Jeff C. Olsen
In 1997, Jeff experienced a horrific automobile accident. The accident caused multiple life-threatening injuries, including crushing both his legs. He had 18 surgeries and spent six months in the hospital. His left leg was amputated above the knee. The most devastating outcome of the accident was the loss of his wife and youngest son, both killed instantly. Overwhelmed by the injuries his body suffered, Jeff had a profound near-death experience in which he met his wife on the other side, who told him he couldn’t stay and had to return. Having that glimpse into heaven gave him the courage he needed to carry on and care for his living son. He has since remarried and adopted two more sons. According to Jeff’s website, his greatest joy comes from being a husband and father. His mission is to assist people in consciously embracing who they are and the connection they share with others and the universe.
Websites & Background Information
I Knew Their Hearts: The Amazing True Story of a Journey Beyond the Veil to Learn the Silent Language of the Heart (2012)
By Jeff Olsen, Lee Nelson
“After a tragic accident took the life of his wife and son, Jeff experienced a miracle. This personal and poignant journey into the life after death shares the true story of Jeff’s out-of-body experiences and his newly remembered ability to communicate at a deeper level with people on both sides of the veil.”
Jeff was asked:
“To what degree have you learned to love?”
In the video below, the editors mixed up the first and second parts of this interview, so Part 2 is follower by Part 1, rather than the other way around.
Jeff Olsen describes his near-death experience at an IANDS meeting in Utah. The meeting took place on February 2, 2012. Click here to listen (MP3)
Highlights from Jeff Olsen’s Book: I Knew Their Hearts
• “To what degree have you learned to love?”
• We are all one
• God knows and loves everyone very personally
• We are loved, cherished, and honored
• Everything happens for a reason; there is purpose in every circumstance; there are no accidents
• We help create our experiences
• We are all here to learn
• We experience life in a way that makes us more godlike
• Everyone is on their own unique journey
• Don’t judge anyone
• In every situation we encounter, especially the challenging ones, choose joy; choose to see every experience positively; as opportunities to learn, grow, deepen, love
• Treasure the simple things
• True peace can only be found from the inside out (looking to people and things to fill the emptiness of our souls is painful and futile)
• One of the best ways to ease our pain is to reach out and be fully present for others
• In order to know another person’s heart, we must first know our own
• Our bodies are temples of the divine
• Our hearts know the answer to whatever questions we have
• No one truly dies; no one is ever lost
• Glimpses of eternity sometimes make things more difficult in this world
• Pay attention to dreams (this is not said, but implied by the significant role dreams have played in Jeff’s journey)
Quotes from Jeff Olsen’s Book I Knew Their Hearts
The Most Amazing I Have Ever Heard
“Since 1965, I have interviewed thousands of people from all over the world who had profound near-death experiences. Jeff Olsen’s story is one of the most amazing I have ever heard.”
— Page ix (from the Forward by Raymond Moody)
To What Degree Have You Learned To Love?
“As smoothly as I had ascended to that place of peace, I was away again. There had been no judgment and no life review. It had only been a brief peak into something profound. And I drifted away, there was only one overwhelming question, not asked by a voice, but with energy that echoed into every cell of my being. The question was simply: ‘To what degree have you learned to love?’ ”
— Pages 33-34
I Knew Their Hearts
“I felt the hustle and unrest of the hallway of a hospital. I watched the doctors and nurses as they went about their duties. I moved with ease all around them. I realized none of them were aware of me. They could not see me, but – wow – could I see them!
“My perceptions were expanded. I knew each person I saw perfectly. I knew their joys and their sorrows. I knew their love, their hate, their pain, and their secrets. I knew everything about them, every detail, every motivation, and every outcome. I knew every emotion they were feeling, and I knew intuitively why they were feeling it. In an instant, with no contemplation, I knew them as well as I knew myself. I knew their hearts…
“… I felt spontaneous, intense love for each and every one of them. Not a romantic love, but a perfect, compassionate love…”
“I moved about the hospital with ease, pausing to take in the beauty of the people I was encountering. I felt their true essence and marveled at the connection I had to each of them, even though I had never met them before…
“Most of my life, I had actually avoided people. Now, everyone I saw was truly my brother or sister. In fact it went even deeper than that. THEY were, in a strange sense, ME! We were all connected pieces in a huge puzzle of oneness.
