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Iris S's Experience

Experience description:   

My sister died at home of kidney cancer following an illness of approximately six months.  As she was dying, I was alone with her in her bedroom for a time.  I was sitting next to her, my eyes closed, in a light meditative state.  Suddenly, I moved from my own body and was actually inside of her body.  The experience was absolutely terrifying.  I could feel myself shrinking!  The life force in "my" arms and legs was slowly shrinking, and I was horrified by the sensation that I might shrink so far as to entirely disappear.  Locked inside of my sister's dying body, I could not tell if she was inside with me.  I began screaming, "Help me!  Help me!"  Suddenly, I realized that nobody could hear me, and that even if they could do so, that there was nothing anybody could do to help. I felt deep, deep despair and utter horror. 

At that instant, I found myself back in my own body.  I fled the room in terror, and to this day, after four long years, I still cannot sleep in a fully dark room. 

About a year after this awful experience, I had dinner one night with five of my graduate students.  We talked about death, and I shared this experience with them.  One of the women who was there told me that when her husband was dying, the last thing he said to her was, "I'm shrinking!" 

Until this experience, I had no fear of death.  Now, it terrifies me.  My sister's death verified for me the fact that consciousness can leave the body and survive; but, as I have had out of body experiences in the past, I already knew this fact.  What I did not know was that the spirit can be trapped inside of a dying body.  It's a piece of information that was verified for me when I read the book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying."  From that book, I learned the Buddhist notion that the spirit can stay within the body for up to three days, and that for this reason Buddhists do nothing to the body for three days.  The thought of staying within a body for three days is simply terrifying because the moment or two that I was trapped in my sister's body felt like an eternity.

Was this experience difficult to express in words?  No

Did you hear the deceased or hear something associated with the deceased?         
            Did the voice or sound seem to originate externally or outside of you, inside you, or did you not hear a voice or sound, but had a sense of knowing what was communicated?  see narrative
Did you feel a touch or experience any physical contact from the deceased?            No

Did you see the deceased?         No

Did you smell a distinct smell, scent, fragrance or odor associated with the deceased?      No

How long did the experience last?        probably 30 seconds

Was the beginning and end of the experience gradual or more sudden?         sudden

Could you sense the emotions or mood of the deceased?           No

How do you currently view the reality of your experience?           Experience was definitely real

            Please explain why you view the reality of your experience as real or not real:           It was far more intense than any earthly experience

            Was the experience dream like in any way?   No

Describe in detail your feelings/emotions during the experience:           Terror

Was there any emotional healing in any way following the experience?           No

What was the best and worst part of your experience?      The best part of the experience was having it end!

Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience?         Yes                 Describe:      I dread dying.

What other attitudes and beliefs about your experience do you currently have?            Fear          
Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience?
   Yes     Again, I know now that death is incredibly difficult and can be horrifying.

Did the experience give you any spiritual understandings such as life, death, afterlife, God, etc.?            Yes     I know now that it is naive to view death as a happy little jaunt into an ethereal bliss.

Death Compacts are when two or more living people promise among themselves that whoever dies first will try to contact the other(s).  Have you ever made such a compact?        Yes

Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later?          No

What emotions did you feel during the experience?            More terror

Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body?     Yes

Did you meet or see any other beings other than the deceased?            No

Did you see a light?           No

Did any part of your experience seem to occur in a place other than the location described above?            No

Have you shared this experience with others?         Yes    

Have you shared this experience formally or informally with any other researcher or web site?   No

Were there any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience?            No

Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience?         No 

Did you ever in your life have a near-death experience, out of body experience or other spiritual event?           Yes 

Too intense to describe here.

Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience?               Yes

Please offer any suggestions you may have to improve this questionnaire.    Questionnaire is well developed.  No suggestions.  I would, however, like to know if other people you've interviewed have had similar experiences.