There are few things in human history as universal as the question of what happens to us after we die. Is there an afterlife? And if so, what is it like? These are things we have no way of ever knowing as long as we’re on this earth…or is there a way to find out?
Some people claim to have been given a rare chance to see the other side before their time, and they get a glimpse what’s over there. Whether you believe them, disbelieve them, or truly have no idea what to believe, there is no denying that near-death experience stories never fail to grab our attention and excite our imaginations. Here’s what people had to say about their own personal brushes with the great beyond.
1. Captain of His Own Ship
My uncle once passed in the middle of open heart surgery. After, he said that he remembered being on a steampunk-style army ship.
2. Heaven Sounds Luxe as Heck
My father-in-law was in the hospital and his heart stopped. He was gone but they revived him.
Then he kept talking about a heart surgery. Finally, my wife said, "Dad, you didn't have heart surgery". He said, "Yes I did. I remember the big diamond-encrusted scepter that was thrust into my heart to fix me".
I don't know what it means, and he passed on a few days later so I can't get any more details.
3. With the Snap of a Finger
My friend went hiking with his family and he fell a few feet off a cliff they were climbing and he hit the back of his head on a rock. They called an ambulance and when they finally arrived at the hospital he was pronounced deceased. He had no heartbeat or any brain waves. They were already unplugging everything and moving on with all the paperwork when he suddenly woke up the nurse screamed "he's awake!" and then chaos ensued all over again. He was gone for about seven minutes and he says the entire time he was laying down fully conscious in a really dark room (he calls it a room but doesn't really know). He said he couldn't tell how long it was but that suddenly he heard a sound like if someone snapped their fingers next to his ear and then he woke up in the hospital. The experience didn't make him religious either.
4. Don't Go Into the Light
Not me, but a friend of mine overdosed one day while doing some stuff with his friend. The friend hadn't done anything yet so he wasn't imagining all of the signs of dying on this guy (no pulse, cold skin, blue lips). My friend told me that in those few minutes he was considered deceased, he saw nothing but white. Everything around him was bright white and in the distance was a dark shadowed tree. He then saw a woman, also dark and shadowed, so he wasn't able to see her face. But her presence made him happy. She held out her hand to him and for a while, he debated whether or not he should go with her. He decided not to and she simply walked away. Then he woke up again. Before that event, he defined himself as a Catholic but was never really religious. Afterward, he turned his life around and started devoting himself to helping others.
5. Personal Torment
As I started to fade to black in the hospital from internal bleeding the only thing I could hear was my mother in law wailing. I think that pretty much counts as the fiery afterlife.
6. Are You There, Edd? It's Me, Margaret
Still unclear if I was unconscious or deceased, the doctor wasn't sure. I was around 7 at the time. I saw a light, it got bigger, then, I swear on my mother's grave, Ed, Edd & Eddy appear. And they start dancing. And music plays. It was weird as f---, but I swear to God that's what I remember.
7. The Door's Open
My aunt had an experience like this when she was 18. She always suffered chronic seizures that made her pass out. One day, she had one while no was around, she was later found by my grandmother. The doctors luckily arrived in time to resuscitated her. She explained that she was in the brightest, most peaceful hallway. She wandered aimlessly through it until she found a massive door closed on one end. She told my grandmother that she tried as hard as she could to open the door. Tapping, slamming, even kicking it would not allow the doors to break free. She looked back to see the back of the corridor gone, replaced with an emergency room. She was lying on a stretcher while multiple nurses/doctor were frantically working to revive her. She gave up on the door, turned around and left for the surgery room. She inevitably reached the room and re-entered her body. She passed on at the age of 42, about nine months ago. Heart failure after multiple seizures. She left behind two young daughters and a husband. We like to think that the door opened for her.
8. Deep Sleep
Nothing at all really, its much like a deep sleep. I do remember the shock of being resuscitated. It's just like "boom" You take the single most painful gasp of air as your eyes burn out from the halogen lights in the hospital. You look up and see a bunch of people in white hospital masks. You're manic and panting for air as the nurses and doctors hold you down to keep you from jumping up and ripping out the IV.
9. The Big Empty
Hung myself with my dog's leash almost a year ago. All I remember is letting go of the leash since I was holding onto it, and just hanging there for like a minute. It wasn't enough of a shock like stepping off a chair so I was suffocating and time just seemed to slow down. I felt my heartbeat in my arms and legs and I felt it start to fade.
