COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — For many years, people across the country have been using an app called Meetup. It’s a social network that brings people together based on their interests and similarities.
Here in Colorado Springs, there are hundreds of Meetup groups, including cycling clubs, hiking teams, pub crawlers, and professional business meetings. While every group is unique, one really stood out to us.
They call themselves Near Death Experiencers, and some members of this Meetup say they have died and come back.
The Near Death Experiencers group in Colorado Springs has more than 100 members.
They say they’re a rarity that can share an important message.
It’s something we’ve all wondered, whether you’re religious or not: what happens to us when our lives come to an end?
“We all want to serve and help others to share the message of love,” organizer Theresa Diaz said.
Now they’re sharing what they saw in the afterlife.
“It educates people on what the experience of dying is like and the other side to hopefully alleviate fears for people for their own death and their own passing, as well as for loved ones that maybe have or have not passed yet,” Diaz said.
For the members who say they have experienced death themselves, there’s no question about what lies beyond.
“I wish that I could put it into words,” Dea Dewitt-Maltby said. “Seven years later, I’m still fighting for the words. It has changed my life completely.”
Dewitt-Maltby lives in Salida, and back in 2008 she was driving home from a shopping trip in Colorado Springs. While she was driving along Highway 115 right by Fort Carson, she hit a rut on the side of the road and lost control.
“I was being directed into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler, and I knew that I couldn’t survive a crash like that,” Dewitt-Maltby said. “I just remember thinking ‘let me be the only one that dies in this accident,’ and that was the last thing I remember until I found myself hanging upside down in the vehicle and not able to move. I was crushed in between the steering wheel and the roof of the car.”
Dewitt-Maltby was badly injured. Her lungs had been crushed by the impact. But the only thing she could think about was her dog, Reebok, who ran away after the crash.
“I remember just looking up and saying if there is a God, you made my dog, and you’re the only one who can protect him,” she said. “Please protect my dog. And within a millisecond, it was like this light came down out of the ambulance, the roof of the ambulance, it came into my face, permeated my whole body, filled me with peace and with the knowing that my dog was okay, that I was okay and that everything was taken care of. It literally went down through my entire body.”
And that was just the first of her unexplainable experiences.
Dewitt-Maltby spent the next 12 days in a coma.
“I knew that I no longer was connected to my body,” she said. “I knew that it was just consciousness. I was enveloped in these beautiful colors and these beautiful sounds and I knew I was being held.”
“It was as if that essence, and I’ll call that essence God, stroked the left side of my face, only I didn’t have a face, it was just the essence of me, and said, ‘just be,’” she said. “And for the first time in my life I understood what that meant. When that happened, it was as if somebody waved their hand and the whole universe opened up. And all of a sudden I’m out in this wonderful universe and there’s a million stars. Only they weren’t stars, they were souls. I had totally forgotten about this realm. I had totally forgotten about this life.”
Over the following days, Dewitt-Maltby began to recover and eventually came out of the coma a new person.
She was also reunited with Reebok, who was found safe and uninjured.
“Now I’d have to say I don’t have faith or belief, I have a knowing that there truly is life beyond this life and there truly is a fabulous essence of love that created us,” Dewitt-Maltby said.
It’s a belief she shares with many others who say they have had near-death experiences.
Many of them say they encountered similar scenarios and feelings while they were on the other side.
“The universe talks to us every single day, but are we listening? Sometimes I think near death experiences are just a rap upside the head for people,” Dewitt-Maltby said.
“We need support for one another because otherwise you feel kind of strange that you’ve had this experience and so you want to feel like you’re not alone. So we have each other to share our stories,” Diaz said.
With stories so bizarre, this group is used to the skeptics.
But still, they want to share their stories and give those who believe a better idea of what lies ahead in the afterlife.
“I don’t think any of us have all the answers, but we do know there’s something far greater than this reality that we’re living in,” Dewitt-Maltby said. “You don’t have to have a near death experience to find the doorway in between this world and the next.”
Dewitt-Maltby was also featured on a show called “I Survived Beyond and Back.”
Dewitt-Maltby, Diaz, and the Meetup group’s creator, Roy Hill, have all written books about their experiences.
They meet once a month.
There is an International Association for Near-Death Studies Convention in Denver this August.
According to the International Association for Near Death Studies, near death experiencers often go through one of more of these scenarios:
- Looking down at their body
- Entering a tunnel
- Moving toward a light
- Seeing intense colors and music
- Being met by others
- Feeling unconditionally loved and at peace
- Experiencing a life review
- Seeing a border between life and death
- Having a reluctance to return
- Feeling no pain
- Having no sense of time