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People Who've Clinically Died And Been Resuscitated Are Revealing What They Felt And Saw Moments After Their "Death"

"I'm not in a hurry to do it again but certainly not scared when the time comes."

Note: This post contains mention of suicide and drug use.  

Something everyone faces in life, regardless of class, culture, or creed, is death. And despite its inevitability, the experience of death and what happens after still remains unknown to us. Because of this, many people are curious about the experiences of those who've clinically died and been brought back.

EKG of a flatline heart

Recently, u/APater6076 asked people who've died and been resuscitated, "What was your experience? Did you see bright lights? Nothing? Do you remember anything about it?" In response, people described how they 'died' and what their experience was like:

1. "A very warm blackness. It wasn't cold or scary but very calm and serene. It was the best nap I’ve ever had. Five out of five stars. I'm 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."

"I do not recommend heart failure. Zero out of five stars." —u/_addycole

2. "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."

A car crash

3. "My son said he climbed a blue ladder into a boat, but then I came and got him. He’s little, though. He drowned and was dead in the pool one morning when I woke up. I found him floating and blue, and his whole body was just swollen as hell. It was the worst day of my life. My mom heard me screaming outside but thought it was some sort of animal fight until I nearly kicked her bedroom door down. He said he was trying to play with the floatie in the pool and fell in. He pulled through by the skin of his teeth."

"Drowning is so scary, but he’s a happy, healthy dude." —u/RileyTheCoyote

4. "I was 16. From what I can remember, 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 me from another point of view, but I could have made that up. I woke up with my dad holding my hand, saying, 'You scared the shit out of me.' A couple of years later, my dad had the same experience after an operation. The same thing happened to him. He woke up and, after we told him, grabbed my hand and said, 'I got you back.'"

People's hands holding surgical tools and performing surgery

5. "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 support me as it really didn't look hopeful for him, and my pain was obvious. One family, in particular, helped me a lot. The grandfather of that family had had surgery on his foot, but it'd gone wrong. They ended up amputating his foot, which then got infected. He ended up dying. But even after he died, his daughter stayed in the ICU to help me. When my husband finally woke up, he told me he had been walking the halls with some guy who was missing his foot. That guy told him it wasn't time to go yet and that his daughter would wait with me until my husband woke up, but that he had to wake up soon."

A heart monitor

6. "I felt the same as if I had gone to sleep. I had an alcohol withdrawal-related seizure and woke up in the hospital bed. I was told my heart stopped for eight seconds. The one thing I remember is this feeling that the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. 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."

"It makes the thought of dying someday less frightening." —u/MuluLizidrummer

7. "To start, I’m not religious or spiritual in any way. At 19, I tried to kill myself by overdosing, and, apparently, I died two times in the hospital. I vividly remember a bright, white light and two shadows in the distance. From what I could make out, one was taller than the other and wore a wide-brimmed hat. Without moving in any way, it was like they were throwing memories directly into my brain. 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. Afterward, I described this to my mom who said her parents — who 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 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."

A room in a house with sunlight coming from the window

8. "It felt like I was returning home from a long journey. It felt more familiar than this 'reality.' As consciousness left my body, I looked down on myself. It felt as if I had become my highest, truest, and purest self. 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 I got there, referring to the 'dead me' in the chair. I then instantaneously saw my life flash before my eyes. 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. As soon as I said yes, I woke up, transformed."

"Afterward, I began fasting for spiritual purposes (and lost 80 pounds in eight months). I also began meditating two to six hours a day. Today, I feel like a completely new person and continue to feel better every day with yoga and other practices I've since adopted." —u/bhappyy

9. "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 feeling the worst impending doom, then almost passing out and feeling the calmest ever. Strangely enough, I don't remember coming back after being defibbed."

"I had a lot of PTSD from the event, and I honestly wonder if my brain just erased that part." —u/DigitalAndrew

10. "I had a blocked artery from afib. I basically fell asleep but woke up immediately. I was in the ER. When my mom realized I was awake, she went to hug me but stopped because of the wire in my arm. Instead, she kissed my head and said, 'I'm so glad I have you. Lord knows what I'd do if I didn't.' She then sat down and asked if I wanted anything. Afterward, a doctor came in to explain everything, and I noticed he was wearing black gloves. I tried to adjust myself, but my elbows dug into the bed, and I sank in as if I fell into the bed. It felt like my back was grinding on ice. Then, I woke up again. This time, I was surrounded by doctors trying to resuscitate me and putting the wire in my arm. It was the same doctor from before that put in the wire this time. I then dozed off again and woke up in the same scenario. This time, the doctor who came in was wearing white gloves. Same doctor, different gloves. Everything else was the same, too."

The outside of a hospital's emergency wing

11. "I remember feeling the most at peace I have ever felt in my life. I saw colors that I could not even begin to describe, and I felt warm. I remember feeling my grandfather's hand in mine and hearing, 'It's not your time. You need to go back.'"

