People who have been declared clinically dead and then been revived were asked: "What was your experience of death?" These are some of the best answers.
2/20 I died in 1995 after serious trauma. I panicked for what had to be no-time at all but felt like forever. Then it felt like a light went out. Then there was nothing. Nothing at all.
I came to several hours later in a recovery room. Remembering the panic, not even the pain could shake that panic. A few days later the doctors let me know I had "died" between the ambulance and the operating room. They weren't so clear, only that they weren't worried.
As for the accident, I was hit by a car going about 50-60 mph, it had swerved off of the interstate into a roadside stop. I went over the car and landed on the top. My right leg (tibia, fibula) and elbow (the entire joint) were broken. My hair caught in the windshield and I was basically scalped. My lip was torn in half, and my face was peeled around the chin. Skin hung there loose. I remember it swinging there. It felt like a damn wet rag. A warm wet rag. I don't remember how much it hurt at all, but I remember that gross wet rag feeling, and just wanting to tear it off, get it away. It was, however, attached to me.
My head was leaned in such a way that blood flowed down my face from the wound on my chin and puddled in my eye-sockets. The sun baked the blood and basically scabbed my eyes over, so I lay there blind for a while in the Texas heat while I waited for a helicopter, but they couldn't land it, so an ambulance arrived about 30 minutes later.
I remember everything up until that recovery room. Being alert, making jokes, then losing it more and more over time. Finally time blended into a long minute. Everything tasted like blood and grit (the grit were bits of my broken teeth). I begged for anything to stop the pain, an advil, anything. The neck brace pressing into that open chin wound. Not being able to see a thing.
Then my mom and aunt held my good hand while that long minute ended and the lights in my mind's eye went out.
3/20 Heart failed during a procedure (to see what was wrong with my heart funnily enough) and they lost my vitals. All I remember was blacking out and then hearing music. The music sounded like something you would hear in the early 1900's. A woman kept saying to me it is going to be alright, and I needed to go with her. I kept saying I wasn't ready but she was insisting I come with her. I told her again, I wasn't ready I had [stuff] to do here, and she gave up. She said she would come get me again later, and that I was always welcome. Next minute, felt like I was punched in the chest and I woke up. 7 doctors around me and a very sore chest. Chilled in the hospital for a few days and now I'm healthy as a horse. I've only ever told a couple of people, as I hate feeling pretentious for telling people I died in the first place.
4/20 Heroin overdose. Twice it happened. Literally pulled the needle out, and I awoke in an ambulance with EMT's leaning over me saying welcome back. There was no tunnel, no white light or anything. Just blinked and I was in an ambulance. It took some struggling but I'm several months clean now.
5/20 I went into septic shock and organ failure last year. I only remember being wheeled into the ER and then waking up the next day. It was like going to sleep but it feels like you've been fighting sleep for weeks (I found dying exausting weirdly enough). I had no feelings of euphoria, just blackness. I could feel myself dying. I always tell people that my vision was like one of the old fashioned tvs with tubes, so that when you turn it off it just kind of shrinks until the image disappears. I also remember breathing being something that I had to make myself do, no more autopilot until I couldn't anymore. I was also profoundly sad in that moment because I felt that I would be missing so much, also that I would never see my fiance's face ever again.
6/20 I had pneumonia really badly Christmas day in 1984, went to the hospital. I remember struggling very hard to breathe then suddenly I felt like it was effortless and felt a floating feeling. I felt like I was rising up to this point that opened up in the room and in this rift I could see three angels, just cause idk what else to call them, one was large and two were small. Even tho the small ones didn't seem like kids either. They were welcoming and soothing, more like giving off those vibes than doing or saying anything. I got scared and quickly snapped my head around and I could see the room from above and see my mom running to get help. I said nooooooooo and snapped back into my body. I regretted it almost right away as breathing was so painful. Then there was about two days I remember nothing, they put tubes down my throat and kept me knocked put basically. I went home two weeks after. I tried to tell some ppl what I experienced and they only made fun of me, so I don't tell anyone anymore.
7/20 It happened during my first c-section. I was lying there talking with my husband, waiting to hear our baby girl's first cry, when I started to feel strange. I felt warm and my vision started to get fuzzy around the edges. I blinked my eyes a few times to see if that would clear my vision, but it did not.
