Purgatory Or Hell? Woman Who 'Killed' Herself Recounts Vision Of Virgin Mary
What happens to those who commit suicide? Where do they end up? Is it a place of mercy, or of darkness -- hell or purgatory?
This is a more interesting question than many imagine with no simple answer. Once more, God judges. If we accept near-death accounts, most such people find themselves in a place that is described, with impressive consistency, as preternaturally "dark": a blackness that is almost palpable.
There are exceptions, and one was a man, now 68, from Beacon, New York, who shot himself with a rifle in 1979, felt himself slip out of his body, and though in darkness for a brief while, emerged into what he described as a "garden" of "indescribable" beauty -- something usually associated in such cases with Heaven.
There, he claims, he encountered Jesus -- Who told him he had done "a foolish thing" by ending his life but that it was not his time: that he must return and accomplish work that Christ had planned for his life.
This reputedly occurred. The man survived. Perhaps the mercy was extended because he had gone through the trauma of a divorce and was suffering from lung cancer.
We'll let God judge. All those who "end" their own lives and live to tell about it testify that it was a mistake, usually a very frightening one. There is the case, in particular, of a former model named Karen who was suffering severe depression from a recent divorce in Burbank, California, and was attacked by a voice that said it was "going to get" her. He was the tone, of course, of a demon.
And a week later, said Karen, in a state of despair, this attractive but downtrodden woman -- on prescriptions for her depression -- tried to kill herself with tranquilizers. This is according to a book, Echoes from Eternity by Carol and Arvin Gibson (the latter a nuclear engineer).
An ambulance was called, her heart stopped, and medics worked frantically to revive her with defibrillator paddles.
"During this period I became aware that I was conscious, but I was enveloped in total darkness," she told the authors. "It was pitch-black all around. A male voice spoke to me, a different voice than the one I heard a week before. This Voice said: 'You have a choice. You can stay here, or you can go back. If you stay here, your punishment will be just as it is, right now.'"
Scared -- frantically -- Karen chose, of course, to return. It was a final mercy, according to the account she has given.
"I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you do commit suicide, there is a hell for that," she said. "There might be different types of hell for other people, but for me that darkness -- with just my thoughts to keep me company -- would have been absolute agony."
But in her case she was spared.
The next thing she knew, the California woman, later a resident of Salt Lake City, found herself in a hospital room -- looking down on her own body (common in near-death cases). As she watched, it was clear that the doctor present thought she was dead.
Karen had been raised by a Mormon dad but when her mother remarried, it was to a Catholic, and her tests did not stop at the attempted suicide (from which, of course, she recovered). In 1988, the former model's second husband left her for another woman, and pregnant at the time, Karen made another disastrous decision and went for an abortion.
After the "procedure," in the waiting room, she began to hemorrhage.
"It became very scary, and I began to pray. I prayed: God, forgive me for what I have done. Please take the soul of the child that I destroyed to Heaven -- please forgive me. And please don't let the child feel the pain that I am feeling."
And so began another test: A year after the abortion -- perhaps as a final mercy -- Karen learned she had cancer of the colon and once again approached death.
She had a boyfriend who was Catholic, and when he was told after surgery that she would not live, he asked Karen what she would choose if she could have anything in the world. "I told him I just wanted to be Catholic," said Karen.
As it happens, Karen would sometimes wander into a Catholic church across the street from her home and kneel at an altar she later learned was for hopeless causes.
"Anyway, my boyfriend talked to a priest, and he told the priest that I would probably die, but my last request was to be Catholic before I passed away.
"The following day a priest visited me in the hospital. He asked me some questions about my desire to be Catholic. I assured him that was what I wanted to do.
"The priest further explained that he could give me a blessing: the Blessing of the Sick. I became a Catholic and had the blessing. I received my First Communion and Host on my deathbed. It was very peaceful.
"Suddenly I felt as though I were immersed in a stream of water, rushing over me from my head to toes. The feeling was continuous for about a minute -- as if someone had laid me in a stream.
"It was the most intense experience, of the type, that I had ever had.
"When this feeling of peace enveloped me, I noticed the priest grabbing the end of the bed. He said: 'Something marvelous happened,' and he seemed elated. The he said: 'You know that you are cured of cancer.' And I knew it."
But that wasn't the end of it. A month after the operation, doctors still saw her case as a hopeless one. One of them told Karen to prepare for a funeral. But as it turns out, a miracle was set to take place.
"After becoming Catholic, I prayed and meditated throughout the time that I was having chemotherapy," she recounted in the book. "Prayer and meditation reinforced my faith and gave me the strength to endure the pain.
"About a year-and-a-half ago, while I was praying and meditating, something profound happened.
"It was during meditation, and I knew someone was visiting me. When I shut my eyes I could see the being."
It was Mary, "the mother of Jesus," she testified -- all the more impressive because the authors of her account are Mormons!
"My initial reaction to the visit was: Why me? Who am I to be worthy of a visit by Mary?
"She told me that she came in response to my faith and prayers. Because of my prayers I was able to talk to her mentally.
"She also said that I had been forgiven for the things I previously did that were so wrong.
"My purpose now, she let me know, was to concentrate on living life, and she told me that I had a special task to do."
Her message to others -- her message after her return from hell or purgatory (you guess which)?
"Just that we have a purpose here, there is a life after death, and there is a God Who loves all of us -- a forgiving God.
"The love that God feels for us, we should try to replicate in our feelings for others. Our purpose in being here is to learn what life presents us with and to overcome obstacles. Life is a training ground. As situations present themselves we should try to do the best we can; that's all He asks of us."
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