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How dying changed my life  –  Few of us are unlucky enough to face terminal cancer in our thirties. Even fewer of us have an experience while ‘dead’ that is so profound and detailed that it changes everything we ever thought we knew. Less than a handful of us have made a full and complete recovery from end-stage cancer as a result of such an experience.   Yet that’s exactly what happened to Anita Moorjani, and doctors around the world have been fascinated and baffled by her case ever since. Here, she speaks to editor Sue Farrow about the near-death experience that changed her life.

One day in February 2006, a woman who had endured the ravages of cancer for four years was rushed to hospital as her vital organs began to shut down. She weighed next to nothing and was in dreadful pain. Her husband and mother were with her as she was transferred to Intensive Care, and doctors told them she had just hours to live.

Anita Moorjani soon drifted into a coma and was no longer able to communicate with her family or medical staff. She was unconscious and about to pass. Yet, even as her brother flew halfway around the world to say a last goodbye to her, she was aware of everything that was happening.

In her moving book Dying to be Me, she describes in great detail things she couldn’t possibly have known by physical means, such as conversations between medical staff and her loved ones, away from her bedside. This made me wonder if she was simultaneously aware that there was no way she could know these things in earthly terms, or if that realisation came to her only after she returned to physical consciousness.

Unconscious – but more conscious than ever

“When I was in that state, it felt so normal to be able to hear, see and feel everything that was going on,” she told me. “So I didn’t realise I was doing anything extraordinary. It was only after I came back that I realised, and even then, not right away.

“At first, when I came out of the coma, it was like I had one foot on each side of life. I was still groggy and couldn’t separate this realm from that one, so didn’t realise for a day or two that anything out of the ordinary had happened. It was only when I started talking, referring to the doctor by name, and talking about the procedure (I was doing it as though I was just making conversation, not realising it was anything unusual), that I noticed everyone else’s jaws dropping. It was only then that I realised something extraordinary had happened.”

Another thing Anita noted was that, as her body lay in Intensive Care, comatose and close to physical death, she was intensely aware of the emotional pain of her husband Danny and her mother. She subsequently wrote that it was as if she “became” them. I asked to what extent that sense of complete empathy has remained with her.

“When I was in that state, it felt so normal to be able to hear, see and feel everything that was going on,” she told me. “So I didn’t realise I was doing anything extraordinary. It was only after I came back that I realised, and even then, not right away.”    

“Although the empathy is not to the degree it was in that state, it’s certainly stronger than before I had the experience. In that realm, it felt as though there was no separation between me and anyone else. It was almost like I would actually become whoever I put my awareness on. I would become one with them, and aware of everything they were feeling.

“Even though that’s not the case after coming back into my body, I do notice that I still very strongly feel what others are feeling, even if their words are saying something else. Before, I used to take what people said at face value. But now, as I have a much stronger sense of people’s actual feelings, I’m realising that most people don’t really express how they feel; in fact, it seems more common to use words to disguise their feelings. There’s a distinct dissonance between what they feel and what they say they feel.”

Emotional awareness expands – earthly affections lessen

Anita also recalls that as she “continued to plunge deeper into the other realm, expanding outward, becoming everyone and everything, I felt all my emotional attachments to my loved ones and my surroundings slowly fall away.”

That puts me in mind of the great spirit guide Silver Birch, who commented that exclusive (possessive one-to-one) love is a thing solely of this earth. Did Anita’s experience of dying bear that out?

“Yes,” she says. “The emotional attachment we feel for our loved ones in physical life definitely does feel like it’s part of this earthly life, and it feels like we shed these feelings when we shed our bodies. Perhaps these feelings exist when we’re in physical form to promote procreation, and it’s not required in the other realm. There’s no feeling of possessiveness or jealousy in the other realm – those things go with earthly love.”

During Anita’s NDE she became aware of her father and felt a totally unconditional love from him and for him, despite the fact that in earthly life there had sometimes been tensions between them concerning his desire to observe strict cultural traditions.

As she later wrote: “Here I am without my body, race, culture, religion or beliefs...” Given what seems like a sometimes overriding human need to label and pigeon-hole others, has her experience brought any insight into that need?

“I feel that humans have this tribal need to belong, and labelling makes it easier for them to identify their ‘tribe’, and those who are not part of that ‘tribe’. It makes us feel powerful to belong to something bigger than our individual self, and gives a sense of security.

“But in order to belong, we may find ourselves needing to conform to the group, suppressing our individuality. Unfortunately, those who are different from the group may find themselves ostracized and judged.

“I always knew I was different (different race, religion, culture) from those around me, so spent my life battling between being who I am (and being ostracized for it), and suppressing who I am in order to fit in. It took dying for me to realise that my only purpose here is to be who I am. It’s everyone’s purpose – to be as ‘you’ as you can be, as that’s why you’re here. Don’t deprive the universe of who you came here to be!”

The issue of ‘time’ (or the absence of it) has been mentioned in innumerable spirit communications and I was intrigued to read that the concept of time was entirely meaningless to Anita during her NDE and she “felt all moments at once”. I asked her to expand on that.

Looking at time’s tapestry 

“Imagine a huge, beautiful, intricate tapestry” she says, “one so enormous that you have to stand way back to be able to see and appreciate the whole picture. When you stand far enough back, you can see an amazing and intricate picture that’s full of colour and vibrancy, and is complete.

