I thank you for the opportunity to voice my appreciation to the ISGO program, as well as to personally attest to the effectiveness of the sharing groups. I have been an active and consistent participant in the sharing groups for the last year and a half. Up until three years ago, my life was almost enviable. I was an educator, serving both as a teacher and as an administrator. I was happily married with two well adjusted sons. My wife and I were planning to renew our wedding vows for our 25th anniversary that coming Spring.
On September 9th, 2018, My family and I went to a neighbor’s home to enjoy a football game. Roughly an hour after our arrival, I suffered a grand mal seizure which triggered a cardiac arrest. Paramedics were called and I was revived on location. When I came to, everyone was screaming and crying. Unfortunately, my wife and two young sons were forced to witness everything. While my experience was euphoric, theirs was horrific.
I hear it said in the sharing groups that it is important to listen to someone who has had an NDE, that there is much to learn from their experiences. I have also seen this expressed often in literature regarding NDEs. On a personal level this makes me apprehensive. I fear I am unable to offer any meaningful knowledge or wisdom. In the sense that my NDE was profound and beautiful, it exists as but one tree in a forest of many. Nonetheless, I pray that I might make my voice heard.
Two weeks after the incident, I returned home from the hospital. I had not seen nor spoken to my children since my incident. My wife felt that it was for the best due to the trauma they experienced. She was also concerned about my appearance and the things I was saying in the hospital. When I attempted to hug my wife she initially recoiled then reluctantly allowed it. That would be the last time I was even remotely intimate with her. My five year old refused to let me touch him and would not look at me when I spoke to him. He seemed terrified of me and I couldn’t understand why. This went on for about a year. My wife told me that he was having recurring nightmares but forbade me to speak to him about it. I found out later that she suffered from similar nightmares.
It didn’t take long before the initial NDE “high” to wear off. Now I had to contend with a flood of unfamiliar emotions and an ever present sense of everything being strangely misaligned. The colors looked wrong somehow but I couldn’t explain how they were different from before. My favorite foods tasted terrible, I couldn’t even drink alcohol anymore. I started to chain smoke and forget myself for long periods of time. I was confused and becoming very afraid. How could something so perfect and beautiful be so terrible?
It is said that when the angels gazed upon the face of God, they trembled with awe. I sat alone on my deck for two years and simply wept. I imagine that might be all an atheist could do. Initially I concluded that the inability to control my emotions and changes in perception were the result of brain damage. Believing that I was delusional was preferable because it alone made sense. During an argument, I broke down and told my wife some of what I experienced and the thoughts I was having. I told her that I was afraid that something was wrong with me. I begged her for help. The next morning, she demanded a divorce.
I felt an overwhelming desire to tell everyone a message that I couldn’t articulate. But I wouldn’t dare put it to words if I was able, lest other loved ones react as my wife did. I wanted it to stop but instead it seemed to get progressively worse. I was convinced I was in the midst of an emotional and psychological breakdown. Time, I felt, would only exacerbate my condition. I became deeply depressed. In my mind I was a failure, both as a father and as a husband. I doubted I would be fit to teach anymore. Everything was entangled with the guilt I felt for choosing to go with the angels during my experience. A better man would have chosen to stay with his family. I didn’t want to come back in the first place. It was done to me against my will.
My five year old was the least able to adopt a facade of normalcy around me. To see him in such distress was heartbreaking, to be unable to do anything but make it worse was unbearable. I was the cause of his nightmares because I was his nightmare. I caused the people I love the most to suffer needlessly. They were all paying the price for something I did or perhaps couldn’t do. My wife’s words were cruel but true, they would all be better off if I had not come back.
I felt I wasn’t meant to be here, It was all some kind of cosmic bureaucratic mistake. I wanted to go back to the angels where I belonged. At some point, I just broke. The only means available for me to exert any control over my life was to end it. I decided I would do so in a way that would appear to be due to natural causes. I planned it out. It would involve no one else and most importantly, no one would witness it. There would be no note.
During this time in my life, I would obsessively browse for any reliable information or medical journals that might be relevant to seizure disorders or cardiac arrests. One day I came across a mention of Dr. Greyson’s work. From there I landed on the IANDS homepage and was immediately intrigued. I tried to watch a video but found it too upsetting. Then I read a few accounts and just became more frustrated and confused. I had too many questions. I needed to hear experiencers, but I also needed to be heard. I needed to talk to someone who had some clue as to what was happening around me. I started attending ISGO meetings, If for no other reason, to have an excuse to believe I was not insane.
Fortunately the meetings accomplished much more than I anticipated. When I started a list last week of what everyone at ISGO has done for me, I had to catch myself halfway through the process when I realized I had written over eighteen pages. In short, I owe everyone at IANDS and ISGO more than can be adequately expressed. The good people at ISGO saved my life. My family was spared. My sons now have the father they need and deserve. No one gave me the answers I sought, rather the experience and wisdom of the people at ISGO enabled me to find them myself. I understand now that the measure of purpose in life is the love shared with those around you. I have made my peace with life.
I implore that you consider the continuation of the ISGO program. I truly believe these meetings to be where the rubber meets the road. From the vantage point of someone in my position, ISGO is what makes IANDS tangible and real. I had nowhere else to go and no one to turn to. To a layman such as myself, ISGO is the more approachable facet of IANDS.
My grandmother once told me that when a man saves your life you owe him a life. If you can’t pay your debt to him, you must save another. I humbly ask that I be given a chance to repay my debt, both as an ISGO volunteer and a new member of IANDS. I thank you for your time and welcome the opportunity to be a staunch advocate of the mission of IANDS.