Lucky to Have Died, Lucky to Be Alive

spring flowers

Update 1/19/18:  My memoir Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation is available for pre-order and is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love your support in helping me make near-death experiences more mainstream.

And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” —Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I consider the moment of my death the greatest gift of my life.  However, anyone who heard me screaming at the top of my lungs in pure, unrestrained panic in the ER at University Center Brackenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas would not have believed that twenty-four hours later I would be filled with the wonder and peace of the afterlife.  Immediately after surgery, I became a different person, hardly recognizable even to myself, as if a different, more mature soul had replaced the other immature one.

My near-death experience immediately altered my life and placed me on a different life path, one where I would dedicate my life to teaching and helping others.  Before the near-death experience, I was agnostic, materialistic, and deeply wounded by childhood scars and brief, unsuccessful attempts at romantic relationships.  I was shy and reserved and only opened up to a few people.  Like many people, I loathed public speaking.   I never imagined going into the teaching field, but my experience on the other side showed me that teaching would be the major part of my life’s mission and give me a greater connection to others. In the classroom, I have opportunities to help others achieve their academic goals, find peace about the dying process, or simply to offer people a moment of kindness and empathy.

As soon as I was given the chance to enter a classroom setting, I realized how easy it is for me to stand in front of others and teach.  Teaching has never been about me; rather, it is about how much kindness, compassion, and understanding I am willing to show for others.   In the classroom, I open myself to angels willing to work through me for the benefit of my students, and this process has given me boundless joy.  Each day spent working with students has been a gift from the other side.   In the act of serving others, I forget myself and my own issues and focus my attention on others.  Whatever difficulties I faced in my own life, the very moment I stood in front of my students I was there for their success, their healing, their growth, and their happiness.

One of my favorite books on the subject of near-death experiences is Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander.  I’ve underlined almost every description he writes, thinking “Yes, this is the way I wanted to say it if I had a medical degree.”  I put off writing my memoir because Dr. Alexander articulates the scientific elements of the experience in a way that I can’t.  Lately, I have been guided to see that my perspective as a woman might offer healing to those who can relate to my life history and traumas before and after the accident.

On a couple of occasions, I told my story to a few people at an IANDS (International Association for Near-death Studies) meeting.  I admire and respect the work Dr. Jan Holden has done in the field of Near-death Experiences and Out of Body Experiences.  Dr. Holden recently co-edited a wonderful book titled The Handbook of Near-death Experiences:  Thirty Years of Investigations.  She includes portions of my story in her lectures and video segments because she likes to capture NDE’ers describing their experience in their own words.  Researchers are particularly interested in stories with a verifiable moment, and my experience includes one of these moments.

When I went to my mom’s house to recover after my wreck, I asked her if my stepdad, James got a candy bar while I was in surgery.  Mom said that when my dad showed up, James had never met him and he felt a bit uncomfortable and walked around.  When he returned, he had a candy bar.  As James walked through the hospital, my mom told me that she experienced an overwhelming sensation that I had died and fell to her knees and prayed.  I am touched that the prayers I felt from her and my dad were indeed happening at the moment my spirit left my body.  The biological and spiritual connection between relatives is undeniable.

Over the years, I have gone to hear numerous speakers and authors talk about near-death experiences.  In Austin, I heard Dannion Brinkley speak, and his confidence in his experience gave me peace.  I loved the fact that he made the audience laugh and feel joy around the subject matter.  He, and many others, have paved the way for my experience to be integrated into my life more easily. Whenever I hear Dannion Brinkley or other NDE’ers speak, I know that person is my brother or sister who saw behind the veil, who knows what I know.  When I hear stories like mine, I know that I am not alone.

At this point in history, many people have described their near-death experiences.  My NDE story is one more story, one more experience to add to the growing number of these stories, but I know that my experience of the other side has altered me for the better.  I’m not agnostic or driven by fear anymore.  I’m far from perfect and have made many mistakes, but I’m more open, more caring, and more interested in others than I was before the accident.