I remember what I've come to call "The Big Empty" in my therapy groups as just the plain nothingness. It's hard to describe and some people in this thread have managed it quite well but my description would be a void. There's no darkness, there's no you, there's nothing. It's such a complete lack of anything at all that it can't even be described as empty because that would imply it could be filled with something. It's hard to even realize that it exists because you can't even really perceive it. A near-death experience like mine I think is like peering at the void but not going in, just enough life left to know it's there and not enough dying to be engulfed and completely extinguished by it. My nosy neighbor apparently witnessed me through the window, broke said window and cut me down within 10 minutes, I was out for 3 days afterward but I have since fully recovered and finished my in-patient and out-patient program with the Youth Services Bureau and have completely turned my life around. The fear of The Big Empty still haunts me, knowing that I will have to face it again one day and lose.
10. The Cosmos
I was impaled in the stomach with a fillet blade by my schizophrenic uncle when I was 15 years old.
I remember freaking out, lying on the floor hyperventilating while I was bleeding out, I had tried to crawl up from my basement to phone 9-1-1 but I was so weak and every time I moved I started bleeding harder.
I remember passing out and having the sensation like I was leaving a dark room and moving outside into the sun. I stopped panicking and this feeling of pure contentment settled over me. I was floating over a garden where all of the plants were giving off light, and I could see a huge amorphous shape above me that was made up of every color in existence including colors I have never seen before and couldn't possibly describe. The shape seemed familiar like I was a part of it, and it was beckoning to me and filling me with pure ecstasy and understanding as I looked at it. Then a man who looked an awful lot like Dream from the Sandman comics (which I was obsessed with at the time) walked over to me through the garden and told me that I couldn't go home yet, that it wasn't time. I started weeping but I was filled with a feeling of understanding, like I knew that I had to go back despite not wanting to, the man had tears streaming down his face and he took my hand and led me back to my body which was in an ambulance (my older brother had found me and called 9-1-1).
Four years later I experienced a kind of weak flashback/replay of the feeling I had while looking at the giant shape in the sky while I was high. It felt like I was intimately connected to every aspect of the universe, and that all things that could be known were understood intuitively in that state, like an all encompassing answer to some divine question, but I couldn't put it into words or symbols of any sort. It was all so obvious in that moment, I felt omniscient and omnipresent. But it was a shadow of the feeling I had during my near-death experience.
I didn't have any religion in my upbringing, and I have never been inclined to believe in any sort of organized spirituality, but those two experiences were so vivid and otherworldly that they have convinced me that there are dimensions to existence that are beyond our current ability to grasp in a tangible, scientific way. It felt like I had pressed my face up against some sort of veil and looked through a pinhole at something beyond imagining. People have told me that it was all just the simple product of brain chemistry and that there is nothing spooky about my experience, but I honestly have trouble taking them seriously because none of them had actually experienced anything like it. I challenge anyone to have an experience like this and not come away highly skeptical about our current scientific world view. There seems to be this undercurrent of feeling among some that we are rapidly approaching a comprehensive and objective view of reality, that science is in its twilight years and we are just tying up some loose ends, but my experience has led me to believe that the cosmos is much more mysterious than anyone but the most original thinkers are giving it credit for.
11. Listen to Your Father
My dad says he had a classic near-death experience several years before I was born. It was from very severe food poisoning. He saw the blinding white light at the end of the tunnel and loved ones who had long since passed on. There was a barrier between him and them that he really wanted to cross, but they told him to turn back because it was not his time to go. He says the entire time he felt an indescribable feeling of love and peace and he did not want to leave. I don't know if what my dad experienced is anything more than a surge of chemicals in the brain as it shuts down, but I trust his feelings are genuine and that he wouldn't make something like this up. He says it has completely removed his fear of dying.
12. Do Not Go Gentle
I attempted to take my own life a few years ago by hanging myself with an extension cord. I had no pulse when the authorities arrived but nobody is really sure how long I was up there. I was resuscitated in the ambulance but was in a coma for a little under 2 weeks. Anyway, all I remember is a feeling similar to general anesthesia once I jumped off the table, but for the 5 seconds, before it went black, I was in total panic and had a total change of heart from the confidence in my decision to end it seconds before. And then it was just... nothing. Like a deep sleep. And when I finally awoke from the coma, it was like finally reaching the surface of a pool after diving too deep. I was in the same panic that I was immediately after I jumped from my table. Like I just blinked instead of being knocked out for 2 weeks. So to answer your question, I don't remember anything at all. It was like being in a deep, dreamless sleep. Perhaps if I regained consciousness immediately after being resuscitated, I'd remember something more interesting, but yea "nothing" is about all I can offer.