“Words Jesus had said rushed to my recollection: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these brethren ye have done it unto me.’ Was he talking about the awareness I was experiencing? Did he feel the same thing I was feeling? Was this how he walked the earth, in the consciousness of knowing each individual soul at this deep level of love?
“I realized he didn’t see himself as better than the beggar or the prisoner; he knew he was one with them. He knew them perfectly, in the same way I was experiencing the strangers I saw. We are all linked and equal in God’s eyes. I was seeing it, feeling it, and experiencing it.”
— Pages 35-37
Feeling Someone Beyond How They Look
“I felt progressively more sick and quickly began to fade again into that semi-consciousness state of delirium… I felt the souls of all the people who were working on me in that same intense way I had experienced when moving through the hospital right after the crash. I could feel each person’s energy as he or she came into the room, but I was very much in my body this time…
“Fully encountering people’s spirits this time was interesting. It reemphasized what I had experienced before. I felt each of them and recognized them as they continued my care over the next few days. They were such beautiful souls. Some of the most wonderful spirits I felt were not necessarily the most attractive people. I learned not to look on someone’s appearance but instead to feel his or her soul. I found myself closing my eyes as the doctors or nurses entered the room to feel who they REALLY were. Feeling someone beyond how they look is a profound experience. Even now I often close my eyes to recognize the character of someone’s soul beyond what he or she looks like.”
— Pages 72-73
A Higher Perspective
“My left leg now smelled so badly of rotting flesh that it stunk up the entire hospital ward. Gangrene was slowly destroying my body… I was literally going rotten right there in front of everybody. I had to end the whole nightmare.
“Why had I been sent back? Why couldn’t I die? I’d lost my vision of being Spencer’s dad. All that mattered was that I end the pain… I screamed at him [Justin, Jeff’s younger brother], “Please get me a gun! I can’t go on!” … I continued to scream at them both [Justin and Jeff’s mother] to get me a gun, and to get it now.
“I began to vomit again, harsh green bile. The puking was so painful. The bile burned my throat and mouth as it came up; brown, green, putrid acid mixed with blood. I felt like I was on fire from the inside out.
“The room began to close in on me as I tried to yell through the vomit. All the edges closed in, and it was like I was looking at the whole scene through a thick, round, glass portal. I became tiny lying on the bed. Like a bug being observed through a magnifying glass. I looked down on myself. Everything focused in on me, yet I felt alone and small lying there on the hospital bed.
“I continued to rise above the scene as my body became smaller and smaller. It was as if I were high above the room, looking down at myself. Everything was dark except my quivering body on the bed. It looked as if there were a spotlight on my convulsing physical form, which continued to become smaller and smaller as I rose higher and higher above the entire scene.
“I heard a hissing sound, and I was suddenly swept away from the horror of looking at myself to a more peaceful place outside in the still night. It didn’t hurt anymore, but I found myself observing an even darker scene. It was like I had broken through a time barrier somehow and was now standing in a garden, but it was no heavenly place. I could feel despair coming from an isolated spot. There I saw another man shivering and convulsing in tremendous pain. I heard his pleas and whimpers as he asked for his cup to pass. I watched from a distance, but could actually feel his anguish, and watched as he trembled and bled. I heard the words: ‘The son of man has descended beneath it all. Are you greater than he?”
“I knew the man’s sorrow and grief. I could hear it, taste it, and feel it in the core of my soul. I shuddered. I was standing there, actually watching and feeling something awful yet sacred. I wanted to rush to him. It was the same feeling I had experienced in the crash when I wanted to get to Spencer. I witnessed the suffering of this soul and knew I was not separated from it. The feeling of being connected and one with everything and everyone rushed over me again. It was the same connected feeling I had experienced as I walked around the hospital shortly after the accident.
