Thinking about Memory: Kimberly Clark Sharp Shares Her Near Death Experience from 1970

Before watching the below video, allow me to set the scene a bit. It’s 2008 in a run-of-the-mill 1980s decor hotel conference room in Durham, North Carolina. Attached to the cream cloth wall is a light hovering like an angel at Kimberly Clark Sharp’s shoulder. Before her is a microphone. To her left, a faux crystal glass for water is turned upside down.

Kimberly Clark Sharp looks to be in her late 50s, so she must have been in her teens or early twenties when she had her near death experience (NDE). It’s curious that people tend to come back from NDEs with some insight about the importance of love, but I’m curious about memory here, and how she recalls a vivid experience from her past.


Now for a bit of skepticism. Over the past four decades, how many times, do you suppose, has she told this story? Might it have picked up some narrative smoothing out and apocryphal elements in the retelling?

And how important is this story to her in terms of attention-getting and self-identity? Would she exaggerate for effect and audience pleasing?

As compared to her 2008 recounting of her experience, do you think she might have told a different story in, say, 1971?

How different?

Below is an interesting 60 Minutes episode on memory (or, rather, on its questionable reliability):



About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Thinking about Memory: Kimberly Clark Sharp Shares Her Near Death Experience from 1970

  1. Kimberly Clark Sharp says:

    Hey, just stumbled upon this and the memory question is an excellent one. In fact, over the years my memory has indeed been effected, but it’s in the forgetting of little details; anti-embellishing, at it were. As for attention-getting and self-identity, I kept my NDE to myself for more than 7 years. I really thought I was crazy. The telling of it had to be drawn out of me, although now I’m happy to share the story. And as for veracity, it helped that I kept a diary over the years. Things might be different memory-wise if I hadn’t written it down, but we’ll never know.
    —- Kimberly Clark Sharp

    • Santi Tafarella says:


      Wonderful to hear from you directly!

      Personally, I’ve had a longtime terror of death, and find some comfort in the recounting of NDEs. I lost my mother to leukemia when I was five years old.

      Do you, as a person who experienced an NDE, fear death? If not, did the NDE assist you in transcending the fear of death, or are you just temperamentally not terrorized by it? Do you think you experienced a hallucination, or do you believe your experience was, in some sense, real?

      I hope you come back to chat a bit.

      —Santi : )

  2. DE Upshall says:

    Just got this book from the library and was intrigued until the fries magically appeared still warm. I have had a near death experience too but nothing magically happened after. I just lost my fear of death and my life has changed drastically. However, magical fries, I question.

  3. Pingback: More Stories From The Other Side Of Death | Smart Faith

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