A glimpse of heaven?

Helen Nale, right, enjoys conversation with her daughter, Helen Valley. Nale believes she caught a glimpse of heaven after a near-death experience. (CR Staff/Owen Sweeney III)

Everyone has seen stories on television about people who believe they died and went to heaven.  They often speak of “seeing light at the end of a tunnel,” being reunited with deceased relatives and returning to earth for unfinished business.

A few days before Christmas, I met one of them.

Helen Nale, a 94-year-old parishioner of St. Andrew by the Bay in Annapolis, suffered a stroke in early December. At the hospital, doctors told her family she was dying.  She even began a “death rattle.”

But, for some unknown reason, Nale’s health made a sudden and dramatic turnaround. She awoke from a coma, said some prayers and was eventually released.

Nale doesn’t remember much of what happened in the hospital that day because she believes she was in a better place. She says she caught a glimpse of heaven and returned to earth with a mission to help some family members return to church.

Nale didn’t see any bright lights in the next world, but she told me a lot about winged angels with curly hair, happy reunions with family members, magnificent buildings and an overwhelming feeling of happiness.

“It was all a beautiful thing to be with God and the angels,” she said.

Helen Valley, Nale’s daughter and a fellow St. Andrew parishioner, said her mother has a “new lease on life” and that her experience has inspired the entire family.

Skeptics might say there’s a neurochemical explanation for Nale’s experience – that her brain was under stress and released chemicals that caused hallucinations.  Maybe.  Talk to Nale, however, and you will meet a woman who has no doubt about experiencing God’s profound love in a deeply personal way.

You can read the story here at The Catholic Review

What do you think?

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.