Another Look at Beings
Encountered During the Near-Death Experience
|Reprint requests may be
sent to Jody A. Long, J.D. at the above address
It is a common element, unique to the NDEs experience,
to report seeing deceased beings. Frequently, those
seen on the other side are religious beings or deceased
relatives. This study analyzes the beings that were
seen on the other side. The datum is broken down
into the categories of familiar beings and unfamiliar
beings. Of the 302 people who responded to the survey,
29% (88) saw familiar beings and 25.8% (78) saw
unfamiliar beings. Of the 166 people who saw beings,
53% saw familiar beings, while 47% saw unfamiliar
beings. The highest percentage of familiar beings
seen were blood relatives (25.9%), followed by religious
figures (22.9%). Implications are discussed against
the backdrop of consciousness and the Soulmate myth
of popular culture.
near-death experience; beings; Soulmates; soul mates;
God, Jesus, angels, consciousness, relatives, soul,
religious figures, soul cluster group
done in the late 70's and early 80's provide much
of the foundation for today's understandings of
the near death experience (NDE). One of the distinguishing
factors unique to NDEs is the reports of beings,
deceased relatives, and the implications resulting
from these contacts.
Michael B. Sabom
took great care to document his studies in his book,
Recollections of Death,
published in 1982 (Sabom, 1982). He showed that
what NDErs saw and heard while they were dead, had
a factual basis. These people could accurately recall
events happening around them.
The Dutch NDE study in
by Pim van Lommel, replicated the phenomena and
described a patient's veridical perception out-of-body
experience (van Lommel, 2001). Although there are
scientists, such as Russell Noyes, who initially
set out to prove that imminent death produced hallucinations
of the mystical category with "intense visual
imagery" representing "a more complete
withdrawal from extreme circumstances (Noyes, 1984),"
this cannot explain why experiencers can see, hear
and accurately recall happenings in the same or
Just as this out of body
component is considered a core and real component
unique to NDEs, so is the component of meeting beings
during the experience. As noted by Charles Flynn,
an early NDE researcher, he quoted the words of
sociologist William I. Thomas, "If men define
situations as real, they are real in their consequences"
(Flynn, 1984, p. 279). The sentiments were echoed
by saying, "Such experiences ... tend to exert
a powerful effect on a person's motivations, values,
and conduct ... However one chooses to interpret
near-death phenomena, they are unquestionably real
in their effects" (p. 279).
noted in his study, that the presence of beings
could be sensed and sometimes communicated with
at the stage after a person leaves their body. (Ring,
1984) This may or may not be part of the tunnel
phase. Further, twenty percent of the persons who
had experienced a presence at this stage in their
NDE, reported drastic changes in their lives based
upon the contact with the deceased individual. He
also noted that one-tenth of the experiencers went
to the final stage he termed as "entering the
light." Beings are more commonly seen during
this stage. He commented on several persons who
reported seeing deceased relatives (p. 34).
According to the
NDE Scale, the transcendental component has the
highest correlation with the other three components.
(Greyson, 1984). This transcendental component is
defined by Ken Ring, as a transpersonal experience.
(Ring, 1984, p. 36). The NDE is a transpersonal
state of consciousness in "which an individual
transcends the usual ego boundaries as well as the
dimensions of time and space" (p. 36). Therefore,
based on Greyson's scale, beings play a crucial
part in the transcendental nature of the NDE.
on Greyson's preliminary questionnaire, 26% saw
beings. On the final NDE scale, the question reads "Did
you see deceased spirits or religious figures?"
and correlated the question as part of the transcendent
component unique to the near death experience (Greyson,
p. 53). Van Lommel noted that of 62 patients reporting
an NDE, 32% met with deceased persons. (van Lommel,
represent a unique and transcendental part of the
near death experience, this paper will explore what
beings people encounter when they go to the other
side. This paper represents the second part of a
six part study to find out about Soulmates. The
first study discussed the background of the Soulmate
study as viewed through the lens of consciousness
studies. This second paper will focus on relationships
between the experiencer, the living, and those on
the other side. I will also add to the knowledge
of what categories of deceased beings or religious
figures are most commonly reported.
