Book review – Closer to the Light – Learning from the near-death experiences of children

Neil Sharp hosted a wonderful Sunday afternoon in San Francisco this weekend and it gave me the chance to meet another mom.  Our talks reminded me the impact reading Closer to the Light by Melvin Morse, M.D. had on me.  

I had a good friend who would share books with me.  She gave me books on angels, on stress, and eventually this book about near death experiences in children.  I was so struck by the repeated evidence of the same phenomena being recorded with such great similarity from many many childrens’ stories.  

Growing up I did not have formal religious education.  My parents believed in letting their children be free to form their own beliefs.  I visited a few different churches as a teenager but was not drawn to any of them.  The structure and beliefs seemed far more ambiguous than science, logic and facts.  I moved on and my life proceeded until there I was in my 20s with a disabled child and lots of questions about why, but with no real spiritual support.  This book was written by an M.D. and simply presented the experiences and the author’s journey to discover what was occurring during NDEs.  Have you heard the expressions “out of the mouths of babes”?  That’s how I felt as I read.

By the end of the book I realized  – all children with Cerebral palsy have had a near death experience.  During birth cells had enough oxygen deprivation to die and create permanent change.  As a parent of a son with cerebral palsy I was comforted to read Morse’ observations when he revisited some of the children as teens.  He found “these children have become special teenagers who have excellent relationships with their families.  They share a maturity and wisdom that is humbling”. “These children have grown up to become remarkable teenagers…positive and upbeat kids with a joy that is inspiring.” (pg165-7).  I love working with children with cerebral palsy.  I find these observations to be true in my son, and in those I work with.

This is a book about Morse searching for answers using the medical model for evaluating situations.  He presented so much anecdotal information and was so careful about gathering his data that I could not set this information aside.  The next  step for me was to realize that I could choose to believe there was something beyond this reality we are living in this moment.  I realized that knowing there was never going to be a decisive answer I could choose to believe what gave me comfort.  Since that moment of decision the strength of what I call “my faith” has gotten stronger and feels right.  It gives me peace to feel that there is a purpose for us being here and reasons why things occur in this life.  

I feel I changed as a parent and advocate for Don with this decision.  People commented I seemed less stressed – that I was calmer in critical decision making meetings about my son’s services and future.  Reading this book created one of my turning points in this journey of raising my children.