At Heaven's Door: What Shared Journeys to the Afterlife Teach About Dying Well and Living Better (Hardcover)
A groundbreaking, authoritative exploration—rich with powerful personal stories and convincing research—of the many ways the living can and do accompany the dying on their journey into the afterlife.
In 2000, end-of-life therapist William Peters was volunteering at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco when he had an extraordinary experience as he was reading aloud to a patient: he suddenly felt himself floating in midair, completely out of his body. The patient, who was also aloft, looked at him and smiled. The next moment, Peters felt himself return to his body…but the patient never regained consciousness and died.
Perplexed and stunned by what had happened, Peters began searching for other people who’d shared similar experiences. He would spend the next twenty years gathering and meticulously categorizing their stories to identify key patterns and features of what is now known as the “shared crossing” experience. The similarities, which cut across continents and cultures and include awe-inspiring visual and sensory effects, and powerful emotional after-effects, were impossible to ignore.
Long whispered about in the hospice and medical communities, these extraordinary moments of final passage are openly discussed and explained in At Heaven’s Door. The book is filled with powerful tales of spouses on departing this earth after decades together and bereaved parents who share their children’s entry into the afterlife. Applying rigorous research, Peters digs into the effect these shared crossing experiences impart—liberation at the sight of a loved one finding joy, a sense of reconciliation if the relationship was fraught—and explores questions like: What can explain these shared death experiences? How can we increase our likelihood of having one? What do these experiences tell us about what lies beyond? And, most importantly, how can they help take away the sting of death and better prepare us for our own final moments? How can we have both a better life and a better death?
About the Author
William Peters is the founder of the Shared Crossing Project and director of its Research Initiative. Recognized as a global leader in the field of shared death studies, he has spent decades studying end-of-life experiences. Previously, Peters worked as a hospice volunteer with the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and as a teacher and social worker in Central and South America. A practicing grief and bereavement therapist, he holds degrees from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and UC Berkeley. His work on end-of-life is informed by his therapeutic work with individuals and families, personal experiences with death and dying across cultures, and his family’s own end-of-life journeys.
“This brilliant and fascinating research about shared death experiences removes the conventional myth of death’s finality and shows how love binds us together beyond the material realm. Highly recommended!”
— Eben Alexander, MD, Neurosurgeon and New York Times bestselling author of Proof of Heaven, The Map of Heaven, and Living in a Mindful Universe
"A 'must read' for anyone who will die. Read to find the gifts of comfort, peace, and especially the reduction of fear. This book will change your view of dying in a profoundly positive way."
— Maggie Callanan, bestselling author of Final Gifts
“At Heaven's Door offers moving and tender accounts, real and important, soothing and surprisingly common, that validate and affirm the great mystery that who we are is consciousness. We are spirit beyond our body.”
— Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path With Heart
"Peters has built upon my foundational research into shared-death phenomena with this very well-researched and thoughtful look at the transpersonal effects of dying on family, friends, and even healthcare providers. I strongly recommend At Heaven’s Door for those who want a well-researched look into what exists beyond the threshold."
— Dr. Raymond Moody, bestselling author of Life After Life and Glimpses of Eternity
"A growing body of evidence indicates that the death of the physical body is not the end of human consciousness. In At Heaven's Door, William J. Peters makes a vital addition to this all-important conclusion: our existence does not end with bodily death." — Larry Dossey, MD, author of One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters
"This study based on over 800 cases is a hugely valuable contribution to our understanding not only of death and dying, but of what makes life worthwhile... A truly inspiring read." — The Scientific & Medical Network