Author, speaker and filmmaker Roberta Moore talked with Dr. Heidi Horsley at the 2015 Association for Death Education and Counseling conference about grief, loss and near death experiences. Having a near-death experience can change how people deal with grief and loss. For Moore, she had a near death experience at 13 years old, which led to a spontaneous out of body experience. In her 30s, she had an “experience of the light,” which she recalls as wonderful. Dr. Horsley relates, having had her own experience of the light after being in a head-on collision. She passed out, went into the light and remembers not wanting to come back.

“When I came back, I was in the trauma,” Dr. Horsley says, but it changed her perspective on what she thinks her brother went through when he was killed. “I always thought he was in agony,” but after experiencing the beauty of the light, she sees that he probably was not. “He was in a wonderful, warm, incredible place.” This can be comforting to loved ones, says Moore. People “Leave their body very rapidly.”

Comfort for Everyone

Moore notes that many who have had near death experiences don’t recall the pain or agony (should that happen). Instead, they remember leaving their body and being at peace. It’s a euphoric state. Dr. Horsley points out that many who have lost a loved one fear that they were suffering and in pain, so sharing near death experiences can give them great comfort. Moore says there are so many positive reports about near death experiences, that it can be tough to argue with them.

“Their consciousness is separated from their body, and they feel whole in that consciousness,” she says. Her documentary is on training medical professionals about near death experiences, but also resonates with the general public.


Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is an international grief expert, licensed psychologist, and social worker. She is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Open to Hope Foundation, one of the largest internet grief resources, with over 2 million yearly visitors. She hosts the award-winning Open to Hope cable television show and podcast. Dr. Heidi is an adjunct professor at Columbia University. She serves on the ​National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, the largest peer to peer support organization in the world. She also serves on the National Advisory Board for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS has served over 50,000 military families who have suffered a loss. In addition, she serves on the National Advisory Board for the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Dr. Heidi is on the VIP section of Marquis Who's Who in America, Madison Who's Who, and Who's Who of American Women. Dr. Heidi has co-authored eight books, including; Spouse Loss; Fresh Grief; Inspirational Stories for Handling the Holidays After Loss; Inspirational Stories of Healing After Loss; Real Men Do Cry; A Quarterbacks Inspiring Story of Tackling Depression & Surviving Suicide; Teen Grief Relief: Parenting with Understanding Support and Guidance; and Signs and Hope From Heaven. She has appeared on the ABC television show 20/20, has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio shows as well as quoted in dozens of media publications, including the Metro World News, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Newsday, Money Magazine, and New York Daily News. Dr. Heidi is also the author of numerous articles and academic book chapters. Dr. Heidi gives keynotes, presentations, and workshops throughout the country, and teaches continuing education workshops for health care professionals on support following trauma and tragedy. For 10 yrs., Dr. Heidi worked as a co-investigator for the FDNY-Columbia University Family Guidance Program; a study which looked at traumatic loss in families of firefighters killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. Through this 9/11 study, Dr. Heidi provided ongoing intervention and follow-up to firefighter widows and their children, and facilitated groups for bereaved siblings. In addition, Dr. Heidi supervised the school social work staff at Harlem Democracy Charter Schools in NYC for four years. Dr. Heidi's early career included work in a variety of clinical settings, including; Manhattan Psychiatric Center, California Pacific Medical Center Psychiatry Dept., University of San Francisco Mental Health Clinic, St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Psychiatry Dept., and Hope Haven Residential Treatment Center in New Orleans. Her doctoral dissertation was on the sudden death of a sibling. Her academic credentials include a doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) from the University of San Francisco; a Masters degree in social work (LMSW) from Columbia University, and a Masters degree in mental health counseling (MS) from Loyola University, in New Orleans. Dr. Heidi splits her time between NYC and Tucson AZ.

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