This study is a retrospective
review of data received from an Internet survey
on the Near Death Experience Research Foundation
(Long, 2002). Out of a total of 626 experiences
submitted to the website, 302 of these experiences
met the research definition of NDE as defined as, "A
lucid experience associated with perceived consciousness
apart from the body occurring at the time of actual
or threatened imminent death" (Long). It was
then determined which of the 302 NDEs answered "Yes"
to the question, "Did you meet or see any other
beings?" and "If yes or uncertain, describe.
Where were they? Did you know them? What was communicated?"
Earth beings seen during the veridical perception
phase of the NDE were excluded.
Out of the
302 NDEs, 212 (70.1%) reported encountering beings.
The beings were divided into familiar and unfamiliar
categories based upon whether they described beings
or not. Out of the 212 who reported encountering
beings, only 166 (78%) described the beings they
encountered. Each account was counted only once.
Beings counted were those beings that were seen,
sensed, and part of the universal consciousness.
In the familiar
category, there were divisions for religious beings,
blood relatives, relatives, and other. In the unfamiliar
category, divisions were for male, female, genderless,
and others. Although many people reported seeing
more than one being during their experience, the
count is one NDE and one being. For example, while
Jesus may have been seen in the same experience
as Grandma was seen, Jesus also appeared in 21 other
different experiences. Grandma was tabulated once
and Jesus was tabulated once for this one experience.
was also performed on the two categories:
All beings; and
Only familiar beings.
Each group was then compared
in terms of age of the experiencer at the time of
the NDE and whether they saw multiple, one or two
beings. Multiple NDEs and those that an age was
not given could not be used.
Of the 302 people who responded
to the survey, 29% (88) saw familiar beings and
25.8% (78) saw unfamiliar beings. Of the 166 people
who saw beings, 53% saw familiar beings, while 47%
saw unfamiliar beings. For those experiences who
saw multiple beings, they may have been counted
in several categories of familiar and unfamiliar
beings. However, for each being that was seen, there
was only one experience counted. For instance, in
one account, a person may have seen Jesus and non-specific
angels. Jesus would have been tabulated once under
familiar religious figures, and there would be a
tabulation mark for unfamiliar religious figures.
Out of 166 experiencers who saw beings, this one
experience would count only once as seeing Jesus.
Also, of 166 experiencers who saw beings, this one
experience would count only once as seeing non-specific
angels. Therefore, it is valid to say that a total
of 38 experiencers saw Jesus or a total of 9 experiencers
saw angels. However, it would be incorrect to cross-compare
those experiences seeing multiple beings by using
all of the tabulated experiences below such as n=226.
The break down of familiar and unfamiliar beings
is as follows:
A t-test was done for
whether there was any correlation to seeing beings,
whether or not the beings were familiar, blood relatives,
or religious figures. There is no correlation between
age and what beings are seen where p value accepted
as significant is p<0.01. However, there is a
trend towards seeing familiar beings and blood relatives
Below are the results:
same criteria as the t-test except breaking the
data into age groups, the chi square table shows
no correlation between age and what beings are seen,
if any. The age groups used were children (0-17),
ages 18-40, and age 41 and over. There was a trend
(.099) towards the older an experiencer was at the
time of their NDE, the higher chance they would
encounter a familiar being.
I also tried
smaller categories to see if it would make a difference.
I used the ages 0-12, 13-17, 18-25, 26-40, 41-55,
and 56 and over. There was a trend (.062) towards
older people to see blood relatives. Although the
correlation between expected and observed for seeing
familiar beings was .094, there was no trend. Some
age groups and others were down, with no clear pattern.
the data were divided into how many beings were
seen during the experience. It looks like the ratio
of beings per experience is about the same regardless
of whether or not the beings are familiar, and that
it is slightly more common to see one being instead
of many beings. Below are the results:
n = 166
n = 88
There is no correlation
between age and the likelihood of seeing one or
more beings. The ratios between the categories of "all
beings" and "familiar beings" remains
fairly constant: with a slightly greater chance
of encountering only one being during the experience.
