Near-death experiences (NDEs) have fascinated me ever since I read Dr. Raymond A. Moodylife after life(1975). It chronicles the experiences of a hundred people around the world who were declared "clinically dead" and were brought back to life.
Their stories are remarkably similar, regardless of age, gender, culture, country or religion. Most of them reported having an out of body experience, feeling that time and space did not exist, seeing a being of light, being greeted by loved ones and reminiscing about their lives. Each of them felt that their experience was real and spiritual and had a profound impact on their lives.
What impressed me the most were the stories of people who could describe what happened to them as they looked at their lifeless bodies. What gave me the creeps was not that they were able to report the details of this horror, but that some of the doctors were actually able to corroborate their account of what happened while they were unconscious and clinically dead. I'm not sure if it's evidence of an afterlife, but it's strong evidence that there might be.
dr Moody's research has been criticized by scientists who attribute NDEs (a term coined by Dr. Moody) to nothing more than hallucinations caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain or chemicals released in the brain in response to severe stress. Philosopher Robert Todd Carroll suggests that NDEs may be the result of a "dying, deranged, or drugged brain." Others accused Moody of omitting cases that did not fit his hypothesis or of selectively selecting his findings.
But not all scientists are critical of Moody's researchlife after lifewas published, several other physicians have studied the phenomenon of NDEs.
Dr. Jeffrey Long, an oncologist at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, scientifically examined 4,000 NDEs and published his findings in a New York Times bestseller.Evidence for Life After Death: The Science of Near-Death Experiences. Long believes NDEs are real and not due to hallucinations or lack of oxygen to the brain. He started doing that too.Foundation for Near-Death Experience Research in 1998. Their website gives NTers around the world a place to share their stories.
dr. Sam Parnia, an associate professor of medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, published a study titledCONSCIOUSLY in October 2014. It included 2060 cardiac arrest patients from 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria who clinically died, were revived and recalled a near-death experience. Their study was published in the journalresuscitation.
Steve Taylor, Ph.D.is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. He wrote a book entitledSpiritual Science: Why Science Needs Spirituality to Understand the World.
As I suggest inhumanities,There is a strong case for the idea that consciousness is fundamental to the universe and not just produced by the human brain. As a result, there are some circumstances in which consciousness can persist independently of the brain. -Steve Taylor,psychology today
And then there's the neurosurgeonLike Alexander IIIwho was in a coma for seven days before being declared brain dead by his doctors. Somehow he survived and wrote a book about his NDE calledProof of Heaven: One Neurosurgeon's Journey to the Afterlife(2012). It was on the New York Times bestseller list for a year. Alexander earned a medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine and taught neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School in Boston for 15 years. He wrote the foreword to Moody's 40th Anniversary Speciallife after life.
If a near-death experience was strong enough to convince a neurosurgeon, perhaps there is an afterlife. But of course you can't know that (at least while we're still breathing). The best way to come is to ask someone who died and lived to tell us about it.
So I asked two women I know who have NDEs what it's like to die and come back to life. Leigh and Naomi have very different stories, but each sends shivers down your spine. And Naomi's might make you believe in miracles. Her story follows Leigh's.
I've transcribed the audio interview below and made some edits for readability. My questions and comments are in bold.
NTE no. 1: Leigh
Leigh lives in Southern California. She had a benign cyst on her brain.
Most people fear death because it is so unknown. Are you afraid of death after this experience?
No, I'm not afraid of death. No, I even think it's a welcome relief from earthly troubles and fears. I didn't like going back because I felt the limitation of my body and the weight of the physical body again. It's a very profound experience to be on the other side.
There is so much love and peace and just feelings of absolute serenity. You don't always experience that here. I mean like you would there.
Here you have so many things to deal with in terms of your life experience and mere survival even if you are going through some tough times. There is no time. You are totally expansive. It's the most beautiful experience I've ever had.
So tell me about your experiences. What happened?
Then, when I was on the other side, I saw my parents who died ten years ago. Most people will say that they see a white light and go to that white light. I saw my mother and I saw her face, it was white light. It was glowing…it was like sparks were shooting out of her face. And nothing was said. It was telepathic. And it glowed there, like that shimmering glow. Then I remember floating in this incredible feeling of peace, love, joy, total peace. People talk about peace and pay lip service to peace, but...