All of a sudden it was like someone turned the volume up and I could hear my heart monitor perfectly clear. As I'm laying there I notice that the space between my heart beats are becoming more and more spaced out. Then I hear my husband asking me if I'm ok. He just kept saying "Baby are you ok?" over and over. I could not answer him though. I felt paralyzed. A few minutes before I had only been numb from the chest down. So I'm just looking up at the ceiling and notice that black started creeping in on my vision. I got this overwhelming feeling, and knew this was it. I was never going to get to hear my baby girl's first cry, never hold her, are watch her grow up. I would never get to see my husband again. Then I felt tears rolling down the side of my face. By this time my vision was almost completely gone. My husband leaned over and wiped my tears, kissed my forehead, then squeezed my hand. I still felt paralyzed, but somehow managed to squeeze his hand back. After that I slowly faded out to blackness.
Now up to this point it felt as if time had slowed considerably. Then it sped up. It felt like I was only out for a second before I snapped awake. You know like when you fall asleep on accident and then jerk awake? That is exactly what it felt like. I could see normally and the noise around me was back to a normal level. I could also feel the parts of my body that were not numbed due to the spinal block.
After that everything went fine. My baby girl was born, and I had to stay in recovery for three hours to monitor my blood pressure. My doctor said that I had a bad reaction to the combination of drugs that were put into my spinal block, and I was on my way to a flat line. My husband later told me that after I squeezed his hand, a nurse took him out to the hallway, and he was out there for almost ten minutes before they let him come back in. He said I was just starting to wake up when he came back in. For me it seemed like just a few seconds between being out and being awake.
I have had four other surgeries and, have had issue with my blood pressure every time. Never as bad as the first time though. The doctors and nurses were more prepared given my history.
8/20 I remember absolutely nothing.
Hit by a car. Have weird memories of ambulance ride where people who could not have possibly been there were there. Don't remember the accident but I've been told the story so many times I have the constructed memory of events.
Seriously do not remember anything from when I was clinically dead (no idea for how long) to waking up several days later.
9/20 A few years ago, I was hit by a truck. My nose was broken, among other things, and my head hit the pavement so hard that I received mild head trauma. I began to seize in the middle of the street where I was laying. Because of some complicated medical [stuff] involving the bizarre angle of my head during aforementioned seizure and the blood coming from my nose going down my throw instead of out of my nostrils, I suffocated.
I was not conscience, but I was aware, and that's the best way I can describe it. I did not see myself from outside of my body. I did not see a light. I felt my brain feel like it was shrinking and I felt my eyes refuse to open. I could taste the blood but couldn't spit it out. My brain felt like Pinhead's face and I was so aware that I was unable to control my body. I then had the thought that this was it. I knew that my last words were "whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there", because I was singing Drive with my friend, which was going to be the last song I had ever listened to. Everyone says that your life flashes before your eyes. I was only 14, and the only thing that flashed before my eyes was all the things i never got to do. It was terror and confusion and I was so painfully aware of it. Suddenly,the pains and the fear stopped. It felt like I had fallen asleep, but better. I felt relief. It felt like at every point in my body, there was a thread connecting it to a spiritual version of myself; I felt so many of those threads break. I felt my brain let go, lay down its burden, and feel okay.
Suddenly, I was awake. Waking up was honestly the worst part. Everything hurt, everything was loud, I wanted that medic to just let me go back. Dying was the most serene, peaceful, refreshing feeling.
10/20 Lost most of my blood then heart stopped 3 times on operating table. Once for over 45 sec. While I was loosing my blood I'd lose consciousness then wake up again. Last time I drifted off it felt as though I was getting farther and farther from the scene. Sounds around me and of my own voice were getting fainter, room getting darker, images in front of my eyes getting smaller until it went all black.
When I woke up after my operation I knew where I was, knew the name of one my nurses and reminded her that my surgeon wanted to be notified when I woke up. I later told my surgeon about pieces of conversation he remembered having with other operating room staff while operating on me. I was under anesthesia the entire time of my operation. Weeks later I started having flashes of the operating room and seeing myself on the table with the staff working on me. Never checked to see if it was just my imagination or real images that were coming back to me. After the surgery I refocused my life on what was really important to me. I enjoy every bit of my life now. Carpe Diem describes it best.
