More Stories From The Other Side Of Death


Kevin Simington

One of the most famous cases of Out-of-Body (OBE) Dear-Death Experiences took place in Harborview Hospital, Seattle, in 1984, and involved a young woman named Maria and her critical care social worker, Kimberly Clark. Maria was a migrant worker who, while visiting friends in Seattle, had a severe heart attack. She was rushed to Harborview Hospital and placed in the Coronary Care Unit. A few days later, while still in the CCU, she had a cardiac arrest and an underwent a classic out-of-body experience. After her resuscitation, she reported having risen out of her body, and floated up, above the hospital. When she recounted her experience, the hospital staff were extremely sceptical. Maria, however, was adamant. She described seeing a blue tennis shoe on the ledge of a top floor window. Kimberly Clark, the critical care social worker, went up to the window to verify Maria’s story, and, to her amazement, found the blue tennis shoe just as Maria had described.

In a subsequent TV interview, Kimberley stated, “She got everything right, and I didn’t {initially} believe her. I did, finally, on the North end of the building, look down, and there was a blue tennis shoe on a ledge.”1

When Kimberly returned with the blue tennis shoe, the hospital staff were stunned. One of the staff, Melvin Morse, who was there that day, reflects on those events:

“This is the smoking gun of the near-death world! A patient named Maria, at Harborview Hospital, had a near death experience that she told Kim Clark about. She rose up out of her body, outside the hospital, and looked down and saw a tennis shoe on a ledge. Something that could only be seen from a helicopter’s view of the hospital. Kim Clark then went to the floor and looked out the window and couldn’t see the tennis shoe. But she reached out the window, and sure enough, there it was, and history was made. I worked at Harborview Hospital during this period of time. I personally spoke with the Respiratory Therapist who was involved with the resuscitation. She clearly remembered both the patient talking about the tennis shoe and Kim Clark finding it.”2

The incident gained national, and even international, attention, eventually giving rise to a BBC documentary and numerous TV interviews.  It also prompted Kimberly Clark to face the reality of her own previous out-of-body near-death episode 14 years earlier.

In 1970, Kimberly had been walking down a busy sidewalk and had dropped dead of a heart attack. A male nurse in the crowd witnessed the incident and began CPR. Kimberly vividly remembers seeing him working on her body and then hearing a woman who was also assisting, say, “I’m not getting a pulse! I’m not getting a pulse!”3  She then says, “I found myself in a warm, great place. I had vision, I had awareness. I had a sense of calm anticipation.” She then says “Light exploded all around me … I have no words to describe it ,,, there was nothing else in this light but love … there aren’t any words”4

Kimberly then says, “Though I had never seen God, I recognized this light as the Light of God. But even the word “God” seemed too small to describe the magnificence of that presence. I was with my Creator, in holy communication with that presence. The Light was directed at me and through me; it surrounded me and pierced me.”5

Kimberly’s own experience, and the experience of Maria 14 years later, led to her writing the book, “After The Light”, in 1995. She is also the founder of the International Association for Near Death Studies, in Seattle.

Of course, Kimberly’s and Maria’s NDE’s are anecdotal in nature, and do not constitute definitive “proof” of life after death. Furthermore, it has to be acknowledged that the internet is replete with people making all kinds of outrageous, unsubstantiated claims. In some instances, those making the claims may truly believe what they are saying, but may be suffering from delusion or some form of mental illness. In other cases, deliberate fraud may be involved, in order to achieve fame and/or monetary benefit.

The existence of fraud and self-delusion, however, does not preclude the existence of the real thing. C.S. Lewis, the reluctantly converted atheist who became one of Christianity’s most influential theologians and philosophers, once made this very point. He argued that the existence of a counterfeit watch, for example, in no way disproves the existence of the genuine article – in fact it only makes sense if the genuine article exists in the first place.6

Fortunately, not all reports of NDE’s are simply anecdotal. One occurrence of an externally verifiable NDE was reported in the 2001 study by Dr Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist from the Netherlands. He and his team conducted a study on NDEs in 344 cardiac arrest patients who had been successfully resuscitated in 10 Dutch hospitals. One patient had an out of body experience where he reported being able to watch and recall very specific events during the time of his cardiac arrest. His claims were confirmed by hospital personnel. After investigating this incident thoroughly, Dr van Lommel commented, This did not appear consistent with hallucinatory or illusory experiences, as the recollections were compatible with real and verifiable rather than imagined events.7

Similarly, Dr Sam Parnia’s “AWARE” study of NDE’s in resuscitated cardiac arrest patients documented two cases where patients were able to identify people and events that took place around them while they were clinically “dead”. Dr Parnia concludes that there is no scientific or physical explanation that can account for these instances.8

Sadly, even in cases where an academic research project has uncovered verifiable evidence of NDE experiences, such as in Sam Parnia’s and Pim van Lommel’s studies, there will be people whose strong predisposition towards disbelief will cause them to search for any possible way to discredit the evidence. Dedicated sceptics, with an underlying agenda to promote their atheistic worldview, refuse to accept any metaphysical explanation of this phenomena, and will argue aggressively and, at times, even belligerently, with those who are more open-minded.