Truly experiencing serenity and peace is unlike anything you've ever felt. It's actually really hard to put into words. It is such a profound experience that I have not felt it personally in this dimension.
Are you ready to talk about what happened? Why were you in the hospital?
I was unconscious most of the time, but from what my husband told me, my four year old had to go to day care one morning. Normally I would get her up and ready for school, but I didn't this morning. So he decided to let me sleep. So he dumps it, takes it to school, and I was still in bed when he got back, which was unusual. And then he comes into the room and tries to wake me up and fails.
He must have been horrified.
scared. So he immediately calls 9-1-1 and they come over and start asking all these accusatory questions like, "Did you hit her?" I think that's what they have to do because situations like this happen. And they put me in the ambulance and I was in the ER for six or seven hours, eight hours.
Are you conscious right now?
No. You don't know what's up with me. You cannot find out. And I'm pretty sure I had my NDE during that time.
Eventually, the hospital contacted the UCLA neurosurgeon and they removed a piece of a cyst. It wasn't even a tumor. It was benign, but it got stuck in an area where fluid can flow and blocked the passage of fluid [to my brain], so it went back into the brain and caused swelling.
So they took you to UCLA and obviously they did an MRI and you were unconscious the whole time. You said you had no sense of time and suddenly you saw your mother?
Yes, I saw my mother and I think my father was there too.
Was there anything you could see? Was there a background?
There was nothing in the background. She was a very bright character. And I didn't see my father, but I felt her presence. After I was discharged from the hospital and returned home, I sat on the sofa in the living room and felt him sitting next to me. So they were close. My parents were there when all this happened.
But was it your mother you really saw?
Did she have a body?
Yep, she had a body and that glowing face and I could see the outline of her hair.
I know she didn't say the words to you, but did she have any kind of communication with you?
I don't remember any specific communication. Just... she was there. She didn't say, "You have to go back" or "It's not your time." No, none of that.
did you see your body
No, it was like an expansive energy of total and complete love and peace and I didn't want to leave.
So when I actually woke up in the hospital in my body, I was really disappointed. I was really upset. I was like, "Oh no, I can't believe I'm back in this body that looks awful and I don't want to be here." I kind of started to panic. "I don't want to be here. I want to go back."
Now I have a four-year-old daughter. And obviously that's why I was brought back.
And didn't you feel that someone's energy here was pulling you back?
No, I didn't feel that much just waking up in a vise-like body.
And you mentioned something about time, that time doesn't exist.
No, that was actually very freeing.
It's hard to imagine.
I know! In our earthly reality, because we live in a linear world, it is very difficult to imagine. It is very difficult to describe in words. Having no time restrictions or any time restrictions is probably the most freeing feeling. I can't even tell you.
We have a lot of distractions here on Earth, a lot of things to keep us busy, but what would you [on the other side] do?
It's just you.
And it doesn't feel like you have to be anywhere. It doesn't look like you're going anywhere.
You don't have the mind to embarrass him like we do now. The mind that needs to be constantly focused on something is not like that.
And when you returned to your body, did you tell your doctors about this experience?
No, I told my sister who was lying next to my bed when I woke up. She was the first face I saw. The first thing I said to her was, "Well, how are Mom and Dad?" And she said, "Uh, Mom and Dad have been dead for ten years." And I was shocked because I just saw them. And I said, "No, not at all, I just seriously saw her."
Didn't you realize what happened?
Did you have any idea what a near-death experience was like before you had one?
You know, I think I've heard about white light and the path to white light, but nobody has ever talked about beauty and peace and love and joy. NO.
How did your family react? How did your sister react when you told her?
I think they were fascinated. They wanted to hear all about it. They were impressed that I saw our parents. They couldn't believe it.
What I find interesting is that your loved ones... You know people are devastated when they die, but they're always there. You are always there. They won't go away.
you feel it
And have you felt your mother since then?
I felt them at different stages and so did my father. I will think about them and maybe feel them around me, my grandparents too. Yes definitely they are there. People who die just because they left their bodies and die doesn't mean they're gone.
