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People who have had near-death experiences explain what dying actually feels like

What is it like to die? Well, it’s something that’s hard to experience and describe, because not many people die and then write books about it. However, there are near-death experiences from those who have been dead for a short time before being revived.

Kerry Packer, once Australia’s richest man, suffered a heart attack in 1990 and was clinically dead for six minutes before being revived.

Packer remarked on his mortality with immortal words: “I’ve been to the other side and let me tell you, son, there’s f–king nothing there… There’s no one waiting there for you, there’s no one to judge you so you can do what you bloody well like.”

It’s truly one of life’s great mysteries. Many hope to be reunited in heaven, others talk about reincarnation.

A group of people who have experienced near-death have discussed what it’s really like in an insightful shared post, which has close to a million views, on question and answer site Quora.

Their experiences are wide-ranging. Some say it’s a “blissful” and “peaceful” feeling, some express disappointment that all their memories that make them who they are are lost, others talk about a terrifying emptiness.

Here are some of the most fascinating stories, from those who suffered surgical complications, to a harrowing account of a woman who was almost poisoned by carbon monoxide from a faulty water heater when she was 11 years old.

Blissful, serene, exciting, peaceful, relaxing

Megan Elizabeth Voymas describes her experience as something English can’t describe.

I’ve had an NDE, so I can only say how dying feels – blissful, serene, exciting, peaceful, relaxing… I feel like there isn’t an accurate word (in English) that describes how truly wonderful it feels.

Disclaimer: It may be terrifying to others. I’m of the variety who hopes reincarnation is a myth. 😉

An 11-year-old escapes from “heavy and invisible blanket of death”

Vera Dragilyova’s detailed account of her brush with death is long and terrifying; you can feel the panic as she realises she’s in mortal danger. Read her whole account here.

My personal experience with dying was a clinical death that may have gone a little deeper into the other two types, simply judging by the time of my being in this state. When I was 11, my mom and I were poisoned with a CO gas, carbon monoxide, emanating from a water heater. That was in the Soviet Union – a long time ago.

I can still hear the huge snow storm, and my mom dragging me by my hand against the wind, so that it would not blow me away, and trying to make it home, blind through the white shield of snow. I can still remember my cheeks being numb from the cold, and the snowflakes hitting them like little pieces of razor blades, while I closed my eyes and just kept kicking along with my feet, to keep up.

We made it home, where all the windows were dead shut, turned on the water heater and we took turns taking a hot shower, just to warm up. It was only the two of us at home, my mom and I.

Apparently, the air vent got damaged by the storm, preventing the carbon monoxide from escaping. This gas has no smell, and it is heavy, so it fills up a container just like water would.

quora screenshot

“No cause for alarm”

Barbara Berney suffers a rare and severe reaction to narcotic-based pain relief medication. She’s died and been revived three times, and offers a comforting view of a “totally peaceful” experience.

I have ‘died’ three times after separate surgeries, due to a very rare intolerance to any kind of narcotic, wherein my heart and respiration slow to a stop within minutes. Although I could hear perfectly (the beeping of the monitor as I flatlined, the code on the PA, the squeak-squeak of the crash cart wheels, everyone talking at once), I had no other sensation. As I was sinking into unconsciousness, I felt very cool, relaxed, no need to breathe, no cause for alarm, no pain of any kind, totally peaceful. Everything grew dark around the edges until there was only blackness.

And then, they revived me, each of three times, the first time by adding Narcan to my IV, the other two times with CPR, after which I spent the night in the cardiac unit at the hospital. Makes it tough to have surgery, but I’ve survived three thumb joint replacements, a hip arthroscopy, and a hip arthroplasty without pain meds.

Scott Melnick shares a similar story.

quora scott melnick

“What a waste”

Bryan Bentz has experienced death and says his only sadness wold be losing what makes him who he is, without being able to pass anything on directly.

I’ve faced it, and come to the conclusion that my only regret will be the loss of some amazing memories, ideas, loves, passions, insights, and bits of wisdom that I’ve had. No reliable way to pass those on – and, come to think of it, not sure we should. Everyone’s life is their own, and shouldn’t be driven by the burden of the mental lives of those who lived before. I guess that’s why we invented literature.

But still, it seems like such a waste to lose all that’s in my head. I won’t care I don’t think, not being here. I’d at least like it to be useful to someone else!

The white light

Deanne Vise saw more of a white light and describes feeling “furious” that she was dead after spending a lot of her life fighting off death.

I died twice on September 26, 2009. My first thought after I saw a gorgeous white light at the top of a mountain in front of me was, “Oh my God. I’m dead!” There were many other people walking up the mountain towards the light.

But I was furious.

All I could think about was how I had been to the emergency room so many times and had been blown off and “now I’m dead.” I did not look down at my own body unfortunately, but the other dead people just looked like regular people. I had for the first time in many years absolutely no pain at all. I was just angry.