“My consciousness raced back to my hospital room and into my body. Immediately I began to vomit violently again. However, something about what I had seen gave me higher perspective. I now viewed my situation differently. I no longer felt so sorry for myself. My thoughts rushed to Spencer and why I was here. I was willing to fight, I decided. I had been sent back, and the suffering I was experiencing was mine alone to bear. Somehow, peace filled my soul. I began to feel calm and comforted. I found renewed strength. A new courage filled my heart, knowledge that Jesus himself understood what I was going through personally. I was not alone… I’d been sent back to learn something. I too must rise again, having been made more whole by all of it in some way.”
— Pages 50-53
By Being Still… I Found Power, Comfort, and Peace
“I was too sick to read. Too sick to even sit up. I was a prisoner in a hospital bed with no escape from my mind, no way out of my thoughts, nothing to take me away from the feelings that hurt so much. The only escape was the next surgery or the occasional few hours of sleep. I offered a silent, constant prayer for comfort and healing. I learned in those moments, however, that prayer had become a much different process for me. Instead of doing so much asking and talking, I was learning to be still and listen. I was meditating, pondering, and visualizing more than pleading. In the past, prayer had been an active process, one of actually kneeling down and saying something, either aloud or quietly to myself. Now it was different. I couldn’t kneel, nor could I speak, but I was finally communicating. By being still and being willing to receive rather than thinking about what I might say, I found power, comfort, and peace.”
— Pages 57-58
I Dreamed I Was Drowning
“As I slept, I dreamed I was drowning. The current was whisking me away uncontrollably. In desperation, I reached for anything to hold on to, a branch, a reed, or even just grass. The water was rushing over me, pulling me swiftly down stream. I continued to scramble, holding my breath. I thrashed in the current in absolute panic. Suddenly, over the sound of water rushing into my ears, I thought to stand up, to stop thrashing and stand up in the water. I stopped fighting the current and let it carry me. I became calmer. I let my legs sink down beneath me and felt them plant on a solid riverbed. I calmly stood up in the water to find that I was really only three or four feet deep. With my feet on firm ground, I was able to withstand the current. I felt the water rush around my waste and chest. All I had to do was stand up in the water and the threat disappeared.
“ As I stood there, my hands dragging in the current as the water rushed by, I realized how simple my self-rescue had been. I wasn’t drowning at all. The water wasn’t even that deep. I stood there in my dream, having shifted from absolute panic to complete peace.”
— Page 82
Getting Outside Of Myself Turned Out To Be The Best Medicine
“I was in the hospital gym one day for my regular rehab routine when I encountered a young man in a wheelchair who looked about my age… he explained that he had played [football] for Park City High, a nearby rival. He recalled that we had opposed each other in a hard-fought game sixteen years earlier… He explained that he had also been in an auto accident, which had broken his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic… He… told me the sad tale of how when he returned home from the hospital, his wife was packing up to leave him, taking his only son with her. She couldn’t handle his paralysis…
“My heart went out to this man from my distant past… It felt better, and far healthier, to hurt for someone else for a change. It was a huge epiphany for me that day at the gym. I had been so preoccupied with my own battles that I hadn’t even considered anyone else’s.
“I began to ask nurses, doctors, visitors, and other patients how they were doing, how their day was, and then really listen to their replies. I spoke to my family differently and addressed their pain and loss over all that had happened. I discovered that a big part of my pain could be swallowed up in kindness to others. By taking a genuine interest beyond what my own struggles might be and investing in someone else, my struggles actually diminished.
“I realized I had shown little concern for how my family members were doing while they had been so focused on me. I had been selfish and self-centered. Getting outside of myself turned out to be the best medicine I could possibly take for the lingering pain in my heart.”
— Pages 75-77
Everything Happens For A Reason
“As I slept, I dreamed again. But this was a real and vivid dream. I found myself in that place again, that place of love, light, and peace where I had said good-bye to Tamara right after the accident. I knew this place like no other. The feeling was so overwhelmingly joyful, and it was my home…”
“I saw purpose in every event of my entire life. I saw how every circumstance had been divinely provided for my learning and development. I had the realization that I had actually taken part in creating every experience of my life. I knew I had come to this earth for only one reason, which was to learn, and that everything that had ever happened to me had been a loving step in that process of my progression. Every person, every circumstance, and every incident was custom created for me. It was as if the entire universe existed for my higher good and development. I felt so loved, so cherished, and so honored. I realized that not only was I embraced by deity, but also that I myself was divine, and that we all are. I knew that there are no accidents in this life. That everything happens for a reason. Yet we always get to choose how we will experience what happens to us here… Everything suddenly made sense. Everything had divine order.”
