But for some who have been through near-death experiences, the question has a clear answer.
Take public speaker Anita Moorjani, who shared her story with Maria Shriver on TODAY.”I believe that I died, yes — that I crossed over into the afterlife and back,” said Moorjani, adding that the afterlife is “like being in a really unlimited space and time.”
Diagnosed at age 4 with a chronic digestive disorder, 8-year-old Annabel Beam experienced intense pain and frequent hospital visits. “She was always so sweet and gracious,” her father, Kevin, told TODAY. “She wasn’t making a big deal out of it, and she was suffering in silence.”But the suffering started to overwhelm Annabel.
“I told my mom, ‘Mama, I want to die, and go to heaven with Jesus where there is no more pain. I don’t want to be in this much pain for the rest of my life,'” she said. “And so I was so committed to just giving up that sometimes whenever I couldn’t sleep I’d kinda try and figure out what would happen if I did die. Then I decided, my mom would come with me. My dad would stay and watch my sisters.”
Annabel’s mother, Christy, refused to believe what she’d heard. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s not what she said,'” Christy recalled. “She doesn’t know anything about giving up. She’s a fighter.”
Days later, Annabel said she fell 30 feet from a tree branch that cracked while she was sitting on it with her sister, Abbie. She claims that after bumping her head three times on the way down and falling into the hollowed-out base of the tree, she died and went to heaven.
“It was really bright, and I sat on Jesus’ lap and he told me, ‘Whenever the firefighters get you out, there will be nothing wrong with you,'” Annabel recalled. “And I asked him if I could stay and he said, ‘No, I have plans you need to fulfill on Earth that you cannot fulfill in heaven.'”
“She was very matter-of-fact: very ‘This is what happened,’ not at all animated, just, ‘Here are the facts,'” Christy said. “And then she stopped talking, and looked out the window for the rest of the trip.”
Now symptom-free, Annabel has gone from taking 10 daily medications to none. She fell 30 feet head first, without any injuries or one bug bite,” her mom said. “She came out of that tree hours later wet, muddy, and with scratches. And she’s well.”
The tree, which recently toppled due to weather, remains in the Beam family front yard, beside a cross Kevin carved after the accident.
“I’m glad that I didn’t ever try and cut it down,” he said. “I do think that this tree was actively involved in a miracle.”
His wife — who turned Annabel’s story into the book “Miracles from Heaven” — agreed. “It had a purpose,” Christy said. “It was a vessel.”
Annabel, who continues to climb trees, feels fortunate. “Most kids aren’t ever healed,” she said. “And so anytime I see [the tree], I’m just grateful, and happy.”