Do you believe in Heaven? After a near-death experience singer Hilary Williams says it is very real, and full of unimaginable love. Here, she shares her story of hope, love and learning a truth that left her fearless: God has a purpose for us all.
A devastating car crash
Driving down Mississippi’s Highway 61 in March of 2006, Hilary Williams smiled as her sister, Holly, shared a favorite memory of their maternal grandmother. The daughters of country singer Hank Williams Jr. were headed to Louisiana for their grandmother’s funeral and were passing the time by recalling happy memories of her.
But as they rounded a curve, Hilary glanced down at her iPod and, in a split second, her truck hit the ruts on the side of the country road. Hilary instinctively jerked the wheel — so hard that the truck did a 360-degree spin, then flipped four times, landing on its side.
The next thing the then-27-year-old knew, she was dangling by her seat belt and smashed behind the steering wheel, with Holly crumpled on the seat beside her.
“God, send Your angels to help us!” Hilary gasped, terrified and soaked in blood. A group of good Samaritans — a physical therapist, a preacher and a truck driver — stopped and rushed over to help, but they couldn’t free the girls from the mangled steel.
Forty-five minutes later, paramedics arrived and cut the sisters out of the truck.
Struggling to breathe, Hilary was loaded onto a stretcher, when suddenly, she recalls a tall glowing being wearing a white gown appeared beside her.
Taking Hilary’s hand, Hilary says the angel whispered softly, “It’s time to go.”
Hilary Williams describes her near-death experience
In that instant, Hilary says an indescribable sense of peace washed over her as she was lifted up out of her body. As she gazed down on the scene below, thousands of pictures of her life began flashing before her eyes like a movie, including a photo her mother had taken of her happily wearing her favorite cowboy boots when she was just 4 years old.
Suddenly, Hilary was bathed in a brilliant light and felt a love deeper than she’d ever experienced before.
This is God’s love, she realized joyfully as she was led toward a mansion made of gold and diamonds.
As she approached, Hilary says she saw loved ones who’d passed — including her father’s parents, country singer Hank Williams Sr., and his wife, Audrey, whom Hilary had never met.
Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter, were there too, playing instruments and singing as Merle Kilgore, Hank Jr.’s longtime manager and a dear family friend, laughed and slapped his legs to the beat of the music.
Oh and the music… Hilary had never heard such beautiful music. It was like thousands of voices uniting in different harmonies.
I never want to leave, Hilary thought, but then her grandparents hugged her tightly, as if to say, It’s not your time yet.
In a blink, Hilary was back in her body, being cared for by two Life Flight nurses. And to the nurses’ surprise, Hilary’s eyes fluttered open… and she smiled.
Finding heavenly strength
As she struggled to heal, Hilary clung to that glorious memory of her journey to Heaven. While Holly had suffered a broken arm and a few other non–life-threatening injuries, Hilary’s injuries— including a broken pelvis, back, hips, leg and a ruptured colon — were so extensive that she was in and out of the hospital over the next five years, undergoing 30 surgeries.
“God has a purpose for us all,” Hilary would tell loved ones when they’d ask where she got her strength.
Today Hilary, now 44, has made a complete recovery and followed in her legendary family’s footsteps in 2018 releasing an album, My Lucky Scars. But she’s also found purpose and joy in bringing others comfort and hope by sharing her story.
“I used to be afraid of dying, but now I’m not afraid at all,” smiles Hilary, who wrote about her visit to Heaven in her book Sign of Life. “I want everyone to know that God is with us, Heaven is real and it’s a place of love so deep, no words can describe it. There’s no pain, only peace and joy—so no matter what happens in life, we shouldn’t fear!”
New research supports near-death experiences (NDEs)
While many scientists posit that a near-death experience (NDE) — like the one experienced by Hilary Williams — result from a cascade of chemicals flooding the brain just before death, new research is indicating that NDEs are more than mere hallucinations.
In a recent study conducted at the University of Liege in Belgium, researchers discovered that not only do a majority of people who experience NDEs report the same series of events — such as feeling separated from their body, seeing bright light, feeling overwhelming peace and love, watching life reviews, meeting deceased relatives and finally, returning to their physical body — but almost all NDErs are also able to recount the events in highly vivid detail, despite having had no brain activity.
“When you talk to most patients who have had a brush with death but did not have an NDE, the majority of them are confused or amnesic when they’ve recovered,” says Jeffrey Long, M.D., founder of the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation and author of Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.
“But our research found that 76% of people who have an NDE report their level of consciousness and alertness during the time they were considered ‘dead’ actually increases, and they can recall things down to the last detail. We see this as evidence that we all have souls—and there is an afterlife!”
For more uplifting stories of faith and hope, keep reading…