— Pages 84-87
“I was overcome with sadness and regret… the depths of all that had happened swept over me… I poured my heart out to God, not asking for anything or even expecting anything, simply gushing out my soul to the only listening ear that could possibly ever understand me. As I finally shed all the tears I had left and became quiet, a strange thing happened. I don’t often hear voices, but I heard this one… It was not a harsh voice, but the loving voice of a Father who knew me, and knew me perfectly. He only said two words, but they were as loud and clear as I have heard anything. He simply said, ‘Choose joy.’
“It was a simple request yet all about my choice, Joy was there if I only decided to see it and grasp it. The universe was giving me that option. I may not know life’s challenges or trials, but I always get to determine how I deal with them.”
— Pages 94-95
The Things That Stretched My Heart
“I have experienced miracle after miracle in my life. I have the scars to prove where I’ve been and what life has taught me, but I wear them proudly. If it weren’t for the things that stretched my heart, how would I ever know what I am capable of?
— Page 100
Knowing Unconditional Love Left Me Feeling Empty
“I was fortunate to have a glimpse into that oneness, and yet my life has not been easier because of it. Some of my most trying times came over the years after the accident. Knowing that such unconditional love existed beyond the veil left me feeling empty at times in this realm. I found myself searching for the same love I had experienced in my brief visits to the hereafter. The gaping hole in my heart yearned to be filled. Too often I looked to external influences to fill the void inside me. I expected my new wife to fill me up and make me whole. I expected my children to heal me, and in many ways, they all have, but looking outward for wholeness was a losing and painful battle… Not until I remembered the divinity within myself did I become whole. Only in that reality did I truly connect with others around me.”
— Page 101
I’ve Learned Not To Judge Others
“I used to embrace the belief that we are separate, when in reality we are not. I’ve learned not to judge others’ lives or compare them to mine. I have no idea what their journey is about. I know each soul is on his or her individual path. They have come here to learn. And they will learn in their own way, on their own terms. I can honor their individual progression. I learned to forgive, especially myself, which has inspired me to love at a deeper level.”
— Pages 101 – 102
The Simple Things
“I’ve learned to treasure the simple things, like holding my child’s hand, or watching my wife as she sleeps.”
— Page 102
This excerpt comes from one of the doctors who treated Jeffery Olsen, Dr. Jeff O’Driscoll. In his book Not Yet: Near-Life Experiences & Lessons Learned, O’Driscoll shares his encounter with Tamara, Jeffery Olsen’s wife, who had died just a short time earlier in the fatal car accident..
His Wife. She’s Here.
She’s here,” Rachel said. “You’ve gotta come to the trauma room.”
“Who’s here?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”
“His wife. She’s here.”
Everybody in the department knew a trauma patient had arrived. We’d been warned far in advance. We knew about Jeff Olsen’s automobile crash in southern Utah, though we did not yet know his name. We knew about his visit to the local emergency department prior to his air transport to Salt Lake City. We knew his wife and 14-month-old son had died at the scene, and that his seven-year-old son had been transported to our neighboring children’s hospital. The transferring facility wasn’t just communicating morbid information for the sake of speaking; knowing that someone died in a crash tells you something about the magnitude of the impact and energy absorbed by those who survived. Sometimes that information is important in providing care. We’d heard a preliminary report of Jeff’s extensive injuries and the overhead announcement of his arrival. Rachel had been in the trauma suite and seen him arrive. Now she was tugging on my arm.
“She’s there,” she said. “C’mon.”
I finally gave way to her insistence as I realized what she was saying. Prior conversations in more relaxed circumstances had primed me for her assertions. She’d experienced numerous spiritual phenomena in the past. Some of her experiences, as she’d shared them privately, had brought me to tears. I’d had my own experiences. We’d discussed some at length. That Rachel had experienced Tamara’s presence in the trauma suite did not surprise me; that I believed what she was saying did not surprise her. We quickened our pace as she spoke.
