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Doctor Who Died and Visited Heaven Sheds Light on Life After Death: 'I Was Being Held by Christ'

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Dr. Mary Neal is an accomplished spinal surgeon whose Near-Death Experience (NDE) has inspired millions. Her story, told in Angel Studios’ new film “After Death,” unfolded on a South American river when she became submerged while kayaking and says she visited heaven.

“My husband and I are avid kayakers,” Neal recently told CBN Digital. “We’ve kayaked for decades all around the country [and] internationally.”

So, they joined friends in Chile for a special trip for her husband’s birthday but, while they were making their way down a river, the jovial occasion was obliterated.

Neal ended up going over a waterfall and experienced something she could “never have dreamed up.”

“The boat and I were immediately submerged under eight to 10 feet of water,” she said. “I didn’t panic. I set about trying to free me or free the boat … but the weight of the water and the force of the current was too great for me to do anything.”

As she pondered her options she came to the conclusion she would very likely die, finding herself forced to face the unthinkable. Neal said she somehow mustered the strength to ask God for His will to be done.

Watch her share the shocking story:

“The moment I asked that, I was immediately overcome with this very physical sensation of being held and comforted and reassured that everything would be fine,” she said.

And this is where Neal’s story takes a wild turn: she then said she found herself in heaven.

“I never felt alive and then dead, conscious and then unconscious,” Neal said. “I felt conscious and then more conscious, alive and then more alive.”

She added, “I was being held by Christ.”

While in heaven, Neal said she was still herself but that she was her “best” self. At first, she thought it was a hallucination based on her trauma and said she was doing “self-assessment examples” in heaven.

“I knew I’d been underwater too long to still be alive,” Neal said. “So, I thought, ‘OK, I have an air pocket. So I would think about, ‘OK, take a breath. Do you feel air?’ And I’d say, ‘No.'”

But she wasn’t suffering or struggling to breathe. Instead, she felt “glorious.” Neal described sensing Christ’s love and being guided through a life review. She said she even felt her spirit leave her body.

READ  'Brilliant Man of Light': What 1,000 Near Death Experiences Can Teach Us About Life After Death

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“Jesus kind of … released me to the heavens,” she said, noting the moment she felt her spirit leave her body. “And then I was greeted by this group … I knew that they were people who had known me and loved me as long as I have existed. I knew that they were all people who were important in my life story.”

She pondered whether they were great-grandparents or others she had never met — people who had died before she was born. Despite not knowing them, she felt a connection.

Neal ended up coming back from this experience — something she described as “difficult,” especially as she recovered and still pined for the heaven experience.

The medical doctor described the series of emotions people who have NDEs often experience.

“First of all, [they experience] disbelief that they’re back and … depression,” Neal said. “And then you sort of struggle with, ‘OK, well, what does it all mean?’ Because having a near-death or after-death experience or even any other really profound spiritual experience is definitely a mixed bag.”

While it’s “beautiful and wonderful” she said it comes with a “weight of responsibility.” It’s also somewhat isolating considering the gravity of the claims and the reactions they illicit.

Today, though, Neal gladly shares her experience — one that has transformed her life.

Before the accident, Neal hadn’t thought much about death. Having not lost anyone, it wasn’t a topic that was top of mind. With that, she hadn’t thought much about her own demise.

Thus, this situation forced her to immediately ponder it all.

“If someone had asked me [before the accident], I’m sure I would have said, ‘Well, I think there’s something more. I hope there’s something more. I don’t know,'” Neal said. “It’s sort of this abstract concept that you say, ‘Well, you know. I’ll think about that someday. Not this day.”

While she might have previously said she was a Christian, she said it was more “cultural” in nature. Now, she said she fully lives that out.

“My number one identity is that I am a beloved child of God, period,” Neal said. “Everything is secondary to that. … My experience radically transformed my understanding of life and of death.

READ: New Angel Studios Film 'After Death' Scores 4th Place at Box Office

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.