NT no. 2: Naomi
Naomi now lives in Australia, but when her father had an NDE, she and her family lived in Canada. Naomi's father was told that he had cancerous tumors all over his body and only three days to live.
My dad had been feeling kind of sick for a few months and went to the doctor. And the doctor said, "We need to do exploratory surgery." And the exploratory surgery revealed that he had stage 4 or 5 colon cancer. And he had tumors all over his body. They had to remove part of his intestines and make him a new intestine. I mean, his entire pelvic cavity was completely full because his bowel was perforated.
They did their best, but when he woke up after the operation, the doctor said, "We found tumors all over [his body] and they metastasized to his spine. And we got everything we could, but there was a bunch we couldn't get because it was in his back." .You have three days.
And what usually happens after major surgery is that even if everything is fine, your vital signs get worse. Your vitals go down for about three days and then you start to go up because you are recovering from surgery and general anesthesia for the first three days.
And the doctor said, 'What's going to happen to you is that over the next few days you're going to have this decline and then you're just going to lower the bar. So get your affairs in order and say goodbye to your family.” This was told to my father and he was 52 years old.
So that night he was lying in his hospital bed and he had this feeling, 'If I go to sleep, I won't wake up. And I need to move.” Then he put his hands on either side of the hospital bed, on the bars, and started rocking back and forth. And it was really, really painful, but he did it for about four hours. He just felt that something inside him was driving him.
And the next day he was on his sickbed and my little sister, who was nine at the time, was sitting on her sickbed looking out the window and tapping her heels on the sickbed just rhythmically back and forth as she talked about what was happening. happening at school.
And my dad suddenly said he was on the ceiling looking down. And he said there was this enveloping white light, this warmth, this feeling of love and joy, and he didn't know certain people, but there were people who said, come on, that he thought he did, even though he knew he couldn't establish who they were.
Everything about her being was like, "Uh, yeah, that's good." And he looked down and he saw my little sister sitting there in her hospital bed and all of a sudden he had this thought,
“She still needs me.” She was being bullied at school at the time. He's like, "Oh wait, I can't go, she still needs me." And boom, he was back in her body.
And what happened over the next three days is the first day his doctor came and looked at his vitals and said, "Hmm, that's kind of weird, your vitals are already improving." other doctors came in and looked at the vital signs and said, "This is very strange. Even if people survive the surgery, the vital signs drop for three days.” And his graph went up.
On the second day the time came. On the third day there were five of them [doctors]. It was like that revolving door in her hospital room where the doctors came in, took her vitals, frowned, mumbled to each other, scratched their heads and left, then moved back and forth some more. And finally, after about ten days, his doctor came and said, 'Well, apparently we're going to send him home because we can't keep him here because his vitals are fine. You get fat, you eat, none of it makes sense, but it's great.”BC [British Columbia] Cancer Societyand I've made an appointment for you when you're strong enough to start.
So three months later, my dad dutifully reported to the BC Cancer Society. And they do some preliminary tests and say, “Um, we can't find the cancer. That's why we can't give you chemotherapy. But I'm pretty sure based on your records you have pretty serious tumors that have metastasized to your spine. See you in three months. To go back."
So my dad is going back there in three months. Anything. This went on for about a year and they finally said, "Okay, well, see you in two years." My dad will be back in two years. Anything. When he came back at the time, they said, "Well, apparently you don't have cancer. Have a good life." And he lived another thirty-five years.
Did the doctors give an explanation?
You had no idea.
How does one recover from deadly cancer basically overnight?
Well, we know a lot of spontaneous remissions, I mean, look at Anita Moorjani [who experienced the same thing], when suddenly there's no reason to have cancer or a decision is made at a very deep level to overcome it, and the body simply follow. And I think in my father's case he just made the decisionI can not go.[Anita Moorjani is the author ofdying to be me. She battled cancer for four years before her organs began to fail, leaving her in a deep coma. She had a near-death experience, recovered, and was discharged from the hospital cancer-free within weeks.]
Therefore, the entire space-time continuum is just one big illusion. This is how we experience time. We tend to think that healing takes time. We don't question that we can be traumatized by something in a split second, but we always question how long healing can take because we are used to being overwhelmed by our physical experience. In most cases we are, but we could easily get over it if we knew we could.
