I’ve long been interested in the NDE or Near Death Experience since I experienced one myself when I was nine years old. After being shot through the stomach in a hunting accident and nearly bleeding to death on a northern Minnesota farm site on 15-below-zero day, I experienced some of the standard NDE events reported by others – such as being sucked through a tunnel, meeting strange beings – although my experience involved many bizarre events I have never heard in other reports.
Over the years I have read voluminously on the subject, and so I wasn’t exactly expecting to learn something startling new in a Kindle short document of just 41 pages – which I didn’t.
However, I give DEAD OR ALIVE high marks, mostly because of the extraordinarily sensitive portrayal of the author’s uncle, and the penetrating way she handles the details of his death.
Hayasaki uses her sharp journalist's eye and well-honed writing skill to show death as a strange mixture of lost personal dignity accompanied by a sacred aura of mystery. She makes us look directly into the face of death with the vivid portrait she paints of her uncle -- both as a robust young man, and then as a withered cancer-ridden shadow of his former self.
Her uncle's example, and the NDE he reported 20 years ago after a heart attack, serves as a launching point to survey the latest research on the NDE. Interest in the NDE seems to be catching on among mainstream science, according to Hayasaki.
Like the author, I am a journalist by trade, so I will say only very gently that I think Dead or Alive is just a tad less than objective than maybe the more skeptical-minded might demand – she seems eager to believe in a more spiritual explanation for the NDE, and so seems to tilt slightly away from the accepted rational, empirical and scientific point of view that “all of this can be explained away by science.” On the other hand, I could just as easily accuse the latter crowd of harboring their own biases, and perhaps in an even a more “unscientific” way than the author.
In the end, however, readers may learn something they didn’t know about the latest NDE research. Even better, anyone with a warm body and a beating heart should be moved by story of the author’s lawyer-turned-free-spirit uncle who comes alive in these pages through the story of his death.
Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA