Near-death experiences change views of life

NEIGHBORS

October 25, 2002|By Susan Harpster | Susan Harpster,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MORE THAN 13 million people in the United States have had a near-death experience, according to the literature of the International Association of Near Death Studies (IANDS).

Many who come close to dying experience "something" that changes their lives.

The experience is often difficult to describe, said IANDS President Bill Taylor, chairman of the organization's Maryland chapter.

All near-death experiences are different, but they share common elements.

Most people who have near-death experiences "probably undergo a personality change," Taylor said. "There's a shift in their view of life."

Taylor, of Clarksville, had a near-death experience 23 years ago during a heart attack.

He remembers standing on the edge of the universe - in heaven, he believes - overwhelmed by a divine presence and feelings of unconditional love.

"I learned that when we die, we don't really die," Taylor said. "We go on to another place."

A near-death experience may also include a sense of being out of one's body, a review of past life or a message to go back - that it is not time to die.

IANDS provides information and support to anyone who has had a near-death experience or has an interest in the topic.

The group meets from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the last Saturday of the month, except holidays.

"Some people come who are grieving a loss, and they want to hear stories of the other side. It gives them hope to know their loved one isn't just gone," Taylor said.

"Other people who come are just interested. They've read about it in a book or seen it on TV, and they want to hear and meet, firsthand, people who've actually had the experience."

People who have had a near-death experience "come for validation and a place where they can tell their story and be accepted, and not be afraid of being ridiculed," he added.

Stan Triplett of Owings Mills grew up in Oella, outside Ellicott City. He had a near-death experience in 1970, when he was 15.

He was wrestling with his sister when a bottle broke and cut a main artery in his leg. Triplett was losing a lot of blood.

"I was dying, and I knew it," he said. "It was frightening, at first."

But he recalls a peaceful, yet rapid journey through a tunnel. "I heard a voice: `It'll be OK, release. It's not your time; you have work to do.'"

"It was a male voice. It was my spirit guide; we all have a spirit guide," Triplett said.

Triplett met his wife, Shelly, at an IANDS meeting in 1997. Although she has not had such an experience, Shelly Triplett felt at home with the IANDS group.

"Seven years ago, I realized that I could communicate with people who had crossed over to the other side," she said.

"I felt very comfortable [at IANDS] because no one thought I was a goof. If it's what you feel, if it's what you see, if it's what you know, they don't criticize you."

The Maryland chapter will meet from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in North Laurel. Baltimore "channeler" Donna Edwards will present a talk, "Communications With the Other Side."

IANDS meetings are free and open to the public. Because of holidays, the next meetings will be held Nov. 16 and Dec. 14.

Information: 410-531-3330, or www. iands.org.

Halloween

The Savage Community Association's Halloween party will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Carroll Baldwin Hall.

Trick-or-treaters of all ages are welcome. Make crafts and play games while having cupcakes and other treats. Win prizes in a contest for scariest, most original, prettiest and best overall costume.

Admission is one bag of (individually wrapped) candy, to be used for game prizes and treats for everyone to share.

"It's going to be a lot of fun for all," said Jennifer Weaver, a volunteer with the association.

Carroll Baldwin Hall is at 9035 Baltimore St., Savage.

Information: 301-317-1916.

Cheers

Three cheers for Hammond Elementary School fourth-grader Taylor Duvall.

Taylor, 9, is a member of the University of Maryland Junior Terrapins Cheerleading Performance Program.

The cheerleading team practices monthly at Cole Field House, on the university's main campus in College Park.

Taylor, who lives in North Laurel, performed at Byrd Stadium during halftime of the University of Maryland-Wofford College football game Sept. 28. She is planning to cheer when the Terrapins face Wake Forest on Nov. 30.

Taylor will also participate in the University of Maryland Halloween Youth Cheerleading Competition on Sunday in College Park.

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