30 People Who Came Back To Life Share What Passing Away Actually Feels Like
Clinical death is the medical term for cessation of blood circulation and breathing, the two necessary criteria to sustain human life. It occurs when the heart stops beating in a regular rhythm, a condition called cardiac arrest.
However, despite its frequent use, the term "clinical death" doesn't actually have a consistent meaning. In most hospitals, the doctor in charge of a patient's care makes the death determination, and there aren't universal guidelines for when to make that call.
No wonder clinical death experiences have long been capturing our imagination with patients witnessing a variety of unusual or even never before experienced sensations. So when a Redditor called APater6076 asked people “who have ‘died’ and been resuscitated, what was your experience? Did you see bright lights? Nothing? Do you remember anything about it?”, the thread immediately went viral. Amassing 13.7k upvotes and almost 3k comments, it gives us a rare glimpse into the incredible human body and the endless capabilities of our minds.
My husband was on life support in a coma, he was not expected to make it and had to be brought back multiple times. I was by his side, beyond distraught. He was by far the "sickest" person in the ICU, too sick to transfer to another hospital. Other people who had family in the ICU rallied around to give me support as it really didn't look hopeful for him and my pain was obvious. A family in particular helped me out a lot. The grandpa of that family had surgery gone wrong on his foot, resulting in his foot amputation, followed by an infection then death. Even after he died his daughter stayed at the ICU to help me. When my husband finally pulled thru and woke up he told me he had been walking the halls with some guy who was missing his foot who told him it wasn't time to go yet and that his daughter would wait with me till my husband woke up but he had to wake up soon.
A very warm blackness. Wasn’t cold or scary. Very calm and serene. Best nap I’ve ever had. Five out of five stars, not in a hurry to do it again but certainly not scared to die when the time comes.
Now the heart surgery I had after being resuscitated, that was painful and awful, so I do not recommend heart failure. Zero out of five stars.
I remember feeling the most at peace I have ever felt in my life. I saw colors I could not begin to describe, and felt warm. I remember feeling my grandfathers hand in mine and hearing "it's not your time. You need to go back"
This was due to a su*cide attempt in 2019 where I had jumped off a 3 story parking structure. Not sure how I didn't end up paralyzed but I broke the "best" part in my spine I guess
From what I can remember (I was 16), I had a big operation and we did not know I was deadly allergic to morphine.
it was the most peaceful "Sleep" I have ever had in my entire life, it felt like nothing but somehow something you know?
I vividly remember seeing someone resuscitate from another point of view but I could have made that up.
Woke up with my dad holding my hand saying you scared the sh*t out of me.
A couple years later my dad had the same experience after an operation and the same thing happened to him as me, he woke up (I couldn't be more thankful saying those words) and after we told him he grabbed my hand and said " I got you back"
Not mine but my dad, he had his appendectomy at the highest risk possible, being diabetic, having waited 3 days on a “I just ate something bad” abdominal pain, dehydrated, you name it. He got rushed to the hospital after not being able to walk anymore.
He described it as a dark warm calm, like submerging yourself in a warm pool that filled every part of his body till his bones, he said he slowly felt how all worries banished and felt utterly happy but nostalgic, he also said he could hear the voice of the surgeon calling him “return, don’t go” but he felt it was annoying. After a little while he realized he was dying, so he “grabbed onto life” and said he felt like he was pushed out of the warmness to a cold suffering where he felt pain, anxiousness and a severe nostalgia of what he just experienced.
After waking up from anesthesia he cried cause said he really wanted to go, but gripped strongly into life because he’d miss us, their sons.
I bled to death giving birth to my son. It was a crazy experience. I lost consciousness and remember panic. I lived a life in the time I was gone — a full one, with my children. It was very peaceful and loving, like a warm, happy blanket. I came to with my son at my breast. They were trying to get my uterus to contract by feeding him to reduce the bleeding. It had given up during delivery, and I had pushed him out with sheer will and no contractions because he was stuck and dying.
This isn't about me but my wife, and she wasn't brought back, but I felt like sharing anyway.
My wife died last week. She had been battling cancer for over a year and it was beyond treatment. When she got pneumonia amd ended up on a ventilator for almost a week with no real improvement we knew we had to let her go.
