Michaela Roser recalls the wind blowing in her face as she was strapped to the gurney on the side of the road. She was being wheeled to a helicopter that would airlift her to the hospital. The 17-year-old was sleeping when her family’s car was hit from behind. The next thing she remembers is being engulfed by a white light, around the same time she briefly flat lined during the airlift.
She shares her vivid near-death experience, and following two weeks in a coma, with Discovery Health’s “I Was Dead”.
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“Aol Health” spoke with Roser, now a thriving 32-year-old behavior therapist, about her experience with death, and how it helps her live a more fulfilling life.
What do you remember directly after the car accident?
I was going into the hospital. I thought I was dreaming and I went back asleep. The next memory is being engulfed, almost hugged, by a light. I was surrounded by this fuzzy white light and everything was very peaceful and there was no mind chatter. It was the best feeling I’ve ever felt. I remember that I didn’t have to think of the question, it was already answered. I was there, it was obvious that I was in the moment, it wasn’t a dream. I wasn’t really in a physical form, I couldn’t look down and see my hand, but there was an obvious sense of, this is happening right now.
Did your life flash before your eyes?
It wasn’t really what I would have expected. There were flashes, like different snapshots of different places and people. It wasn’t just past — it was past, present and future. It was from dancing when I was a little girl, to what had actually just happened. And what was happening at the time and my family and friends sitting around worrying about me. One of my most vivid memories is one with my grandchildren. And I don’t even have children yet.
Did you want to give in to the light?
I realized that if I wanted to let go into that place, I would be okay, but I would never be in the same form again. I wouldn’t be Michaela Roser here on Earth. I had an overwhelming feeling I wanted to live more.
What happened after you decided you wanted to live?
The whiteness turned to all these different colors. And I even felt tears, but I wasn’t in a physical form. Then it felt like I got sucked through outer space — not through a tunnel but through what felt like a chute. Then I was looking at my body in the hospital bed. It was all very natural. I knew what was happening, and I wasn’t afraid.
What was it like seeing yourself in the hospital bed?
At first I just watched it. It was like watching yourself in the movie. I could go in and out of my body. When I was in my body, it would hurt so bad that I’d have to come out. I could just say ‘I want to go the nurses’ station’ and then I’d be there. I went to the cafeteria. I overheard my mom and dad having a very detailed conversation with my grandmother.
Why didn’t you travel to the beach, for instance, instead of just the nurses’ station?
I felt very strongly the feeling between my spirit and my body. It was like I was waiting around to get back into my body. I already had chosen to not go back to the spiritual side. I needed to focus attention on my physical self to get better.
What sort of rehab did you have to undergo after coming out of the coma?
Once I woke up, they only kept me for four or five days. My left bicep was cut in half, so I had a scar. I had a head injury with brain shearing. My eyebrow was where my hairline should have been. I had long and short-term memory loss. My attention span was like a two-year-old’s. I’d get excited about doing something, and then forget about what I wanted to do. I had recreational, behavioral and physical therapy — there was testing all the time on my brain functioning. I had to retest to go back to school with my class, which I did.
What about people who doubt your experience?
I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, I’m just telling the story of what happened to me. I know it happened, and I’ve had enough proof along the way of telling my stories. One of my friends is a physicist, and we go round and round about it. He’ll say, “I definitely think there’s something behind it,” and I’ll say, “There’s definitely something. How can I explain remembering a conversation word-for-word when I was upstairs in a coma?” Basically I tell him I can’t prove it.
How did your near-death experience change how you have lived your life?
It has pushed me to experience new things. I’m from a small town of 1,800 people in Pennsylvania. One red light, white bread Pennsylvania. So being in LA is a big leap. I would have maybe never left that place.
I’m not afraid to die, so it’s made me not afraid to try things. I’m a behaviorist; I work with the developmentally challenged to help them to socialize and live life on their own. I want to understand everyone and all kinds of people, and it doesn’t matter what other people think.
I’m going to [graduate] school to be a psychologist. This [experience] definitely made me want to be a helper; I think it increased my patience, too. I have a high tolerance for when things don’t go right. If something happens, I just try to be happy and think of the positive things.
By Katherine Tweed