After a few minutes, my cousin sort of popped right in front of me and told me, “Deanne, go back.” I haven’t been called Deanne since I was a kid and she was one of the few people who knew me as Deanne. When I turned around to see what she meant by “back”, I was slammed into the bed at the hospital with seven doctors and nurses all around me yelling at me to “stay with us”. The pain returned.

I was in shock. I’ll never forget my two and a half minutes being dead, though, and I am lucky to have been brought back to life.

“I felt guilt, shame, and profound disappointment”

Aaron Stephanus flatlined in the ER and felt a terrible sadness, for not “achieving my personal goals”.

Several years ago I flatlined in the ER. The experience was rather remarkable and unforgettable; what little I can recall.

As the final moment approached my senses left me one by one, preceded by the inability to move at all. First thing I noticed gone was my sense of touch. Followed by hearing. At this time my sense of smell and taste could also have left me. I simply have no idea. The last thing to go was my sight leaving me with a field of whiteness, and thoughts which seemed to be further and further apart as my only perceivable experience. Suddenly I felt a tremendous pressure against my chest.

All senses came rushing back to me only to drift off into white nothing again. This pattern repeated three times to my memory, but who knows, until my heart was able to continue beating on its own.

The moment I realised I was on my way out was sad. Particularly because I was aware my mother was in the room watching as medical professionals did their best to keep me alive. I felt guilt, shame, and profound disappointment for not achieving my personal goals. I accepted my fate in some way. The physical sensations were almost nonexistent.

I wasn’t scared. I was just disappointed.

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Comment (3)

    James McDonald

    Thursday 11 February 2016

    Two days before I had my near death experience, I had had a heart attack and taken to hospital by ambulance. The pain was something I’d never experienced before and apart from the origin, classically, in my arm and shoulder, it soon spread over my whole body like a foot or an arm “going to sleep” when the blood flow is impeded, only with many, many times the intensity. I was like this throughout the ambulance ride. Fortunately, a first-aid at work got to me quickly with an oxygen bottle and the paramedics turned up very quickly.

    Two days later, while I was undergoing an angiography and had been watching my heart beat on screen I had a second heart attack. I heard someone say, “We have a problem” and I was aware of a sudden urgency in the room but that is all. I felt I was dying and understanding it and that that was all there was to it and I felt a calm acceptance. The other side of my brain – I was an academic and my first attack had started in the classroom – observed that I was dying but taking it so calmly. All of this is, as a blackness descended on me. My memory of it was as if I were moving toward and into it.

    I had immediate open heart surgery and I was out of it for almost a day and a half. I became aware of sensations first and that is all. And a different pain. When I first became aware of my wife being present, I asked what they had done to me [the team had, of course, saved my life]. Over a period as my senses kicked in, I became aware of being in the CCU, the sounds and the smells, and of being in a bed.

    So, I was out of it, in that blackness for a long time in resuscitation, emergency surgery, and recovery, and no doubt sedated to the eyeballs. But it would be the only thing I probably concur with Kerry Packer about – there was nothing there.

    There was, then, a period of calm and acceptance of fate, a reflection on my state as I went under, a long period of no sensation, and as I came to, and weak, wondering what had happened.

    I was 58 years old and had been a workaholic. While over 13 years later, I have no plans to do anything but enjoy what I can of life, my experience hasn’t made me religious and I don’t fear death as I once might have. It is a very existential moment rushing to the end of all those things you thought had mattered and understanding rather than regretting that you wouldn’t do any more.

    Others might look back on such an experience and become much more spiritual, or less bothered about the world and its affairs. I fought retirement for years working part-time in my field here and there and did one stint of full time work for eight months, but it taxed my health and I finally gave it away – eventually – 18 months ago. I stood for Parliament, and I have trod the stage, and a year’s worth of acting is now coming to an end.

    All in all, I think my experience left me a better person, better able to deal with the deaths of people close to me, and more reflective. I feel wiser! But, dammit, I’ve booked views of the next 240 full moons.

    Reply

    senora

    Tuesday 16 February 2016

    Kerry packer didn’t see anything because he was a dark man. They say those who experience the black of nothing have nothing because they gave nothing to the light of life. So yeah you would get the void of blackness and nothing. Think about it. Eternity in that state. Wake up

    Reply

    senora

    Tuesday 16 February 2016

    Further comment: death is like a bank. We all get money don’t we? Anyways its in my opinion, that we are taught to save up for retirement so we have credits for a comfortable ending but then we don’t put credit into are death account so when you sense a empty or blackness that’s your near death bank account. Totally bankrupted. And to me who says you should get the bright light for free…power cost money…get it or not….Wake up and quit looking for the free near death trip…doesn’t work that way and why the hell should it….just ask the black …hole.

    Reply