Fwd = Near-Death Experiences Under Spotlight At Seattle Conference
- Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
Original Date: Thu, 2 Aug 2001 05:25:16 -0700
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Near-Death Experiences Under Spotlight At Seattle Conference
[Original headline: A glimpse of the 'other side': Seattle conference unites
near-death individuals ]
Not afraid of dying, not afraid of living: Kimberly Clark Sharp has
experienced near death.
The day Kimberly Clark Sharp died was the day her life really began.
It was 1970 in Shawnee Mission, Kan., and she was registering her car
at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. Leaving the DMV, she
suddenly collapsed. She had no pulse. Cardiac arrhythmia, Sharp
learned later, a wild fluctuation of her heart.
Several firefighters tried to revive her through cardio-pulmonary
resuscitation, but couldn't.
By medical definition, Sharp was dead but strangely, she never felt
Her spirit was alive.
She remembers entering a warm, dense, gray fog. She waded through the
fog, comfort and serenity surrounding her. It was a new world, where
the past, present and future existed as one.
Suddenly an explosion erupted beneath her, and Sharp saw a light what
she later described as the light of God and of love. She learned the
answers to the eternal questions, answers not in words but in a
She felt she was home.
But she didn't last long there. She yearned to stay but was pulled
back to earth, to a lifeless body that lay on the ground.
Sharp's life should have ended right there, at age 22, a tragic end to
an innocent and sheltered life. But her life had merely begun.
Now, 30 years later, Sharp is living in Seattle a retired professor of
social work and author of a book based on her story and the stories of
thousands of people like her who came to the edge of dying.
And she'll be one of the expert speakers at the annual conference of
the International Association of Near-Death Studies, which runs
through tomorrow in Seattle.
(The featured speaker at tomorrow night's banquet will be Betty Eadie,
the Seattle-area author whose 1993 book about her own near-death
experience, "Embraced by the Light," became a best-selling
People come to the conference for many reasons. There are health-care
professionals who want to know how to deal with people who have had
near-death experiences. There are researchers who will present the
newest findings in the field. And there are those who, like Sharp,
arrived at the brink, then came back, and want to know more.
Seattle may be the most appropriate place for the meeting: The city,
Sharp says, has one of the highest rates of near-death incidents
reported in the country.
One reason could be the level of emergency medical knowledge here. In
Seattle, more citizens know CPR than any other city, and fully 64
percent of heart-attack victims get CPR from a citizen before
emergency services arrive, one of the top rates in the world.
Good place to live
The city's nationally known emergency medical service, Medic One, has
one of the best resuscitation rates in the world. Emergency-service
workers here brag of the city's 30 percent survival rates in emergency
situations, compared to 5 to 10 percent in the average American city.
These factors give Seattle residents better odds of having a
After graduating from Kansas State University the year of her
collapse, Sharp expected a steady life as a secondary schoolteacher in
Kansas. But after her event, she enrolled at the University of
Washington's School of Social Work and soon became a social worker in
the intensive-care unit at Harborview Medical Center.
There she met Maria.
Maria was the first in a long line of more than 2,000 near-death
experiencers Sharp interviewed while working at Harborview and
researching her book. Maria, a Spanish-speaking migrant worker who had
a heart attack while visiting friends in Seattle, was admitted to
Harborview's critical-care unit.
After she stabilized, Sharp came to calm her. Maria told Sharp she had
floated to a corner of the room, hovering over her body as doctors
worked on her. She was able to describe exactly what the doctors did
when she was unconscious. Then, she said, her body floated out of the
room, and she described the scene outside.
As if to prove her out-of-body experience, Maria described a dark blue
tennis shoe, scuffed a little on the left side, sitting on a window
ledge not visible from Maria's hospital room.
Skeptical, Sharp searched for the shoe. She found it, just as Maria
had described it.
Maria was the also the first Sharp felt comfortable sharing her own
near-death experience with. There would be more and Sharp would use
her experience to calm others in Harborview who were spooked by their
glimpse at the other side.
In the 1980s, Sharp started the Seattle chapter of IANDS, which is now
the organization's largest, with as many as 100 people attending each
meeting. They meet monthly to discuss how their near-deaths changed
And Sharp feels it did change her life. She worked at Harborview,
taught for two decades as a social-work professor at UW, married the
man of her dreams a former director of Medic One in Seattle and wrote
her book. None of these things, Sharp feels, would have happened to
her if she had not had her near-death experience.
She beat breast cancer after the doctors told her she had eight months
to live. She says it was because she was comfortable with death knew
it wasn't an ending but a beginning.
From near death to marriage
Paul Carr met his wife, Libby, through IANDS. They both had near-death
experiences in the 1970s, and they married four years ago. Paul said
the unique part of Seattle organization is that they aren't
"Perhaps what's unusual about this group is that we're sharing a
memory from our life experience," Carr said. "We're not asking you to
believe. It's not a religious discussion. It's just a discussion about
"Plenty of people have these experiences," Sharp said. "But they don't
talk about them because that's often a one-way ticket to the
psychiatric unit and lots of scary medications.
"As weird as all this sounds, to me and all these people it seems very
Story originally published in
The Seattle Times / WA | Reid Forgrave - July 27 2001
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