to Greyson and van Lommel, 49% of experiencers responding
to the web survey said they saw beings. Some of
the increased number could be explained by what
was scored as a being. Prior subjects may well have
focused on literally what they could see. Our study
was more inclusive in that it included beings whose
presence could be sensed and those beings that may
not have been human, such as angels. In the van
Lommel study, it is unclear if the answers included
Out of the
initial 212 who reported seeing beings, 78.3% (166)
described the beings they saw or sensed. Although
there is no significant correlation as to whether
individuals see familiar or unfamiliar beings, or
whether the beings are blood relatives or not, there
is a trend towards seeing familiar beings and for
seeing blood relatives.
percentage of familiar beings seen were blood relatives
(25.9%), followed by religious figures (22.9%).
In looking at whether the angels (or the opposite)
were counted among familiar beings, they were counted
as familiar if they were named or called "guardian
angel." If non-specific, they were counted
as unfamiliar. Also of interest is the categories
of "familiar unknowns" (. 1%) and the "at
one with all" (.02%). There is a weak trend
that the older an experiencer is at the time of
the NDE, the more likely they will see blood relatives.
Religious figures are seen and recognized by all
of unfamiliar beings, it seems more likely that
gender is not important, or at least not as important
as other characteristics. People report them as
just "beings" or a "presence."
sense that more people would see their grandparents
on the other side because grandparents would be
more likely to pass to the other side than parents,
siblings, or children. However, it is curious that
grandfathers would more likely appear with grandmothers
than to appear solely by themselves. This is a bit
odd in light of the fact that only two people saw
significant others on the other side. Although it
can be said that seeing significant others on the
other side would be less likely due to relative
similarity in the age of the experiencer and the
significant other, it seems odd that more significant
others were not seen on the other side. This would
make one wonder about the popular conception of
Data gathered from the
website about after death communications (ADC) also
shows a curious link between blood relatives and
communication between loved ones. Analyzed were
238 contributions to the ADC website form exploring
the relationship between the deceased and the person
reporting the ADC. Surprisingly, 46 (19%) of the
contacts occurred within 24 hours or less. Moreover,
35 (76%) of the 46 contacts occurred between blood
relatives. Only 5 (14%) occurred between significant
In 2001, a study of 120
NDEs using NDERF data collected from the
website, a surprising find was that more parents
came back for children, grandparents for grandchildren,
or children came back for parents, than any other
reason when given a choice to return to Earth or
between blood relatives and consciousness is intriguing.
It is my hypothesis that traditional views of relationship
roles are very different than the myths of popular
culture. A possible pattern that fits the data is
that we may be seeing a spectrum of relationships
across the board of consciousness.
figures could be on one end of the spectrum and
represent the larger cosmic group we belong to.
This is further supported by NDE reports of becoming
part of the greater cosmic consciousness. The fact
that experiencers mention familiar unnamed beings
is significant as it could suggest some kind of
predestination or soul recognition of another group
could represent a microcosm of our own, unique soul
group that we travel through time with. There clearly
are some connections between blood relatives that
would suggest purpose, or at least preconceived
knowledge of the existing bond that affects our
relationship on Earth. Many times, the expressed
desire is to teach, comfort or protect the person
on this side. The most exciting concept of relatives
has to do with the relationship between the DNA
of relatives and the observed soul bond. These soul
cluster groups appear to be what we would really
envision when we think of a Soulmate; someone with
whom we spend eternity.
many reasons why we consider significant others
as Soulmates according to our cultural myths. From
this study, it does not appear that significant
others are as likely to be with us in the hereafter
as it does for blood relatives. However, I would
stress that this does not mean that significant
others cannot be with us on the other side. Grandparents
appearing in pairs would suggest that significant
others can remain together.
papers, I will discuss the role of the significant
other and hope to explore how they might fit into
our development of consciousness.
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I would like to give a hearty
thanks to John Paul Long, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
in Pharmacology, University of Iowa, for his editorial
and research comments.