I wish I could say I had a more eloquent thought go through my head as I saw the Caddy baring down on me. But I didn't. It was just "sh*t" and the awareness that there was nothing I could do to avoid being hit, followed by annoyance that it was taking so damn long to happen.
Reddit asked about the thoughts people had in the moments before they believed they were about to die, and watching a massive Cadillac speeding towards me when I was in my tiny car with a cement truck next to me absolutely fit that bill.
I knew she was going to hit me. I knew the force would slam me into the cement truck. I knew I was about to die. All I thought was "sh*t."
There was no thinking about the things I never did, or how I was about to die dressed in "business casual." (The business casual regret hit about 2 days later... and I've avoided business-wear as much as possible since then.) I was resigned to my end, and was just annoyed that it was going to hurt so badly and was taking so long to happen.
They say time slows before an accident. The time before impact felt like eons but was a second, maybe two. Yes, it hurt as badly as I thought it would. The force of impact in a major car accident is something almost unexplainable.
But death didn't happen. Otherwise this article would be extra-weird.
The impact didn't push me into the cement truck, because the truck was big and heavy and hadn't really gotten going when the light turned green. Instead, the other driver flung me spinning across the intersection where I hit a wall and a post.
She hit the cement truck. She did not die. She did lose her legs from the knee down. Interestingly, it came out in proceedings that "sh*t" was essentially her thought, too. She realized she had blown the light moments before slamming into me and was also aware of just how badly this was about to hurt.
She did not experience the same slow-down of time that I did. According to her, before she had even fully had the thought she was already being smashed into her airbags.
Reddit users shared the thoughts they had, and quite a few had similar experiences. Check it out.
Shark To The FaceGiphy
I was caught in a rip tide at about 8. I had a few thoughts. One was I hope this doesn't hurt.
But the main one was "I really hope a shark doesn't bite me in the face before I die" because the visibility was almost non existent and I kept opening my eyes to see where the surface was.
I could see so little I remember thinking that I wouldn't be able to see anything trying to hurt me unless it swam directly into my face. And so that started a thought that occurs just about every time I go swimming in the ocean to this day, almost 40 years later
The water wasnt very deep when it started. Literally less than knee deep but I lost my footing in the wrong place and I was beyond standing by the time I got my sh*t back together. So first it pulled me a little bit out (I think if I was an adult I might have still been able to stand up) and then it pulled me down after I got a little further away from shore.
It was a life lesson:
Kids, don't play where the ocean and the inlet meet!!
Spun out my car on a snow-covered highway, car came to a stop clinging to a guardrail over a cliff.
I had been thinking a lot about killing myself and had been falling ever deeper into depression. I realized I didn't want to die. It was a hugely helpful experience.
Gotta love when possibly fatal accidents save you from yourself.
I was dumb and was trying to climb into a slot canyon with my friends, but I lost my grip and fell 40 feet into the canyon. I landed at the bottom and a rock the size of a basketball lands directly next to my head. It was eerie how in mid free fall your body just locks up, and my thoughts instantly were
"Well, this is it."
"Ah...this sucks...I'm gonna miss date night"
Thinking about the Mrs as I flat-lined. 64 seconds dead and gone before coming back and staying back, thank god.
Two Minutes From Home
SUV made contact with my left side at about 45 mph. I was on a motorcycle at night in the rain. Two minutes from home.
Before impact I saw the lights and said "Sh*t sh*t sh*t!"
As soon as it hit I felt heat. Like bright white heat through my body. It overwhelmed the pain and I couldn't tell where the pain was, just that my whole left side was on fire.
Then I was on the ground. I looked up at the sky through my helmet. I looked left and right and saw I was on my back, and I tried to move my arms and legs. Arms were okay, but when I tried to move my left leg I felt the top half move while the bottom half stayed still, because my femur was broken
I thought I was going to die. I started shaking a little bit and then kept getting worse and worse. I was bleeding out but didn't know it. After they got me in the ambulance I asked if I was going to die. The man told me I wasn't, but based on my condition he couldn't have known that.
I was in a car wreck and I did the whole Jesus Take The Wheel thing and my first thought was "this is NOT happening I am having a bad dream."
I hit my head pretty hard so I ended up fainting shortly after the crash and I don't actually remember anything that happened after I took my hands off the wheel (passenger can confirm I was awake during it, though.)
What I remember rather than being unconscious was saying goodbye to my family again as I was about to go on the long drive. Of course when I recounted this in the hospital they all started bawling.
It was kind of funny to me because at first my brain remembered as if I had not even gone driving yet, so when the EMTs informed me I was in a car accident while I was bleeding from a cut on the head and had a concussion, still trapped under an engine, I replied back "no I wasn't ."
So the answer was complete denial like it was a horrible nightmare I was going to wake up from. Still sometimes hard to feel like it really happened and wasn't just a traumatic nightmare, since I forgot the actual crash and I was pumped full of morphine very quickly after I woke up since they couldn't tell how injured I really was below my chest and feared I might have been disemboweled or something (I wasn't! Broke my femur though and it does in fact hurt like a bitch, don't break your femur. Even getting it set in the hospital WITH morphine it was the worst thing in the world.)
