Below is a Q & A with Madelaine Lawrence, author of The Death View Revolution: A guide to transpersonal experiences surrounding death.
1. How is your book different from the many others on transpersonal or extrasensory experiences associated with near death and dying?
This book includes all known transpersonal experiences in one book as opposed to one book for each type of experience. Much of the discussion about these experiences has been focused on what causes them and attempts to prove they can be explained by our understanding of medical science. This book is focused on the clinical relevance of these experiences, what to say to individuals to whom they occur, and what the research shows or does not show about proof of translocation and an afterlife.
2. Why did you decide to put all these experiences together in one book?
Up until now, each occurrence has been treated as a separate phenomenon. I believe they are all part of a larger phenomenon that you can only see when these experiences are described together. For example, there are reports of seeing mist or smoke leave the body at the time of death. To my knowledge this has not been reported in the near-death experience (NDE) literature. If the NDE represents some part of the person’s being leaving the body, why no reports of a mist or smoke leaving the body? Does it not happen or has that occurrence not been looked for during an NDE.
3. You talk about the importance of clinical significance versus the causes of these experiences. What does that mean?
In the past these experiences have been called hallucinations, a word that implies mental illness. We know through research when dying individuals see, hear or sense the presence of deceased loved ones they are less anxious about dying and require less pain medication. They feel less alone in this dying process. Often caregivers will tell the dying person not to speak of such occurrences for fear someone will think they are mentally ill. Clinically helping the dying embrace the experience is beneficial for them.
4. Do you believe there is an afterlife?
I personally believe something continues to exist after bodily death. What can be substantiated is the ability of individuals to translocate and acquire information beyond our normal senses. What is substantiated through veridical perception during NDEs, deathbed communication, after death communication (ADC) information can be acquired that is unknown to the receiver. A hospice nurse reported she was ‘visited’ by her patient who had just died in her home. The deceased spirit told her he had forgotten to tell his wife where some insurance papers were kept. He gave the nurse the specifics of the location of these papers in a room the nurse had never seen. She visited the man’s wife, told her the location where they proceeded to find the insurance papers.
5. What do you mean by veridical perception?
What that means simply is that we can verify what individuals have seen, heard or sensed objectively. These perceptions occur when physically the person should not have been able to have the experience. One patient, for example, reported seeing a red shoe on the roof of the hospital while out of her body. A resident doctor was curious, went to the roof and came back holding a red shoe.
6. You mentioned some scientists have attempted to induce after-death communication (ADC). Do you believe that can be done?
That is a new area of investigation which is still being validated. It does seem preferable to have a grieving person experience an ADC rather than be told about contact through another party.
7. What kind of death view revolution are you proposing in your book?
These experiences and how to guide individuals who have them should be integrated in all textbooks on death and dying and be an essential part of the education of health professionals, family members and the person near-death or dying. Currently little information is included in the standard death and dying books.