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.
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This book really doesn't spend a lot of time with information about heaven, if that's what you are looking for. But if you want a book that adds to your own understanding about our relationship with God, this book is a good read. She writes well, and the last half of the book made it worth it for me. One takeaway from this book, is our Heavenly Father is very aware of us as individuals, and that He cares about us. I think right now with everything that is happening in the world people need to understand this...but you need to make the first step.
So, I went to Amazon and ordered this book and her follow-up “7 Lessons from Heaven”. I received both within just a few days, which was nice.
As I read through this first book her story was very compelling but not what I had imagined. And, since she seemed to have a very religious frame of mind from a young age; the stories of her connections she wrote about with the afterlife came across as unsurprising. And, although the book is well written making for an easy read, her writing, in general, had a tone of born-again Christian preachy. Yet, I found her inner strength to her personal tragedies remarkable.
I agree with her in an afterlife but I am not a church going person. I’ve tried on several occasions for a periods of time but just don’t like the regimental structure of it all and its underlying element of phoniness. She believes that God has a hand in our daily lives. I don’t. I look upon God as an omnipotent being. To think that God, with powers of eternity, would allow the ugliness so prevalent in this world he created (and not in seven days mind you!), along with the other planets and universe, is absurd!
Even so, I pushed onward as I had invested in the book and found it captivating, never-the-less.
THEN ! When I got near the end of the book I came to a paragraph on page 209 that baffled me. It reads: “Many have said that my experience is remarkable. Perhaps it is. What I find more remarkable, however, is how readily many people in our society believe outlandish and unsubstantiated urban myths and conspiracies (Pop Rocks and Coke, JKF (sic) assassination, AIDS is man-made, etc.), yet disregard thousands of personal and consistent testimonies of miracles and near-death experiences from people throughout all cultures and religions.” I slammed on the reading brakes right there and read no further and have no intention of do so! Or, opening and reading her follow-up book.
I don’t know what the heck she is even talking about with regards to “Pop Rocks and Coke” or that “AIDS is man-made”? But, to qualify the assassination of President Kennedy (and its JFK, not JKF, Ms. Neal) as an outlandish unsubstantiated urban myth / conspiracy is appalling! Apparently, Ms. Neal has spent too much time in the thin air of Wyoming with her face in medical books or the Bible. Despicable!
Her statement about Kennedy’s assassination, alone, was enough for me to give this book only one star. She's lost all credibility with me….
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Thank you Mary for the blessing of your book. As a mother who has also lost a young son I feel your pain. God Bless you and all your family.
Proof that is retold in many MANY other similar 'Near Death Experience' true stories by well known experienced surgeons who work in accident emergency 999 departments , a parachutist, a box jelly fish night diver Ian , two pilots including four year old Colton Burpo
This important Christian promise and invitation to heaven that Jesus Christ made in the bible will come true for all those who accept ,believe and trust in Him.
Look out for the two new films THE PERFECT WAVE and HEAVEN IS FOR REAL!!!
I would recommend it to anyone who has lost a loved one in a drowning situation as it could give you answers which you need to be able to move on.