THE NEXT BREATH: New Life After Near Death
Every year millions of people suffer acute medical emergencies that nearly take their lives. Millions more have accidents that bring them, without warning, to the edge of existence. Whatever the cause these people share a common task – to rebuild their lives after having faced their own mortality in an unprepared moment.
I am one of these people.
If you are reading this, odds are you are too or have a love one who is.
I wrote this book for you.
What is it like to be suddenly, catastrophically on the verge of sudden death?
I found out one morning when I was struck by a massive pulmonary embolism while walking. In the span of a single stride I went from being a healthy 63 year old to a person on the edge of death – gasping for breath – my life suspended by a thin thread of chance.
Having been brought to the threshold of oblivion and survived, how does one adjust to the prospect of living with a new understanding of the tenuous nature of existence?
The Next Breath and related website www.the-next-breath.org are dedicated to the exploration of this existential question.
Three themes run throughout The Next Breath
The Healing Journey - the stages of the recovery process are identified and described, e.g., PTSD, victimization, spiritual searching, winnowing, as are the emotions, such as denial, anger, depression, angst, fear, and vulnerability that ebb and flow like sine waves through the aftermath of the emergency and recovery from it.
Medical Decision-Making – the not always constructive interplay between the peculiarities of how contemporary medicine is practiced and patients’ psychological and therapeutic needs in times of crisis is documented. In the process many issues that are in the public discourse are discussed: PTSD, medical errors, malpractice, deciding between conflicting medical opinions in life threatening situations, and the effect of meditation, if any, on recovery among others.
Fate – how chance dictates the course of our lives and how reacting to, perhaps accepting, the undirected nature of existence can affect the recovery and adjustment to a life-threatening event. The demonstration of the arbitrariness of existence leads to consideration of spiritual matters such as death and immortality, prayer, miracles, and the significance of NDE’s as seen from the author’s agnostic perspective.
See www.the-next-breath.org for more information on the contents of the book and to read chapter samples.
WHERE THE NEXT BREATH FITS
The Next Breath offers a new perspective on the Near Death Experience (NDE) and Death and Dying literatures.
Like Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven the point of departure is a sudden, near fatal illness. However it is not another NDE story – I did not have one. I also have no religious axe to grind. Instead I had what might more aptly be called a Sudden Life Experience and the book focuses on the profound self-examination it initiated.
While The Next Breath takes inspiration from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s work On Death and Dying and the stages of grief navigated by the terminally ill she identified, this book centers on the stages of recovery and rebuilding a life. It is a story of life and living vs. death and dying, therefore, of coming to terms with the possibilities of the future as opposed to the permanence of the past.