Today I thought I’d share an excerpt from a book that I always receive praise on throughout my travels to the different consciousness and new age shows. That book is Into the Light: Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits, Visions of the Afterlife, and Other Pre-Death Experiences by John Lerma, MD.
Despite our advancements in science and medicine, death remains one of human civilization’s most glorious mysteries. A handful of doctors have written books on phenomena such as near-death experiences, but research and data is scarce on pre-death experiences. Because of this lack of information, Dr. John Lerma has devoted his career to compiling anecdotal and scientific research on pre-death hallucinations from the countless terminally-ill patients he lovingly cares for as a doctor and director at The Medical Center of Houston, Texas.
This excerpt comes from Chapter 4.
Some of my staff knew Susan earlier in her life. She was a registered nurse, and her case was a long time coming to hospice. At age 39, she had been in a vegetative state for three years, and at the heart of a debate between her family and husband. Her family and friends knew that Susan intended to put a living will into effect to ensure that no heroic measures, including artificial nutrition, would be carried out. This was never to be realized. Without a signed living will, her husband was legally able to make her medical decisions. Her family was overcome with added grief, feeling certain that William, her husband, would pursue an aggressive lifesustaining plan as a means of coping with his guilt. It was obvious to everyone who knew William that his guilt was caused by the events that contributed to her current condition. This was extremely traumatic to Susan’s family and close friends, who had to sit back and watch a beautiful woman succumb to the ravages of a vegetative state.
Susan had always been a vibrant, life-affirming, and compassionate woman of service. When I met her kind-hearted parents, they shared their daughter’s tragic story with me. She had been raised Christian, but she had a dream early in her life in which a beautiful, white-glowing angel revealed her humanitarian work with the Buddhist citizens of
She continued to remind her parents of the angelic plan and insisted it was her
life path. They were concerned for her safety in the unstable region of Tibet ,
but Susan was so strong and adamant about her beliefs that they were compelled
to support her with her life mission. Tibet
She graduated from the
with a nursing degree and, while there, she also took a course in theology,
including Eastern philosophy, in preparation for her life path. She continued
having angelic dreams, which became more centered on her career as a nurse.
Eventually, she went to Austin
and Nepal ,
where she lived for five years. During her tenure there, she met William, a
wonderful and spiritual Chinese man who had found his way to that region to
help stop the atrocities his country was inflicting on the peaceful people of Tibet .
Captivated by their mutual desire to help the Tibetan people as well as their
love for the Buddhist faith, they fell in love and married. Within six weeks of
their marriage, the Chinese escalated their attacks on the region, and arrested
and beheaded many Tibetan sympathizers. Fearing for their lives, William and
Susan decided to move back to Tibet ,
where they could start a family and continue their peace efforts for the
Tibetans. After arriving in Houston ,
Susan continued her nursing and spiritual work, and once again found herself guided
by the angels. William, without a degree or Houston
citizenship, found it almost impossible to find a job that was fulfilling. This did not bother Susan, but it began to weigh heavily on
her husband. U.S.
The couple subsequently had three children and, after her first pregnancy, Susan was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. She struggled with oral diabetic medicines, as well as multiple types of insulin regimens, in an unsuccessful attempt to stabilize her blood sugars. She then became, about three years after her diagnosis, the first recipient of the implantable insulin pump. Following the implantation of the device, the doctors noted incredible improvement in her blood sugars. Unfortunately, her husband, who was by this time constantly irritable, was uncomfortable with the disfiguring appearance of the pump on her body, and he told her to have it removed. She refused, and William grew increasingly distressed and argumentative. In a fit of rage, he grabbed the pump under her skin and twisted it. Somehow the pump released a large dose of insulin into Susan’s system, which resulted in an immediate drop in her blood sugar to lethal levels. She was immediately rushed to the hospital and shortly thereafter slipped into a hypoglycemic coma.
After being given concentrated doses of dextrose, Susan was rushed to the intensive care unit, where she stabilized. Her eyes were open, and she seemed to be looking at you, but was unable to speak or communicate in any other manner. Minimal brain function was detected on an EEG that was performed 24 hours later. It appeared that her brain had suffered irreversible damage. Without the ability to eat, she had a gastostomy feeding tube placed, and aggressive physical therapy was initiated. Four weeks later, the only improvement was her ability to smile and blink. She was subsequently transferred to a nursing home facility, where she lived for three years. This contradicted her mother’s and father’s clear understanding of Susan’s wishes, as well as the nurses and doctors on staff who knew she wanted “no heroic measures.” Because her husband had medical power of attorney, though, they had to follow his guilt-laden wishes. For the next three years, Susan’s family and friends fought to place her in hospice and carry out her wish to die naturally. During this time, her husband spent very little time with her, which further alienated the family. Finally, with no apparent reason, William agreed to remove the support and admit her to hospice. When he was asked what changed his mind, he said that he had an epiphany but would not discuss it further.