My personal theory is that I didn't have a near-death experience like others because I had cut off oxygen to my brain. When I die down the road, I hope I still have some brain activity right before I go. I think Those near-death experiences are the brain's way of helping someone relax and allow their bodies to shut down peacefully, without a fight.
13. Deja Vu
I had a near-death experience in which I was ejected from an automobile. When I regained consciousness, a man came to me and said everyone survived. The man was there before any paramedics arrived, the craziest part of it all was that looking at that man gave me the most powerful sensation of deja vu ever. Maybe I hit my head too hard, but it was an insane experience, it was as if I have seen that man before.
14. A Second Chance
My gramps did. His heart stopped beating briefly about 10 days before he passed on. When he came to, he still thought everything was on fire and begged my grandmother to put it out. The exact vision wasn't passed along to the family but from what he did say to Grandma—that there had been fire everywhere, she didn't say what else—she figured he'd been to the fiery afterlife and they'd thrown the cantankerous old buzzard out.
15. Sneak Preview (For Some of Us)
A few years before my dad passed on, he was shanked three times by muggers and coded three times on the operating table. Up until the day that he offed himself, he maintained that when he briefly lost life, he was crawling through a wall to the fiery afterlife, and was able to glance in and see the flames.
16. Better Watch Your Back
I remember a story from years ago about a guy who was on the brink of dying and saw shadow creatures attack him, trying to tear him to pieces. Not in a lake of fire, though.
He was an atheist, and the experience made him a theist (though not a Born-again Christian, IIRC).
17. Oh, Heaven Is a Place on Earth
My dad has passed on twice due to heart attacks. He says he saw New Jersey. He was not in New Jersey at the time.
18. Meeting All the Stereotypes
I’ve had a few friends who have been in crazy accidents and have slipped into comas as a result.
One said it was the most peaceful experience ever. They had something similar to the "white light" phenomenon where they were "floating" above their body, seeing a bright light etc. Almost the same stereotypical experience.
The other had a completely different experience that shook me a little. He said he saw demons and creatures and all sorts of crazy stuff. He even said he felt pain and sorrow. He said it was the most horrific thing he’s ever experienced.
Both of my friends aren't religious, were both in comas and on heavy meds (not sure of what exactly).
I personally think a lot of it has to do with the meds and how they affect different people. I ain't no doctor but that's my diagnosis.
19. Out in the Cold
I think I've had an NDE.
Mild accident in the snow and I wasn't getting much air into me. It was a very peaceful experience, there was little to no pain and there were bright swirls of light in the sky, similar to watching the reflections of a lake. I felt my vision go darker at the edges (vignetting?) and a floating feeling. I just felt my limbs fall away, like when you lie in bed with everything relaxed completely. Even in the falling snow, I felt warm.
20. Everything Went Black
I didn't see anything when I passed on. From my experience, I had a fatal asthma attack after being taken off of prednisone (oral steroid for severe asthmatics) after being on it for about 2 years or so. I remember before waking up and everything in my vision was red and black, and I was in a complete panic at that point in time so all I remember physically doing was hitting my nebulizer to starting taking an albuterol dose and at that point, it was too late. The movement itself was completely reflexive because I'd been used to waking up struggling to breathe in the middle of the night for weeks after stopping the prednisone, including multiple ER visits and things like that.
Anyway, I blacked out with the nebulizer running and fell over onto my bed and at that point, I wasn't breathing anymore. My neb was going and luckily, I reckon, my cord got tangled up in my arms and came off the nebulizer so it was loudly spewing out compressed air. The only thing I saw was my mother walking around the house. More specifically, I was floating in the hallway, above a bookcase that used to be there, looking down the hall and I saw my mom walk out of her bedroom and go to the bathroom, leave the bathroom, stop in the hallway, walk down it to either go out the back door or to the kitchen, and then after what I'd reckon to be 2 minutes or less walk into my bedroom. At that point, my dad was already in there doing CPR on me to try and get me breathing again. She always told me how my color was ash grey, my lips were blue and my eyes were rolled back into my head.