I love to help others find greater healing and motivation in their lives.  I’m an intuitive, though I rarely give readings and prefer to give guidance and help others in classroom and workshop settings.  I get messages from angels while I am in the act of serving others for their greater good.   I am open to giving readings on occasion.  I have some abilities that surfaced after my near-death experience, and other mediumship abilities that became evident after my father passed away in 2008.  Before contacting me or any reader, I believe people should trust their own intuition. Any reading should put people more in touch with their own innate sense of knowing.  I work full-time as a professor, so readings are something I only do when I feel guided to connect with someone. 

I’m happy to be alive in a time when more and more people can relate to my story and other stories about near-death experiences and talk openly about these subjects.  I deeply appreciate the work that many people are doing to help family members and patients integrate near-death experiences into their life in helpful ways.  We are lucky to be living in a time when the angels are working through us, and sometimes we happen to feel the energy shift for a moment and smile a little as it happens, grateful for the brief interaction.

May you be healed.  May you be blessed.  May you harm no one.  May you add joy to the lives of others.  May you be reminded of your light and divine connection. May you remind others of their light and connection to source. May you find a connection to nature and play more often.  May you be a loving person.  May you know that love, not hate, is the answer.  In a nutshell, that is what I learned on the other side.



20 thoughts on “Lucky to Have Died, Lucky to Be Alive

  1. “The biological and spiritual connection between relatives is undeniable”. That gave me chills. Even though I was very young when my father left this world, just shy of my eighth birthday, I can remember waking up in the middle of the night (around the time he died) in a panic. Somehow I knew he was gone, I have never cried that hard in my life and I prayed for God to please let him stay. I didn’t know for some time that my mom had also sensed it. She felt someone sit on the end of her bed, when she turned on the light and looked no one was there. She said she was freezing and couldn’t get warm, she got up and put on flannel pajamas and got back under the covers. It was May 9th.
    I too believe we have the ability to communicate with one another on a spiritual level. Thank you again for sharing your experiences.



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  2. Thank you for sharing that story. I think in many ways these moments do show us that there is definitely a realm beyond this one. I’m sorry for your loss, especially at such a tender age. I lost my father eight years ago, and I believe I get the occasional message from him. That is a whole different discussion though.

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    • I am also sorry for your loss and am grateful you still find ways to communicate with him. My dad loved to hunt and on several occasions when I go visit his graveside in Oklahoma there have been deer nearby, it always makes me smile. I also took a photograph while walking the 16 mile overnight suicide prevention walk, once I shared them via social media a friend pointed out that there was a bright orb in several photos. Things like that happen often, do they happen to you?

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  3. Well I commented on the other sight, then I saw the link to this one and read the story so I figured I’d comment on here. This was like 20 years ago but I can’t forget it, My body was made of light and I was looking down at the operating room. I saw the doctor and nurses around me and I saw a nurse walk over and take something off of a small table that had some metal tools or instruments on it. I saw one or two people walk by. It was almost like watching a movie. I felt so great, so peaceful, no negative emotions. It was not a dream, I was very aware of how I felt and what I saw. I was floating but there must have just been less gravity because I didn’t float away and I could move. I would guess like a bird might feel but without the wings. I remember I kept looking at myself, not the one on the bed, I mean who I was up there I was shaped mostly like a body but I was just made of light. From where I was it seemed as though I was looking at the room with the roof taken off, like a dollhouse when you take off the top. Around me was dark and then after checking everything out I had like an urge to move on not a decision though, so I went to the left and just went up like a I don’t know maybe a hole in the darkness going up. That’s all I remember.

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  6. I truly enjoy your story. I am a firm believer in the supernatural. Thank God for Angels whom have charge over us daily. Keep casting light in such a dark and cruel world. Be blessed.

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  7. Hello Professor Barker, I can not believe you had a near death experience. It is truly outstanding to know that this experience did not lessen you as a person, but made you so much stronger and appreciate life. Not only appreciate the world you live in, but also help those who surround you. I enjoyed reading this story I hope to share it with others so they too can be inspired and never take life for granted.

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