I'm currently writing a book on belief in the afterlife, and came across this wonderful video of a young man recounting his recent near-death experience (of a type) - caused by a heart condition suffered throughout his life - via index cards, accompanied by Gary Jules' lovely rendition of "Mad World". Take a look before reading on:
Such an intriguing story: direct personal experience of something that has led him to an extraordinary belief, which appears to have helped conquer his earlier fears and led him to be sure of a better place beyond death. I immediately resolved to track down the maker of the video, one Ben Breedlove, to talk further with him about his experience and what it meant to him.
But I can't. Because Ben Breedlove died just one week after posting the video on YouTube, on Christmas Day, aged 18. I have to say, this cut me to the bone emotionally. I never knew Ben Breedlove in any sense prior to viewing this video, but his friendly smile, and honesty and willingness to share his strange experience (not an easy thing to do in this cynical world) just made me like him immediately. To just be there, talking about his fear of death and how his recent experience had liberated him, and then almost immediately gone, seemed like a message meant for us all to contemplate. I am so very glad that this experience - no matter what you think of it, reality or hallucination - gave him a personal feeling of peace, and pride in how he had lived his life, before his final encounter with death.
And so beyond that immediate, gut-wrenching moment, what this terrible news brought into sharp relief for me was the simple fact that we are all gifted with something precious: life. Whether you're religious, an atheist, or just of a general spiritual bent, there is far too much to do in our time on this Earth to waste time being negative. Chase your dreams, while appreciating everything you have been given, love and be loved, and perhaps most importantly of all, do good.
Godspeed Ben Breedlove. Thanks for sharing your story.