As the famous saying goes, there are only two certain things in life – death and taxes.
But it still remains mysterious despite huge scientific advances, and nobody can know what happens for sure until it happens to them.
There are of course lots of popular theories about white lights and seeing your life cinematically flash before your eyes – but how true are they?
The only insight we have are accounts from people who have been medically dead then resuscitated, some of whom have taken to Reddit to answer the impossible “what’s it like to die?” question as best they can.
And the answers vary a lot.
- Like reading a book
Five years ago monitormonkey underwent major surgery during which he bled out, causing him to be dead for several minutes.
“I woke up in what looked like space but there weren’t any stars or light. I wasn’t floating so to speak, I was just there.
“I wasn’t hot or cold, hungry or tired – just a peaceful neutral kind of thing. I knew there was light and love somewhere nearby but I had no urge or need to go to it right away.
“I remember thinking over my life, but it wasn’t like a montage. More like I was idly flipping through a book and snippets stood out here and there.
“Whatever it was, it changed my thoughts on a few things. I am still afraid to die, but I’m not worried about what happens after that.”
- A visit from someone dear
Schneidah7 was thrown from his motorbike while cruising at 50 mph and was medically dead when he was taken to hospital. As he lay in the road before the ambulance came, he recalled someone he knew encouraging him.
“I just remember being on the pavement and things slowly going black and quiet.
“The only reason I didn’t fall asleep was because of a bizarre moment where I heard someone yelling, ‘Ranger up you candy f***! Come on man, get up. Get up. GET UP!’
“Then someone was slapping my helmet (which was basically smushed really hard onto my head).
“When I opened my eyes I saw my brother squatting on the pavement next me to. This was odd because my brother died from an overdose several years ago.
“The only other thing I remember is him glancing at his watch and saying something like ‘They’ll be here soon’ and then walking away.
“I wish I could give more detail but I honestly don’t remember much of the incident and still have trouble with my memory as a result of the accident.”
- A garden
While many users described their ‘death’ as being like a void, IDiedForABit had a very different experience after an allergic reaction which caused their heart to stop.
“I remember a feeling of being sucked backwards, extremely slowly, like being pulled through water and this blackness fading in and out.
“At one point it faded back in and I was staring out at a garden.
“It wasn’t filled with flowers, just dust and patchy grass. There was a playground with a merry-go-round in the middle and two children running around it. A boy and a girl.
“It’s difficult to describe but I got the feeling I could choose if I wanted to stay or leave, but every time I tried to go back I was held in place.
“I went through all the reasons I wanted to go back, and when I told the presence I didn’t want to abandon my mother whatever held me finally let go.
“I snapped back into my body. My heart had stopped for six minutes.”
- Hitting snooze
As a teenager, TheDeadManWalks had been going through months of chemotherapy when his nose started bleeding uncontrollably.
Due to a sepsis and Clostridium difficile infection, his condition worsened, and he slipped in and out of death, which he describes beautifully.
“The worst part of it all, looking back, is how peaceful it can seem.
“It’s like wanting to hit the snooze button on your alarm at 7am.
“And maybe you do hit it once or twice but then you remember that you have work or school and that sleep can wait because you’ve still got s*** to do.”
- Or is it a hoot?
altburger69’s brush with death didn’t stop them from cracking jokes.
“Had a heart attack last year and my heart stopped three times in the emergency room.
“Apparently, each time they shocked me back I ‘woke up’ (how it felt) and told the staff a different knock-knock joke each time.
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“No lights or whatever, just felt like sleep.”
- There is nothing after
In the aftermath of a motorbike accident, Rullknuf’s breathing and pulse stopped and he went “cramp and stiff”. After two minutes, his friend managed to resuscitate him.
“For me it was just a blackout. No dreams, no ‘visions, just nothing.
“Apparently I asked over ten times what happened and apparently I shall be happy to be alive today.”