It's all a bit of a blur.
The level of unexplainable calm
I had this while fighting in the Angolan war as a South African conscript.
Our armoured car troop got trapped in an ambush in a minefield and I knew that it was a matter of minutes before one of the incoming RPG7 rockets would find its target. In the middle of the smoke and noise and smell of cordite I was so relaxed, tranquil and at peace. Happy and smiling, I remembered my home and family. and I was bitterly disappointed and felt very cheated when we managed to fight our way out. (Which was weird, because I was the gunner in the vehicle and had never stopped doing what we were trained to do).
I personally think it's to do with regularly high demanding levels of neural activity and the fact that your brain finally recognizes that nothing matters anymore.
I remember my brain shutting down and going into defensive mode and focusing only on what mattered. Instead of the inconceivable deserts of data and rivers of feelings flowing through my mind all that my brain cared about was surviving or doing the right thing if I don't.
People who experience calm at death are the ones who took life seriously, or were forced too.
Might As Well Relax
I was nowhere near actually dying, I was completely safe, it was just a weird mental reaction to some medication I got in the hospital right before they took me into surgery, but for a short time I definitely believed that I was about to die.
My thoughts were "Oh sh*t, I'm gonna die like this? Almost no one dies like this. How dumb. Oh well, I might as well relax." and then I just kind of daydreamed about things I liked and didn't actually die (because I was fine.)
Wife And Baby
I got thrown off of a snowmobile into a river at -35 degrees. I got swept under the ice when I went in, I was stuck down there in full sledding gear unable to swim or find the hole I went in.
It was a surreal feeling being pretty sure I was gonna die, images of my wife and 11 month old daughter kept flowing through my head. Luckily when I hit the bottom of the river I pushed off and through some miracle popped up through the hole I went in.
My riding buddies luckily notice I went missing and came back and were able to pull me out of the river. The 20 kms back to civilization at -35 was definitely the coldest I've ever been. Definitely the scariest moment of my life.
I had a severe episode of tachycardia in a remote area with no cell reception. I was driving alone, pulled off to the side of the road, and I was sure I was having a fatal heart attack. Over 200 bpm, felt like my heart was trying to leap out of my chest.
I got very very calm, and was worried that my husband would forget that I have two life insurance policies, not just one.
I passed out at some point. Woke up fine and drove home.
"God damn that moose is fast."
I held my ground against a bull moose charge because the people with me had frozen up. Thing stopped 4 feet away and we stared down for what felt like hours. My dumbass had slung my rifle and wasn't fast enough to shoulder it
Worked out though because I don't like killing things that don't need killing.
Amazed to see the experience seems pretty universal. In 2006 I almost drowned when I got rolled by a 4m wave. As I began to lose consciousness I thought "Oh, I guess this is how I go. Right now." I felt strangely calm and at peace. At the last second I felt sand touch my foot and I kicked off it with all I had and was able to catch a breath. When I crawled out onto the beach I was so grateful to have experienced what drowning was like. It's not a bad way to go. My mother had drowned the year before.
My lungs collapsed when I was 12. The last thing I saw before I lost consciousness was my dad in his Army BVD's. My last thought was:
"Please, any Deity who will listen. Don't let this be the last thing I see on this planet!"
I've been an acute asthmatic since birth and basically I had the worst asthma attack ever. My dad stabbed me with an epi pen and hauled it to the emergency room. The first thing I felt was pure panic because I couldn't breathe enough for a nebulizer to work, then a pounding headache. By the time I lost consciousness it was like fighting a nap as a toddler, I was exhausted but I refused to stop fighting. I don't think my heart stopped completely.
I moved to Oregon in 2018 and not only is my asthma better, I found out what my nose is for!
Seriously, I'm almost 42, and I never was able to smell or breathe through my nose. I thought it was just for bleeding or blowing 😁
I fell out of a vehicle and was still conscious when I landed face-first on the highway when I was 19. After the white flash when my head hit, the first thing I thought was "well, this is f*cking lame."
Mom And Mt. Fuji
I met friend of a friend while walking around town one day. We had dinner and a great conversation, but I didn't think we'd see each other again so soon. The next day he asked if I wanted to join him with another friend to climb Mt. Fuji in a few days. I declined initially as I had never even gone hiking so I had no business going up a mountain. That was until I realized if everything went to plan I could celebrate my birthday on the summit. I didn't have anything else to do so I went along with it.
We started the climb the day before my birthday from the fifth station just before sunset. As we started to get higher I kept seeing signs that showed how far off the summit was. For some reason I thought I could reach the summit before midnight. So when my friends decided to rest for the night on one of the stations I told them I was going to go up to the summit alone because I wanted to get there before midnight.
