West Hempstead native Jacob Cooper was just 3 years old when he found himself gasping for air and fighting for his life. During a trip to the park with his friends, he was climbing the ladder of a slide when he suddenly started struggling to breathe.
Then he heard a loud noise in his head, as if a plug in a wall had been yanked out. “I was overwhelmed by fear, and it just felt like eternal suffering,” Cooper, now 30, recalled. “It’s something that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”
Cooper tried shouting for help, but to no avail, as he suffocated. He remembers being in a euphoric state, seeing visions of his life as he went through what he described as a tunnel.
“That’s when I came back to reality and woke up in a hospital bed,” Cooper said. “There’s going to be people that might not believe this, but I really had a spiritual experience.”
Cooper later found out that he had suffered whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory-tract infection. Cooper, now of Massapequa, decided to share his experience in a new book, “Life After Breath: How a Brush with Fatality Gave Me a Glimpse of Immortality,” which was published by Waterside Productions last month.
“The title is called ‘Life After Breath’ because I experienced life after suffocation,” Cooper said, “but I also picked that title because my experience has some parallels with Covid-19 and people feeling winded and out of breath.”
Cooper’s book has been endorsed by well-known authors such as Anita Moorjani, Suzanne Giesemann and Raymond Moody, who has written about near-death experiences, and coined the term, NDE. “Jacob Cooper’s book, ‘Life After Breath’ is a clear illustration of the power of these experiences,” Moody said in a book review, “and what they reveal to us about the very real possibility that consciousness continues after death.”
It wasn’t until 2010 that Cooper was able to make sense of his experience, when he read “Embraced by the Light,” by Betty Eadie, in which she shares her own near-death experience. Reading the book eventually inspired Cooper to take part in the International Association for Near-Death Studies’ annual convention in Durham, N.C., in 2017 and 2019.
“Reading Betty’s story gave me a lot of universality behind my experience,” said Cooper. “Then to have the opportunity of being part of that convention made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It certainly gave me a lot of camaraderie.”
Cooper was also inspired to write his book by Long Island medium Robert Richard Wright, a native of Malverne and East Meadow, who died in 2019. “He kept pushing me through the years to get this book out,” Cooper recounted. “He was such great mentor for me and my work.”
Cooper earned a degree in social work at Adelphi University in 2013 and a master’s at Adelphi in 2014, and is a licensed clinical social worker and hypnotherapist in Nassau County. He grew up Orthodox-Jewish, but does not belong to any faith, and said he has learned to embrace all religions.
“I hope that my book not only improves people physically, but helps them to take ownership of their mental health and connectivity to spirit,” he said. “When I had absolutely nothing, I was able to experience everything. I use that as a tool for people to evolve, because when we get too complacent in our lives, we don’t tend to open up and grow.”
Cooper said he plans to hold Facebook Live events and podcasts to promote his book along with future projects. “Life After Breath” can be purchased on Amazon.