When I first met William, he acknowledged that he had great guilt over what had happened and said he wanted to make amends. He admitted that his selfish actions had led to Susan’s demise. I asked what made him change his mind about bringing her to hospice, and he told me about his vision. His wife had appeared to him with multiple angels that surrounded his bed. He remembers his wife smiling her usual big smile and telling him to let her go. She said, “I have forgiven you. Now you need to forgive yourself, so I can move on. It’s time now.” The angels never spoke in a voice he could hear, but he sensed their agreement and support of what she was saying. He said that the vision repeated itself over and over that night, and was followed, each time, with an increasing number of angels. “Susan told me that the 50 angels around my bed were not going to leave until I found peace and self-forgiveness. The angels kept changing the way they looked and, at a certain point, they changed to indigo blue with piercing blue eyes and long shiny blonde hair. When I looked up, the spiritual beings were massive. It was obvious to me that this could not just be guilt creating these images. I know my wife, and the angels were actually trying to help me understand my selfish actions. For months, I was actually praying for forgiveness and strength to let Susan go. God, the angels, and Susan heard my prayer. The amount of unconditional love on the other side is simply mind-boggling.”
William explained that after what appeared to be months, one of the brightest angels spoke out. “In a kind and gentle voice, he told me that Susan was suffering and she needed my help. I asked, ‘How can she be suffering if she is smiling and joyful?’ They told me that her suffering transcends our earthly idea of suffering. This will be fully explained during your spiritual release.” William said the angel went on to explain that
Susan was bound to him as his wife and, as such, she was feeling the same intensity of his guilt, and at times even more. They told him that she had actually accepted most of his guilt over the last several months, so that his peace of mind would lend him the opportunity to rekindle his relationship with their children and to develop new friendships. With these new loving attachments, the earthly bond with Susan could be broken.
William continued: “The tall dark blue angel then sent a light from its chest that penetrated Susan’s and mine simultaneously, creating an incredible triangle of blue-white light. At that moment, I began to experience everything that Susan had experienced for the last three years. The angelic apparitions told me it was necessary to feel it completely. This would ultimately give me the strength to let Susan go.” Sobbing, he said that the emotional and spiritual pain was so intense that it felt as though he was falling into total darkness. As he fell deeper into the dark abyss, he felt a growing sense of loss and separation from the heavenly realm. Then, in what appeared to be a split second, he found himself awake and questioning what had transpired.
“William, how were you feeling after this experience?” I asked.
“I was shaking and crying and not sure if it had been a dream or a vision. My clothes were torn off my body and the fragrance of Chanel perfume penetrated everything in the room. You know, my wife was wearing that fragrance the night I grabbed the pump.” The experience was so overwhelming and real that he immediately called his in-laws and agreed to transfer his wife to hospice and carry out her wishes: to die naturally and in comfort. The family contacted me immediately, and within two hours I had transferred Susan to our facility for evaluation and symptom management.
When I first saw her, I hugged her tightly and told her she was in hospice and that I was going to take away her pain. Almost instantly, she gave me a big smile as tears rolled down her cheeks. I asked her to blink if she was in pain. She blinked repeatedly.When I asked if she was hungry, she did not blink for several seconds. “Susan, how about the feeding tube? Does it hurt?” Again, she blinked in a continual fashion. “Do you want comfort measures, Susan?” This time she blinked and grimaced over and over, until I reassured her that I understood. Despite the fact that her tests showed she had minimal cognitive function, I was sure it was quite the opposite: She was cognizant enough to understand what she was feeling and had developed a way of communicating. I told her that her husband and family were all coming together now in peace and were going to make sure she was comfortable. What I saw in her eyes at that moment will always be imprinted in my heart and soul. She was definitely a highly evolved spirit.
On further examination, her lungs were clear of fluid, her kidney function was normal, and her vitals were stable. At that point, discontinuing her feedings or fluids would be construed as starvation, and this was a clear violation of my oath as a doctor. I needed a miracle. The next day, the nurse noted on her chart that her urine output had decreased dramatically to only a scant amount and that she had developed pulmonary edema (a large amount of fluid in her lungs). Tests revealed that she was in kidney failure and subsequent fluid overload. That was my sign. This woman had normal kidney function and vital signs for three years and, within 24 hours of coming to hospice, she declined in a way that made it appropriate and necessary to stop further fluids and feeding. It was apparent to me that God was in charge. I said a little prayer of gratitude, and I stopped the feedings and initiated comfort measures. This included morphine for shortness of breath, diuretics to reduce fluid, and sedatives for her extreme anxiety. She immediately went into a deep sleep, and her distress dissipated.
