E6 Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics • Volume 10 • Number 1 • Spring 2020 Web Only Content

Creating an Extraordinary Life After
Near Death
Sue Pighini
My first NDE was in 1972. I was struck by
lightning while mountain climbing in
Arizona. I was struck through my right
arm into my body and out through my left leg. I
was unconscious, and while in this state, a voice
came to me and said, “You cannot leave now. You
must go back to the children. (In my mind’s eye I
could see my two very young children.) You must
move your legs back and forth, back and forth, to
keep the ‘fire’ from reaching your heart.” I did that
and came back into consciousness and could feel
my clothes had melted off my body because I was
so cold. I could not get up. My husband, at the time,
ran back up the hill from re-starting our motorcycle
to put me on his shoulders and get me to a log cabin
nearby. The cabin had a phone, and my husband
called 911. I was then taken by ambulance to the
local military hospital to check out my heart and
see if I had sustained any cardiovascular, muscular,
or tendon damage. I did have a heart murmur as
time passed, and my left leg is now shorter than my
right. Frequent exercise has been my saving grace.
I did tell my husband about the voice and
visions, but he told me to keep quiet because my
experiences could damage his career. He didn’t
believe me. The doctors just listened and said nothing.
As might be expected, I divorced my husband
several years later because I felt totally unsupported
in this extraordinary encounter (as well as in many
other aspects of our married life).
I did not know what to make of this spiritual
event. What it did do for me, however, was propel
me into fearlessness in life. I felt connected to some
type of energy that was definitely more powerful
than I was, and this force had urged me to expand
myself without limitations. There was no support
from the medical community. I just knew on some
level that I was supposed to go out on my own
and take chances to birth my dreams in the largest
scenario possible. I did just that.
I divorced my first husband. I went back to work
and took many risks to maximize my opportunities
and became a marketing vice president in New York
City. My children’s welfare was my driving force. I
remarried and loved this new life to the extent that I
could oversee 3 stepchildren and a new life of business
travel. 20 years later, I became the caretaker of
my second husband, who was ill for 10 years and
who later passed. I don’t think I could have been
there for him for so long if I didn’t feel that I was
supported by an extraordinary energy. I wrote my
first book, “Bootstraps: A Woman’s Guide to Personal
Power.” I rode and bought my first horse,
who, to this day, is the love of my life along with
a herd of 5.
My second near-death experience was in 2016,
though I had had several spiritually transformative
experiences from 1972 to 2016. I had just published
my second book, “Expect the Extraordinary,” and
was on a call-in radio interview. I was looking out
my office windows across the front pastures of our
farm (I was now remarried for the third time) looking
at our horses as I spoke to the radio host. I unexpectedly
saw a very large white ball of luminescent
light coming across the pastures. It quickly came
through the window and into my forehead. I was
semi-paralyzed and fell to the floor. I quickly got off
the interview call and speed-dialed my husband on
my cell. He knew immediately what was happening
because he has a medical background. Paramedics
came quickly, and I was rushed to the local hospital,
which couldn’t treat me because they could not
find the bleeding brain aneurysm. I was sent to a
different hospital where a very gifted neurosurgeon
found the aneurysm bleed after three angiograms.
As I was going in for the third angiogram, I was on
the operating table, and another voice came to me:
“We have you!” I then looked around and saw 12
small, childlike angels surrounding the table along
with one very large angelic being standing over my
right shoulder, smiling. I knew I was going to be OK.
The aneurysm was repaired with three platinum
coils in my brain near my right ear. Worldwide, I
am one of 15 recorded people who have survived
this type of aneurysm, in this location, over the
last 25 years.
When I mentioned to the surgeon that I had a
second near-death experience (he had a copy of
‘Expect the Extraordinary’), he just smiled but said
nothing. Whenever I have mentioned that I had a
near-death experience, most doctors shy away from
me. The nurses who have cared for others who have
undergone close life or death situations are always
very interested and ask where to purchase the book.
I am now on a speaking tour, talking about how
each of us can take life-changing events and use
them to “Light Up Your Life.” We can help ourselves
and others with our experiences. I want to let everyone
know that they are never alone and that they
can ask the non-physical universe to support them
in their endeavors to make a difference in their own
lives and the lives of others.
If I could help others through this extraordinarily
life-altering experience, I would tell them to see near
death as a gift. The NDE is the message—living a
full life is the mission. I would tell them to share
their unique insights with others and search to find
people of like-mindedness to connect with, such
as through IANDS (the International Association
of Near-Death Studies). Then—and to me, this is
most important—what are you going to do with
the wisdom of this experience? What intuitive
understandings have come to you? How can you
help others?
For family members and healthcare providers,
I would strongly suggest that you listen intently to
the individual who has had the near-death experience.
Then, ask them to write it down in detail, for
their own future understanding. This helps coalesce
what has happened. With these details, we can put
order to the event and help us believe that we are
not totally irrational.
I would also like to say that when you have
had more than one NDE, you realize that you are
a magnet for connections to the non-physical. You
want others to know that they are never alone and
that there is guidance and love beyond what we,
as humans, think possible.

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