My Near-Death Experience

In this time of extreme darkness I only hope that I can share a bit of light.

After speaking with my brother who just finished reading my memoir, AFTERSHOCK, he encouraged me to reveal more in depth details surrounding my own experience with near death as I was not just near death, I was actually there at the pearly gates and almost beyond them. I experienced what very few people live to tell and it was illuminating, revelatory and in the mere seconds that I almost crossed over, beautiful. This moment shifted my entire perspective as I believe that when it is our predetermined time to depart this earth that we do go out though a magnificent passage. What I mean to say is obviously not to glorify death at all but hopefully not to fear it when we have no more fight left. 

In a time of global mourning for the innocents that were taken way too soon, I pray for their eternal peace. For the many survivors of loss, I pray for recovery.

I do not claim to know what is there in the world beyond us but I experienced being swept into an energy like a vortex that nearly took me but inexplicably stopped. 

I have always loved the theory of living many lives and learning from each one the lessons that bring us closer to true enlightenment. It is my chosen belief (and reading about Asian theology has validated my chosen belief), it has helped me make sense of things that are senseless and it has helped me survive some very rough and challenging times. Hopefully we can all find a small silver lining in the darkness of my harrowing endeavor that began in sheer agony but ended with rare wisdom and insight. The only light I could find in the entirety of my ordeal was that split second that I was near death, and that is what I will try to remember and relay above all else. 

Let me try to recall in detail this most wondrous tale of my personal experience of the rapture that I felt as I was physically dying just two days after Thanksgiving of 2008 …

Within 24 hours of all my internal organs shutting down, a dear friend of mine, Jackie, flew out to the hospital where I was on life support in a medically induced coma. Jackie arrived within the first 24 hours of my collapse coming directly to the hospital in the middle of the night. She found a nurse who told her to gather my relatives to say their final goodbye as I was not going to survive much longer. All alone while waiting for my husband and father in law to arrive, Jackie stayed with me in my cold dark room where I was unrecognizable — the only sound to be heard was the mechanical hum and beating of the monitors. With not much else she could do, Jackie began to read aloud to me from a book that was placed at my bedside that I had purchased only recently.

The book was ironically called “The LIFE” and it was the biography of John Lennon. Jackie has a soothing and soft melodic voice and I heard her through my altered state, however, what I imagined her reading was more like a narration that was so soothing that it washed over me like warm molten. I imagined that she was telling me about a special being that I was becoming closer to. I started to step into an aura that felt so divine that it filled me with a complete joy that I had never felt before. I began to feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude and heard beatific music building into a crescendo that was like hearing the universe in one big celestial symphony. It sounded like the Beatles in their eastern psychedelic phase with sitar playing that I always loved. 

I felt an ecstasy of elation as I floated towards a magnificent scene of blue skies, a lush garden, and a simple white fence. The closer I came to touching the gate the more vibrant everything became and heavenly the music was. It began to envelop me in a feeling of glory and unity. In that instant I was weightless and free, free from the worry and pain and responsibility that life brings. Music was my connection to the galaxy and I still to this day revere music and need it around me constantly. I was hearing an otherworldly orchestra as I began to drift closer to the splendor. The flowers began to grow brighter with each step and the music became even more exquisite but then in a flash it was gone. My vision vanished in sequence with the rally of the machines of support showing my resurgence back to life. The shocked doctors explained to us that I was as close to dying as one can come while surviving it. 

For months and years later I desperately searched for that magical feeling that I got from the verse from the John Lennon book but to no avail. It has taken me 14 years to find the words to try to transcribe the magnitude of my personal experience and I want people to feel a sense of comfort and hope through my unique exposure. I have read others’ experiences with NDEs (near death experiences) and there are many common themes to what I’ve described: the music, the joy, and the floating. 