Melvin Morris, the staff worker at Harborview Hospital who verifies Kimberly Clark’s account, writes (rather colloquially):

“Oh, but you say, “Where is the tennis shoe? Why can’t Kim produce it?” (uh, it’s in her garage somewhere). But even if Kim produced the tennis shoe, then someone would say, “Oh, but how do we know it’s the real tennis shoe. Maybe she just bought that tennis shoe”. And what if Kim had a videotape of her finding the shoe, and affidavits from the Head of the Hospital that it was in fact the tennis shoe? Well, even that wouldn’t be enough for some people. Well, what if we got in a time machine and went back in time and showed those people Kim actually finding the tennis shoe? Oh, that wouldn’t be enough. They would then claim that we went back to an alternative Universe that wasn’t our time line, etc etc etc. Are you finally getting it? There is no sense in engaging the sceptics. There is no amount of proof that would make them believe anything. It is SCIENCE that proves near death experiences are real. Kim’s story is supported by science, and her own integrity.”9

If we can excuse Melvin’s passion (and his over-enthusiastic claim that science proves life after death), he makes a valid point. Some people will simply never be convinced. As Jesus taught in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16:31, “Even if someone was to rise from the dead they will not believe.

I suspect that the problem we will continue to have in regard to these near-death out-of-body experiences is the extreme difficulty, perhaps even the impossibility, of verifying and analysing them via the physical sciences. In the end, those who are predisposed towards atheism will reject them as mere hallucinations or outright fraud, while those with a spiritual world view will see them as corroboration of life beyond death.

There are some in the scientific and medical world, however, who approach the topic with an open-minded curiosity and who continue to pursue research into this phenomenon in the hope of gaining a clearer understanding of it.10 Given the significant incidence of NDE’s11 and the even distribution of them amongst different cultures and belief systems, it would seem unwise to dismiss them all as false or fraudulent.

The Bible says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). This verse, of course, was written to Christians, who are given an assurance that they will be ushered into heaven. Elsewhere, the Bible indicates a less desirable destination for those who reject God’s offer of forgiveness. Scripture constantly reminds us that our physical outer shells will one day wear out and be discarded, but the real us will live on. Have you considered your own eternal future? Because one day your own body will stop working, and you will leave this world behind. Where are you heading?


  6. S. Lewis, “Miracles”, 1947
  10. Dr Sam Parnia is currently completing his second study, “AWARE II”, which was to be completed by mid-2017 but which has been extended.
  11. These include:

– In 2001 Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist from the Netherlands, and his team conducted a study on NDEs including 344 cardiac arrest patients who had been successfully resuscitated in 10 Dutch hospitals

– A series of significant NDE studies were conducted by Dr Bruce Greyson (2001, 2003 and 2006) involving hundreds of cardiac arrest patients. He defined common features as being “impressions of being outside one’s physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries.” (“Near-Death Experiences in a Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic Population”. Psychiatric Services, December, Vol. 54 No. 12. The American Psychiatric Association)

– A paper published in 2009 reported a 17%incidence of NDE’s amongst critically ill patients, in nine prospective studies from 4 different countries (Zingrone, NL (2009). Pleasurable Western adult near-death experiences: features, circumstances, and incidence. (In: Holden JM, Greyson B, James D, editors. The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation.) (2009 ed.). SantaBarbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO. pp. 17–40. ISBN 978-0313358647.)

– In 2014 Greyson published a summary of a number of studies of NDE’s from around the world, stating that between 10% and 20% people experiencing cessation of cardiac activity and breathing in these studies had experienced NDE visions (Greyson, Bruce (2014). “Chapter 12: Near-Death Experiences”. In Cardeña, Etzel; Lynn, Steven Jay; Krippner, Stanley. Varieties of anomalous experience : examining the scientific evidence (Second ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. pp. 333–367. ISBN 978-1-4338-1529-4.)