Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Dr. Peter Fenwick on Toward The Light

On 30 September I had the honour of interviewing Dr. Peter Fenwick on Toward The Light. Alas, if I were to have a 'hero' in the medical field, Dr. Fenwick would definitely qualify as one, as he's done a tremendous amount of work over the years to validate the NDE as authentic and real—it not being some sort of hallucination or the product of a 'dying brain'.

I first met Dr. Fenwick at the annual IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) conference in Chicago in 2004. He gave a most compelling lecture on the nature of NDEs as he detailed the extensive research that he's done over the years.

I remember sitting next to PMH Atwater during his lecture and she and I were both so animated and excited with everything that came out of his mouth. It was quite something to behold two white-haired ladies bobbing up and down like two excited children. Given that we're both NDErs—ones who truly believe in the legitimacy and validity of the NDE—we were truly excited that Dr. Fenwick gave very clear, concise details about how and why the NDE is real, when it occurs and how it is distinctly different from a hallucination. He also pointed out that the lucid clarity that occurs with an NDE is something that is maintained by the experiencer and does not become a faint memory over time; nor does it become distorted as a hallucination does.

Dr. Fenwick provided a 'powerpoint' presentation that featured detailed graphs, dialogues from patients—including a child who'd had a near-death experience—and other images and illustrations.

During our interview, he recapped a lot of this data and shared it with the listening audience.

Dr. Fenwick got into the NDE research as a result of a patient who'd come to him regarding a cardiac catheter that had gone wrong. He became unconscious and he left his body; then he watched the resuscitation process and was very frightened by the whole thing. He was told by the physicians that they'd have to do it again, but he wasn't about to endure another traumatic ordeal, so he simply left the hospital. This patient only told Dr. Fenwick and his wife, Elizabeth, about the NDE that he had had. This took place in 1986.

This triggered Dr. Fenwick's research with Margo Grey who did extensive research into the NDE.

Peter participated in a film centred on NDEs on a QED documentary on BBC Television in 1987. He and his wife wrote a book called The Truth and the Light. As a result of all this he received over a 1000 eMails and letters thanking him for his work in this documentary.

He said that there are several reasons why the NDE is valid as occurring during a flat-line. He's done a number of studies. For example, he found a person, Penny Satori (sp?), who just finished her Ph.D and she conducted a study where she invited cardiac patients to describe their OBEs and then rate them. Through these studies, they were able to determine that those who claimed to be OBE during a resuscitation, actually did accurately describe the resuscitation process.

A third of the people that Penny worked with, had NDEs that included an OBE. Peter points out that people are only interested in their bodies when they're floating above them. They don't look round the room—only focusing on their bodies. That's why targets are placed near where the patient is situated, so that they will be seen whilst the patient is out-of-body.

Dr. Fenwick has been working on these studies a lot over the past five years. He's working with Dr. Sam Parnia where they've planted targets in the rooms, for example, where one has had a cardiac arrest and they've set this up in 18-20 hospitals throughout the UK. These targets are placed in strategic locations where one can easily spot and identify them whilst out-of-body during a near-death episode, then report what they saw afterwards.

I asked him about his being open with hospital staff about NDEs and their research projects. He explained that the ethics committee is extremely important and they get permission from them to conduct these studies and have been granted them. There are resuscitation officers who are brought in whenever anyone has a cardiac arrest and they preside over each patient and work in the resuscitation process and also report to the physicians.

He's also working on researching the DBP (deathbed phenomena) with different hospitals and it's so moving, really. He's realised that in our western culture, we're so unaware of the state of mind of the dying person. This is when I brought up the article that I'd written entitled, The Dying Process ~ From an Experiencers Perspective and how this all ties in to what is actually occurring during the dying process. I describe in clear detail what is actually happening to one as one is dying and this also includes how ones consciousness shifts and expands as one prepares to transition and what occurs after one transitions.

Peter observed that, a week before a person dies, one is greeted by deceased loved ones who are there specifically to help the person through the dying process. What the loved ones say—along with the response of the dying person—is very accurate. The dying person will then say something like, "Tomorrow, I'll be going on a journey with so-and-so," and that is exactly what has happened. Peter did a TV show in England about this and, once again, he received a thousand eMails from people who've given examples of DBVs and there's also the phenomena of deathbed coincidences.

At the moment of death, the dying person communicates telepathically with another family member and indicates that he or she is dying, but is okay. A person sees the dying person and is reassured that s/he is okay. The mind of dying individuals is able to connect with ones they love at the moment of death and it is reassuring to the living.

