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Observations placeholder

Jayne Smith and her near death experience



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Opening Heaven's Door - Patricia Pearson

Jayne Smith, a retired teacher from Pennsylvania, had an NDE before they had a name, in 1952.

"I thought I was the only person in the entire world that this had ever happened to," she said. "I couldn't imagine why"

The NDE took place during the birth of her second child.

"They used-back in those ancient days-a device called a trilene mask, which was a bracelet on the wrist with a nose cone. When your labour pains became more than you wanted to cope with, you would put it to your nose, breathe in, and for a few seconds lose consciousness. I remember, after a particularly disastrous pain, putting that nose cone up to my nose and inhaling as deeply as I possibly could”.

When that inhalation was over, she had overdosed on general anaesthetic. She went into cardiac arrest, and the doctors began emergency resuscitation.  But that's not what she experienced.

"I felt-I felt-myself rising up out of my body, up through the top of my head, and was in total blackness. I didn't see a tunnel. I thought, this is not right, I should be unconscious, but I'm still awake. Something is a little bit off; I don't know what it is. And when, as quickly as that, I found myself standing in a kind of gray mist, and I knew right away what had happened.  I remember distinctly thinking, 'l know what it is, I’ve died.  l've died.'  And I was so overcome with joy, because I had not been annihilated. I thought, 'I am still me, I am still here,' and I felt so grateful."…………

"I remember joy pouring out of my being," she said, "and as I did that, the gray mist dissipated and everything became brilliant white light."

Smith's rapturous response to the love surrounding her grew so intense that she worried she would shatter. As if sensing this, the light dimmed a little, and then revealed or unveiled an exquisite meadow featuring colours that she had never seen before.

"The colours were extraordinary," she said. On a ridge above the meadow she saw some figures, to whom she went and wordlessly communicated.

"There was a block of knowledge or what I later suspected was a field of some kind, that came in and settled on me all of a piece, and I suddenly knew that I was eternal, that I was indestructible, that I always existed and I always would exist.  There was no end,  there was no end."

Smith recovered, delivered a healthy daughter, and said nothing about her NDE for twenty-five years. Although by the time I heard her speak about it, more than fifty years had passed, her facial expression during the telling was gradually transfigured by joy.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being anaesthetised
Cardiac arrest