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Thoughtful Tuesdays: Overcoming

By Eithne Cullen

Welcome to April’s Thoughtful Tuesday page.

With the current theme of ‘Overcoming’ and a reminder that April is National Poetry Month, let me start with an image of spring. I’m always delighted to see the spring flowers emerge, especially the bulbs in my garden. These tulips are a reminder of how nature can overcome trials and tribulations just as bulbs over-winter and bring us delight.

© Eithne Cullen, 2024

And to keep spring in our thoughts, here’s a little poem from Mirabel.

April Haiku

I savour the sight
Bees pollinate the blossom
Worms toil at the soil

© Mirabel Lavelle, 2024


The pieces I’m sharing on my page today cover some serious matters. They are three very different pieces and three very different ways of thinking about near-death experiences.

The first is a poem from our Editor, Madeleine. It’s from her debut collection, The Horse And The Girl. Here, she tells an exciting story of overcoming a terrifying situation, where the experience could have had tragic consequences for the girl in the poem.

Hell For Leather

The rumbling lorry rolled along the road
as the Girl and the Horse trotted on
“Will he slow, I wonder, and let us past?”
Muttered Girl to the Horse, as the horn gave a blast.

The wheels thundered closely, the contents were rattling
Horse took the reins and the Girl started battling.
He’d relented a little, and she felt a bit stronger
when the blast came again, and this one was longer!

Quick as a flash Horse put down his head
Girl’s hands were like steel but her stomach was lead.
She knew what was coming, she’d been there before
but not on a road, with its hard, tarmacked core.

‘Must pull’, thought the Girl, to the fields at the side
‘move across, move across, for a safer ride.’

“Help!” squealed Horse, “Must run very fast
away from the traffic that’s flying past.”

“The lorry, the cars, the noise and the clatter…”
‘Help, help!’ thought the Girl ‘If I fall, I will shatter!’

Steel-shod hooves crashed; sparks continued to fly
fear’s void caught Girl’s scream of, “We’re going to die.”

A pull to the left, the will to stay in one piece
one sharp, strong tug – then the release.

Shooting onto the pavement and into the maize
the Horse and the Girl continued their race.

The tall stems broke as the pair crashed through
paces eating the ground as Horse panicked anew
but once again she pulled to the left
‘If he sprints round in circles, he’ll soon run out of breath.’

And sure enough, as the circles tightened
his pace started slowing and he seemed less frightened
her knuckles still white, Girl released a little
no longer feeling so desperately brittle.

‘If I fall now,’ she took a deep breath,
I’ll crash and I’ll hurt, but it doesn’t mean death.
As her body softened Horse took his cue,
his fright and flight impulse dying down too.

Flanks heaving and foaming (and that was just her!)
Horse stood four-square with sweat-sodden fur.
Girl slid from the saddle, all boneless and formless
Patting half-tonne Horse, who now stood there.
Quite harmless.

Girl shook and she sobbed and her heart beat faster
she’d not held Horse but had averted disaster.

A Man and a Dog came up to her side
they’d tried to follow the madcap ride
from roadside to field, “Our own safety not heeded”
him and Dog had come, “Just in case we were needed.”

Dog didn’t bark, his eyes watchful and still
as the Man pointed up through the rain to the hill.
“You did a good job, holding Horse today
just across there is the motorway.”

“But the next time you want to go hell for leather
maybe check for soft ground and better weather.”
He doffed his hat as he patted her arm,
“But me and Dog here, we’re pleased you weren’t harmed.”

© Madeleine White, 2022

Connect with Madeline on X and Instagram: @madeleinefwhite
Find out more about her book at Lapwing Publications


Our next piece is a serious article from Vic Howard, which looks into the phenomenon of near-death experiences. Maybe you believe in these strange events, or maybe you’re a sceptic when it comes to talking about them? This is a well-researched piece that will certainly get you thinking.

We Can Overcome

Death used to be pretty final. The heart stopped, the breath went out – and so did the lights – brain activity stopped and there wasn’t much one could do about it except order a stone and carve the epitaph: “Was that it?”

Things are different now, though. Leaving this life is not that easy. Quite often, you can be offered a second chance. Those who take it and come back are said to have had an NDE or Near-Death Experience. These are people who’ve been declared clinically dead by hospital staff but, because of modern resuscitation techniques, have been restored to consciousness again and, eventually, good health.

Thanks to YouTube and the growing awareness of human spirituality, NDEs are becoming more widely known and discussed. If you’ve had an NDE, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, you may well be sceptical. Plenty of highly qualified medical people refuse to believe stories of NDEs told them by their patients. Years ago, a patient who said they’d left their body and entered a spirit world was in danger of being committed to the psychiatric ward, which is why many who’ve had an NDE have kept quiet about it. One thing consistent with all those who insist NDEs cannot possibly happen is that they refuse to read the available literature.