11/20 First year living in Japan, I was out drinking with my college aged students. And drinking a lot. I've never liked fish, due to growing up with southern parents who would fry it, and the smell alone made my friends and I leave the house for hours. But I was in Japan! When in Rome, y'know!? Sashimi didn't smell so bad. So I drunkenly started popping them in my mouth like I was eating popcorn. Hated... The taste! But I'm drunk! And in Japan! "Do you like it?! " I was asked, "Yes! " I lied in return. More was ordered. Sashimi. Beer. Whiskey. Sours.
I got really hot, and kept unbuttoning my shirt. Until I hit the point I realized I had thrown it off and was just in a white T-shirt. But why was my neck so tight? Panic hits me, and I just lie with my head back trying to focus on something besides my predicament. No go. The lights I'm looking at suck into my eyes and my memory from here on is gone...
Wake up in a hospital. Throat is in intense pain. I'm drunk. Surrounded by Japanese doctor staff, and only one female student stayed with me. She comes and says to me in English, tears in her eyes, hugging me, "You died sensei! You actually died!! " Apparently my throat swelled up, I stopped breathing and at some point I was dead for what I heard was only 18 seconds or so.
The doctor eventually musters up strength to eek out, "You. Uhhhh. Fish. Uhhhhh... Allergy. " Now I know I'm allergic to fish. Still in Japan!
12/20 I remember almost nothing. I'm extremely allergic to peaches and I was at my friend's picnic and they forgot to tell me that they had peaches in their summer salad. (To be fair, i should have asked so that's on me.)
I remember my tongue swelling up and feeling like I was choking. My eyes watered up and a girl who was in nursing school realized what was happening and called 911. Apparently my heart stopped for all of a minute and a couple seconds thanks to anaphylactic shock.
But honestly I don't remember much other than waking up in the hospital with a lot of flowers. It makes for a good story though!
13/20 While I was deployed I took a IED while on a foot patrol. I was not knocked out after the explosion, I was quickly bleeding out and fading in and out. When I got to the point of being on the verge of death, everything started to slow down, my buddies screams turned into whispers, and this very relaxing feeling came over me.
It's a relaxed warmth I can not really describe. I found myself perfectly comfortable with the idea of passing away, I wasn't thinking of family or anything else other then the feeling. Then everything went black, woke up in a field hospital. They told me I had died twice but they were able to keep me alive.
14/20 I've had arrhythmia since forever. It makes my heart go all wonky at times and I have to stop what I'm doing and wait for it to settle. My heart has stopped a couple of times in the last few years and the best way I can describe it is as if you are weighted and slowly sinking into deep water. Everything gets cloudy and quiet, but it comes with an odd sense of... calm. I never felt panic when my heart stopped. It was more like "hmm my body is shutting down, interesting."
15/20 Once my heart stopped pumping (I had an undiagnosed arrhythmia at the time). I slowly died while my heart stopped pumping.
It hurt. It hurt in a silent, whole, complete way I cannot describe. Everything went dark, I lost my hearing, then black.
And then, my heart started again, and I opened my eyes alive. That is it.
16/20 When I was around 12 I got really, really sick. I don't remember what exactly I had, I'd have to ask my mother and we don't really talk very often. Whatever it was, my body felt super cold, like I was in a freezer or something, and I was shaking so violently that I remember a nurse offhand mention that I might need to be restrained.
I won't get into the gritty details, but in that moment I'm not sure if I actually 'legally died', but breathing got so hard that I lost consciousness and suddenly I felt really warm. Then I realized I was floating above my body, and I could see everything that was happening around me. I saw my parents, the doctors, and I could move around freely, even moving through walls. The craziest thing about it was that I flew down the hall towards the cafeteria where my older brother was, because I wanted to see him one last time.
Around this time, I felt like I was being pulled upward, like a magnet was drawing my upwards. Everything around me started to fade to black as I rose up toward the classic 'light at the end of the tunnel'. When I was a kid I was always afraid of dying. Sometimes even thinking about the idea of dying would make me start crying. Yet, in this moment I wasn't afraid anymore, and I accepted what was going to happen. When I got closer to the light something came up in front of me. I can't describe what it was like, almost like a cloaked figure, although the material of the cloak was translucent and shiny, and there was nothing underneath it. It spoke to me and told me that there was a mistake and that it wasn't my time yet. I then felt a falling sensation, you know like when you're having a dream where you're falling and then your body moves and reacts as if you were actually falling. That happened to me and I 'woke up'. The craziest thing about it is that like many others who have experienced this phenomenon almost immediately my condition started to improve and I was able to go home later that night.
17/20 Intentional heroin overdose. It didn't feel like anything at all. One minute I was there, then I don't remember anything. I do have some recollection of feeling peaceful and calm, but I was, y'know, shooting up heroin. It's the coming back that was excruciating. I was told I was not breathing and had no heartbeat when the EMTs got there. They did stuff, I'm assuming narcan, maybe some compressions. I came to on the kitchen floor right under the light.
Intense eye pain, everything was so bright. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to move. Every muscle in my body was screaming and it felt like I had battery acid in my veins. And everything was so loud, it felt like everyone was screaming. I remember being sad that I was back, I think I cried. But then pain took over and I don't remember much until the hospital. I try not to think about it too much. Would not recommend.
18/20 I OD'd on cocaine and my friend had to do CPR to me. She said I started to turn blue and she got really scared. I'm not sure if I were legally dead, but I would assume I was. My nail beds took a couple of weeks to turn the regular color again.
For me it was just like a light switch turning off. No lights or dead relatives inviting me into the afterlife. There was nothing. It was the blackest black I had ever seen. When I woke up it was like a dream. A very scary one.
19/20 I was buried alive in Mexico when I was seven years old. We were digging tunnels in a sand wall on the beach. It rained the night before so the sand was a little wet. It all collapsed. Most kids were buried up to there knees, necks, ankles. My step brothers thought that my twin sister was lying when she said I came with them that day. They couldn't remember and kept telling her I stayed at home. Before we left the house that day, my sister told me randomly to yell her name (Ashley) if anything happened and she would hear me.
So I remember the tunnel I was working on collapsing, hyperventilating while simultaneously yelling for Ashley, passing out, SEEING THE WHITE LIGHT, more darkness, and waking up over my dad's shoulder. My sister says she heard me screaming. She ran home and got my dad. My dad got all the neighbors. They were all digging with shovels. My dad made them use their hands after a while so they wouldn't hurt me. They found me literally 6 feet under. I was coughing at the time of the collapse so I had no sand in my lungs because I was covering my mouth. They found my hand sticking up above my body first because I was throwing sand out of my tunnel. My twin sister saw me and I was blue. My step mom attempted CPR. The ambulance came and couldn't find a pulse. They used the defibrillator and brought me back to life.
20/20 Almost ten years ago, I was in a really rough place, I was extremely depressed, dealing with thoughts of suicide. I was heavily medicated (on four different types of anti depressants and "mood stabilizers" as the doctors called them). This was also during a time were you could fill a three month prescription it was just a few days after I got a refill. I cannot remember what caused me to say it, but I said [screw] it and I swallowed EVERY last pill those bottles contained, and I waited thinking that it would be you know really quick.
After about 15 minutes and just feeling really stoned, that survival instinct kicked in, and I called up my friend asking him to take me to the hospital and told him what I did. I did not want to call an ambulance cause I had my sister home and I didn't want her to know what I did. So I get to the hospital and they instantly take me in, made me drink charcoal I believe? It was this black disgusting drink and the last thing I saw was some of my closest friends at the door in tears and then I blacked out.
I went into a coma, and during that I ended up vomiting and I couldn't expel it all, so a large majority of it got into my lungs which stopped me from breathing and then stopped my heart for five minutes. Somehow the doctors managed to get my heart beating again but I remained on life support for another two days afterwards while still in a coma, and during that time I couldn't move,speak or even open my eyes. I was completely trapped in darkness, and felt like I was choking (after I woke up I found out the reason I felt like I was choking was because I was still on life support when my lungs were finally able to start breathing on their own).