What happened after that was horribly traumatic for all of us that were present, but one thing about it makes me wonder.
They took her off the ventilator and she continued to breathe on her own for 5 hours, but the breaths were ragged and strained especially for the last hour or two. Towards the end it became very clear we were going to lose her soon.
Let me give a little background before I get to the end. For a couple days she would occasionally open her eyes but they weren't open much, and she would just stare straight ahead, like she wasn't really seeing anything.
So around 10 minutes or so before she officially passed she opened her eyes completely, and stared straight up towards the ceiling. A few minutes later she closed them again, her breath became slower and slower and finally stopped.
I can't speak to what she saw obviously, but she definitely saw something there. I like to think it was something that gave her peace because she finally gave in and let go.
I felt the same as if I had went to sleep. (I had an alcohol withdrawal related seizure and woke up in the hospital bed, i was told my heart stopped for 8 seconds) Although the one thing I "remember" is this feeling that the weight of the world lifted off my shoulder. It was such an indescribable feeling, but it was as if everything thing that I care and/or worry about is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Makes the thought of dying someday less frightening
I overdosed on fentanyl a while back and was fading in and out but all I remember was a sense of complete nothingness . No memories flashing, no bright light to follow just nothing . Looking back at it I almost felt at peace . But waking up right after the overdose was sheer panic at the thought of almost dying lol . Glad to be almost 2 years clean now .
My son said he climbed a blue ladder into a boat, but then I came and got him. He’s little though.
I had an emergency c-section.
When they started to cut me open, I could feel it, so they placed a mask over my face and I knocked out almost immediately.
While I was out, I felt like I was weightless and not me, but my like... I don't know... energy? Like I was floating through a maze and the walls of this maze where a soft, glowing white. There were images and voices beyond the walls. They were familiar and I wanted to stop and listen, but I was moving along through this maze, unable to stop myself. I didn't really try, though. I was just ebbing and flowing along.
Suddenly I felt very, very sad... I knew I had died and I was sad because I wasn't going to see my baby or see him grow up. Then there was a voice, I don't remember if it was male or female, but it was trying to calm and soothe and let me know that all was well and not to worry.
Then I heard my name being called. It was my husband's voice. And then my mom's. And then a nurse. They asked me my name and the date and if I knew where I was. For the life of me I could not open my eyes, though I felt like I was trying very hard to do so. There was a very, very bright door or window, directly across from me.
I kept asking my mom and my husband to close the curtains or close the door. But they were confused. They said there was no window or door, just a blank wall. I asked them to turn off the lights, because it was too bright. They said the lights were dimmed.
I insisted they close the curtains and/or door, please. The light was really, really bothering me. Come to find out, once I did manage to fully open my eyes, there was no door or window, just as they had promised. It was just a blank wall.
Anyway, baby and I are fine, but my husband told me that I had to be resuscitated during the c-section because "they lost me."
Dying hurts, but death itself is very peaceful. 9/10, would die again
Had a bad allergy episode, slipped into anaphylactic shock.
Very weak, very little control over motor function and very difficult to speak but could hear very clearly.
When I realized how bad it was, I started to feel really cold quite quickly. About the same time everything started to fade.
For a brief moment things were hazy/fuzzy, but very quickly faded to black. It was a calming black, definitely not anxiety inducing (that already happened) and just a peaceful kind of "nothingness".
No out of body, no visions, no light... Just dark "nothingness".
Came to after what seemed like 20 sec, but doc says it was actually more like 20 minutes. Prob longer since I saw family member there that did not make the drive with me, the office was a good 30 min drive from home.
It's crazy how many similar experiences align with mine - I just thought it was plain and boring, lol. Kinda cool reading after posting.
Might as well add what others had said - it was a surprisingly pain-free experience.
And how it changed me - definitely no longer have a fear of the act of dying. But I now have an increased fear of leaving loved ones behind. It was a weird sort of balance shift.
I overdosed on Ativan after the death of my son. My heart lost proper rhythm for six minutes and I had to be shocked back.
I remember a forest, where time wasn't and my son was there. He told me that he always knew I loved him (he was nonverbal in life) and he and I spent enough time there for him to grow to adulthood. I'm sure that a lot of that was the effects of the Ativan but I had such complete peace when I woke up. I was done with su*cide attempts over his death after that.
Was it informed by my beliefs? Dunno. But I got the closure I needed. And that's all that really matters.
Does anyone else believe in an afterlife? Or that you can contact the dead through dreams ? I was brought up religious, and although I’m not religious as much anymore, these dreams I experienced give me a sense of hope, that we never fully “disappear”.
My Mum’s dad (grandad) passed away. Around 8 months later, I woke up from a dream where my grandad had returned. Dream: My whole family were sitting outside, it was a summer afternoon and we were having a bbq. My grandad was sitting down, surrounded by the whole family, explaining how peaceful dying is. He jokingly mentioned how he met a famous actor that had also passed (can’t remember the actors name now). He told me he loved me and missed me. I said “grandad, I’m so happy you’re back.” I woke up from that dream, and thought “hmm that was strange.” While driving to school I told my Dad “hey dad I had the weirdest dream about grandad last night”, and then my Dad said “me too?”. And here’s the freaky part… he described the EXACT dream that I had, word for word. Same location, people, etc. he said he knew it was grandad by the way he made jokes about the actor- he still had his same humour. We were so shocked. And that’s not even his father, it’s my mum’s.
My Dad also had a dream about his own father who had passed. They were driving along an old country road and his dad said “you’re the only one who can see me. Everyone else can only hear me.”
Later that day, his mother called him and said “do you know what’s strange? Whenever I dream about your father, I can never see him, I can only hear him?”
????? Coincidence or not, that definitely gave me a new perspective on the afterlife.
An old friend described it to me after an OD. They said they saw every single color all at once, and heard every single sound harmoniously. They said it was mostly an indescribable and surreal experience, so beautiful yet haunting. This is most definitely a downplayed paraphrase but their experience always fascinated me.
My nana, who died in 2014, had severe asthma all her life and she told this story more than once.
She was watching TV on the couch and fell asleep one day, and woke up in an asthma attack that had no signs of letting up. Also, her inhaler was on the other side of the room. As she coughed and wheezed, she looked up and saw a figure standing in the opposite corner of the room. She's sure it was Death.
Nana, sassy as she was, said "I'm not ready yet, f*ck off!"
And then she found the strength to crawl over and grab her puffer.
Not sure if it was real, or hallucination, but it made for a great story.
I’m not religious in any way or spiritual for the most part but when I tried to [unalive myself] at 19 with an overdose, apparently I died 2 times in the hospital. I vividly remember a bright white light and in the distance, 2 shadows, 1 taller than the other, the taller one wearing a wide brimmed hat. Well, from what I could make out in the silhouette. Without moving in any way, it was like they were throwing memories directly into my brain and I was remembering them except they weren’t my memories. Things I’d never seen before, moments in time I couldn’t have been around for etc. i described this to my mum afterwards who said her parents (who I never met as they died when I was a baby) matched the description. Her dad always wore that style of hat. And the furniture I described in these memories I was given matched what they had in their home. It was almost as if they were throwing memories at me, all they had left, to keep me from coming into the light. Back then I had no purpose in life. Now I have a daughter and life makes perfect sense to me because of her so I’m glad I’m still here. I don’t think of this at all these days but this post reminded me of it.
It felt like I was returning home from a long journey. It felt more familiar than this “reality”. Consciousness left my body, I was looking down on myself. It felt as if I had become my highest/truest/purest self and I was filled to the brim with love for myself and all else. It cured my 11 year treatment-resistant clinical depression and reignited my will to live. During the experience I asked myself “how did we get here”.. referring to the unconscious/dead me sitting in the chair and instantaneously I saw my life flash before my eyes and I saw how I had become depressed and the stories that I believed and adhered to that kept me in that dark place. I also felt as if I had the choice to return or not… and as soon as I said YES! - I woke up; transformed.
Afterwards I began fasting for spiritual purposes (and lost 80 lbs in 8 months) and began meditating (2-6 hours a day) and today I feel like a completely new person and continue to feel better every day with yoga and the other practices I have adopted. I have also dedicated much of my energy into exploring/understanding NDE/ADEs/mystical experiences and their transformative potential and hope to become a psychedelic assisted psychotherapist to help others who might be in similar spots as I once was - without risking their lives (through experiencing ego deaths/positive disintegration/meeting god).
I was killed in a head on with a semi. Reality turned to vibration and I was sucked out if they back off my skull. I found myself in a void completely comfortable and at peace and knowing full well I was dead. Went through a bit of a life review where a lot of things flashed through my mind and afterwards I saw the light. In my case however the light was actually what my eyes were seeing from my slumped over corpse... I saw my phone on the floor of my truck and had a thought that I wanted to get to the phone to say goodbye to my wife and kids and as I had that thought I was pulled into the light and back into my body. I'm an atheist which makes this whole experience a bit of a mind f*ck for me. I expected nothingness upon death which is exactly what I got but I was still conscious of it which I did not expect. Either way, I've been in pain for 8 years straight now for having pulled through. I'll just embrace death next time.
I've survived a su*cide attempt. The moment I awoke it felt like I was being pulled from the most beautiful, serene and peaceful place to ever exist to this world. It felt warm and cozy, really comfortable and at peace. I've had a very similar experience during a therapy session involving psychedelics.
Not me, but my dad. He was 15, on his way to a basketball game with his high school team, when a drunk driver came around the corner and hit their bus. The bus tipped over and my dad’s head got stuck out the window, caught between the guardrail and the bus. Apparently his head left a dent in the guardrail, which has since been replaced.
He describes the stereotypical “bright light” scenario. He saw a white light, and he explains that he heard the voices of deceased loved ones telling him it wasn’t his time to pass. His next memory was waking up in the hospital. He had several surgeries to fix the broken bones in his face. At the time, he was also told he wouldn’t regain use of one of his arms, which was paralyzed. He was, however, able to regain use of it.
If you saw him in person today, you would have no idea something like this happened to him. Aside from some mild psychological trauma and occasional neck pain, he turned out completely normal. I’m lucky to be here.
I've experienced an NDE before. I was 19 years old. I felt like I was floating, almost like I was flying. I could feel myself get further and further away from my physical body. I vaguely even remember looking back, to see my motionless body below me. Then I kept floating further away, I felt such a calm. If I could describe what true peace felt like, it would be that. My life didn't flash before my eyes. I didn't relive any moments or memories. But I just knew I was dying. Even so, I still felt so calm.
This part might be my imagination but... I do remember complete darkness, at first. Then a tunnel. The tunnel was engulfed in the darkness. The further I went down the tunnel of darkness, then I guess, yeah I saw a bright light at the other end. But I didn't think of it was light but more like warmth. When I got closer to the warmth, that's when I started to float away, looked back for a second at my body, then floated higher into the clouds. It felt like I was going into the clouds...just drifting away, further up and away from my body.
When I was finally fully surrounded by the clouds and no more darkness, that's when I heard a voice. It told me "It's not your time. You must go back." I actually remember replying with "No. Don't make me go back. I want to stay here. I'm finally home." And the voice kept repeating itself "It's not your time. You must go back." I kept saying I didn't want to go back and then I felt something push me. I felt myself falling, fast. Then I woke up coughing, almost choking on air. My chest hurt. It felt like someone had punched my gut and I had the wind knocked out of me. I also felt cold. The warm light and calm feeling was now gone but it's something I'll never forget. As well, eventhough the voice told me it wasn't my time, it felt so peaceful too. Not at all rude nor argumentative. Just.... reassuring and calm. True Peace
I had open heart surgery when I was 18 months old. My first ever memory I have is that of a warmness, like that of an opiate, floating through a galaxy with vivid and beautiful colors. Mostly darkness. I felt no loneliness, no pain, just pure unconditional joy.
Until reading these other comments I thought that my memory was just some made up thing I imagined when I was a little kid, or some mental illness. Perhaps I died during my open heart surgery and was never told about it. I guess I'll never know.
I've been defibrillated twice out of a tachycardia (when your heart beats extremely fast and doesn't effectively pump blood). Both times I remember being extremely scared and then like the worst impending doom feeling then almost like passing out and feeling like the most calm feeling ever. I don't remember coming back after being defibbed strangely enough. I had a lot of PTSD from the event and I honestly wonder if my brain just erased that part.
I’ve come close twice. The first time I was around 9 years old and had a massive heatstroke at a fair. I stood next to myself and watched two women who knew what was happening to me and what to do. I remember thinking of it as mildly interesting and thinking “Huh, so that’s what I look like.” There was no worry or fear but it wasn’t particularly momentous either. Just mildly interesting being temporarily dead. When I came back around I was wondering why everyone was looking at me the way they were, being a child I thought they were all mad at me so I kept what happened to myself.
The second time was when my appendix burst. I was an adult and had that blackness that was warm and embracing, just true peace. Then I was in my living room sitting on the couch, very comfortable and content. It was not a dream version of my living room either, everything was just as I left it when the ambulance came. Threadbare at the seams of the couch arms, that stain on the carpet I can’t get out, the clock that ticks a little too loud stuff your brain won’t recreate while dreaming.
My grandfather was there, and I spoke to him briefly before I realized he’d been dead for two years. I didn’t feel a sense of worry just a matter-of-fact awareness that I was in some sort of trouble. (The sky is blue, water is wet, I am dying) I told him that something was wrong with me and I didn’t think I would be okay. He smiled at me and told me it would be okay. I then felt like I had one of those falling dreams but the most extreme version you can imagine.
I can say for certain, that blackness is very inviting. It’s like being awake for 48 hours, while on a road trip with the flu and then finally being able to climb into your own bed at home. The rest of it could have just been my brain firing on all cylinders and giving me something nice to ease the transition or it could have been real. I don’t know, maybe what’s there is waiting for me maybe it’s not. It’s not frightening though. Everything that proceeded it is, but the act itself is nothing to fear.
I was put into a coma so it's not the same but it was beautiful. Endless darkness and peace. Just peace. Not even a sense of self. Just an unbelievable feeling of peace and safety. No pain no nothing. Genuinely wish I could go back.
I was in a major traffic accident seven years ago. The dashboard collapsed backward into my legs, snapping them and severing one of my arteries. I died for a short time from blood loss. I felt a comforting warmth and a much-needed break from all the pain. That was short-lived though, and I was suddenly snapped back to reality and pain. I was later told I’d been dead for close to three minutes before they got a pulse back.
I was in a severe car accident in 2011. I blacked out completely at the first impact, and awoke later. I don’t know how much time passed while I was blacked out, but I was on a rural road about an hour away from any semblance of a town.
After I initially woke up, I couldn’t breathe at all. My whole body and face hurt. I tried to get out of the car and immediately blacked out again. From what I was told afterwards, this is when I “””died”””.
It was just like being asleep. No pain. No bright light. Just warmth and peace. I was in and out of consciousness on the long ride to the hospital. I suffered broken ribs, neck and back, as well as eye damage. But the worse pain was having my head strapped to a hard plastic block for the entire duration of the ambulance ride. It was just intense uncomfortable pain on the back of my head.
I was pretty much blind by the time I got to the hospital, but I specifically remember them removing my shirt, and clapping/ congratulating me. Apparently there was a gnarly bruise on my chest from the seatbelt, and they were just happy that I wore one. I was driving highway 94, which is a dangerous rural road, and a lot of the locals just don’t where seatbelts there, as there’s usually minimal police activity.
Not me, but my wife had a brain tumor that was (mostly) removed 5 years ago, and she died and was resuscitated during the operation. After she was awake and could communicate, I told her that she died and came back, and asked her if she had any strange experiences. She was surprised and said she didn't remember anything.
But her mother was there in the hospital room and told her that the only reason she lived was because the spirits of her deceased aunt and grandmother had been in the operating room to help. Within a few days she said she remembered seeing her Aunt and Grandmother in the room. A few days after that she remembered her Aunt and Grandmother encouraging her to come back to the living. Now that is the official story anyone gets when my wife talks about it, but I am 99% sure that it's just the power of suggestion that made her change the story.
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