Today, things are different. Thousands of people world-wide have had an NDE in the past 50 years and many others previously. There are still plenty of heart specialists and other academics who say NDEs are fantasy, but serious investigations say otherwise. One study carried out over a ten-year period by a long experienced cardiologist, Dr Pimm van Lommel, was published in The Lancet, the premier journal of the medical profession in the UK, and unlikely to publish something it doesn’t take seriously.

In one of the many lectures given by Dr van Lommel, a man stood up and said, “Rubbish! I’ve been a cardiologist for 40 years and never had a patient who talked about an NDE!” Immediately afterwards, another man stood up and said, “I was one of your patients who had an NDE and you’re the last person I would have spoken to about it.” The fear of being considered insane has made many hold their tongue.

The experiences of NDE all follow a similar pattern but can vary in length and number of events. An NDE bears no relation to the gender, age, race, religion or culture of the patient, though those who are religious interpret their experiences as religious, while those from more primitive cultures may include passages that match their cultural background. Younger patients tend to have longer NDEs. All described leaving their body and floating up into strong white light that’s not blinding. Sometimes they do this via a tunnel of darkness. Others are met by dead loved ones and also by spirits who help the person review their life. There is no judgment, but they’re allowed to experience the effect they have had on those they’ve helped or offended. All report a feeling of being immersed in intense love and light and say they felt they’d arrived home. Afterwards, they usually have no fear of dying and view life quite differently.

However, it isn’t necessary to die in order to have an out-of-body experience. Many patients do so whilst under anaesthetic. One was a woman who first viewed her operation from above, then stood by a window and watched until it was finished. A surgeon dropped a pen which rolled across the floor towards where the patient was ‘standing.’ Afterwards she related the incident to the surgeon and also commented on the bad language he had been using. His main reason for disbelieving her story about the pen was, “But you’ve been blind for many years.” The spirit does not suffer the ailments the body might encounter in life and leaves them behind after death.

The remarkable history of NDEs is notable for the number of previously sceptical academics who have had an NDE and then written books or related their experiences on video on YouTube. These are often highly qualified scientists, steeped in scientific thinking yet who, having had an NDE, became convinced of the indestructibility of the human spirit or soul. Memory of dreams fades quickly, but an NDE never fades. All who have had one say it was more real than life. They’re able to remember every detail decades later and they all say they didn’t want to leave the unending love they found themselves surrounded by in the spirit world.

‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished – as Hamlet says.


Further Links:

Life After Life by Dr Raymond A Moody Jr. M.D. PhD, the man who coined the term Near-Death Experience. Available to purchase on Amazon:

Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science Of NDE by Dr Pimm van Lommel. An in-depth study of the subject with many examples of NDE. Available to purchase on Amazon:

Proof Of Heaven by Eben Alexander M.D. A neurosurgeon’s journey into the Afterlife. Available to purchase on Amazon:

Returning From Death – An Interview with Pim van Lommel –

Is There Life After Death? Moderate by John Cleese –

© Vic Howard, 2024

You can connect with Vic via Pen to Print. Email:


The final piece on today’s page is a third way of looking at near-death experiences. Thanks to Claire Buss for sharing this crafty story with its intriguing account of events.

The Wrong Note

I was sitting in the coffee shop holding a rapidly cooling double caramel macchiato and staring into space when one of the baristas came over and handed me a note. I took it and smiled, thinking it was his phone number but, when I read the note, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You’re sat in my chair.

 I frowned. What the hell was this? I looked around and the coffee shop was virtually empty. No one was waiting to be served, and there must have been at least 30 empty seats. Sod that, I thought and continued with my inner brooding. I sipped my coffee. It was lukewarm now, but still had just enough heat to be mostly palatable.

I did not even register the bullet passing through my left eyeball. You don’t. It kills you instantly. It was the guy behind me I felt sorry for. He got my brains splattered all over his face. Maybe the note had been for him and not me. Either way, I was still dead.


I was sitting in the coffee shop holding a rapidly cooling double caramel macchiato and staring into space when one of the baristas came over and handed me a note. I took it and smiled, thinking it was his phone number but, when I read the note, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

You’re sat in my chair.

I looked round nervously. It wasn’t a busy cafe, but I didn’t want to cause any trouble. I hurriedly gathered my belongings and moved away to a nearby table that had no chairs. It didn’t matter. My coffee was cold, undrinkable. I shouldn’t have wasted so much time staring into nothing.

A thump to my left made me jump. I turned in time to see a guy slumped face down on the table in front of him. It had been the table behind where I was sitting.

I clocked the exit wound instantly and drew my eyeline back to the perfect hole in the window. Sniper. Ten o’clock. Instinct kicked in; I ducked down behind the nearby counter. I was well protected. The question was, had the note or the bullet been for me?

© Claire Buss, 2018

Connect with Claire on Instagram: @grasshopper2407 and visit her website for more information about her books:


Thanks to today’s contributors for these varied and interesting pieces.

I hope you have no such difficulties to overcome this month, or if any arise and you want to write about them, do submit to


Issue 20 of Write On! is available to read online here.

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo or find us on Spotify.  


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

We begin our Overcoming theme with Spring imagery before tackling the topic of near death experiences.