When a Near-Death Experience Changes Everything
By Jayne Jacova Feld

 

Danny Bader was in his late 20s when a near-death experience set his life on an uncharted course. As Bader recalls it, he and a friend were working on a roof when the ladder they were holding accidentally touched a live power line. Immediately, volts of energy shot through their bodies, killing them both. While technically dead, Bader had what he describes as a cosmic conversation with God. It didn’t last long because, after about 8 minutes, his heart started beating again and his breath returned. His friend never revived.

His body healed quickly, but for years Bader wrestled with survivor’s guilt while trying to make sense of his out-of-body experience. There were some rough times before he finally hit upon his purpose for coming back – and figured out how his story could help others through life’s struggles. Bader, who lives part-time in West Cape May, has written several books, including his latest, “Taking the Sh*t out of the Show.” He has traveled widely as a motivational speaker and self-help influencer. Although he considers his message to be timeless, Bader gained new audiences during the pandemic as so many people have been struggling with loss over the past 2 years.

Q: Can you describe what happened when you were electrocuted?

On July 28, 1992, I had an accident where about 8-10,000 bolts of electricity raced into my hands and exited out my feet. On the way down, it stopped my heart, my lungs, my eyes rolled back. I was foaming at the mouth. Essentially I was dead. And that’s not by my testimony. I was told that by somebody who was on the scene. So when I tell the story a lot of people go, “Omigosh, what was it like? Did you see the light? Did you see the tunnel? Did you see some deceased relatives?” I always say, “I hate to disappoint you but no. No light, no tunnels, no deceased relatives.”

As I was hit with that electricity, I had a calm come over me. I knew something big was taking place. I felt this pulling away. I saw the scene but I didn’t hover over my body. I just had a consciousness that I was moving on and I was really ok with that. I got to this place. I’ll use human words but they really don’t describe it. It was dark. I had a sense of floating. I was not in my body. It was very loving. And I was communicating with God, what I believed to be God. No burning bush. No gray hair, no big bearded guy. It was almost like I was with this energy, this God that I believed in, and it was really, really good. Then we were kind of reviewing my life. And at one point I said to this God – of course I didn’t use words but I communicated – what about my mom, what about my girlfriend at the time, who is my wife now, what about them? In that instant, I was back inside my body and heard the sounds of the accident scene.

Q: How did you feel and get on with your life in the days after?

I lived for some time after that accident wanting to be back there. It was a time of depression. I tried to figure out “why me?” My friend was married with 3 children. The youngest was just a few months old. And I wasn’t married yet with any children. Why wasn’t it me who died? For a while, I was in the darkest place a human being can go. I was on the verge of self-destruction. I went to the Outerbanks in North Carolina to visit friends and I called my mom from a phone booth. When she asked, “When are you coming home,” I was crying and I told her I’ll be coming home in a few days. As I walked out, there was a memory in my head of the love I had felt on the other side, and I began to develop a vision of what it would be like to feel better. That’s the first step: Developing a vision of where you see yourself.

Q: When did you start sharing your story?

In the early 2000s, I was working for a company doing corporate workshops, and I started telling my story to plant some seeds of inspiration. Although it’s only been reported that 3 to 4% of people have a near-death experience where their body literally stops, I realized my story can connect with a lot of people. We all get to a place where we’re hurting, confused and we don’t have trust in our ability to move forward. I believe that the principles I write about are timeless. I didn’t invent them. I just kind of uncovered them in my own desperation to get better again. In life, there are going to be struggles. You don’t want to walk around with that expectation but know that every human being on this planet can get through their struggles. Not everyone will, but we all can.

Q: What’s your advice to help people who are struggling?

When we’re suffering with hurt, pain and confusion, it’s important to sit quietly sometimes, to think about what it would look like to feel better. It’s essentially what got me through a tragic time. It may take a while to develop that vision. What helps is creating space to be still. It provides tremendous physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits. A lot of the answers reside in stillness.

That leads to knowing yourself. That’s the ongoing process of taking inventory and paying attention to what you are saying to yourself. Ask questions and answer them honestly. Also seek support, both internally and externally. Know that there is someone or something bigger than us. And that entity, that energy, is a wonderful source of support. The last one is to undergo continuous gradual change. The power to reflect on our lives and evolve is vital. I encourage people to trust this process and you will see a shift, an ability to come back to joy.

We hear a lot about resilience, which is just our ability to get through difficult times. Life is not about finding yourself but creating yourself. This is not unicorns and rainbows. Having a vision is simply the ability to imagine what needs to be real.

March 2022
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