Often the body of the dying person is surrounded by light at the moment of death. There are great things that happen. Dr. Fenwick was pointing out that people's clocks often stop when one crosses over—not just digital ones, but mechanical ones as well. Bells will go off and animals will also react. It's indeed a deep and complex phenomena.

Dr Fenwick is working with a nurse, Sue, and another lovely nurse, Hillary, who are working in palliative care in hospitals and nursing homes as well. He explained that the staff in nursing homes are very unwilling to talk about this subject—a real reluctance to talk about it—as if it's 'taboo'. Many of the staff feel that they've not been trained property about the dying process, so they avoid it. We talked about this issue and the fact that there need to be more training in the area of death and dying and to face it squarely and not regard it as something 'taboo' or to fear.

It's not right to think that the dying are 'hallucinating', etc. Dr. Fenwick is a strong advocate of the validity of the DBP and asks for reports from staff regarding what they observe with the dying and does outreach after one year's time to find out what's occurred with the dying.

Dr. Fenwick is putting together a model of by which people can go into hospitals and different facilities and talk about these phenomena as well as to create a pamphlet. I offered him the use of my article in support of this endeavour. He also wants to create a CD that features stories/accounts of experiencers.

He points out that story after story after story are all so consistent and knowing that they've got to be valid in every way.

He explains that, when a deceased person comes to visit the dying person, it's always for a very specific reason—not for fun or entertainment. The dialogue is meaningful and to the point—usually with the deceased relative letting the dying person know that s/he's come to accompany him or her Home.

I was mentioning the fact that when people are on the verge of death, their ego is dissipated and they're not going to fabricate anything. They're very honest, open and authentic. Peter talks about the importance of 'dying well'. It's very important, for example, to resolve issues with loved ones before one transitions. If there are issues within relationships, for example, these need to be resolved before one transitions.

Another thing that happens is that dying people indicate that this is not the end and they're aware of the fact that they're just making a transition into a new or different realm. Sometimes it also happens that, when a dying person is visited by a deceased loved one who's come to assist one in transitioning, he or she may not be ready, so the deceased person will say, "All right, I'll be back for you tomorrow" and the dying person knows when he or she will transition. Death is very structured process.

Many eMails that Dr. Fenwick received addressed what happens at the moment of death. In the Tibetan culture, one talks about the mental state of the dying and the sequence of things that they see and experience. A dying person will first see a sort of mirage, then smoke, then appearances of sparks or fireflies; then the dying person stops breathing, then comes the orange light, then white light, then the living blackness, loss of consciousness and then moving into a higher state of consciousness and switching to a higher vibrational frequency.

Next we got onto the topic of the content of NDE accounts by recent NDErs as opposed to those who had NDEs before knowledge of NDEs even existed or was well circulated. Dr. Fenwick did a survey centred on NDEs and took 500 out of the 2000 NDE contacts he had and asked them: "What did you know about the NDE at the time of your experience?" and 98% of them had never come across it and didn't know anything about it at all. He also informed me that there really was no difference between the accounts of those who'd had NDEs with no prior knowledge of them and those who did have prior knowledge.

He states that over 70% of people who've had NDEs were transformed by their experiences and positively so.

Next, he explained that 'hallucination' is a psychiatric term where someone experiences a sensory experience that is nothing to do with what is going on outside someone. This is very different from what occurs during near-death states.

In cases when the heart has stopped, the cardiac arrest is an excellent model for validating the NDE. The clinical definition of death is when there's no pulse, no respiration and fixed dilated pupils. Yet it is during such states that, after resuscitation, people report being fully aware of the resuscitation process—among other things. The NDE is not a confusional experience; they're very clear.

Dr. Fenwick points out the fact that the NDE actually occurs whilst one is clinically dead—not before or afterwards. When people faint, they lose consciousness very quickly and when people come out of the unconscious state, they're very confused; so none of these states would coincide with the NDE.

He's now working on a book compiling people's experiences as well as the target research. I'm certain that it will be another powerful statement validating the NDE as real and rich with meaning.

I'm truly blessed to have had Dr. Fenwick on Toward The Light. He was so gentle and full of compassion and deep knowing with every word he spoke. I am so pleased and grateful to see what is considered credible evidence in favour of the NDE reaching countless individuals worldwide. Peter is such a tremendous source of inspiration to me ... with all of the work that he's done in this field. What he has done is huge and he's creating a legacy that will change the way we view death and dying that will impact humanity for years to come.

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