You know, like my father who metastasized all the tumors in his spine. Oh, that means you'll be dead in three days. Well, no, maybe not if he decided against it. If he made up his mind, this was not the experience he would have, because there was a very deep reason why someone needed him. His daughter needed him.
End of Interviews.
Whether NDEs are real or a chemical hallucination going on in the brain, it's comforting to know that some of us have experienced the feeling of dying. According to her, the afterlife is full of peace and love. I hope we all experience this one day.
TO KNOW MORE
Medical Press — “New study suggests meditation-induced near-death experiences exist”
Image credit to the resource imageand photography@iStock.
Reincarnation, also known as rebirth, transmigration, or metempsychosis (Greek) is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being begins a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death.What is the longest someone has been dead and came back to life? ›
This is where the heart spontaneously starts beating again at a normal rate following failed attempts at resuscitation. Velma's 17 hour is thought to be the world record for the longest time dead before coming back to life. Related links: Woman who turned 101 says tequila is the secret to long life.Can a person die and come back to life? ›
If blood flow can be restored—either by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or by getting the heart pumping again—the patient could come back from clinical death. It's not a sure thing; success rates for CPR are pretty dismal.What is the feeling when you die? ›
Most people who are dying feel tired. They may want to sleep more often, or for longer periods. They may want to talk less, although some may want to talk more. They may want to eat less or eat different foods since their stomach and digestive system are slowing down.Can you attend your own funeral? ›
However, it truly is possible to attend your own funeral / memorial service / celebration of life. What Next Avenue calls a “living funeral,” perhaps better called a “living tribute,” is becoming more common every day.What happens to soul after death? ›
When we die, our spirit and body separate. Even though our body dies, our spirit—which is the essence of who we are—lives on. Our spirit goes to the spirit world. The spirit world is a waiting period until we receive the gift of resurrection, when our spirits will reunite with our bodies.How long does the brain live after death? ›
About six minutes after the heart stops, the brain essentially dies.What organ lasts the longest after death? ›
- Lung - 4 to 6 hours.
- Heart - 4 hours.
- Liver - 24 hours.
- Pancreas - 24 hours.
- Kidney - 72 hours.
- Cornea - 14 days.
- Bones - 5 years.
- Skin - 5 year.
After someone dies, it's normal to see or hear them. Some people also reporting sensing the smell or warmth of someone close to them, or just feel a very strong sense of their presence. Sometimes these feelings can be very powerful. They may be comforting but also feel disturbing.Can someone come back to life after being embalmed? ›
A man in Mississippi whom the coroner had declared dead on Wednesday came back to life once he was put on an embalming table. Nope. We're not kidding, and the county coroner and local sheriff have verified the story for news outlets.
Experts have labelled what happened an "exceptional" occurrence. It's up there on many people's worst nightmares: being mistakenly presumed dead and ending up being buried alive or worse.What happens after someone dies? ›
The hospital will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice. They will support you with the next steps you need to take. The body will usually be kept in the hospital mortuary until the relatives arrange for a funeral director to take it to their premises or arrange for the body to be taken home.What is the last organ to shut down when you die? ›
Decompensation progresses over a period of minutes even after the pulse is lost. Even when vascular collapse is the primary event, brain and lung functions stops next. The heart is the last organ to fail.What happens 40 days after death? ›
The observation of the 40th day after death occurs in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The ritual represents spiritual intercession on the part of the dead, who are believed to collectively await the Day of Judgment.What is the burst of energy before death called? ›
The surge of energy before death is often referred to as “terminal lucidity.” This phenomenon occurs when a dying person, who may have been unresponsive or unconscious, suddenly becomes clear-minded, alert, and communicative.Can people watch their own funeral? ›
One of the wildest innovations is “living funerals.” You can attend a dry run of your own funeral, complete with casket, mourners, funeral procession, etc. You can witness the lavish proceedings without having an “out-of-body” experience, just an “out-of-disposable-income” experience.Is it disrespectful to not go to a funeral? ›
It might seem disrespectful not to attend a parent's funeral, but this is ultimately a personal choice. There is no obligation to attend a funeral, and you might find that you would like to say goodbye in your own way.Is it possible for someone to wake up at their own funeral? ›
A family in Mexico had their mourning extended after they were forced to have two funeral services for a little girl after she woke at her first funeral but later died. The family of Camila Paralta was holding a funeral for their 3-year-old daughter when they realized she was still alive inside the casket.Where in the body is the soul located? ›
The soul or atman, credited with the ability to enliven the body, was located by ancient anatomists and philosophers in the lungs or heart, in the pineal gland (Descartes), and generally in the brain.Does the soul feel pain when the body is cremated? ›
The body does not feel pain during cremation because the person is no longer alive. When a person dies, their brain stops sending signals to the body. This means that the person cannot feel pain or any other sensation. In fact, a dead person feels nothing at all.