Possibly It was my fate to return to impart my story to whoever cares to listen. Hopefully by telling this, I can comfort others in similar situations of health, grief, or mourning. I believe there is more than just an end to life as we know it but I don’t claim to KNOW anything unequivocally.  

Hopefully my book detailing my experience will help others.


After I was revived, I stayed in a coma for close to 90 more days. I was suspended between the two worlds of the conscious and unconscious and I heard the familiar voices of my loved ones speaking to me that were actually there beside me in real time. I did understand that I was in grave danger but it was impossible for me to communicate with anyone during this incredibly solitary journey. I remember visions that seemed related to real events, like when we are awakening from a deep slumber and are not fully awake nor fully lucid. It was an entirely different state of consciousness that I lived in for months. 

One dream I remember was sitting on a couch across from my brother and sister in law. We were in the sterile bleak hospital where just outside our glass door were tall palm trees swaying to an ocean breeze and the warm mist of air after a storm had just passed. I wondered why I chose to continue to sit dutifully still with them letting the yearning for moist breezy air pass even though I yearned to walk outside that door and into the warm air.

Another intense dream or vision I had was my last before my initial reawakening: I was wandering alone in the dark for what seemed like an eternity when I was told by an unfamiliar voice to stand very still in the complete darkness. I remember that I was freezing but I feared moving a muscle even to shiver. Just then, I saw two strangers in matching eyeglasses — one being an older gentleman and the other a younger but identical version as the same person at different life stages. When they asked me if I wanted to “go” with them I had initially agreed but was unsure of where and with whom as I didn’t know either of them. It was then that I recalled my two children’s names and asked to go back to them. That was my grounding force … Within moments I heard a voice call out of the darkness asking “if Penny Fisher was here” and I proclaimed as loudly as I could, as if it was my very last chance to be heard, that “yes, I am here!” And with that, the younger man snapped his fingers and they lit up like flames to a match and I awoke. 

Right before I fully awakened I saw an open air colosseum where my closest friends floated out from behind its four stone pillars under the dome where each congratulated me and said “welcome back — we are so proud of you and love you.” I had no idea why but it felt great to hear at which point I fully awoke and they were all there. I was so happy to rejoin my loved ones but saw the horror of my condition.

My hands and feet were charred black from the lack of oxygen and I was skeletal and yellow toned. So I would go back to sleep for long periods convinced that I was still dreaming. Unfortunately I could not outrun reality, nor could I run at all (pun intended). I was in shock and initially refused to believe what had happened to me. I eventually had to find ways to cope and find faith and hope which are literally my two best friends’ middle names. 

I prayed for miracles but all I could manage was a small reversal of the necrotic tissue on my hands and feet. It was my faith and my love that kept me sane and motivated to improve my circumstances as much as humanly possible. It was my newer faith in a god-like force that I had briefly almost touched in my precarious state. 

I am not an expert nor do I claim certainty on anything but my own life and death experience, but the privilege (yes I believe it is  a rare and enlightening PRIVILEGE to live after being on the precipice of life and death) is a rare blessing. 

Since then, I sat with two of my very beloved as they themselves transitioned into the next world and I did whisper in both of their ears as they were wrestling with their respective fates. I told them how much I loved them and what they meant to me and I tried to encourage them to let go to feel buoyancy and to go without fear. What I saw in the end was a relaxation of both their bodies and a calm peace spread over their beautiful faces, just as I witnessed with my mom after she succumbed with her painful disease, multiple myeloma. 

As I mentioned in my book, AFTERSHOCK, I believe our life might play like a script and we have only minimal control of our ultimate outcome. I suppose, rightly, that I was not meant to die at that particular time. But I will not be afraid when my time is up either.

As George Harrison, my favorite Beatle, said on his deathbed: 

“Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait, and love each other.”  

Writen by Penny Fisher

Penny Fisher has not only survived an unbelievable trauma, but also she has thrived. She is working on her memoir, and is available as a motivational speaker and mentor. To contact her, email: [email protected].

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