Book Review of "Gaze into Heaven"

I'm not really into books about near-death experiences although family members have recommended those kinds of books to me. I've cracked some of those books open and tried to read them, but I haven't made it too far before getting bored. Gaze into Heaven by Marlene Sullivan is the first of this genre that's held my interest.

Gaze into Heaven contains the stories of early LDS members who had near-death experiences. At first I thought all the stories would be from pioneer days, but many of the stories occurred later than that--all the way up to the time of the Great Depression. I think what I found most fascinating about these stories was that they were recorded before the time when near-death experiences were widely publicized. Though each chapter contains an explanation about common threads in the experiences, the author allows us to read each person's story in its entirety without interruption. There was also some explanation about LDS doctrine and modern research into near-death experiences, but the stories were my favorite part.

Since I'd never read a book like this before, I learned a lot that other people probably already know about near-death experiences. Here are a few things I learned about them:
  • The first thing that happens to most people is that they see their own lifeless body from above.
  • They experience a profound sense of peace and absence of pain, though sometimes they are concerned that their loved ones are mourning their passing
  • A messenger or guardian angel comes to lead them to the spirit world
  • They have a sort of tour of the spirit world and meet friends and loved ones there.
  • They are able to see and communicate more easily
  • Many times they're given a special message to deliver or mission to fulfill before they return to life.
  • Coming back to life is very painful.
Of course, there's a lot more to learn from the book. I was impressed with the research and organization that Marlene Sullivan put into the book, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to read it. It's available online at Amazon, Deseretbook, and Seagullbook, as well as at LDS bookstores. The author's website is: