Beating the Odds: Bill Taylor on the Near-Death Experience That Changed His Life

Bill Taylor
Bill Taylor

A Lake Worth Beach man makes a cosmic escape from the brink of death

For Bill Taylor, it started with a fever of 105. It was March 1979, and Taylor, a 37-year-old data analyst living in Maryland, visited his doctor, who prescribed a fever reducer.

It didn’t work. A couple of days later, Taylor attempted to rise from his bed, and fainted. His wife and brother-in-law drove him to Johns Hopkins as he slipped in and out of consciousness. “The heart was doing all kinds of irregular stuff,” he recalls, from his home in Lake Worth Beach. “They were trying to get a pulse, and they were getting 50 over 40. They didn’t know if I was bleeding internally, or was I on drugs, or what was causing this.”

The cause of Taylor’s collapse was cardiac arrest—possibly triggered by undiagnosed Lyme Disease—and he would spend the next two weeks in the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit, at death’s door. During this time, he suffered a seizure, and his heart stopped three times.

“The first week, I hardly remember anything,” he says. “They couldn’t get the heart to beat regularly. My blood pressure was low. My liver was failing, my kidneys were failing, breathing was hard. They said people who come in who are that sick usually don’t leave.”

Taylor might have been one of those typical patients—were it not for some divine intervention he encountered on the Other Side.

He would later write that “when my heart would stop I could feel my energy rapidly leaving my body. During one of these episodes my energy became weaker and weaker. It was like I was on a sliding board trying to hold on before I let go and disappeared into darkness. … As I became weaker and let go, I remembered thinking, I don’t know where I’m going, but it’s out of my hands now.”

The next thing he knew, he found himself removed from his physical body. Instantly, he had become an energy force floating in the cosmos, blanketed by celestial bodies. “It was mind-boggling,” he says. “It was still me. I had my memories. I was just amazed that I’m still here. “Soon, it was like a flood coming in of this love. It’s indescribable. It just pours into you. I knew I was loved, beyond any love here on Earth. Whatever you were, whatever you’ve done, is all OK. … I instantly felt, I’m home. This is where I came from.”

At some point in his astral travel—Taylor can’t venture a guess as to how long he was out—he encountered a being: a headless torso of energy that didn’t identify itself, but that he likens to Jesus. “It said, ‘You can choose whether to stay or to go back. But before you make up your mind, put your hand on your mother’s heart.’ [She was still alive.] As I did that, I could feel the pain that she would feel if I died. Then the being said, ‘Put your hand on my heart.’

“Then I began to see why we’re here. We’re not here by accident. Our job is to put love into every instance we can—to fill the voids wherever it doesn’t exist.

“From then on, it was better,” Taylor says of his health. He would spend another two weeks in the hospital and six months convalescing at home. He had never heard of NDEs, but during his recovery, he read the literature on this spiritual phenomenon—which, according to one peer-reviewed study, affects 12 percent of cardiac arrest patients—and found commonalities among experiencers that helped verify his own.

To call Taylor’s encounter life-changing is to understate his future involvement with near-death research. After sharing his stories with media outlets including Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM radio show, Taylor became involved with the International Association of Near-Death Studies (IANDS), the world’s largest educational nonprofit dedicated to the subject, joining its board and assuming its presidency from 2000 to 2003.

Taylor retired to Lake Worth Beach in 2013, but he still speaks about his NDE, and its spiritual impact, at conferences. He remains 100-percent convinced that his experience was not the result of hypoxia—lack of oxygen to the brain, which could account for hallucinations—or other prosaic solutions.

“To me, death is a fallacy,” he says. “Our physical form may die, but whoever we are—our spirit, our soul—is inextinguishable. You can’t put it out.”

This story is from the February 2020 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.