The Catholic Church holds that "all who die in God's grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified" undergo a process of purification, which the church calls purgatory, "so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven".How long after death can you hear? ›
“Our data shows that a dying brain can respond to sound, even in an unconscious state, up to the last hours of life.”Has anyone survived the death rattle? ›
A person survives an average of 23 hours after the onset of a death rattle. At this time, friends and family should try to say their goodbyes to their loved one. Holding your loved one's hand, telling them how much they mean to you, and just being there can be important to a person at the end of their life.What happens to the eyes 3 hours after death? ›
Between a half hour to three hours after death, the eyelid loses its elasticity, the pupil dilates and there is a distinct change in the cornea, which is normally transparent. The exact timing of these changes depends on the state of the eyes (open or closed), ambient temperature, and humidity.Which part of the body dies first? ›
The brain and nerve cells require a constant supply of oxygen and will die within a few minutes, once you stop breathing. The next to go will be the heart, followed by the liver, then the kidneys and pancreas, which can last for about an hour. Skin, tendons, heart valves and corneas will still be alive after a day.Which organs Cannot be transplanted? ›
Organs are usually transplanted because the recipient's original organs are damaged and cannot function. The brain is the only organ in the human body that cannot be transplanted.Do organs have memories? ›
While seemingly rare, It's not an unheard-of phenomenon. Some researchers believe it may be possible for donor organs to hold and even pass on the characteristics and experiences of its original owner onto the new recipient, via a process known as cellular memory.When someone passes away is it passed or past? ›
You would also use “passed” when talking about a deceased person: They “passed away”—not “past away”—or “passed on.” If someone fainted or fell asleep very quickly, they “passed out.” If you found something to occupy your time, often while waiting, you “passed the time.”Can you see your loved one before funeral? ›
After a loved one has passed away, you may have the opportunity to view them before the funeral. This usually takes place at the funeral home in a chapel of rest, or in a mortuary. You can be alone with them, or you may prefer to be with a close friend, family member, or the funeral director.Why do they cover face before closing casket? ›
Over time, coffins underground will decompose and eventually collapse. Covering the face before closing the casket adds an extra layer of protection and dignity for the deceased's face and can act as a symbolic final goodbye.
Do they remove organs when you are embalmed? One of the most common questions people have about embalming is whether or not organs are removed. The answer is no; all of the organs remain in the body during the embalming process.How long does an embalmed body look ok? ›
The answer depends on a number of factors, including the type of chemicals used and the conditions in which the body is stored. In general, however, an embalmed body can last for several years. In some cases, bodies have been preserved for centuries.How long can you keep an embalmed body? ›
How long does it last? Embalming is not permanent as it only delays the natural process of death. Typically, it will preserve the body for around a week, but factors such as condition of the body and temperature conditions may affect this.Do they take the brain out during autopsy? ›
A complete autopsy requires the removal of the skull using a skull saw, and subsequent removal of the brain.What does knocking on a casket mean? ›
It is traditional to knock upon the coffin of the deceased, symbolizing, I've come to visit for one last time. Thank you, Manasi Diwakar. , this one was a little difficult, ((warm hugs & love))What organs do they remove during autopsy? ›
Major Organs. Organ removal—Using special techniques, the organs are cut and removed from the body. All organs (heart, lungs, liver, intestines, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, spleen, and pelvic organs) and the major arteries are examined individually. They are weighed, washed, and dissected as necessary.What happens the first hours after death? ›
What Happens One Hour After Death? At the moment of death, all of the muscles in the body relax, a state called primary flaccidity . Eyelids lose their tension, the pupils dilate, the jaw might fall open, and the body's joints and limbs are flexible.What is the first thing to do after a death? ›
If someone dies while not in medical or hospice care, call 911. When paramedics arrive, they will generally start resuscitation. If the person has a “do not resuscitate order,” present that to the paramedics when they arrive. Arranging for the body to be transported.What is the most common cause of sudden death? ›
Coronary artery disease causes most cases (80%) of sudden cardiac death. In people who are younger, congenital (since birth) heart defects or genetic abnormalities in their heart's electrical system are often the cause. In people age 35 and older, the cause is more often related to coronary artery disease.Which organ grows itself? ›
The liver has a unique capacity among organs to regenerate itself after damage. A liver can regrow to a normal size even after up to 90% of it has been removed. But the liver isn't invincible. Many diseases and exposures can harm it beyond the point of repair.