I had no responsibility for Jeff’s medical care. That’s one reason I saw and heard what I did, why I experienced it. When I’m too busy being a doctor—when I’m too busy seeing with my eyes and hearing with my ears, trying to keep someone alive — I may completely miss the profound and eternal around me.
Another emergency physician, along with a trauma surgeon, residents, nurses, and others, had all arrived in the trauma suite prior to Jeff and had immediately initiated his care when he arrived. I’d been blithely engaged in other duties when Rachel approached. Now I was simply an observer.
In the trauma suite I saw the usual army of professionals surrounding a gurney. Bits of an unconscious and battered body were visible through the cracks between personnel. I saw the usual flurry of activity and heard the hum of voices: vital signs, the tail end of a report from the transport team, orders, acknowledgments, tentative plans. Almost as quickly, however, the sounds all faded into silence, like a television show with the sound turned off. People’s lips still moved — they could still hear one another — but the room fell silent for me. Even Rachel’s voice was gone. A tingle — almost a vibration — began in the center of my soul and radiated outward to the tip of each digit. I felt the hair on my arms and neck stand at attention.
The treatment area was large, with an elevated ceiling and a mirrored observation room that looked down on the scene for teaching purposes. Tamara stood high above my right shoulder and about ten feet away, about halfway between Jeff and I. We’d never met, but I knew her. She calmly surveyed the room, sometimes looking toward me, sometimes toward her severely injured spouse. She had a pleasant countenance and a warm, welcoming disposition. She had long, wavy, blonde hair.
I walked to the gurney and looked at Jeff for the first time. I looked at his badly injured legs. People moved around me, all doing their respective tasks. I had no tasks. I was free to take in the experience, keenly aware of Tamara’s continued surveillance over my right shoulder. I may have felt for a pulse in Jeff’s left foot; I don’t remember for sure. I knew his popliteal artery had been jeopardized by his knee injury. The window for vascular intervention was rapidly closing. His prolonged extrication, previous ER visit in southern Utah, and his air transport, had all chewed away at that critical window of time. His leg, as important as it was, couldn’t be the first priority. Before anyone could save his leg, they first had to save his life.
I recall saying to myself, or to Rachel, “He’s going to lose the leg.” I just knew.
That was about the extent of the medical care I provided. I may have consulted with other doctors or done something more — trauma care is a team sport — but I was not Jeff’s primary doctor and did little, if anything, for his medical benefit.
I don’t recall what Tamara said to me in the trauma suite, looking down from her elevated position. Though facing toward Jeff, I could see her behind me. I could see her as clearly behind me as I could see him in front. I could see in every direction at the same time and take it all in more efficiently than if I’d been focusing on a single spot. It’s been more than twenty years, and I’ve rarely spoken of it, but I remember that part clearly.
Tamara may not have said anything at all. Whether she spoke through the silence or communicated without words, I remember quite clearly her expressions of pure gratitude. She was grateful for the team and all they were doing. She was grateful to me for being aware of her. My overall impression was that she was a grateful person and would express her appreciation to each individual if she were able to do so. In that moment, to borrow a phrase I would later hear Jeff use, I knew her heart.
Tamara knew at that moment that Jeff would live — that he should live, and that there were things for him yet to do in this life. And I knew it with her. It didn’t come as some profound revelation or grand mystic truth being pushed upon me. It felt more like common knowledge hanging in the ether, available to any spirit willing to listen. It was like the first twinklings of dawn announcing to anyone willing to open their eyes that another day was approaching. In my experience, that’s the way spiritual knowledge feels; even when it’s new, it’s not a surprise. It feels more like a confirmation than a revelation.
I love such moments because everything reorders. Nothing trivial or temporal matters. In those moments, I see souls as they are, without the filters that incline us to separate people into groups and label individuals who are different from ourselves. Suddenly I see everyone as alike and I love them all, including myself — something that is difficult for me to do when I’m in the trappings of mortality. I love such moments. I wish I had more of them, except that such experiences make it hard for me to find contentment in this world . . .
Looking back, I wonder if Tamara might have been thanking me in advance for what would yet transpire. I wonder, too, if she’s been in and out of my life since.