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Opening Heaven's Door

Opening Heaven's Door

Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After

People everywhere carry with them extraordinary, deeply comforting experiences that arrived at the moment when they most needed relief: when they lost a loved one. These experiences can include clear messages from beyond, profound and vividly beautiful visions, mysterious connections and spiritual awareness, foreknowledge of a loved one’s passing—all of which evade explanation by science and logic. Most people keep these transcendent experiences secret—deathbed experiences, Nearing Death Awareness, and shared death experiences. Individuals and families guard them for fear they will be discounted by hyperrational scrutiny. Yet these very common occurrences have the power to console, comfort, and even transform our understanding of life and death.

Prompted by her family’s surprising, profound experiences around the death of her father and her sister, reporter Patricia Pearson sets out on an open-minded inquiry, a rare journalistic investigation of Nearing Death Awareness. Pearson discovers that roughly half of bereaved people, as well as nurses, hospice workers, soldiers, and others who constantly observe the dying, have had intimations of enduring bonds that can radically help people to process their grief and their fear. Opening Heaven’s Door offers deeply affecting stories of messages from the dying and the dead in a fascinating work of investigative journalism, pointing to new scientific explanations that give these luminous moments the importance felt by those who experience them. Pearson also delves into out-of-body and near-death experiences, examining stories and research to make sense of these related but distinct categories that shed light on Nearing Death Awareness.

Countless people experience these coincidences when a loved one dies, while others experience such visions while they are dying themselves. These phenomena point toward a larger spiritual reality, and the reality of life (or something else) after death, yet are ignored in a cultural framework that dismisses anything that cannot be explained by the physical brain. But by dismissing or discounting these occurrences, we hamper our own healing. Challenging current assumptions about what we know and what we are still unable to explain, Opening Heaven’s Door is a groundbreaking, beautifully written exploration that will forever alter your perceptions of the nature of life and death.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476757063 | 
  • May 2014
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Articles About This Book

About the Author

Patricia Pearson
Photograph © Russell Monk

Patricia Pearson

Patricia Pearson’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Business Week, among other publications. A former member of USATODAY’s Op-Ed Board of Contributors, she gave a recent TEDx talk, “Why Ghosts are Good for You,” which points to research showing the importance of NDAs in helping people cope with grief. She is based in Toronto, Canada.

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