So I set off alone into the dark with a headlamp I bought from a dollar store. It was the middle of summer but it was still darn cold and the lights from the surrounding cities looked very small. About an hour or so later I started to doubt whether I could reach the summit before midnight. There was absolutely nobody around and I started to feel afraid.
Then I received a call from my mother. She called to wish me happy birthday and we spoke for a while, but I don't remember what we talked about. I was feeling very afraid at this point. I thought this might be the last conversation I would have with her if I died that night but I didn't want her to know how afraid I was, and it was getting late so I told her I loved her and would call her when I got home.
About an hour or so before midnight a fog set in at the top of the mountain. I couldn't see very far ahead of me or any lights from other stations or anywhere for that matter. I didn't have anything to mark distances so I became quickly demoralized. This is when I stopped thinking that I may die alone on Mt. Fuji and started to actually fear for my life.
At this elevation I couldn't breathe very well. I had dropped my Ventolin inhaler at some point and could only climb maybe a few meters at a time before I needed to stop to catch my breath. I was exhausted so I sat down for a while. My body temperature dropped significantly as I sat for over an hour. I was shivering and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. I had never seen snowfall in my life, but that night on the mountain was the coldest I had ever experienced so far.
It was past midnight. I didn't make it to the summit before my birthday. I was disappointed in myself and regret going alone. I wanted to call my mother and tell her I loved her one last time but she was surely asleep by now. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I started to think that this would have been so much easier if I had just waited with everybody else and climbed together. I hoped somebody would come by and help me to the summit, but nobody did.
I thought that if I had died on Mt. Fuji I'd be another cautionary tale, but for some reason I wasn't ready to die that night. I put myself together and rationalized if I don't start moving my body was going to succumb to the cold. I wasn't sure how far off the summit was but I was sure if I kept crawling for a few meters at a time like before I'd make it eventually.
It turns out the summit wasn't very far away. A mere 10 - 20 meters. I had been sitting at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit station for over an hour feeling sorry for myself thinking I was going to die.
My boyfriend got hit head-on by a car while he was riding a bike. Apparently, it was so quick that his last thought before impact was, "That car looks like it's going really fast."
When he came to, he crawled himself over to a patch of grass and sat down. A paramedic off duty saw the accident happen from her car and told him he was bleeding from his head. My boyfriend replied, "What?"
She repeated herself and he said, "Okay, where are my glasses?"
he ended up relatively unscathed. didn't break any bones but he's got scars all over his body. he used the lawsuit money to get lasik though.
Might Deserve Hell ... and Bianca Del Rio
I tried to kill myself last month, took a ton of pills and called my therapist to apologize, she called my Dad and my Dad hauled me to the ER. I thought I would die faster, which was why I called my therapist when I did, so it was about 30 minutes after I was in the bed in the ER when I started to feel so bad I thought I would die. I was freezing cold, everything was tingling and vibrating and felt mildly painful in a way I don't know how to describe. I felt like all of my insides where pressing against the outside of my body.
I looked over at my Dad and saw his face, and then I really thought I was going to die that instant. I prayed for the first time in my life (other than small prayers like "don't let someone die in a car accident" etc for anxiety) and I said to God "Let me die and go to hell, or to heaven, though I don't think that is an option, or let me live, I'm indifferent. Use your best judgement, but looking at my Dad right now, I understand if you send me to hell. I think I might deserve to go to hell."
Suddenly I felt like a ton of bricks had been dropped on me and I felt the most pain I have ever experienced in my life, and I started projectile vomiting the black charcoal they gave me like I was in a horror movie. I was raised atheist, I have only ever prayed as a method to ease my anxiety when I was afraid someone else might die. I guess I might believe in a God now, but I have no idea which one to pick.
A Dope Concert
Spun out after an icy night returning home from a childish Gambino concert. It was slow motion and my fiancée was next to me in the back freaking out.
I put my hand on her leg and just kept telling her it's okay, but in my mind I was convinced this was it. Honestly I went from "oh fck," to "sht well I guess this is it," to "well at least that concert was pretty dope" lol
I was in such excruciating pain that when I started to lose consciousness I was just thankful the pain was finally going to end.
Turns out I was fine, mostly, after surgery, but I still remember that overwhelming feeling of relief that washed over me when I thought it was the end.
Car Crashes And Coherent Thought
"Ugh. Ow. Where's my coat?"
Car accidents don't lend themselves to coherent thought, nor does being in shock afterward. My car was upside down, I'd separated my shoulder, and I probably had a concussion, but I really needed to find my coat.
I feel that. My thoughts after coming to were:
"I'm so glad I didn't kill my dad. Where'd my side mirror go? That smell is weird. I GOTTA PUT MY HAZARDS ON LIKE THEY TAUGHT ME IN DRIVERS ED!"
I put my hazards on, climbed across the car and hopped onto the interstate, and left the key in the ignition. My car was leaking fluid (might have been gasoline, don't remember), still didn't think to turn it off.
I got so concussed I still don't remember a year of my life, but damn it I remembered to turn those hazards on!
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/