SPRINGBORO, Ohio — Tina Mitrousis-Bouris has been sharing the story of her life-changing experience for a long time, but it took more than 30 years for her to put the words on paper.
The West Milton native’s new book, “The Journey: My Near Death Experience to Heaven and Back,” is now available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.
“I had the most amazing experience of my life,” she said.
In 1985, after drowning in her backyard, Mitrousis-Bouris said she got a good look at what happens after death. She recalls seeing her grandmother, who had died years before, and other family members, and being surrounded by beauty and love.
“They told me, ‘Tina, go back. Your family and friends need you.’ I know I was in the presence of God. I just know it,” she said.
The accident happened when she was 13 years old. She was placed on life support and doctors told her parents that she likely wouldn’t make it. Mitrousis-Bouris was in a coma for three days, she said, and during that time she recalls being able to hear and understand what was happening around her.
When she woke up, she immediately started trying to tell her family what had happened.
“I thought they could understand every word I was saying. And they couldn’t understand anything, it was just gibberish,” she recalled. “The first words I said to them were, ‘I saw God.’”
At 13, Mitrousis-Bouris had not previously been very religious. But after her near death experience, that changed.
When she was able to talk again, she began telling her story to just about everyone she met, trying to share the feeling of love she’d experienced — including the customers at her parents’ flea market, where she worked in the snack bar.
“I would tell people, ‘God loves you. Do you understand how much God loves you?’ It’s a weird thing to say to people,” she said, laughing. “My parents were like, ‘You need to rein that in a little bit.’”
Her parents advised her to share her story only when she thought other people might want to hear it.
“My family wholeheartedly believes my story because they said there’s no way I could have been changed that much,” she added. “It changed my life and my family’s lives drastically.”
The experience had a profound impact on her life, shaping her art and her relationships with others. It has also changed how she views death.
“I look forward to my death. I know that sounds weird. I know that sounds odd, but I know what waits for me,” she said. “When my grandmother passed, I mourned for me because I knew I would miss her. I knew she was in paradise.”
She worked for Wright-Patt Credit Union for years, but decided to “follow her art” and share her story, she said. She first started drawing her experiences when she was prompted by her father, who asked her if she could draw it for him.
“I’ve been painting and drawing what I saw ever since,” she said. One of her paintings is the cover of her book.
She added that she wants others to find hope and peace in her story.
“I have this story and I’ve been telling it for years. And it finally got to the point where I was like, I need to write this,” she said. “It took me 30-plus years to finally write it.”
A graduate of Milton-Union High School, Mitrousis-Bouris now lives in Springboro with her husband Lou Bouris. She described herself as a devoted aunt to her nephews and nieces.
She is planning a series of talks about her book and is developing a women’s retreat with several other authors. She also has plans for a children’s book in the future.
Her book is available in e-book or paperback formats on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. For more information about Mitrousis-Bouris, find her on Twitter as @TinaBouris or follow her author page on Facebook.
Reach Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org.