Observations placeholder

Mortimer, John and wife Penny



Type of Spiritual Experience

Near death

Number of hallucinations: 2


A description of the experience


Extracted from Clinging To The Wreckage, The Summer Of A Dormouse, and In Other Words, all by John Mortimer

The trouble is you have no idea what dying is going to be like, and there is no one to tell you. I read that drowning is not like sinking rapidly asleep in the water, but undergoing a lengthy and painful suffocation, though I don't believe that anybody knows.

The worst thing would be a death which is a sort of joke. When we were in the South of France one year, there were widespread forest fires and small planes were used to scoop up water from the sea and, flying inland, dump it on the blazing pines.

An innocent tourist was snorkelling harmlessly and happily watching the fish. He was scooped up by a plane, flown inland and dropped, from a great height, on to the forest fire. He became the subject of a lawsuit with an insurance company as no one could decide whether he had been killed by fire or water. That, with any luck, is not the way to go.

Of course, it's not death, but the process of dying that gives rise to timor mortis. A friend near death, whom I visited in hospital, described a strange dream and alarming hallucinations. The doctor had turned into a devilish figure who was seducing the patient's wife.

Though my friend tried to point out that the doctor had grown a long and scaly tail, which was let out as an advertising space and had the name of various commercial products printed on it, his wife took no notice and surrendered to the devilish doctor's advances.

Very soon after Emily was born, Penny haemorrhaged terribly, losing a large proportion of her blood. Though told by the cleaning lady that it wasn't her 'life blood' and that it wouldn't really matter, she rang a sensible doctor, who closed his surgery and rushed her to hospital.

It was hard to find a vein to receive new blood and, as she lay unconscious, she saw a blinding light and realised she was dying, an experience which caused her no terror.

I'm sure this is the most reliable account of the experience; fear has gone with other accompanying pains and there is nothing to be afraid of in a great light, illuminating nothing

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps