What It’s Like to Escape From the Brink of Death

What you see and feel in a near-death experience can profoundly change the rest of your life.

While no one can know for sure what happens when we die, some people say they have a clue.

In certain circumstances, particularly when individuals have been resuscitated after having stopped breathing and lost a pulse, they can return with vivid recollections of their experience. These dispatches from the other side are eerily similar. Common themes are seeing a bright light, feeling a separation of the self from the body or a deep sense of peacefulness, and meeting again with lost loved ones.  

Some scientists argue that such visions are merely the reflection of activity in a brain that was suddenly deprived of oxygen but still very much alive. Others believe that “near death experiences” accurately convey what we might all encounter when we die, and indeed are better regarded as “actual death experiences.” One thing we know to be true: those who have dipped a toe into death often return with a renewed sense of purpose to their life. Here are some of their stories.

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