Killer Year–The Class of 2007

The Great Beyond
December 20, 2006, 4:00 am
Filed under: Robert Gregory Browne

When I was fifteen years old, my uncle had a heart attack and died.

A few minutes later, a stubborn doctor brought him back to life.

When he was asked about those few minutes, my uncle refused to talk about them. I sensed that whatever happened to him “out there” must have scared the hell out of him.

This was the beginning of my fascination with the near-death experience.

NDE is not uncommon. Millions of people around the world claim to have experienced it, most of them reporting the usual trappings we’ve all heard about:

Out of body travel. Tunnel. Bright light. The presence of long-departed loved ones.

Many tie this to a religious experience, but these elements cross all cultural and spiritual boundaries. Scientists have suggested that what NDE survivors go through is merely a kind of death dream caused by chemicals in the brain, but it seems odd to me that most survivors dream pretty much the same thing.

It also seems odd that many of the survivors are able to report what doctors and loved ones have said in the room – after they were clinically dead.

Based on my uncle’s refusal to talk about his trip to the great beyond, however, I’ve long had the feeling that the experience as described is not universal. For some of us, there is a darker version of the journey. A scarier version.

And that idea, of course, attracted me as a writer.

When I think of my upcoming book, KISS HER GOODBYE, I look at it as essentially a crime thriller. It’s the story of an ATF agent whose daughter is kidnapped and buried alive, and the unusual lengths a desperate father has to go to in order to save her.

All the elements of a crime thriller are there, but I also wanted to give the reader a slightly different experience, one that allowed me to explore some of the questions about near-death and the afterlife.

These are questions we all think about from time to time. What’s out there? How will it affect me? Will it be painful? Exhilarating? Scary?

Most people are frightened by it. Call me weird, but I think of Death as simply another step in the adventure, wherever it may lead. And while I don’t look forward to any pain associated with dying, I do think Death itself will be an amazing journey.

But that’s me.

I’m curious to know what you think. What’s waiting out there for you?


5 Comments so far
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I confess that I only expect death to lead to oblivion. A step, but I view as the last step I’ll take.

When I was in college I had a professor who studied NDEs. He interviewed hundreds of people who’d experienced NDEs and wrote a book about it. In the end, sadly, his life took a bad turn and he committed suicide. His son told me he thought his father was chasing the visions he’d heard about in his interviews.

Which is a big downer, I know. But I do admit, while I am in the oblivion camp, certainly part of me has always hoped my professor found what he was looking for.

Comment by Bill Cameron

Fascinating topic, Rob. I think there’s soemthing else out there. You can’t kill energy, it recreates into a new form, right? It will be interesting to see, though.

Bill, so sad about that professor. The idea that he’d kill himself to see if there was something out there is horrifying. Strangely understandable, but terrible.

Comment by JT Ellison

He had suffered a number of serious life set-backs. It’s can be hard to know what might drive a person to make such a final decision, of course.

Comment by Bill Cameron

I agree with you, Rob… I think death will be just another step in the adventure.

Remember that movie “Flatliners” where the med students have their hearts stopped, then are revived and things start to go terribly wrong? Not a great movie, but I loved the idea behind it. Creepy stuff.

Comment by Jennifer

I’m not scared of Death so much as Dying. That pain thing. I’m Catholic and I figure I’ll be in purgatory awhile, but eventually I’ll end up in paradise. At least, I really hope so. The other place is terrifying. Maybe that’s why I’m going to write about it soon . . .

Comment by Allison Brennan

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