By Katherine Tweed
Michaela Roser recalls the wind blowing in her face as she was strapped
to the gurney on the side of the road. She was being wheeled to a
helicopter that would airlift her to the hospital. The 17-year-old was
sleeping when her family’s car was hit from behind. The next thing she
remembers is being engulfed by a white light, around the same time she
briefly flat lined during the airlift.
She shares her vivid near-death experience, and following two weeks in
a coma, with Discovery Health's “I Was Dead.”
recently spoke with Roser, now a thriving 32-year-old behavior
therapist, about her experience with death, and how it helps her live a
more fulfilling life.
What do you remember directly after the car
I was going into the hospital. I thought I was
dreaming and I
went back asleep. The next memory is being engulfed, almost hugged, by
a light. I was surrounded by this fuzzy white light and everything was
very peaceful and there was no mind chatter. It was the best feeling
I’ve ever felt. I remember that I didn’t have to think of the question,
it was already answered. I was there, it was obvious that I was in the
moment, it wasn’t a dream. I wasn’t really in a physical form, I
couldn’t look down and see my hand, but there was an obvious sense of,
this is happening right now.
Did your life flash before your eyes?
It wasn’t really what I would have expected.
flashes, like different snapshots of different places and people. It
wasn’t just past -- it was past, present and future. It was from
dancing when I was a little girl, to what had actually just happened.
And what was happening at the time and my family and friends sitting
around worrying about me. One of my most vivid memories is one with my
grandchildren. And I don’t even have children yet.
Did you want to give in to the light?
I realized that if I wanted to let go into
that place, I would
be okay, but I would never be in the same form again. I wouldn’t be
Michaela Roser here on Earth. I had an overwhelming feeling I wanted to
What happened after you decided you wanted to live?
The whiteness turned to all these different
colors. And I even
felt tears, but I wasn’t in a physical form. Then it felt like I got
sucked through outer space -- not through a tunnel but through what
felt like a chute. Then I was looking at my body in the hospital bed.
It was all very natural. I knew what was happening, and I wasn’t
What was it like seeing yourself in the hospital
At first I just watched it. It was like
watching yourself in
the movie. I could go in and out of my body. When I was in my body, it
would hurt so bad that I’d have to come out. I could just say ‘I want
to go the nurses’ station’ and then I’d be there. I went to the
cafeteria. I overheard my mom and dad having a very detailed
conversation with my grandmother.
Why didn’t you travel to the beach, for instance,
instead of just the nurses’ station?
I felt very strongly the feeling between my
spirit and my body.
It was like I was waiting around to get back into my body. I already
had chosen to not go back to the spiritual side. I needed to focus
attention on my physical self to get better.
What sort of rehab did you have to undergo after
coming out of the coma?
Once I woke up, they only kept me for four or
five days. My
left bicep was cut in half, so I had a scar. I had a head injury
with brain shearing. My eyebrow was
where my hairline should have been. I had long and short-term memory loss.
My attention span
was like a two-year-old's. I’d get excited about doing something, and
then forget about what I wanted to do. I had recreational, behavioral
and physical therapy
-- there was testing all the time
on my brain functioning. I had to retest to go back to school with my
class, which I did.
What about people who doubt your experience?
I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything,
I’m just telling
the story of what happened to me. I know it happened, and I’ve had
enough proof along the way of telling my stories. One of my friends is
a physicist, and we go round and round about it. He'll say, "I
definitely think there’s something behind it," and I'll say, "There’s
definitely something. How can I explain remembering a conversation
word-for-word when I was upstairs in a coma?" Basically I tell him I
can’t prove it.
How did your near-death experience change how you
have lived your life?
It has pushed me to experience new things. I’m from a small
town of 1,800 people in Pennsylvania. One red light, white bread
Pennsylvania. So being in LA is a big leap. I would have maybe never
left that place.
I’m not afraid to die, so it’s made me not afraid to try things. I’m a
behaviorist; I work with the developmentally challenged to help them to
socialize and live life on their own. I want to understand everyone and
all kinds of people, and it doesn't matter what other people think.
I’m going to [graduate] school to be a psychologist. This [experience]
definitely made me want to be a helper; I think it increased my
patience, too. I have a high tolerance for when things don’t go right.
If something happens, I just try to be happy and think of the positive