"This was due to a suicide attempt in 2019 where I had jumped off a three-story parking structure. I'm not sure how I didn't end up paralyzed, but I broke the 'best' part of my spine, I guess." —u/Historical_Rabbit_58

12. "I had a bad allergy episode and slipped into anaphylactic shock. I was very weak and had very little control over motor functions. It was very difficult to speak, but I could hear very clearly. When I realized how bad it was, I started to feel really cold quite quickly. At about the same time, everything started to fade. For a brief moment, things were hazy and fuzzy, but it very quickly faded to black. It was a calming black, though — definitely not anxiety-inducing — like a peaceful kind of nothingness. There were no out-of-body experiences, no visions, no light. I came to after what seemed like 20 seconds to me, but the doctor said it was actually closer to 20 minutes. it was probably longer than that since I saw family members there that did not make the drive with me, and the doctor was a good 30-minute drive from us."

"It was a surprisingly pain-free experience, and it changed me. I 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." —u/zarjaa

13. "I watched the person resuscitating me from above and behind them at about ceiling level. Then, I was back in my body and heard a strong (maybe 50 to 60 mph) wind blowing."

A person floating in space

14. "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 paraphrasing, but their experience always fascinated me." —u/saeturelskan

15. "My dad had an appendectomy with the highest risk possible. He's diabetic, had waited three days with abdominal pain — he thought he just ate something bad — and had become dehydrated. 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 your body. He said he slowly felt all worries banished and utterly happy but nostalgic. He also said he could hear the voice of the surgeon calling him to come back and saying don't go, but he felt it was annoying. Once he realized he was dying, he 'grabbed onto life.' He then felt like he was pushed out of the warmness to a cold suffering where he felt pain, anxiety, and a severe nostalgia for what he'd just experienced. After waking up, he cried and said he really wanted to go, but he gripped strongly to life because he’d miss us — his sons."

Medical workers performing surgery on a patient

16. "I was killed in a head-on with a semi-truck. Reality turned into vibration, and I was sucked out of the back of my skull. I found myself in a void — completely comfortable and at peace, knowing full well I was dead. I went through a bit of a life review where a lot of things flashed through my mind. Afterward, I saw 'the light.' However, the light was actually my phone on the floor of my truck, as that's what my eyes were seeing from my slumped-over corpse. I then had a thought that I wanted to get to the phone to say goodbye to my wife and kids. As I had that thought, I was pulled back into my body. I'm an atheist, so this whole experience was a bit of a mind fuck for me. I expected nothingness upon death, which is exactly what I got, but I was still unexpectedly conscious."

"Either way, I've been in pain for eight years straight now for having pulled through. I'll just embrace death next time." —u/Sarpanitu

17. "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. I was knocked out immediately. I felt weightless and something like my energy. It was like I was floating through a maze with soft, glowing walls. There were familiar images and voices beyond that I wanted to stop and listen to, but I was moving through the maze, unable to stop myself. I didn't really try, though. Suddenly I felt very, very sad. I knew I'd died and was sad because I wasn't going to see my baby or watch him grow up. Then, there was a voice — I don't remember if it was male or female — calming and soothing me. It let me know all was well and not to worry. I then heard my name being called. It was my husband's voice. And then my mom's. And then a nurse's. They asked me my name, the date, and if I knew where I was. My husband told me that I had to be resuscitated during the C-section because 'they lost me.'"

A newborn baby being held by a doctor and surgeons operating

18. "I overdosed on fentanyl a while back and was fading in and out. All I remember is a sense of complete nothingness. No memories flashing, no bright light to follow, just nothing. Looking back at it, I almost felt at peace. When I woke up right after the overdose, though, I felt sheer panic at the thought of almost dying."

"I'm glad to be almost two years clean now." —u/Tareeky

19. "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."

A baby that was just born crying

20. "I've survived a suicide attempt. The moment I awoke, it felt like I was being pulled from the most beautiful, serene, and peaceful world to this world. It felt warm and cozy. I've had a very similar experience during a therapy session involving psychedelics."

"I live in the Netherlands, and some psychedelics are legal here. There are many psychedelic retreats here, yet the quality of these varies greatly. However, I was lucky enough to find a psychiatrist who does this with severely damaged people and according to the guidelines of current research. It changed my life." —u/BruceTheHoon1

21. "I was in a severe car accident in 2011. I blacked out completely at the first impact and woke up later. I don’t know how much time passed while I was 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, this is when I 'died.' It was just like being asleep: No pain or bright light, it was just warmth and peace. I was in and out of consciousness on the ride to the hospital. I suffered a broken neck, back, and ribs, as well as eye damage. The worse pain, however, 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."

Ambulance lights

Did this change your perception of death? Have you had your own death or near-death experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.

Note: Updated to include mental health resources.