“When you’re close enough to touch it, you can’t see that whole picture. You see the texture, and that the threads have been skilfully woven together to form the masterpiece. But you can only see the individual strands of threads, each strand running over and under others.

“Now, imagine your current life is just one of those strands of thread. Your life is intricately woven into the lives of others. When you’re in your physical body, you can’t see the whole tapestry. Your view is the limited view of seeing life from within that one strand of thread. As that thread, we experience life in linear time, one point of time at a time, which is strung together to make sequential time.

“But when I was out of my body, I was able to see not only my strand, but the whole completed tapestry, in all its splendour and richness. I could see all points of time simultaneously. So if you can imagine that you’re looking at this tapestry, and you are following your own strand of thread with your finger, you can see where you have touched other strands of threads (other people’s lives) and where you are yet to touch them. You can also see where they have gone on further to touch other people.

“The further back you stand from the tapestry, the more of the picture you see. You can see all points of time at once – all your other lives, past, present and future, and where they touch and interlink with others – the whole picture. That’s what it felt like to be aware of all time, all at once.”

Anita’s life-changing NDE culminated in a non-verbal conversation with her father. “Dad, it feels like I’ve come home! she told him. “I’m so glad to be here. Life is so painful!”

“Sweetheart,” he communicated. “… it’s not your time to come home yet. But it’s still your choice whether you want to come with me or go back into your body.”

Thinking of her sick and exhausted body, ridden with cancer, Anita recalls that the immediate question which came into her mind was – “Why would I want to go back to that body?” It had caused so much suffering, not only to her but to her loved ones. She saw no purpose in returning.

Prior to this point, doctors had conducted organ function tests and their report had already been written. Yet in the spirit realm, where time did not exist, it seemed as though it all “depended on the decision I had yet to make – whether to live or continue onward into death.”

At the precise moment Anita made the decision to return to her body. She became aware of what she describes as “a new level of truth”.

“I discovered that since I ‘d realised who I really was and understood the magnificence of my true self, if I chose to go back to life, my body would heal rapidly – not in months or weeks, but in days! I knew the doctors wouldn’t be able to find a trace of cancer.”

And so it proved. Writing about her return to health, Anita noted that “the deliciousness of each day made me feel as though I’d just been born” and that she felt “a new bond with everyone”. Interestingly, she also noted her inability to reconnect with some old friends because they didn’t understand how deeply her experience had affected her. I asked if this situation had changed with the passage of earthly time.

Friendships now more profound

“I seem to have developed a very deep bond with a small circle of friends since my NDE. I had a lot of friends before, and was extremely popular, but I don’t think I was ever as close to any of them as I am to the handful of friends I have today. I trust them and feel comfortable being totally myself with them – something I wouldn’t have been able to do with my old friends from the past. Today, my friendships feel a lot more natural, and organic. I don’t work so hard at maintaining them, yet the bond is so much stronger!” 

The ever-increasing body of NDE research has found that some ‘returners’ have developed bizarre physical after-effects. For instance, one woman reported that she’d become acutely sensitive to light and now needed to wear dark glasses, even indoors. I wondered if Anita had experienced any such effects.

“The universe makes sense! I finally understand – I know why I have cancer! I also seemed to comprehend why I’d come into this life in the first place – I knew my true purpose.”

“For me, the side-effects have been a bit different,” she says. “I’ve become extremely ‘sensitive’ to everything since my NDE. Take food and nutrition, for example. I can actually ‘tune in’ to my body and know what supplements and minerals I need at any point, what foods I’m allergic to, or will bring me more energy or relieve stress, and things like that. I now know that our dietary requirements are very personal and individual, so I don’t follow ‘external’ information about these things the way I used to.

“On a lighter note, since my NDE I’ve found I can ‘tune in’ to where certain things are. For example, if I’m driving and looking for a parking spot, I can tune in to exactly where there is one.

“I don’t know how I do it – I could never do it before. All my friends know about this, and tease me. They always want me with them in their cars because they say that my presence seems to part traffic and get them parking spots!”

Anita’s book tells her extraordinary story in great detail and is an emotional roller-coaster of a read. There’s one passage, though, that touches me more than any other. It expresses eloquently the fact that after years of physical suffering caused by her cancer, the all-embracing experience of her NDE brought her knowledge beyond price.

 “The universe makes sense! I finally understand – I know why I have cancer! I also seemed to comprehend why I’d come into this life in the first place – I knew my true purpose.”

The price Anita paid for acquiring that understanding was enormous. From where she stands now, does she regret anything she suffered to reach this point, or was it all truly a blessing in disguise?

Knowing the purpose of your life 

“I don’t regret anything one bit,” she says. “I suffered a lot, and don’t wish it on anyone, but I wouldn’t change a thing that is currently my life, and I don’t think my life could have worked out exactly as it did if I hadn’t gone through what I did. I love not only how my life has panned out, but also the way I feel about being alive. My life would not feel this rich with depth and meaning if I hadn’t had that experience.

“I now feel that life is a gift, and value it so much more. We seem to value things more after we lose them. I nearly lost my life, and I now love and value myself and my life more than I ever did before. I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I did to learn this, which is why I share my story.”

Anita Moorjani will be speaking at the Hay House I can do it! event in London on Saturday 4th October. For full details, visit: www.hayhouse.co.uk/ICDI


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