Does everyone get pain when they are dying? No – not everyone gets pain in their last weeks, days or hours of life. Some people have no pain at all. However, we know that many people with a terminal illness do experience pain.Which organ is used after death? ›
Organs that can be transplanted are the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and intestines. The skin, bone tissue (including tendons and cartilage), eye tissue, heart valves and blood vessels are transplantable forms of tissue.Can cremated people go to Heaven? ›
No matter what a person's preference is, from the Christian perspective, cremation does not prevent one from going to Heaven.What does the Bible say about cremation? ›
According to most Biblical study websites, there is no explicit scriptural command for or against cremation. There are no passages that forbid cremation, according to most Biblical scholars. However, some passages describe standard death practices during these times.What happens 30 minutes after death? ›
As the blood pools, patches appear on the skin within 30 minutes of death. About two to four hours postmortem, these patches join up, creating large dark purplish areas towards the bottom of the body and lightening the skin elsewhere. This may be less apparent on darker skin. This process is called livor mortis.What does a dying person think about? ›
Visions and Hallucinations
Visual or auditory hallucinations are often part of the dying experience. The appearance of family members or loved ones who have died is common. These visions are considered normal. The dying may turn their focus to “another world” and talk to people or see things that others do not see.
in the last 6 to 12 months before death, people with a pro- gressive, debilitating disease commonly experience certain physical symptoms. many people, as they approach the end of life, will become less active and experience chronic fatigue or weakness. Weight loss and diminished appetite are also common.What is agony before death? ›
The term agony, deriving from the Greek ἀγωνία that means “fight”, defines the last moments of the living organism's existence before the encounter with death, and its phenomenology is still to be explored.What is the burst of life before death called? ›
This difficult time may be complicated by a phenomenon known as the surge before death, or terminal lucidity, which can happen days, hours, or even minutes before a person's passing. Often occurring abruptly, this period of increased energy and alertness may give families false hope that their loved ones will recover.Why is it called Lazarus syndrome? ›
The Lazarus phenomenon is a rare, possibly under-reported condition that happens when someone who seems to be dead shows signs of life again, typically several minutes after health workers stop giving them CPR. The condition gets its name from the Bible story in which Jesus resurrects Lazarus of Bethany.
Decomposition can divide into five stages – fresh, early decomposition, advanced decomposition, skeletonization, and extreme decomposition. The early decomposition phase begins with the onset of skin slippage and hair loss. These changes usually begin from the first day after death to up to five days post-mortem.What are the 4 stages to death? ›
Of these, with obvious mortal damage to the body, the textbook conclusive signs of death clear to a lay person are: algor mortis, rigor mortis, livor mortis, and putrefaction.What is the last man alive syndrome? ›
Although it may seem like some people come back to life after dying, someone with Lazarus syndrome experiences their circulation returning spontaneously after their heart stops beating. The syndrome is very rare and only happens after CPR is performed.What is the Lazarus syndrome? ›
The Lazarus phenomenon is described as delayed return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) after cessation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This was first reported in the medical literature in 1982, and the term Lazarus phenomenon was first used by Bray in 1993.