What happens to us when we die? It’s a question that has exercised humanity’s finest minds since those humans have been around to have them – and has been recently the subject of a number of groundbreaking scientific studies.
Now, an online forum has posed the question specifically to those who have been clinically dead and then revived, and has received hundreds of responses.
Though the veracity of the answers has to be taken with a small pinch of salt, the answers from what essentially amounts to a large survey on the subject can be broken down into three categories.
There are those who felt nothing at all; those who had an experience of light and some interaction with another person/being; and those who felt they could watch what was happening while they were “dead” without being able to do anything.
The first group corresponds closely with the answers of a single Redditor who officially died twice and recently invited questions on the topic from other users.
The latter group, meanwhile, appears to agree with the work of Dr Sam Parnia, who sought out cardiac arrest patients and found that almost 40 per cent described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were clinically dead.
Here is a taster of some of the Reddit users’ responses – which don’t seem to have produced a consensus on the topic just yet:
“I was getting an angiogram done, wide awake watching the screen and talking to the doctor. Alarms started to go off and everyone became panicked. My world became soft and foggy and everything faded to black. Next thing I remember was opening my eyes and hearing a Dr say “we got him back”. It was really a peaceful feeling more than anything.”
“I collapsed during a class presentation one day. All breathing and blood circulation stopped. I felt as if I was plummeting down an endless hole while my peers cried for help. I was revived and still have no memory of the little bit of time before and after my death.”
“Overdosed on heroin, EMTs said my heart stopped. Didn’t see anything, just like sleeping with no dreams.”
“I collapsed at a work meeting in February 2014 and had no pulse or cardiac rhythm for about five minutes. My last memory was from about an hour prior to the incident, and my next memory was from two days later, when I emerged from a medically-induced coma.”
“I flatlined for around 40 seconds. It was like falling asleep without dreaming, no sense of self.”
“Pure, perfect, uninterrupted sleep, no dreams.”
“I do remember a little bit of the ambulance ride, but not from my own body. It was seriously the strangest thing I have ever experienced. It could have been a dream, but I saw my own unconscious body, completely flatlined, in the ambulance. I remember the EMT who was in the ambulance with me (whom I did not see before I passed out) had mint green hair and I couldn’t remember his name, but I asked for him when I regained consciousness about three days later.”
“I was standing in front of a giant wall of light. It stretched up, down, left and right as far as I could see. Kind of like putting your eyes 6″ from a fluorescent lightbulb. The next memory I have is waking up in the hospital.”
“I was standing somewhere. There was a fog all around me, and I saw my best friend (who at the time I’d been fighting with and he’d stopped talking to me) come out of the mist. He told me that I couldn’t go yet, that I have to keep trying, and if I promised not to give up, he’d see me back on Earth. I wordlessly agreed, and I was instantly pushed (into?) my body.”
“I see a vivid “flashback” of myself in the ambulance being taken to the hospital and I am stood in the ambulance looking down on myself / others in the ambulance.”
“When I coded, I don’t remember a sensation of floating, but I was able to recall things in detail that happened while I was ‘dead’ on the other side of the room. No white lights, no dead relatives, nobody telling me to go back, but I was definitely able to see things that were in no way visible from where my body was. I remember speaking and being angry because nobody would answer me. My mother told me ‘you didn’t say anything, you were dead’.”
“I saw nothingness. Black, long empty, but I had a feeling like everything was great and nothing was wrong at all. Imagine how preexistence felt, much the same as post existence.”
[This article was originally published in October 2015]