Inspiration

How a Near-Death Experience Helped Strengthen One Woman’s Faith in Heaven

When Charlotte Holmes’ heart stopped beating while she was hospitalized for high blood pressure, she had an amazing near-death experience that filled her with joy, peace, hope — and the knowledge that Heaven is real!

Charlotte felt her stomach tighten as she noted concern cross her cardiologist’s face during a routine exam.

“Your blood pressure is 234/134”, the doctor explained. “You need to go directly to the hospital.” Charlotte had been having problems with high blood pressure since she’d suffered a stroke eight years prior. And though she’d been managing it with medication, the Mammoth, Missouri, 69-year-old lived in fear that, one day, her blood pressure would soar and she’d have another stroke or a heart attack… and this time doctors wouldn’t be able to save her.

As her husband, Danny, drove her to the hospital, Charlotte prayed, Please, don’t let me die. But after two days, nothing brought her pressure down. And on the third morning, while a nurse was hooking her back up to monitors after a sponge bath, Charlotte suddenly slumped over, her eyes blankly staring. Checking her to find that she’d stopped breathing, the nurse called code, and as doctors raced in and started chest compressions, Danny felt terror ice his veins. “I don’t think I am going to be bringing you home this time, honey”, he uttered through tears, his heart shattering.

A Glimpse at Paradise

At that same moment, Charlotte says she felt herself lift out of her body and found herself hovering above her hospital bed watching the dozen nurses and doctors frantically working on her. Suddenly, a beautiful scent of flowers washed over her. I’ve never smelled anything more intoxicating! she marveled.

Just then, soothing music began to play. Charlotte closed her eyes to soak in the peaceful sound. When she opened them again, she remembers being surrounded by lush hills and valleys and sparkling rivers. The grass, trees and flowers were so vibrant, gently swaying to the music.

Suddenly, Charlotte says she saw nine angels, fanning their wings, creating a soft breeze that caressed her. As she turned, she let out a gasp. Beyond gates of gold stood her mom, dad, sister, cousin, her best friend, and her son. They had all died years before, but they now waved and smiled.

Charlotte rejoiced, noticing they all looked healthy, no longer ailing from sickness or pain. Her cousin, Darrell, had lost a leg before he’d died, but there he stood with both. Confused, she spotted a toddler standing with her parents. Who is that boy? she wondered. This is the child you lost, she felt God answer, filling her with peace. She’d been 5 1/2 months pregnant and was devastated when she miscarried nearly 40 years earlier.

Welcome home, Charlotte, she felt God say. Always having been a woman of faith, Charlotte believed in Heaven, but as she drank it all in, awed by the beauty and tranquility, she says it was a million times more amazing than she could have ever imagined.

Just then, she stole a glance back on Earth and saw Danny, her daughter, Chrystal, her son-in-law, her grandson, and granddaughter all huddled, crying. “But, God,” Charlotte blurted. “I wanted to see my grandkids get married!”

“You can stay or go back, but if you go, you must share your experience to bring home as many as you can,” He said. He also promised to send angels to guide her. Suddenly, Charlotte’s eyes blinked open, and she was in her hospital bed.

Forever Changed

“You’re back,” Danny choked and explained that she’d been dead for 11 minutes. “They finally got your heart beating again.” But Charlotte knew it wasn’t the doctors who’d brought her back. During the next three weeks in the ICU, she told anyone who came into her room what had happened. And once back home, she began to share her story at churches and conferences, her heart filling with joy to see the power her story had on others.

Just as God promised, Charlotte says she also began seeing angels and still does today, a year later. They appear behind people and encourage and calm her. “This has truly humbled me,” says Charlotte, whose blood pressure remains controlled with medication. “I no longer fear anything. Heaven is real and so wonderful. I am now able to fully appreciate the beauty of life, knowing it will continue on in Heaven. I hope we can all take comfort in that!”

New science supports NDEs!

According to recent studies, more than 8 million Americans claim to have had a near-death experience (NDE), and 81 percent believe in the existence of Heaven. Yet, while many believe that NDEs are proof of an afterlife, mainstream science has regarded them with skepticism. But new neurological research and members of the medical community are shedding new light on NDE validity.

Once a skeptic herself, surgeon Mary Neal, MD, author of To Heaven and Back ($9.32, Amazon), had her own journey to Heaven after a kayaking accident left her trapped underwater. “I spent months trying to explain what I saw. I thought it must be due to chemical changes in a dying brain,” Dr. Neal says. “But I was without oxygen for 30 minutes. I don’t believe that can just be the chemical reaction of a dying brain — a brain can’t survive that long.”

What’s more, University of Arizona studies found that “NDEs during cardiac arrest suggest that the brain acts as a transceiver of mental activity,” meaning consciousness works through the brain but is not produced by it. Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, MD, who had his own NDE, explains, “This is new evidence that our spirit is not dependent on our brain… our spirit is eternal. I believe — and have seen myself — that Heaven is real!”

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This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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