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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story Paperback – May 29, 2012
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Q&A with Mary C. Neal, M.D.
Q. How did you feel when you died? Did you know what was happening?
A. I was acutely aware of everything that was happening. I knew that my efforts to exit the boat were not working, that I was out of air, and that I was too far from the riverbank for anyone to reach me. I knew that I would probably die. Having grown up with a fear of drowning, I was surprised to find my transition from life to death was seamless, peaceful, and beautiful. I felt quite wonderful.
Q. What was your faith life like before your death?
A. Before my near-death-experience, I believed in God and took my kids to Sunday school but was not particularly religious. Like many accomplished young adults, I felt like I was in control of my life and my future. Although I tried to be a "good" and "moral" person, my faith was not integrated into my daily life and the demands of work and family left little time to think about spirituality.
With my near-death-experience, the truth of God's promises and the reality of eternal life became a part of my every breath. I am in constant prayer and regardless of what I am doing, I try to reflect God's love and live for His glory. I try not to miss opportunities to uplift or encourage the spiritual life of others, and I live with gratitude and joy, knowing that I never face challenges alone.
Q. Why do you think you came back to life?
A. I certainly didn't want to return to Earth, but was given information about some of the work I had yet to complete and wasn't really given a choice. I was expected to share my experiences and my story with others, helping transform their faith into compete trust that God keeps His promises.
Q. Do you have any regrets about this experience?
A. I have not a hint of regret. In fact, my death and return to life is the greatest gift I have ever received, and I am continually grateful for having had this experience.
Q. How do you explain why this happened to you?
A. I have always been a private person, am not known to be a writer, and do not relish the attention of speaking. I have been asked this question many times. I do not know the answer, but I am a scientist by training, a skeptic by nature, and a very concrete, rational thinker. Perhaps, I was given this job because I have a developed a lifetime of credibility.
Q. How is your experience compared to others who've gone to heaven and come back to physical life?
A. I have not read many accounts of other people's experiences, but I have had many patients over the years tell me about their own near-death experiences. It seems that most stories, mine included, contain some consistent elements--that of an overwhelming sense of God's love and forgiveness, intense peace and beauty and no desire to return to Earth. Everyone recalls the details with precision and each person is profoundly affected by the experience. In these ways, my experience is quite similar.
Q. What do you want people to know about heaven?
A. God's unconditional love for each of us is intense, complete, and is reflected in all of Heaven. Before we return to Heaven, our real home, we have an incredible opportunity on Earth to face challenges that will help us learn, grow and to become more Christ-like in the fruits of our spirit. Our time is so short that we need to be about God's business every day.
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The story of her experiences from the drowning, through the repeated revivals and her ultimate survival are the events upon which this book is anchored. But the meat and meaning of it are in the unfolding of her life as guided and protected by her God. I'm obviously no disinterested party. Skeptics can be reassured by my report that if it came from Mary's pen, it will be the truth and the whole truth. I doubt, however, that her or anyone's personal account can penetrate fully into the modern psyche. That is, into those who think that they need proof of what we call God. As an account of a brush with the Hereafter, here have been many others similar to it, and they're well enough known to be used as shorthand in bad films.
What Mary and those like her have experienced are gifts from somewhere, given not just to them. She gives it back to us disguised as a simple offering. She doesn't baffle the reader with melodrama, hyperbole, fantasy, or excessive adjectives. She tells her story in a concise & detailed way, with a voice of eloquent and unadorned sincerity. In this way, it's easy to read and difficult to put down, vividly descriptive and completely convincing, humbling and inspiring.
Fortunately for us, she kept waking up in the middle of the night until she couldn't keep from writing it down for us. The reason to read this remarkable account is witness, which is one of the few ways that we have left to hack a little hole in our jungle of unbelief.
Sometimes, I think it is much harder for people with a scientific turn of mind and training in the sciences and medicine to believe in God when all education is pretty much "it all happened by chance" and is indeed structured to teach that chance is the only reason things happen. Believe me, I went to school for 9 years after high school and all of that training was science and a lot was overlapping with the science that medical doctors study, because I studied biology, biochemistry and immunology. So I resonated with this book and Dr. Neal's journey--especially when she writes that "science and spirituality were assumed to be incompatible."
Interestingly, the description of drowning (the author nearly drowned in a river in Chile) is exactly what a friend of mine described to me had happened to him as a child. The patients who describe their spiritual experiences, rather than embarrass Dr. Neal, help her to see God is present and working in all of our lives. She keeps her eyes wide open and her faith becomes stronger, not weaker, in the face of many tragedies.
If you yourself are asking "Who is God, what is He, is there a God and how do I form a relationship with God?" this book could be an inspiring starting point. It is gripping, the stories are real-life and huge.Read more ›
The actual tale is emotionally moving, occasionally disturbing, spiritually and intellectually challenging. At the end of it I find myself with a sense of wonder that life is more beautiful than we can conceive, that there is more going on than anyone can imagine, that the Creator is impossible to wrap into a tidy, presentable box, because our ideas about Him are too cramped and small. Ultimately I am left with an ever-growing hope we can live fearlessly, that we will see our loved ones again, that they are near and that all is well, here and there. GREAT READ!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
it was interesting and easy read. written in style for teens, but was not ficture. worth a quick read.Published 18 hours ago by Laura Lea
Little wordy. Would have enjoyed it better if if the story started with the accident and went on from there earlierPublished 2 days ago by Linda C. Brame
Another book that way OK but nothing stood out that I remember or connected to.Published 4 days ago by Linda in Sacramento
I would not consider myself an avid reader, but I could not put this book down. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the afterlife!Published 5 days ago by nicole
I absolutely loved this book!! It is a must-read for everyone! I simply could not put it down! My husband passed away in January after suffering from Parkinson's Disease for 6... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Karen G. Mason
Book very well told reading kept me totally involved every time a new God help for the patient was told with easy flow of words to keep the reader involved throughout the readingPublished 7 days ago by Anthony Allen
This book came within the allotted amount of time. The title is right, it is extraordinary. Great book.Published 8 days ago by Kathy Newman