The Inferno, by Giovanni da Modena (1410)

Death will come for us all. Those who are religious find comfort from their belief in the afterlife, as they feel that they know what will happen. For those who are not religious, even the most devout atheist, has no real idea of what will happen. No one alive truly knows what it will be like when we die. Well, almost nobody. Some people have experienced the afterlife during a near-death experience and have come back to tell the tale. Not all of them had terrible experiences, but certain individuals experienced what we would call “hell.” They witnessed atrocities and tortured souls before being transported back to Earth to continue their life.

Generally, this type of an experience can have a profound effect on an individual, and the most we can do is take them at their word and change our sinful ways, lest we too find ourselves burning within the inferno when our time comes.

1. Angie Fenimore

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via]
Angie Fenimore tried to kill herself in 1991 and claims to have experienced the sensation of death and what follows. She experienced her life unfold in front of her, which is common in people with similar experiences. She saw her life from the viewpoint of those around her, and experienced how her actions affected them firsthand. After this, she descended into darkness that seemed as if it went on forever, she saw some other people in her descent, and shouted to them using her mind. There was no reply. After this part, her soul went to a place that was occupied by other souls. They could interact, but they were so absorbed in their own misery that they didn’t acknowledge anyone around them. Thankfully, Angie survived and has written about her experience in her best-selling book Beyond the Darkness.

2. Matthew Botsford

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via] The Fall of the Damned, by Peter Paul Rubens (1620)
Matthew Botsford was minding his own business outside of an Atlanta restaurant when he was hit in the head with a stray bullet. He described the pain as feeling like a hot needle pressed into his head. He died three times on the way to the hospital, and was eventually put into a medically-induced coma. It’s unclear if his visions came while in the coma or during the brief periods he technically died, but when he woke up he had vivid memories of Hell. He recalled being suspended above a lava pit and hearing the screams of millions of tortured souls. He was completely alone, but for the screaming, and then the demons came to feast on his flesh. Each bit they took grew back and they took one after another. When he was finally saved from his visions, he saw a hand reach out and grab him, telling him, “It’s not your time.”

3. Howard Storm

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via] The Last Judgement, by Hieronymus Bosch.
Howard Storm spent most of his life as an atheist, not believing that there was any higher power pulling the strings. When he was 38, he suffered a perforated stomach and was admitted to the hospital. While there, Storm experienced death. He left his body and walked around the hospital, but no one could see nor hear him. He would talk to people and they would walk right through him, as if he wasn’t there. He then saw some spirits, beckoning down the hall. He followed, and the hospital got smaller and smaller in the background. The spirits laughed and told him to keep up, but when he got deeper into the spirit world they turned and decided to eat his flesh. Storm screamed out and heard his own voice reply “pray to God.” He didn’t know how, so he recited things that he had heard on TV. He opened his eyes and was saved from his terrible vision. He was soon returned to his body and, likely, spent the rest of his life as a religious fanatic.

4. Tamara Laroux

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
The Inferno, by Giovanni da Modena (1410)

Tamasa Laroux wanted to end her life at 15 years old, and shot herself in the chest. When the bullet entered, she was transported to another plane of existence that was filled with souls. They couldn’t communicate with one another, even though they were all standing together. She also saw what can only be described as a demon: a figure more terrifying than anything she could have imagined. She was eventually snatched by a giant hand, much like Matthew Botsford, and was transported back to her home. The bullet narrowly missed her heart, and Tamara survived her suicide attempt. She spent the rest of her life dedicated to God and telling others what she had experienced.

Related: 5 True Stories of People Who Sold Their Soul to the Devil

5. Dr. George Ritchie

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via] Dante and Virgil in Hell, William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1850)

Dr. George Ritchie died of pneumonia in 1943, and awoke as if from a long dream. The first thing he noticed was somebody sleeping in his hospital bed, which he found odd. He decided to leave the hospital and go to his home in Richmond, Virginia. He didn’t think about travel, as he somehow knew it would be quicker to get there himself. He came upon a small town and tried to talk to one of the residents, but the man could not hear him. When he touched the man, his hand passed right through him. It was then that Ritchie realized that he was dead, and that the person he saw in his hotel bed was his own dead body. After this, he came in contact with Jesus, who took him on a tour of the afterlife locations. There were a few, one resembling Earth with the dead living alongside the living. The dead would try to indulge in their previous vices; but were unable to do so even though they were right in front of them. The next land was full of the dead, who were battling an eternal war with each other. There was no death to end their suffering, only fighting and sexual violence everywhere.

Dr Ritchie’s near death experience ended when his body, which had been moved to the morgue, began to show movement.  A medical officer was called and provided a shot of adrenaline to Ritchie’s heart causing him to breathe and his heart to beat once more.

6. Father Jose Maniyangat

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via] Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, by the Limbourg brothers.
Father Jose Maniyangat was driving down the road one day when he was struck by a drunk driver and almost died. When he left his body, he experienced heaven, hell and purgatory all at once. He described seven levels of hell, each with their own severity of sins. Maniyangat even claimed to identify other priests and clergy members suffering in hell. He understood that the reasons were for giving false teachings and misleading their followers.

7. Sister Faustina

Inferno: 7 People Who Claim They’ve Been to Hell and Back
[Image via] Last Judgement, Stefan Lochner, (1435)
Sister Faustina didn’t have a near-death experience, but visited hell all the same. She was a Polish nun who claimed to have experienced a large number of mystical happenings in the 1930s, each of which she documented down in her diary. She described hell as perpetual torture that goes on for eternity. There were even special torture devices that were used on the particularly evil souls. Faustina didn’t need any motivation to live her life according to the bible, being a nun and all, but through her experiences, she was able to better teach others the dangers of a sinful lifestyle. She claimed that she would have died while witnessing these atrocities had it not been for God’s supporting hand.

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