Susan’s husband and family spent the last few days of her life working on mending their relationship. During the last two days of Susan’s life, I had a vivid dream where, during my examination, her heart stopped and her spirit popped out of her body. She stretched her arms out wide, looked at me with her warm smile, and said, “What a trip.” At that instant, I felt an incredible wave of joy and saw her angels dressed in gold, white, and blue light. These entities asked me to convey to Susan’s mother that she would be fine and that her daughter would corroborate this message. Susan then took me by the hand and carried me into the sky high above the earth. Immediately, I was able to see the countless souls leaving their bodies and flying into space, all of them confirming that life was an incredible experience. I also saw a multitude of angels around the earth, guiding the souls and piercing the star-filled canopy and disappearing into space, maybe into another dimension. She told me she had to leave me and that one day, I, too, would accept that my lessons were joyful. She said to never worry and that we’re always being taken care of, watched over, no matter what our decisions. We will always have a chance to review our choices and atone for them. I suddenly woke from this awe-inspiring dream, and just stayed in bed for sometime contemplating the messages and being mesmerized by the power of the mind. Later that morning, as I headed back to the hospital, I could not help but wonder how things with Susan would transpire.
When I arrived at the hospital and entered Susan’s room, her mother and sister greeted me with warm smiles that looked exactly as Susan’s smile in my dream had. After my examination, I was sure that Susan was hours from dying. I reassured her family that she was peaceful, pain-free, not suffocating, and ready to make her final journey. They were both visibly sad but relieved that her suffering was almost over. I believed the timing was right to recount my dream, so I started and, somewhere in the middle, Susan’s sister said she had the same dream, and continued where I left off and finished it. I was in shock. She had the same dream and the same messages. Susan’s mother was clearly relieved that her prayer was answered. She had prayed for confirmation that her daughter was at peace and able to walk and talk again. She was convinced that Susan had made it to the other side. Within 30 minutes of hugging and sharing, Susan woke up, opened her eyes, smiled, and reached for her husband, who had just arrived. With great effort, she quietly told her husband, mother, and sister she loved them. As she smiled that beautiful smile I had seen in the dream once more, her hand fell gently to the bed, and she was gone. Her family had a great sense of closure and forgiveness that day. I laughed to myself as I remembered her popping out of her body and saying, “What a trip,” and floating off into space. Yes, Susan, “what a trip” indeed.
Doctor’s Notes and More Dialogue With Susan
Susan’s sister, Jan, described some other encounters months before her sister passed. She had seen angels and had been shown that intense healing was occurring between her family and William. On several occasions, Jan saw monks in the room praying for her, while Susan was sitting in a lotus position. Jan would close her eyes, and on reopening, the monks would disappear and her sister would go back to her vegetative state. Jan said she heard the monks helping Susan understand her life lessons. Jan would doubt what she had seen, but Susan told her many stories about these amazing monks in
She recounted that the same monks appeared at her death and seemed to be
guarding her. Jan saw them cover her in gold and maroon cloth, and prayed and
chanted the entire time. They prayed for her soul to reach nirvana. Tibet
Jan recalls seeing a bright blue light radiate from the top of her head towards the ceiling. Within seconds, the light and the monks were gone. “I am not crazy, Dr. Lerma. I know what I saw. I will never forget it.” I explained to Jan that, at their death, monks traditionally encircle the bed, cover the body in a colorful gold and maroon garment, and pray for an average of eight hours that the soul reaches the heavenly realm.The more enlightened one is, the higher in the physical body that the soul is released. The highest is the top of your head. “Dr. Lerma, this information is confirmation that my sister made it to heaven and that she has reached enlightenment.
“Hmm, it’s nice to personally know an enlightened being.”
“Yes, Jan, that is comforting.”
As for William, he began to atone for his vain and angry action that resulted in Susan’s death. He had another dream in which she thanked him for letting her go and repeated her forgiveness. He understands that they had agreed to the circumstances of their lives. He now devotes his time assisting the American Diabetic Association in lobbying insurance companies to provide insulin pumps for diabetics. He is also working with family violence counseling. In my dream, Susan said she knew her husband would atone and negotiated to stay until he was ready. Married now, William’s new wife has developed breast cancer, and he has made a commitment to stay with her, and to be supportive and fully present. He feels it is a lesson to further his understanding of compassion and service. William continues to speak about angels and their teachings of self-love, self-forgiveness, and total love. He is a powerful speaker with an amazing story, and, as the angels have repeatedly told many of my patients, one person can change the whole world.
John Lerma, M.D., is the inpatient medical director for the internationally renowned TMC Hospice, part of the largest medical center in the world, The Medical Center of Houston. After graduating with honors from The University of Texas in Austin with a pharmacy degree, he entered The University of Texas San Antonio medical school and received his board certification in both Internal Medicine as well as Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has spent the last 10 years caring for the terminally ill and is widely recognized for his compassionate care and for his teaching of end-of-life care to nurses, medical students, and resident physicians. He is currently involved in a research project in palliative medicine with MD Anderson Hospital, the leading cancer institute in the world.Dr. Lerma is a frequent guest on local, national, and international radio and TV.