very disturbing to see so many of the negative things that I had done. But the thing that made it bearable was that I knew Jesus and the angels loved me despite the wrong things I had done with my life, and that I could be forgiven for those things.’
Note that while there was the potential for forgiveness, it would not be automatic.
To his surprise, the spirit beings that took him through his life were more interested in his relationships than his personal achievements. In his book, Storm said that he was appalled to see how he had hurt others, especially his wife and children. He said that the beings acted with love and empathy, but told him he needed to see these things. Otherwise, how would he perceive what to change in his life? We must conclude that the driving purpose of Storm’s NDE was for a course correction on his return to Earth. We can perceive this same principle in operation over and again in NDEs.
God appears to be very concerned about the influence and effect our actions have had on others, much of which, despite being a Christian for many years, I (the writer) had not fully realised until hearing so many of these stories. The depth of an NDE Life Review is astounding and still shakes me up when I read different accounts. I am very uncomfortable that the bad things I have done, consciously or unconsciously, have been recorded in such extraordinary detail. Personally, I am not looking forward to seeing them. Nevertheless, I need to learn from Howard Storm 14 who, as mentioned already, had a hard time watching his Life Review:
Most of the time I found that my interactions with other people had been manipulative. During my professional career, for example, I saw myself sitting in my office, playing the college professor, while a student came to me with a personal problem. I sat there looking compassionate, and patient, and loving, while inside I was bored to death. I would check my watch under my desk as I anxiously waited for the student to finish…
I feel strongly that the whole Life Review would have been emotionally destructive, and would have left me a psychotic person, if it hadn’t been for the fact that my friend [Jesus] and my friend’s friends [angels], while we watched the whole thing, were loving me. I could feel that love. Every time I got a little upset, they turned it off for a while and they just loved me. Their love was tangible. You could feel it on your body, you could feel it inside of you; their love went right through you. The therapy was their love, because my Life Review just kept tearing me down. It was pitiful to watch, just pitiful… it was nauseating. But through it all was their love.
In Life Reviews, God is modelling the efficacy of love in counselling, and how to gently counsel those who are hurting or distressed. To some extent, the Life Review process is one giant modelling session, with beneficial lessons – including how to support others by loving them during life’s challenges.
Maurice Rawlings 15 makes a good point – the NDEr appears never to be asked what church if any they attended or denomination they followed, or whether they believed this or that theological position, or trivialities such as how successful they were financially or what they looked like or whether they dressed fashionably or not – the challenge was how much had they loved their fellow man, and to what practical degree had they loved their God? If this Life Review is a prelude to final Judgement, one would assume these will remain very important challenges for all mankind, not only the few who have tasted death and returned.
Is this fair? Has God given each person a capacity to love others and to love him? Is the ability to love in the heart of each person on the planet? And can we do better?
While the meeting with God or his assistants, and the Life Review, are the most significant events reported by NDErs in Paradise, there are an interesting variety of other people and spiritual beings there too – it is a polyglot society full of surprises. Let’s socialise!
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