Deathbed Experiences

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Won a Finalist Award in the “Nonfiction Spiritual” category: 2021 Best Books Awards

My current research/writing obsession is on a sister experience to near-death experiences (NDEs) called deathbed experiences (DBEs). NDEs occur when people almost die, but recover. DBEs occur around the time of final death. They are extremely common; a recent study in a New York hospice found over 80 percent of their patients experiencing DBEs, when interviewed daily.

I use the term “deathbed experience” broadly to refer to a cluster of phenomena that occur around death, including:

  • deathbed visions proper (where the dying claim to see and communicate with deceased relatives and angelic beings prior to death),
  • terminal lucidity (where people whose brains have been deteriorating for some time, to the point of being comatose, suddenly communicate quite lucidly just prior to death),
  • shared death experiences (where those who are not dying experience something of the transition of a loved one),
  • crisis apparitions (where people have visions/sensations that a loved one has passed, even when they didn’t know the person was ill), and
  • after death communications (where people claim to have experiences with loved ones after they died.)

In my earlier study of near-death experiences, I found some studies of deathbed experiences and decided to find out what research had been done on them through the years. I purposed to see if these studies provided any evidence for an afterlife. “Maybe I’ll find 100 or so relevant sources to make for a tidy dissertation topic,” or so I thought.

About 500 sources later, I realized I was onto something big. A wealth of research has been done over the last 140 years, but someone needed to bring it together and try to make sense of it. Amazingly, many of the studies were done by top-notch intellectuals connected to some of our top universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

I’ve currently found over 800 resources and have transformed the dissertation into two readable volumes of about 250 pages each. The first volume is now available at as both a Kindle (digital) and print version. The second volume should go live sometime early in 2022. Since I’ve documented it meticulously, I hope that physicians, apologists, anthropologists and philosophers of religion will be inspired to keep moving this research forward. I’ll try to keep you abreast of new developments on my blog page.

Early testimonies regarding either the original dissertation
or a prepublication edition of both volumes.

“For years, I’ve required students to read Dr. Miller’s earlier book on near-death experiences, because of its combination of solid research and a winsome, readable style. Similarly, his new book on deathbed experiences pulls together a vast amount of research on a sister experience that I’d only casually met, but now have a deep respect for. Who knew that many of our most respected educators and scientists, teaching in our most highly respected universities, have been studying an experience that provides evidence for the afterlife? The implications for finding life’s purpose, counseling the grieving, caring for the dying and establishing a personal worldview are nothing less than astounding. But beware: this book may start by changing your mind, but end with impacting your heart.

I myself have been researching this area of NDEs and DBEs for over ten years and I am convinced that the evidence presented in Miller’s new book is first-rate and extremely powerful in making the case for life after death, Christian supernaturalism, and the defeat of scientific naturalism. The book is absolutely unique; I plan on endorsing it strongly….”J. P. Moreland, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University.

“This extraordinary book will set the agenda for future studies of the phenomena associated with “life after death” or “deathbed experiences”—happenings that indicate what happens to us as we pass from life to death and the thereafter.

Prof. Miller’s 400-plus pages of closely argued text, with nearly 800 footnotes and approximately 1000 references, set a research standard hard to match, essential to those interested in the topic. In the future, scholars unfamiliar with this work will be identifying themselves as producing analyses warranting little serious attention.

As a semi-retired scientist, a physicist/engineer with a long history of interest in not only science but also philosophy, I was privileged to receive a nearly final Advance Review Copy from Prof. Miller, an acquaintance through internet correspondence.

I spent decades as an agnostic, only recently returning to the Christian faith. Prof. Miller’s book is so well-argued that it has moved me from hoping there is a life after death to expecting that there is, being only somewhat short of certain.

The range and depth of this work are breath-taking, beyond this reviewer’s ken in several areas. This profound and carefully researched book will encourage all who hope for a life after death in the presence of a just and benevolent God.”Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., Formerly Associate Professor of Environmental Physics, Harvard University.

Dr. Steve Miller’s book, Deathbed Experiences, is one of the most startling, challenging treatises it has been my privilege to read in recent years.  We are all familiar with the genre of near-death experiences as a book format.  This book deals with the observations of those walking with the dying through their experience of death.  These people actually die, but in the process leave us with challenging, often unexpected experiences. 

We are all used to spectacular books relating a single person’s experiences; this book is something quite different.   It is based on hundreds of studies done on those that have or are dying.  It is scientific and forces us to confront the question of “body” and “mind” in the light of secular research.  I say secular because none of these studies were initiated, funded or in any way related to religious organizations. This is secular science grappling with the ultimate question of human existence, the nature of the human soul and what happens at death. 

This is the only doctoral dissertation that I have ever read that was a “page turner”.  “Startling” is only one of many superlatives I could give to the book.  This is a book that can speak both to the secular specialist and the average reader.  I hope it becomes the best seller that it deserves to be.”David Cashin, Ph.D. Professor of Intercultural Studies, Columbia International University.

Absolutely outstanding!  Your book is the best book on Deathbed Experiences anywhere.  I am thrilled to see your Christian perspective in a scholarly book.” – Jeffrey Long, M.D., Cofounder of the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, Author of Evidence for the Afterlife.