When I was watching her though, it reminds me of watching something through cloudy water, like if you take a pair of goggles and put milky water in them and then put them on, everything kind of stretches and vibrates and your perspective is different because you're looking through the water. That's how it looked to me, from when I was floating in the hallway. I can still remember that to this day. Afterward, once she went into my room, I guess I gave up or my soul or whatever extension of my consciousness got bored and went down because I really don't know what happened after that. All I can say is it felt like time was passing me by at a very fast speed, like if you can imagine sitting in a dark room with nothing around you can you can start to feel time passing you, as in what the concept of time represents, moment to moment, then speed it up by about a million or a trillion times normal speed, it'd feel like you're moving I reckon or that's at least how it felt to me. Like, becoming a mass of energy and then just compressing down and riding the wave of time, still within myself but consciously aware of a void that had been created, again within myself.
21. Not Everyone Has the Same Experience…
My dad had 3 heart attacks in a single day and said he saw nothing but blackness. He was really bummed out.
22. It’s a Good Thing Someone Was Paying Attention
I was in a car accident when I was seven and I shattered my skull, broke my left shoulder, and had cerebral hemorrhaging. I came in and out of consciousness a few times afterward while being transported to the hospital and I specifically remember waking up in the helicopter and looking out at all of the buildings. Then things got weird.
The buildings started to change color and transformed into strange shapes. I was tripping HARD. I saw very bright lights and everything felt extremely peaceful and I didn't question one moment of it. I'm not completely sure if my body was going through the theorized "DMT dump" or if this was some other effect caused by brain damage, but if the amazing doctor that I owe my life to had not suspected hemorrhaging (from my mildly droopy smile that my own parents didn't catch) I would have lost my life that night. I only stayed in the hospital for a week after surgery and the only remaining damage from this incident is a pretty rad "headband" scar from ear to ear and 3 plates in my head. 10 years later I was out eating with my father (who was also in the accident) and he spotted the EMS workers that responded to the accident and I got to thank them :) Greatest moment ever.
23. Monster Hospital
Growing up, my father used to tell me of an experience he had while having open heart surgery. The doctors had to stop his heart for about 20 or 30 minutes while they inserted a mechanical valve into his heart. At the time, he was in his early 20s and was involved in a lot of bad activity that he says he is ashamed of now. Anyway, while my dad was "departed," he said he was in a very dark place and as he wandered around, he started running into very scary people who were deformed and screaming at him. He ran for his life into a corner and hid. And just before the people got to him, he looked up and saw his deceased grandmother reach her hand down and grab him. The next thing my dad remembered, he was back in the hospital. He's convinced he was temporarily in the fiery afterlife.
I don't know if this was just a dream state or something but I've never seen my dad so convinced in his life. It was enough for him to turn his life around and turn to religion and more importantly, to come back to his family that he had left behind.
24. Like Something Out of a Movie
My aunt passed in the hospital several years ago. She was clinically deceased for a few minutes.
In that time she says she floated above the operating table and saw them trying to revive her. She says she felt a pull on her and flew out through the very top of the room. She remembered very clearly floating above the light fixture on the ceiling and then there being darkness.
Suddenly she found herself floating above the ground several inches just above a field of dirt. In front of her was a very large chasm, deep, very dark, she couldn't see the bottom of it from where she was. On the other side of the chasm was a beautiful field. Green grass, flowers, trees and sunlight. On her side of the chasm it was overcast and very little light, no vegetation, just brown dirt.
She felt the same force that pulled her out through the ceiling of the hospital start pulling her across the chasm. As she started floating over the chasm these hands reached out of the blackness and started pulling at her, almost like ripping the flesh from her legs and feet. She says it was the worst feeling of pain and cold she had ever experienced and it horrified her.
After what seemed like forever she reached the other side of the chasm and the hands went away. The feeling of pain and terror was replaced with a feeling of happiness and contentment and warmth. Several family members that had been departed for some time were there and they seemed to be beckoning her over. She was going to the field when she heard the doctor say something. It sounded like it echoed very loudly from the other side of the chasm.
Suddenly that force pulled her across the chasm again only this time much faster than she had been pulled over the first time. Again the hands came and again the cold. The hands ripped at her and she felt the pain she had felt before. Finally she came to the dirt side of the chasm again. Then blackness. Then she was on the ceiling of her room in the hospital again and she saw her body spasm violently and her arm smacked the doctor's arm, breaking his watch. Her spirit was pulled back into her body again and she heard him say something like "She's back" and then blackness again.
Several hours later she woke up and she was FURIOUS, at first. Then she realized she was alive and she thanked the doctor and apologized for breaking his watch. He was surprised because when she did that she was technically deceased.
I don't know what she saw but she was very descriptive of what she thinks she saw.
This was very long ago and she's now on the other side of that chasm due to lung cancer :(